St. Eulalia was born into one of the most prominent families in Spain around the year 290. She was educated in the Christian faith, and showed a great devotion to piety and virginity. She dressed modestly, and lived a simple life without worldly distractions, so that even from a young age, it was clear she was focused wholly on God.
When Eulalia was 12 years old, the Emperor Diocletian began a persecution of Christians, ordering every person to make a sacrifice to the gods of the empire. Although Eulalia was prepared to fight back publicly against this demand, her mother, fearing for her safety, took her into the country. Eulalia escaped, and traveled back to Merida to defend her faith.
Legend tells us that as soon as court was convened, she presented herself to the judge Dacian, and reproached him for his part in destroying souls by compelling them to renounce the true God. Dacian tried to tempt Eulalia with promises of pleasure and fortune that she would be granted due to her noble birth, but she could not be swayed. He then threatened her with instruments of torture, telling her that she would escape the harsh punishments if she just worshipped the pagan gods.
Eulalia threw down the idol before her and trampled on the cake she was supposed to sacrifice to it. The judge ordered her to be seized and executed, and her flesh was ripped with iron hooks. The executioners then set fire to her wounds, including her hair, and she was stifled by the flames. Throughout the ordeal, she continued to praise and thank God.
It is said that a white dove appeared to come out of Eulalia’s mouth, and flew upwards to Heaven when she died, scaring the executioners so much that they fled, leaving her body behind. A church was eventually constructed at the site where Eulalia died, and many great saints, including St. Augustine, have written about her bravery and her sacrifice.
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