August 22 – Eulalia of Barcelona; Andrew of Fiesole

Eulalia of Barcelona (ca. 290–ca. 303) lived in Spain (where she is celebrated on February 12), and it would have been difficult not to, given where Barcelona is. She was brought up in all faith and piety, and by the tender age of 13 (which is, perhaps not coincidentally, the age at which she died, if the numbers are right and my calculator batteries are sufficiently fresh), she was living a “solitary life . . . with others her own age.” Solitary. With others. You figure that out; I’m stumped.

When the local authorities started persecuting Christians, our brave adolescent shinnied down the drainpipe in the night, walked into town, found the judge, and told him to his face he was a demon-worshiper. This went down about as well as you might expect, and she was stripped and subjected to thirteen different punishments. They beat her, they burned her, they put her in a barrel with knives (or broken glass) and rolled her down the hill (the street where this occurred is still called “St. Eulalia’s Descent”), performed a radical bilateral mastectomy, crucified her on an X-shaped cross, and, and, and—and finally beheaded her. Upon her death a dove flew out of her neck (or mouth), symbolizing (of course) her soul ascending to heaven. Or it really was her soul but just looked like a dove. Or something. (This is what I get for extrapolating.) Her parents came and gathered her body, rejoicing that she had died a martyr.

Eulalia is remembered in the names of several French cities, and in Barcelona by multiple street names and statues and one cathedral, where her relics (which had been hidden for over 150 years during the Moorish period) were placed in 1339 (or 874). She is of course the patroness of Barcelona, but not of Salamandastron.

Andrew of Fiesole (d. ca. 877) was the brother of (St.) Brigid the Younger (whether the older brother or the younger brother, my sources do not say), with whom he studied under (St.) Donatus of Fiesole, although he wasn’t “of Fiesole” at the time, never having been there. But that was soon to change. In 816, Donatus and Andrew headed out on a pilgrimage to Rome, but as they passed through Fiesole (high on a hill overlooking Florence[1]) the Fiesolani (I looked that up) were in the process of electing a new bishop. A heavenly voice called out Donatus’ name, and before he could say “But I was on my way to Rome,” he had a scepter in his hand and a mitre on his head. He made Andrew his faithful archdeacon (well, he made Andrew his archdeacon and Andrew made himself faithful), and the one served the other for forty-seven years.

Andrew became known as a wonderworker when he healed the daughter of a nobleman. She was paralyzed, and the doctors were worthless (studies have shown that reports of the glories of ninth century Italian country medicine vastly overstate their case), so her father sent for Andrew. He knelt by her couch, and said, “Stand up, stand up for Jesus.” So she did. He became known for many other healings, as well as demon evictions, charity to the poor, and simplicity of life. In Ireland he is known as Andrew of Fiesole or Andrew of Tuscany (Fiesole being in Tuscany and all) but in Fiesole he is known as Andrew the Scot, as they were wont to refer to Irish expats in ninth century Tuscany (and once you’re dead it’s hard to get your name changed). As Andrew lay dying, an angel transported his sister all the way from Ireland (first class) so she could be with him in his last moments.

He was buried at the church of San Martino a Mensola, which he had helped restore, and there his incorrupt remains remain.


[1]I do not know why they climbed the hill to Fiesole instead of just going through Florence