Saint Eulalia was twelve or thirteen years old, the Emperor Diocletian of Rome sent a judge to Barcelona to persecute Christians. As the Christian faith was spreading rapidly across the empire, which the emperor viewed as a threat to his authority, he dispatched a cruel and sinister man, Judge Dacian. While his reputation proceeded him, his actions surpassed anything the fledgling Christian community could have anticipated, and with his arrival years of some of the worst persecutions of the time began. To start, Judge Dacian organized public offerings to the pagan gods and goddesses, expecting and obliging Christians to participate and offer sacrifices. Those who did not, were tortured, and unless they renounced their faith and offered sacrifice, generally executed. News of this great persecution reached Eulalia, who prayed about it while determining a course of action. One morning, before dawn, she snuck from her parents home (careful not to wake them) and walked into the city—which was some distance. In Greek, Eulalia means “one who speaks well,” and she made it her intention to do so that day. Upon arrival in the city center, Eulalia proceeded to the forum where the court of Judge Dacian was convened. Finding him sitting amongst the people, she crossed the lines of soldiers and stood before him. In a loud voice, Eulalia spoke:
“You, how come that you are sitting here, full of pride, to judge Christians? Don’t you fear God, the one who is above the emperors, the one who wants the people to worship Him, and only Him? Now you have the power, but your power is useless in God’s eyes.”
At first the judge was amused at this small child speaking to him. Then he was impressed by her courage, and finally, he became irate. “Who are you, girl, without fear? All these affirmations you say are against the imperial law!”
Courageously, Eulalia is said to have answered: “I am Eulalia, servant of my Lord Jesus Christ. I trust Him and that is why I cam here without fear to contest your conduct, which is the one of an ignorant.”
Livid, Dacian ordered her arrested and tortured. Despite her age—in fact, perhaps because of her age—he ordered the worst series of tortures imaginable, allowing Eulalia to free herself from such treatment by sacrificing to the pagan gods. She was raked across the sides, exposing the bone, with metal hooks, but she referred to her wounds as the “trophies of Christ.” Her breasts were severed and she was put into a barrel filled with knives and glass and rolled over the uneven streets. Upon removing her, Eulalia said to her torturers: “The tortures you are inflicting me make me greater and the wounds don’t hurt, because God is at my side. He will judge the abuses of authority you are responsible for.”
Judge Dacian was incensed at her faith. He ordered her burnt, but legend tells us that the flames extinguished upon touching her skin, but not before burning those attempting to harm her. Eventually, she succumbed to the torture, and at the moment of her death, her lips opened, and her soul—in the form of a white dove—flew from her lips into the heavens.
Judge Dacian ordered the soldiers to hang the young girl’s mangled body in a cross, as a warning to the public, and so that scavenger birds would come and disrespect her body. However, as they followed their orders, a heavy snow blanketed the city—despite the warm weather—covering her body and leaving her unspoiled. The soldiers, afraid, left their posts and the friends and family retrieved her holy body, burying it. Over the years, the relics of Saint Eulalia were moved, to escape destruction by invading forces. They now lie in the crypt of the cathedral bearing her name in Barcelona.