October 19, 2022

Saint Laura of Cordoba (+ 864)

St. Laura of Cordoba (Feast Day - October 19)

The Iberian peninsula was invaded by the Muslims at the beginning of the 8th century. Between the years 756 and 929, the Emirate of Córdoba was established in the south. The Visigoths who lived in these lands are known as Mozarabs and it was among this group of Christians who lived in the Umayyad lands that a movement arose that led them to voluntary martyrdom. Apparently, the Muslims and the Mozarabic ecclesiastical authorities had reached an agreement and, as long as a series of rules were respected, they did not prevent the Christians from continuing with their beliefs. However, due to the influence of Eulogio de Córdoba, a group of almost 50 Mozarabic Christians volunteered for martyrdom, afflicted by the Arabization of the population. Among them was Saint Laura of Cordoba.

Saint Laura of Cordoba was a Mozarabic Christian of Visigothic origin and from a noble family Cordoba, who lived in Muslim Spain during the 9th century. She married an important official of the emirate, with whom she had two daughters. After six years she became a widow and, some time later, she decided to enter the convent of Santa María de Cuteclara.*

The relics are those of the Martyrs of  Cordoba

For nine years she was abbess of the monastery, until under the influence of the cleric Eulogio de Córdoba and following the example of some companions who had already immolated themselves for the Christian faith, she publicly proclaimed her faith, blaspheming against Islam, and this entailed the death penalty. She was arrested and since she did not consent to recant and embrace Islam, the chronicles say that she was first flogged, then submerged in a boiling lead (or pitch) cauldron where she miraculously continued to sing praises to God for three hours, after which she was finally decapitated on October 19, 864.

Luitprand of Cremona (+ 972), a historian and Bishop, wrote about Saint Laura: "My pen would be unable to trace all the virtues of the perfume with which this sacred house was embalmed. Her pity filled the city of Córdoba: the persecution was inevitable and it broke out. Denounced to the chief of the Saracens, the virtuous Laura generously confessed the faith of Jesus Christ; she was a victim of her constancy. She was beaten for a long time, and her executioner finally plunged her into a cauldron of boiling pitch. For three hours she sang the praises of her God, who, satisfied with what her servant had suffered for Him, called her to dwell among her Saints. Her relics, scattered in various churches in Spain, are surrounded by the greatest veneration."


* Centuries ago, a town called Cuteclara existed near Córdoba, of which nothing remains today. A monastery dedicated to the Virgin was built there and was known as the Monastery of Santa María de Cuteclara. It was a duplex monastery, that is, it had a male community and a female community. Several of the monks and nuns of this monastery are part of the so-called "Martyrs of Córdoba". Apparently, it is from this convent that Saint Laura was abbess.