Sunday, December 9, 2012

December 9 - Leocadia and Eulalia, Martyrs, Eager to Confess

Eulalia and Leocadia may never have met each other on our own side of the dusky vale of death. Regardless, their lives had an impact upon one another. Leocadia had been gathered up from the streets of Toledo, Spain, by the Roman empire in yet another attempt to stifle and neutralize the Christian presence. The Diocletian persecutions were in full force and had drawn blood throughout the Empire but in the days of Eulalia and Leocadia, it was particularly bad in Roman Spain. Leocadia's story was like so many other martyrs--she had been identified as a Christian and drawn before the powers of the Empire and given a chance to deny her faith to save her life.Leocadia's faith was strong, however, and she refused to concede to the wishes of the Empire since they would require her to betray herself and her Lord. As was the practice of the Empire, Leocadia was beaten and tortured for her refusal. The Empire's hope was that the pain it could inflict might win out over the faith of the Christian. The Empire always thinks in terms of self-preservation and avoidance of pain--this is one of the high values of the Empire--and not in terms of glory and the Kingdom of God. The greatest power of an Empire always has been--and always will be--the ability to deprive somebody of their life and when somebody no longer holds their life to be protected at all costs, the Empire loses their domination. So, Leocadia was returned to her cell in prison so that she might think over her refusal in hopes that time would combine with her wounds to render a denial.

While Leocadia languished in prison, Eulalia was at home. As a Spanish Christian, she had known many of the people gathered up in the Imperial raid. Though she was only thirteen, she also knew the inevitable fate of those who refused to deny their faith when placed under the unrelenting scrutiny of the Empire. Somehow, her name had escaped the list of Christians and she had been left alone while her brothers and sisters began to suffer on account of their common faith and Lord.Eulalia was distressed that she was not numbered with her brothers and sisters--Leocadia being one of them--and so she went to the tribunal and confessed her faith before the ears of an Empire that had not asked. For this crime of faith, she was arrested and tortured like her brothers and sisters. Supposing that she might be humiliated and induced into apostasy, they stripped her of all of her clothing and cast her out on the steps of the tribunal. Eulalia suffered the indignity of being laughed and leered at in the public square but refused to deny her faith because of the temporary and desperate machinations of the Empire.

Eulalia was brought in from her humiliation and taken to a public execution. Along with other Christians, this eager martyr was burned at the stake and her ashes were scattered. The story of Eulalia seeking out the powers and confessing her faith drifted through the prison cells and brought a new confidence and joy to those who were facing their own martyrdom. Leocadia heard the story and fell to her knees. She was still bleeding and hurting from her last experience with the Imperial death-dealers but she had a new determination.Praying to God, she cried out, "Lord, deliver me from a world that allows a woman like Eulalia to die at the hands of an Empire like the one that holds me even now. If Eulalia has died so eagerly, then so do I desire to die."Having prayed this and aroused the attention of her guards, she died without being touched or harmed in any additional way.

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