Saint Eurosia virgin and martyr of Jaca
Who is this Saint of such sweet and evocative name, born in places and times so far from us? How did she get to the Venetian Lagoon?
It is often asked why in the church of the Vignole island, named after Santa Maria Assunta, the local faithful have been devoted also to Santa Eurosia, protectress of the harvests, so much that they identify her with their church itself.
It is not easy to point out the precise timing of this “added” dedication. It may be that the worship of Eurosia, virgin and martyr from Jaca, in the Aragonese Pyrenees in Spain, close to Bayonne and Lourdes, was brought by farmers from Treviso or the Friuli region, where it was greatly diffused since the XVI-
In Italy this worship was introduced by the Spanish army and, from the Piedmont and Lombardy regions, got to the Veneto region and to Rome itself, maybe even because of the Somaschi Fathers’ preaching (from Como), but especially because of northern Italian peasants’ migrations.
The Saint’s history, often confused with its legend, yet still suggestive, is based on ancient liturgical writings and stories, which relate to sometimes uncertain and contradictory evidence.
The most substantiate hagiographic and popular tradition identifies Eurosia in a young noble girl, daughter of the Duke of Aachen, or of the King of Burgundy, fiancée of the Prince of Jaca, at the time of the Moors’ conquest of Spain, at the beginning of the VIII Century. During its journey towards the Pyrenees, the bridal cortège is assaulted by the Saracens. The warlord Muza wants the bride to marry him and to abandon her faith. Young Eurosia denies herself and because of that they cut her hands and feet, then decapitate her. Her body is hidden and buried in Yebra’s cavern. It will be found, two centuries later, still intact, by a shepherd. It will be solemnly brought to Jaca’s Cathedral on June 25, 935, where it can still be found in an urn under the main altar, while the relic of her head is venerated in Yebra’s church.
The tradition attributes various miracles to Santa Eurosia, since the time of her martyr and this helped in building a strong devotion linked to the harvests’ protection from storms, floods and drought. In Italy, such devotion spread especially in the rural areas of the North, since the XVI Century. In the Veneto region, it can be found starting from the mid-
In iconography, Santa Eurosia is mostly pictured during her decapitation, on her knees (and often with her hands and feet already cut off), the executioner raising his sabre, sometimes an axe, overlooked by an angel with a palm tree branch and the crown of the martyr. Sometimes, we can also find images of the young woman, in luxury dresses, her hands cut off, with the palm tree branch, the crown and the sceptre, at times with ears of wheat and goods of the land. Generally, in the background there is a storm, with a lightning striking the clouds.
Santa Eurosia is commemorated on June 25, the day of her body’s “traslatio”.
In the past, this day was celebrated with festivities and popular feasts, as the elderly living in the Vignole island still nostalgically remember.
Text freely taken from:
Soroptimist Internazional Club di Venezia
Laguna di Venezia. L'isola delle Vignole, Consorzio Venezia Nuova.
Translated by Caberlotto Marco