Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Saints Natalia, Aurelius, Liliosa, Felix, and George: Martyrs


At the beginning of the Moslem rule in Córdova, Spain, during the 8th century, Christians were allowed to practice their Faith; later, however, when the domination became complete, the Mohammedan leaders began a systematic persecution of the Christians. One of the most prominent martyrs of the day was the Archbishop of Toledo, St. Eulogius, who also wrote a Memorial of the martyrs who suffered before him, among whom were those we honor today.

Natalia was a converted Moslem and her husband Aurelius was the son of an Arab and a Spanish woman. They conformed to Moslem customs outwardly but practiced their Christian faith in secret. One day Aurelius happened to see a Christian patiently enduring the scorn of the populace and the fierce blows of the whip for having publicly confessed his faith. This worked a dramatic change in Aurelius: from that moment on, he and his wife began to live their Christian faith openly. After setting aside enough money to take care of their daughter’s future, they distributed the rest of their possessions to the poor, and gave themselves over to penance and devotion.

Their example proved to be an inspiration for a relative of Aurelius named Felix, who had apostasized from the Church, and his wife Liliosa who had been practicing her faith in secret. Now, Felix returned to the Church and both gave up all pretense of dissembling. All four began to visit and minister to the Christians who were in prison. It did not take long before all four of these dedicated servants of God were arrested and themselves thrown into prison.

Also arrested with them was a beggar named George, who belonged to the monastery of St. Sabas in Jerusalem and had toured Egypt and Europe in search of alms for his house. S ince he could not be accused of the same crime as the others — apostasy from the Moslem faith — George in order to obtain martyrdom insulted Mohammed to the Cadi’s face. Thus, when the first four were condemned to death by beheading, George was also included. On July 27, 852, these saintly followers of Christ achieved the martyrdom they so avidly sought.

More reflections on Saints Natalia, Aurelius, Liliosa, Felix, and George
-Celine McCoy
Image: Delaroche 'The Young Martyr'

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