This is a story about a girl who lived in Merida Spain. She caused her parents a great deal of concern because the foremost desire of this particular thirteen year old youth….was to die. Had she lived in the twenty-first century, she most likely would have been taken to the most accredited psychiatrist that could be secured. A diagnosis of her peculiar obsession would have been issued, following which, she would have been placed on a myriad of antidepresants and subjected to intense councelling while a course for long-term recovery was plotted out. But there was no psychiatric infrastructure in those days that could provide such intervention. Subsequently, her parents made decisions which they hoped would keep their young daughter from doing anything “irrational.” Her name was Eulalia, her love for the one true God was unwavering, she was appalled at the institutionalized idolatry which seemed to go uncontested, and in the year 304 AD, her “dream” of glorifying the name of Jesus as a martyr became manifest.
Psalm 8:2 “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.” Acts 5:41 “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.”
As I’ve been thinking on this topic, a question has been arising. How would most of the professing saints of our generation respond to a young lady who expressed such a desire? “YOU GO GIRL!?” I seriously doubt it. We simply cannot identify with such a mindset; any more than Eulalias parents could. If a person, (whom I was certain had a relationship with the Lord) was telling me they wanted to be a martyr for Jesus, I would initially advice them to not intentionally rush after, or hasten it….and to PRAY!….A LOT! I would compel the person to make sure they were hearing from God and not reacting to a burst of spontaneous emotion. In truth, however, such a response reveals just how much we gravitate toward the preservation of life without considering that some are indeed called to martyrdom. Those who let go of everything to follow Jesus, and rush toward the moment when they can look into his eyes, will always be misunderstood by those who harbor reservations.
Matthew 10:18 “And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.”
The story of Eulalia was originally recorded in Fox’s Book of Martyrs. An excerpt was reprinted in the June 2012 issue of the Voice of the Martyrs newsletter.
“Thirteen-year-old Eulalia yearned to die for Christ. She lived in Merida, Spain, during the ‘Great Persecution,’ when Christians in the Roman Empire were commanded to sacrifice to the gods or face execution. Eulalia’s parents, afraid of what she might do, sent her away from home to live in the countryside. But Eulalias fiery spirit could not be quenched. She escaped the house where she was staying one night and appeared before the Merida tribunal the next morning.”
Jesus said “But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to councils, and they will scourge you in the synagogues.” This girl delivered herself up before the council; knowing full well that a painful demise awaited her.
This is how Websters defines the word yearn: “to long persistantly, wistfully, or sadly.” For Eulalia, this wasn’t simply a theological exercise. She so desired to be a testimony for Jesus that to remain in a state of preservation caused sadness. The fact that her parents made efforts to protect Eulalia from her hearts desire reveals two things. First; it reveals that she openly shared both her love for Jesus and her desire to glorify him through death. Second, it reveals that such adesire will be misunderstood. Her parents were most likely Christians, however, the idea of their daughter seeking after such a thing troubled them. This is understandable. The laws of natural affection oftentimes cause us to not see the bigger picture. In the previous post, we learned that Roli’s children were very upset over her plans to venture into North Korea. Jesus mentioned that a mans foes will be those of his own household. This can take on many forms; ranging from children turning their parents over to the authorities, to a tearful plea of “Mom; please don’t go into North Korea. We just lost Dad a few months ago. PLEASE DON’T GO!”
So Eulalia escapes her place of refuge, seeks out the Roman tribunal, and says to them:
“Are you not ashamed to cast your own souls and those of others at once into eternal perdition by denying the only true God, the Father of us all, and creator of all Christians, that you may put them to death?” Eulalia asked the tribunal “Behold, here am I, an adversary of your satanical sacrifices. I confess with heart and mouth God alone.” she told the tribunal that she would not worship their three pagan gods or the emperor. Enraged, the tribunal judge called an executioner and demanded that Eulalia be tortured. Before the executioner began his work, the judge offered Eulalia freedom from the severe punishment if she would sacrifice to an idol.Luke 21:15 “For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.”
This must have really confounded the tribunal. To be seated there; backed by the full might of the Roman Empire, while this small, frail-looking girl expressed complete opposition to their folly and gave glory to the Creator of all that is. After summoning the executioner; still clinging to hope that his appearance would diffuse this uncomfortable situation, the judge gave Eulalia an opportunity to reconsider her position. “Eulalia; just sacrifice to this god that’s before you and YOU CAN GO FREE! Otherwise we must carry out the policies of Rome.” (I can almost hear Eulalia thinking “I was free….and safe….I chose to confront you.”) This situation was similar to the one presented by the three Hebrew men who refused to bow down to Nebudchadnezzars image at the sound of music playing. The king wanted to spare Shadrach, Meeshach, and Abednigo, so he gave them another chance to bow down at the playing of music. But the Hebrews placed their complete confidence in the holy One of Israel….just as Eulalia did.
The young Christian did not feel the need to respond. She upset the images, altar, censor, and sacrificial books that sat on a table before her. two executioners immediately stripped her and tortured her with hooks and torches.
As she counted the gashes in her body, Eulalia exclaimed, “Behold Lord Jesus Christ! Thy name is being written on my body; what great delight it affords me to read these letters, because they are the signs of thy victory! Behold, my purple blood confesses thy holy name.” She spoke with great happiness and peace; she didn’t even seem to feel the pain as the blood poured from her body.
There is a level of grace that accompanies one who has finished their course and is laying down their life for the testimony of Jesus. A vivid demonstration of this grace is found in Acts 7:55-60.
After piercing Eulalias body repeatedly with their hooks, the executioners applied burning lamps and torches to the wounds in her sides and abdomen. Finally, they ignited her hair and she suffocated. Eulalia died loving her Savior more than her own life.
Eulalia has now been in the presence of Jesus for seventeen hundred and eight years. Her brief stay in the theater of atoms seems as nothing in comparison to her present situation. While many embrace the fact that they may face demise at the hands of those who love not the Lord, to willingly seek it out is almost unheard of. Some may consider Eulalias actions to be irrational, however, I believe that this course of action was ordered from on high. The members of the tribunal needed to be confronted with the truth. The only person who was spiritually prepared to walk into the lions den was this firey thirteen year old girl with an unquenchable love for Jesus. This in no way takes away from the standard practice of being about our Fathers business and, when our testimony is complete, embracing the method of physical departure awarded us. The conventional model is most important because the laborers are so very few. But Eulalia had a different audience; most of whom she would never meet. Perhaps, later on, one or more of the tribunal members believed on Jesus as a result of her testimony, while other saints were both encouraged and emboldened by the report.
Acts 26:28-29 “The Agrippa said unto paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou,but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.” Philippians 1:12-14 “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;
So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other palaces;
And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”
Something just hit me and it can be found in Philippians 1:13 “and in all other places;” Undoubtedly, an official report of the incident involving Eulalia was written out and sent to Rome. All who read it along the way must have been astonished that a young girl would display such fierce opposition to the governing entity. One can only wonder how many were compelled to “dig a little deeper” and learn more about this Jesus; who is so real and so incredible that folks will lay down their lives for him. In Rome, the reports were being compiled of Christians, throughout the empire, who embraced their demise; singing and looking steadfastly to heaven while blood flowed from their vessels as a result of the treatment being issued. While many observers probably gave no thought to these reports, some were undoubtedly stirred. “What do these people have that I don’t have?”
Blessings always in Jesus name.