Eighteen Martyrs of Saragosa

St. Optatus, and seventeen other holy men, received the crown of martyrdom on the same day, at Saragossa, under the cruel governor Dacian, in the persecution of Dioclesian, in 804. Two others, Caius and Crementius, died of their torments after a second conflict, as Prudentius relates.

The same venerable author describes, in no less elegant verse, the triumph of St. Encratis, or Engratia, virgin. She was a native of Portugal. Her father had promised her in marriage to a man of quality in Rousillon but, fearing the dangers, and despising the vanities of the world, and revealing to preserve her virginity, in order to appear more agreeable to her heavenly spouse, and serve him without hindrance, she fled privately to Saragossa, where the persecution was hottest, under the eyes of Dacian. She even reproached him with his barbarities, upon which he ordered her to be long tormented in the most inhuman manner: her sides were torn with iron hooks, and one of her breasts was cut off, so that the inner parts of her chest were exposed to view, and part of her liver pulled out. In this condition she was sent back to prison, being still alive, and died by the mortifying of her wounds, in 304. The relics of all these martyrs were found at Saragossa in 1389. Prudentius recommended himself to their intercession sign, and exhorts the city, through their prayers, to implore the pardon of their sins, with him, that they might follow them to glory. Continue reading