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13 Geese live happily in Barcelona’s cathedral

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Daniel Esparza - published on 08/10/23

St. Eulalia, also known as Eulàlia of Barcelona, was a young Christian girl who lived during the 3rd century. She was a goose herder.

St. Eulalia, also known as Eulàlia of Barcelona, was a young Christian girl who lived during the 3rd century (during Diocletian’s rule) in the then-Roman-controlled city of Barcino – today’s Barcelona. She is the co-patroness of the city, along with La Virgen de la Merced.

Tradition maintains that Eulalia, who herded geese in Sarrià (nowadays an upscale neighborhood near Barcelona’s west end, but then a village in the outskirts of the walled city), openly professed her Christian faith, despite the Roman authorities’ attempts to suppress Christianity in the region.

Even though she was only 13, Eulalia refused to renounce her faith. What is more, she ran from home and went into the walled city, looked for the governor, and demanded the cease of hostilities against Christians. The governor, instead, sentenced her to 13 tortures – one per each year she had lived as a Christian.

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Thirteen geese are kept in a designated area in the cloister of the cathedral, as a homage to the young goose herder.

Eulalia endured all 13 tortures – including crucifixion on a crux decussata, á la St. Andrew. Finally, she was beheaded on February 12, 303. Legend has it that a dove flew out of her severed neck (some say out of her mouth, after she said her final prayer).

After being missing for a long time, her remains were found in 878 by Bishop Frodoino in the church of Santa Maria de las Arenas – today’s Basilica of Santa María del Mar. A solemn transfer of her relics to the cathedral was then organized, and her remains buried in a crypt dedicated to her. Since then, 13 geese are kept in a designated area in the cloister of the cathedral, as a homage to the young goose herder.

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