Paulus, Alvarez, of Cordova

Paulus, Alvarez, Of Cordova, the biographer of his friend the martyr Eulogius, flourished in the middle of the 9th century. Of his early life nothing is known beyond the fact that he was of Jewish parentage. The times in which Alvarez lived were very troublesome to the Christians. When, in July, A.D. 711, the last Gothic king, Rodriguez, perished at the great fight near Xeres de la Frontera, and Spain had become a province of the Eastern caliphate, an impetuous ambition moved the Arab leaders to extend their conquests beyond the Pyrenees, and from the borders of Catalonia they reached the walls of Tours. Here, however, they had to meet face to face the chivalrous Charles Martel, who utterly overthrew the invading host, thus washing away the insult offered to his country in a deluge of blood. By this most critical and decisive victory the European countries were saved from the ravages of a universal war, and the infamy of subjugation to the Mohammedan power. In the battles fought in those times many Christians fell, while not a few sought martyrdom. Two parties divided the Church, the rigid and the more liberal: the latter thought that under these difficult circumstances everything should be done to preserve and foster the friendly relations subsisting between them and the Mohammedan magistrates, while the former looked upon such conduct as being a violation of the duty to confess Christ before men, and not be ashamed of him. One of the fiercest representatives of the latter class was Paulus Alvarez, who, in his Indiculus Luminosus, casts it as a reproach upon the Christians that by accepting offices at court they became guilty of participating in infidelity, and styles them leopards, taking upon themselves every color. He justified those who voluntarily entered the Mohammedan circles in order to defy the false prophet, and thus become martyrs for Christ's sake. He compared these martyrs with the witnesses for the truth of olden times, who fearlessly came forward before princes and people. His zeal was not always in the right direction, but he felt an ardent hatred against the unbelievers, as well as against all priests who would not recognize the glory of martyrdom. Among his many epistles there is one written to a certain Eleazar, in which he confesses his belief that Messiah had already come, and then continues: "Which of us has the most right to the name of Jew; you, who have passed from the worship of idols to the knowledge of one God, or I, who am an Israelite both by birth and faith? Yet I no longer call myself a Jew, because that new name is given to me which the mouth of the Lord hath named! Abraham is in truth my father, but not only because my ancestors proceed from him. Those who have expected that Messiah should come, but who also receive him because he is already come, are more truly Israelites than those who, after long waiting for him, rejected him when he came, and yet cease not to expect his coming." See Neander, Hist. of the Christian Religion and Church, 3:337 sq. (Torrey's ed. Boston, 1872); Gieseler, Church Hist. 2:95 sq. (Smith's ed. N.Y. 1865); Da Costa, Israel and the Gentiles, p. 310 sq.; Kalkar, Israel u. d. Kirche, p. 21; Antonii Bibl. Hist. 1:349; Florez, Espania Sagrada (Madrid, 1747-1801. 42 vols. 4to), 11:62, where the works of Alvarez are given; also Migne, Patrol. Lat. vol. 115, where the biography of Eulogius is to be found. (B. P.)

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