Ursula (St)

Ursula (St.)

and The Eleven Thousand Virgins. The legend states that Ursula was the daughter of Theonotus, or Diognetus, of Britain. She was demanded in marriage by a heathen prince named Holofernes, and consented to his demand on condition that he should become a Christian and allow her three years before the marriage in which to make a pilgrimage. He conformed to her will, and, with his religion, changed his name into Etherius; and she took ship with eleven thousand virgins. They went first to the port of Tila, in Gaul, and thence up the Rhine to Cologne and Basle, afterwards continuing the pilgrimage by land as far as Rome. When they returned, pope Cyriacus, with a retinue of clergy, joined the immense procession; and at Basle the bishop Paul, or Pantulus, likewise. At Cologne the returning pilgrims were attacked, while disembarking, by hordes of wild Hunnish barbarians and were all massacred, though the heathen king, Attila (Etzel), admired the beauty of Ursula and desired to spare her, that she might become his wife. She fell pierced with an arrow, which has become her peculiar attribute in artistic representations of this saint. Immediately after the massacre heavenly hosts, equal in number to the murdered virgins, appeared and put the barbarians to flight. The delivered inhabitants of the city thereupon buried the fallen pilgrims, and erected to each one a stone bearing her name-the names having been obtained from James, a bishop, who was in the train of the pilgrims and who had found a refuge a cave from the fate of his companions. Soon afterwards Clemantius, a pilgrim from Greece, having been urged in repeated dreams, erected a church among the graves in honor of Ursula and her eleven thousand companions. The sanctity of this place of burial is apparent from the fact that no other interments, even though they be of the bodies of baptized children, can be performed in its hallowed soil.

The origin of the Ursula legend is probably to be found in the ancient martyrologies and saints chronicles of a date earlier than the 12th century, the legend having been current in this form in Germany since that period, while a somewhat different version has prevailed in England. This rehearses that Maximus the usurper in Gaul (383-388) and former commander in Britain, had required of king Dionotus of Cornwall a number of marriageable girls for his legionaries, and that the king at once forwarded sixty thousand virgins of common and eleven thousand of noble rank, among' them his own daughter. Ursula. They were driven by storms, "ad barbaras insulas appulsoe," and murdered by the Huns and Picts (?). The earliest mention of any similar event is found in the poetical martyrology (ad Oct. 21) of Wandelbert of Prim, who died in 870 (see D'Achery, Spicileq. 2, 54). The martyrology of the monk Usuard of St. Germain, written about 875, mentions two virgins of Cologlie, "Martha et Saula cum aliis pluribus" (Aca SS. [Boll.] Jun. 7, 613), and various ecclesiastical calendars of Cologne of scarcely more recent date mention eleven virgins and give their names. The massacre itself is with great unanimity attributed to the Huns, under the command of Attila. For a thorough discussion of the extent to which the legend involves credible truth we refer to Zockler, in Herzog's Real-Encyklop. s.v. See Crombach, Ursula Vindicata, etc. (Col.1647, fol.), the most extensive work; id. Auct. sire Lib. XII S. Ursulae Vindic. (4to); also Vadian, Oratio de XI Millibus Virginum (Vien.1510); Usher in Antiq. Eccies. Britan.; (Lond. 1687), p. 107 sq.; Baroinius, Martyrol. Rom. ad Oct. 21; id. Annales, ad an. 383, No. 4, etc.; Jameson [Mr's.], Legendary Art, 2,501 sq.

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.