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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

from its origins to circa AD 700, across the entire Christian world

Latin Orationale of the Old Hispanic Liturgy of the 7th c. (Orationale Visigothicum), with prayers used on the feasts of saints in December: *Leocadia (virgin and confessor of Toledo, S01367), *Eulalia (virgin and martyr of Mérida, S00407), *Mary, Mother of Christ (S00033), *Stephen, the First Martyr (S00030), *Eugenia (virgin and martyr of Rome, S00401), *John the Apostle and Evangelist (S00042), *Columba (virgin and martyr of Sens, 01862).

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

Liturgical texts - Other

Late antique original manuscripts

Orationale Visigothicum


Orationale Visigothicum contains prayers for use in the divine office on every day of year. The prayers are ordered according to the liturgical seasons. Generally the prayers are divided into benedictiones (blessings) and completuriae (closing prayers), and aliae (other), and sometimes it is specified whether they should be applied during the matutinal or vespertine office. The number of prayers given for a day varies. In our database we are providing summaries only of the entries that relate to the feasts of saints.

9 December: the title says
Quinto Idus Decembris quando et sancte Leocadie festum incurrit ('On the fifth day before the Ides of December when the feast of saint Leocadia occurs') but then follow three prayers (nos. 118-120) that do not refer to the saint (they allude to Jerusalem which appears in the antiphons preceding the prayers). Only then a subtitle states that the prayers for the feast of saint Leocadia begin – 29 prayers follow (nos. 121-149), both for Vespers and Matins. In the prayers Leocadia is glorified as a virgin and a confessor (and not a martyr, according to the story about Leocadia included in the Spanish Passionary which is an account of her confession and not martyrdom, see $E###).

10 December: the title erroneously says
Quarto Idus Decembris quando et festum sancte Leocadie incurrit (it should be Eulaliae). Similarly to the feast of Leocadia, three prayers follow with antiphons that do not make reference to the saint, then follow the subtitle Incipiunt orationes in diem sancte Eulalie and 31 prayers (nos. 153-183) follow both for Vespers and Matins. The prayers praise Eulalia as virgin and martyr and contain some allusions to her martyrdom (e.g. that she was tortured by fire, prayers 170-173, see the Martyrdom of Eulalia 11, or that she was hanged on the cross, prayer 174, see the Martyrdom of Eulalia 17).

18 December: the feast of Mary, Mother of Christ. First follow 33 prayers for Vespers and Matins (nos. 202-234). Then there is a prayer to recite 'on the same day on which the mass of Holy Mary is celebrated' (no. 235), followed by a blessing (no. 236). The following subtitle (
Item alio die post sancte Marie orationes de antiphonis et de adventu Domini que in ordine secuntur, 'Then on the day after the day of Holy Mary, follow in order these prayers [referring to] the antiphons and the advent of the Lord') indicates that the feast of Mary was considered a moment that divides Advent in two phases. The prayers for the feast focus on the Annunciation and Conception of Jesus. For the establishment of the feast of Mary on 18 December in the Spanish Church see E04419.

26 December: the feast of Stephen, the First Martyr. There are 21 prayers (nos. 316-336) for Vespers and Matins, which praise Stephen as the first person that suffered martyrdom (he is called
protomartir in prayer 335), mention the persecution of Christians by the synagogue and Stephen's death by stoning.

27 December: the feast of Eugenia. Two prayers (nos. 337-338) both for Vespers and for Matins. They refer to the story that Eugenia entered and lived in a male monastery disguised as a man, and mention Melantia, a woman who fell in love in Eugenia thinking that she was a young man (see the
Martyrdom of Eugenia, E02490). Then follow 5 prayers (nos. 339-343) transmitted only in the ms. British Library Add. 30852, and missing in the main Visigothic manuscript, Verona ms. LXXXIX (84). First four prayers refer generally to the saints, Eugenia praised as virgin and martyr appears in the last prayer, Benedictio no. 343. Her feast is linked with the Nativity (Quique hodie, et a Maria est generatus at ab Eugenia est cofessus ... '[Jesus Christ] who is today born of Mary and confessed by Eugenia ...').

28 December: the feast of John the Apostle. 7 prayers (nos. 344-350) which focus on John as the Beloved Disciple who reclined beside Jesus at the Last Supper.

31 December: the feast of Columba, martyr of Sens. 7 prayers (nos. 351-357) which praise Columba as virgin and martyr. The first prayer uses wordplay on the saint's name and the noun
columba, the dove, to emphasise her chastity. Further, the prayers mention that she was sent to a brothel (no. 356, Martyrdom of Columba 4-5), tortured by fire, and later beheaded (no. 352, Martyrdom of Columba 6-8).

Summary by M. Szada.

Liturgical Activities

Service for the saint
Liturgical invocation


Saint’s feast

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics – unspecified


The Orationale Visigothicum (Visigothic book of prayers), otherwise known as the Verona Orational or Libellus Orationum, is a late 7th or early 8th century liturgical book of Old Hispanic Rite, the oldest manuscript representing this variant of Latin liturgy. A firm terminus ante quem for the creation of the manuscript is a marginal note on fol. 3v mentioning the twentieth year of the reign of the Lombard king Liutprand (i.e. 732), by which time the book had already travelled to Italy. The manuscript is written in Visigothic minuscule of a very good quality; it is not certain in which Spanish scriptorium it was produced, though sometimes Tarragona is proposed because of the mention of the procession to the church of Jerusalem on the day of saint Fructuosus (the rubric of prayer no. 523, E05253, see Vives 1946, xxxiv; Diaz y Diaz 1997; Vivancos 2006, 133-134). For the churches known as 'Jerusalem' in Spain, see discussion in E03511.

The manuscript was transported from Spain, first to Sardinia (there is a cursive note on fol. 1, made by a certain Sergius Bicidominus of Cagliari), then to Pisa (as the note about King Liutprand records), and then to Verona (as evidenced by the notes added by 8th century Veronese scribes). Today the manuscript is kept in Biblioteca Capitolare in Verona as ms. LXXXIX (84). For a more detailed discussion of the manuscript, its dating, and palaeographical analysis, see the introduction by José Vives and Jeronimo Claveras to the critical edition, and Vivencos 2006.

See also

The codex has been digitised and can be consulted here:

Orationale is also preserved in another manuscript: British Library Add. 30852, most probably from the 9th c. Its text, however, is much less correct than that of Verona LXXXIX (84).


Vives, J., Oracional visigotico (Monumenta Hispaniae Sacra. Serie liturgica 1; Barcelona: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, 1946).

Further reading:
Lowe, E.A., Codices Latini Antiquiores: A Palaeographical Guide to Latin Manuscripts prior to the Ninth Century. Part 4: Italy. Perugia – Verona, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1947), no. 515. See on Earlier Latin Manuscripts:

Vivancos, M.C., "El oracional visigótico de Verona: notas codicológicas y paleográficas,"
Cuadernos de Filologia Clásica. Estudios Latinos 26 (2006), 121-144.

Record Created By

Marta Szada

Date Last Modified


Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00030Stephen, the First MartyrStephanusCertain
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristMariaCertain
S00042John, the Apostle and EvangelistIohannesCertain
S00401Eugenia, virgin and martyr of Rome, buried on the via Latina, and companionsEugeniaCertain
S00407Eulalia, virgin and martyr of MéridaEulaliaCertain
S01367Leocadia, martyr in Toledo, ob. 304/311LeocadiaCertain
S01862Columba, virgin and martyr of SensColumbaCertain

Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Marta Szada, Cult of Saints, E05172 -