Eulalia (Making a martyr)
Eulalia (Making a martyr)

Making a martyr in medieval Iberia, 589-1080

1 February 2020 until 30 January 2025
Project member(s)
Dr K. Ihnat (Kati) C.E.J. Hoijinck (Cathrien) , Affiliated members and interns: Litha Efthymiou (PhD), Tetz Frielinck (MA), Ellen Joosten (MA), Carlo Beijen (MA)
Project type

This project promises new insights into how societies make martyrs by looking to early medieval Iberia, which was home to a widespread and very active devotion to indigenous Christian martyr saints. Many of these had been killed by the Romans in the late-antique period, but a number of ‘new martyrs’ emerged in the ninth and tenth centuries as apparent victims of Muslim authorities. The project is the first to explore the cultural construction of Iberian martyrs across late antiquity into the early middle ages, in both the Christian northern kingdoms and in Al-Andalus, placing ritual commemoration at its heart: the regular celebration of martyr saints in the Christian liturgy. The project (with Kati Ihnat as PI) will examine how liturgical sources communicated the ideal of martyrdom but always in dialogue with material evidence (relics, churches, etc.).


Two subprojects stand central: one unlocking what the music of the liturgy tells us about martyr-building (Melanie Shaffer, post-doc), and one investigating the entanglement of religious practices between Christianity, Islam and Judaism in Al-Andalus (Cathrien Hoijinck, PhD). The interdisciplinary and comparative approach will contribute new methodologies to the study of religion by showing how ritual shapes society in different contexts through forming collective identities, cultural memory and religious ideals.

London, British Library Add. MS 30845, f. 56r (Making a martyr)

Subproject: Setting martyrs to music

This subproject looks into the music of the Old Hispanic commemoration of martyrs, exploring how it helped shape the identity of the martyr being commemorated.

Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France MS Hébreu 1082, f. 16r

Subproject: Cultures of martyrdom in Al-Andalus

The focus of this subproject is the so-called Cordoban Calendar, a combination of Arabic-language almanac and Christian liturgical calendar.


Read blogs about the project here.


This project is also working on putting together a database on Iberian saints. The Iberian saints database combines liturgical, musical and material evidence enabling for the first time a holistic exploration of saints’ cults in medieval Iberia. It integrates liturgical texts found in manuscripts with the material culture that made up saints’ cults, including churches, relics, religious objects, inscriptions and the evidence from charters. Visualised on maps, this information opens up new understandings of how devotion to saints emerged in Iberia, how it moved and changed over time, and the forms it took in different areas. It integrates two projects: the AHRC-funded ‘Doctrine, devotion and cultural expression in the cults of medieval Iberian saints’ (hosted at the University of Bristol) and the NWO-funded ‘Making a martyr in medieval Iberia, 589-1080’ (hosted at Radboud University), and has been put together by a team that includes Catherine Hoijinck, Emma Hornby, Kati Ihnat, Maeve O’Donnell and Jamie Wood, as well as the Humanities Lab at Radboud University. It is currently still under construction. 


Contact information