Flora and Maria were the first two of nine female Christian Martyrs of Córdoba. After denouncing Islam to an Islamic judge they were imprisoned. Though threatened "with being thrown upon the streets as prostitutes", they were eventually beheaded. Their example inspired other Christians to become martyrs.
Flora was born to a Christian mother and a Muslim father. Her father died when she was still very young, and Flora was brought up as a Christian. Her Muslim older brother kept trying to make Flora adopt Islam; when his efforts failed, he gave his sister up to the authorities. Flora was imprisoned and condemned to be lashed until she bled. After the whipping the half-alive girl was released to the custody of her brother. When her wounds healed she ran away to join a Christian community. Flora met Maria at the church of St. Aciscius.
Maria was born to a Christian father and Muslim mother. Her mother was baptized some time after she got married. Fearing the charges of apostasy, the couple with their two children left the town they lived in, Elche and moved to the village of Fronianus. Maria lost her mother at a young age. Her father sent her to convent in Cuteclara. The convent’s abbess Artemia, told Maria a story about witnessing the execution of her two sons by the Muslim rulers that happened thirty years earlier. The story had a long-lasting impression on the girl. Maria’s older brother Walabonsus also got a religious education, at the monastery of St. Felix. The siblings, who were separated when Maria was sent to a convent and Walabonsus to the monastery, met again when Walabonsus was appointed to Maria’s convent as one of the supervisors. On July 16, 851, Walabonsus was executed by Muslim authorities. The execution of her brother and the story of Artemia were the major factors that prompted Maria to follow in her brother’s footsteps.
Arrest, imprisonment, sentence and execution
In jail Flora was offered a full pardon if she "returned" to Islam, but she explained that the only beliefs she had ever held were those of the Christian faith. This explanation was not accepted because, according to Islamic law, a child born to even one Muslim parent should have adopted Islam as his or her religion. Sabigotho used to visit Flora and Maria in jail and once spent a night in their cell "as if she herself were shackled, not only to console the two soldiers, but to confide in them her own intention to die".
In accordance with Islamic law Flora and Maria were found guilty of two different crimes. Flora was executed for apostasy, and Maria was executed for blasphemy. Before the executions the young women were threatened "with being thrown upon the streets as prostitutes", which was an unbearable punishment for the virgins. They were beheaded on November 24, 851.
Flora and Maria were the first two of nine females Christian Martyrs of Córdoba described by Eulogius of Córdoba in his Memorial of the Saints. Their example inspired other Christians to become martyrs.
- ^ a b c d Charles Reginald (March 4, 2010). Christianity and Islam in Spain A.D. 756-1031. Forgotten Books. p. 41. ISBN 978-1451007527.
- ^ a b c d e f g Kenneth Baxter Wolf. "The Martyrs of Córdoba".
- ^ a b c Marcelle Thiébaux. The Writings of medieval women: an anthology. p. 180.
- ^ a b c d Ann Christys. Christians in Al-Andalus, 711-1000. p. 76.