In honour of Barcelona’s co-patron saint, February 12th has been declared a local holiday this year to mark the Festes de Santa Eulália; a fitting occasion to roll out the giant statues, dragons, and correfoc fancy dress for the city’s wintertime festival.
Born in 290—a particularly bad time to be a practising Christian—Eulàlia was a brave, 13-year-old virgin, who suffered martyrdom at the hands of Roman emperor Diocletian, who sentenced her to 13 tortures, one for every year of her life.
She was the city’s only patron for over 1000 years until 1687, when Barcelona was attacked by a terrible plague and the desperate city dwellers prayed to her for help. When the plague continued, the fickle Barcelonians turned their attention to Our Lady of Mercy, who was seemingly more successful in answering their prayers, and thereafter became the co-patron (and more celebrated) saint.
Nevertheless, the city still has a soft spot for the child martyr, often referred to as the children’s saint, and this month she will be celebrated with joyful fervour in parades, music and dance performances across the old town.
As part of the celebrations, many of Barcelona's museums will open their doors free of charge. Most museums will be offering free entry on Friday 12th, and some are extending the offer to cover the whole weekemd. A list of all the museums taking part can be found here.
Click here for more information about other activities taking place this bank holiday weekend.