Saint of the day:
Saint Eulalia of Barcelona
Patron Saint of runaways, torture victims, widows and Merida
The Story of Saint Eulalia of Barcelona
The daughter of a noble family, Eulalia lived near the city of Barcelona. During the persecutions under Diocletian, governor Dacian arrived in the city intent on enforcing the decrees. Some time later, Eulalia entered the city and confronted the governor for his merciless persecution of Christians. Unable to dismiss her eloquent appeals, Dacian had her stripped and flagellated. Afterwards, she was tortured with various implements until she would deny her beliefs or die. Her wounds were burned with torches, but the flames blew back against her tormentors. She prayed that God would take her to Heaven, then died.
A dove is supposed to have flown forth from her mouth following her death, then a sudden snowstorm covered her nude body like a garment.
It is traditionally believed that her tortures culminated in her crucifixion on an X-shaped cross, and she is depicted with this cross as the instrument of her martyrdom. However, it has been posited that she was instead publicly tortured on an X frame and left there after she died, artistic depictions of her martyrdom leading to the later belief that she was crucified.
There are a number of similarities with the description of the martyrdom of Eulalia of Mérida.
Her body was originally interred in the church of Santa Maria de les Arenes (St. Mary of the Sands; now Santa Maria del Mar, St. Mary of the Sea). It was hidden in 713 during the Moorish invasion, and only recovered in 878. In 1339, it was relocated to an alabaster sarcophagus in the crypt of the newly built Cathedral of Santa Eulalia. The festival of Saint Eulalia is held in Barcelona for a week around her feast day on February 12.
Eulalia is commemorated with statues and street names throughout Barcelona. Baixada de Santa Eulàlia "Saint Eulalia's descent") reflects a tradition that Eulalia was placed in a barrel with shards of glass and rolled down a street.
Barcelona, Provincia de Barcelona, Cataluna, Spain
The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia in Barcelona, Spain
Party like a Catalan!
There are many different parts to the festival that combine tradition, Catalan folklore and art. It begins with an integral part of many Catalan festivals – with groups of castellers (human towers) who climb on top of each other to compete to build the biggest ‘castle’. It then continues with traditional Catalan dance performances and a parade of the city’s giants (huge historic puppets) around La Rambla and Plaça Sant Jaume, including one of Eulàlia herself.
The festival runs in conjunction with Llum BCN, the city’s festival of light, which also honors the Saint Eulàlia. During this part of the festival, creative light installations are set up on routes across the city. There are three different colored trails to follow, which can be identified by colored lamps, as well as maps. The installations can include anything and change yearly; however, the light projections are popular. There are also nightly projections on the Town Hall in Plaça Sant Jaume.
Folklore and Correfocs
And if that wasn’t enough, to add to the excitement, there will also be explosive correfocs. Correfoc literally means ‘fire run’, and that’s essentially what it is – people dressed as devils running through the streets and spraying sparks from their pitchforks towards the crowds. Sometimes huge monsters or dragons will also be wheeled through the streets, spurting fireworks as they go. It’s actually not as scary as it sounds, and as long as you cover your body and your hair, you won’t feel a thing.
The correfoc, literally meaning ‘fire-run,’ is a type of open-air performance during which people dressed as devils and other monstrous creatures arm themselves with pitchforks and set off fireworks in the crowd. If it sounds like a health and safety nightmare, it’s usually relatively safe, as those who come to watch the correfoc usually come prepared with clothing to protect themselves from any eventual burns. And they need all the protection they can get as those participating in the correfoc are expected to get as close as possible to the evil creatures and ‘run with the fire.’
The aspa de Santa Eulàlia is a sugared brioche cake, like and X-shaped cross, decorated with glacé cherries. It is a typical to eat it on the Feast of Santa Eulàlia, one of Barcelona's two patron saints, and it is handed out with hot chocolate before the Laies procession, when they are waiting for the female giants that will lead it to gather. Some bakeries in Ciutat Vella and Sarrià make them specially and sell them during the day.
The X-shaped cross is attributed to Eulàlia because tradition says she suffered her final martyrdom on a cross and generally it appears with her image in any representations of her.
Brioche Loaf Bread
*Instead of forming a loaf make an X cross that is decorated
with cherries and topped with sanding sugar!
FOR THE SPONGE
1 c. all-purpose flour (128 g.)
1 0.25-oz.) packet or 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (7 g.)
1/2 c. milk, lukewarm (120 g.)
FOR THE DOUGH
6 large eggs, room temperature (320 g.)
3 c. all-purpose flour (384 g.)
1/2 c. granulated sugar (105 g.)
2 tsp. kosher salt (12 g.)
1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened, plus more for pans (227 g.)
FOR THE EGG WASH
1 large egg
1 tbsp. water
Kosher or sea salt, for sprinkling
Make the sponge: To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, add 1 cup flour, yeast, and milk. Using a spatula, mix until well combined, then cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 45 minutes.
Once the sponge has formed some air pockets, add in eggs, remaining 3 cups flour, sugar, and salt. Mix on medium speed until well combined, then gradually increase to medium-high speed and continue mixing until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and becomes shiny and elastic, scraping down bowl every 4 to 5 minutes, 10 to 13 minutes.
With the mixer running, add in butter gradually, 1 tablespoon at a time, letting each tablespoon fully incorporate into the dough before adding the next, 13 to 15 minutes. Continue mixing on medium-high speed for 5 to 7 minutes until the dough passes the windowpane test. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest about 1 hour or doubled in size.
To bake next day: Once dough has doubled in size, punch down to deflate dough completely, then re-cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight until you are ready to bake the next day. Follow instructions in the next step, letting dough proof until doubled before baking, longer if needed, up to 2 hours 30 minutes.
To bake same day: Once dough has doubled in size, turn out onto a floured surface and punch down dough. Divide in half using a bench scraper. Cut each half into six equal pieces. Flatten each piece into a rectangle, then fold short ends in towards each other as if folding a letter. Flatten again and tightly roll into a log starting with the short end. Repeat with all pieces.
Grease 8”-x-5” loaf pans with butter. Place 6 pieces of dough seam-side down in one straight row into each prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap.
Preheat oven to 375°. Let dough proof until puffy and doubled in size, 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining egg and water. Brush egg wash on top of loaf and sprinkle lightly with salt.
Bake until deeply golden on top and the center of the loaf registers between 190° and 205°, about 30 minutes.
Let cool 5 minutes then turn loaves out onto a cooling rack. Let cool completely.