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Hot Post: The Christian Martyrs of Córdoba

Posted on August 22 2010 10:00 pm
Lisa Graas has covered politics and religion at her blog since 2008. She has served as a crisis pregnancy counselor, youth speaker, mental health advocate and legislative consultant.

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President Obama, How Does Islam Advance “the Dignity of All Human Beings” when its Prophet Practiced and Condoned Sex Slavery?

New York City imam Feisal Abdul Rauf claims that the proposed mosque at Ground Zero is an attempt by the Muslim community to “build bridges“.

It is named after Cordoba in southern Spain, a city where between the eighth and 12th centuries, Muslims, Jews and Christians intermingled freely. In fact, during the 10th century under the Moorish caliphate, Cordoba became a major global city and boasted the world’s biggest library.
Is the imam telling the truth? Catholic history indicates a different picture. According to our records, things started out rather bad under Muslim rule, by today’s standards, and went downhill over time.

In 786 the Arab caliph, Abd-er Rahman I, began the construction of the great mosque of Cordova [Cordoba], now the cathedral, and compelled many Christians to take part in the preparation of the site and foundations. Though they suffered many vexations, the Christians continued to enjoy freedom of worship, and this tolerant attitude of the ameers seduced not a few Christians from their original allegiance. Both Christians and Arabs co-operated at this time to make Cordova a flourishing city, the elegant refinement of which was unequalled in Europe. Under Abd-er Rahman II there came a change in the attitude of the Arab rulers, and a fierce persecution ensued, during which many Christians were accused of abusing the memory of Mohammed, of entering mosques, and of conspiracy against the Government.
If you would describe the above as “living in peace” then it was fairly easy to “live in peace” with the Islamists in the beginning, provided that you were among the “seduced”. The fact that an atmosphere which we modern folk recognize clearly as intolerance was described then as a “tolerant attitude” is an indication not of actual tolerance but rather the brutality of the age. In examining history, sometimes it’s important that we grade on a curve rather than compare to our own time in considering which civilizations were the most brutal. Having said that, it is notable that this “tolerant attitude” of the Muslims who ruled Cordoba is indicated to have “seduced not a few Christians”.

After a hundred years, as things got worse for Christians, there was disagreement among them about the best way to deal with the situation.

In the person and work of Paulus of Albarus of Cordova, we are thrust into the midst of the troubled conditions of Moorish Spain in the mid-ninth century. Most of the peninsula had been under the yoke of the [Muslims] for more than a hundred years. […]

[…] The situation was tragic for the morale of the Christian subjects. Many of them had accepted Islam, some wholeheartedly, others externally only; and some sought relief in conversion to the related Semitic religion, Judaism. But even among those Mozarabs who remained loyal to the church, divergent attitudes appeared: there were those who wanted to accommodate Christianity to the Moorish environment and there were those who believed that such acquiescence to hostile pressure was dishonorable if not tantamount to apostasy.
You won’t read things like that on Islamist sites like the Cordoba Initiative Blog. The above seems to describe basically what we are now going through in America with our discussions about the proposed Ground Zero mosque and our “divergent attitudes” about the best way to “accommodate” (or not accommodate) Islam.

St. Eulogius penned the Memoriale Sanctorum which is a Christian martyrology providing the accounts of the deaths of the Martyrs of Córdoba.

His extant writings are proof that Alvarus did not exaggerate. They give an account of what is most important from 848 to 859 in Spanish Christianity, both without and within the Mussulman dominions, especially of the lives of the martyrs who suffered during the Saracenic persecution, quorum para ipse magna fuit. He was elected Archbishop of Toledo shortly before he was beheaded (11 March, 859).
Orthodox England provides a general overview of the martyrology and the background information explaining what led to the martyrdoms.

Under Muslim rule since the year 711, many Orthodox of Cordoba had settled into an all too ‘comfortable’ relationship with their rulers. Martyrdom was to challenge the conformism and complacency of most of the Christians of Cordoba who, though second-class citizens, lived harmoniously with their Muslim rulers. In reality, they were gradually, almost unnoticeably, being assimilated. Most notably of all, the erastian-minded Bishop of Cordoba, one Reccafredus, placed compromised and co-operation with the Muslim authorities above the Faith. In fact, controversially, and scandalously, he was to side with the Muslims against the martyrs of his own Church that he was supposed to represent. No doubt he feared loss of power and the closure of some of the four basilicas and nine monasteries in and around Cordoba.

History, therefore, bears out the brutal reality that “living in peace” to Islamists means that you can be secure provided that you do things their way. The imam asks us to look to the example of Cordoba and to consider that we can have such a society again with the building of a mosque at Ground Zero. He has saved us much trouble in suggesting that. The history for us is clear and it is a history that no Catholic would like to see a repeat of in Manhattan.

Here are some of the names of the Martyrs of Cordoba and why they died.

St. Perfectus, priest: Promised security if he would reveal his true belief about Islam. Betrayed and murdered after he did just that.

St. Isaac, secretary of the imam, later went to a monastery. Willfully denounced Mohammed. Beheaded and suspended upside down in public.

SS. Peter, Walabonsus, Sabinian, Wistremund, Habentius and Jeremiah — a priest, a deacon and some monks, martyred for saying the following words to the authorities:

We abide by the same confession, O magistrate, that our most holy brothers Isaac and Sanctius professed. Now hand down the sentence, multiply your cruelty, be kindled with complete fury in vengeance for your prophet. We profess Christ to be truly God and your prophet to be a precursor of Antichrist and an author of profane doctrine.

As we Catholics read the Memoriale Sanctorum, we are more apt to question the goals of the Cordoba Initiative. What we see from Cordoba is a people duped by a murderous culture which pretended to be something it is not and ultimately left all non-Muslims under the rule of Sharia Law. If that is what the imam refers to as “living in peace,” we’ll have to pass on that.


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