Other Free Encyclopedias » Online Encyclopedia » Encyclopedia - Featured Articles » Contributed Topics from U-Z

Ursula, Saint

century cologne legend maidens

The basis for the legend of Saint Ursula may be traced to the ninth or tenth century, when an early fifth-century inscription was discovered in Cologne commemorating the dedication of a church to eleven virgin martyrs. A misreading of the Roman numerals of the inscription resulted in their expansion to 11,000 virgins, and a similarly expansive elaboration of the legend (e.g., in the twelfth century by the English historian Geoffrey of Monmouth, in the thirteenth century by Jacobus de Voragine in the * Golden Legend , and in the fourteenth century visions of Elisabeth of Schonau). Although details diverge, these sources largely recount that Ursula was a Christian princess of Brittany who was sought in matrimony by the son of an English (pagan) king. She had consecrated her virginity to *God; and to avoid war, an *angel advised her to ask for a stay of three years. During this period, she undertook a journey by land and boat, accompanied by ten maidens, each with a thousand companions. After landing at Cologne, they made a *pilgrimage to Rome; upon their return to Cologne they were attacked by Huns. She and all her companions were killed; Ursula was shot with an arrow for refusing to marry the pagan chief. The citizens of Cologne gathered up the remains, and a basilica in their honor was constructed.

Cycles illustrating the story of Saint Ursula and the Eleven Thousand Virgins are numerous in later medieval art, especially panel painting and stained glass. As an independent figure, she is depicted as richly dressed, wearing a crown, holding the arrow of her *martyrdom, and protectively spreading her cloak over a crowd of kneeling maidens who flank her on either side, their hands clasped in *prayer.

User Modeling in MPEG-7 [next] [back] Urey, Harold Clayton

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or