At the end of the Dioclecian period and after Constantine achieved his victory against Majencium on the Tiver Riverbank, the new emperor -who, guided by a vision, had made his soldiers fight showing the Blessed Cross of Christ on their shields- proclaimed freedom of worship in the imperium, in the year 313, by issuing the edict of Milan, which put an end to the prosecutions suffered by those who did not share the veneration for the Roman dieties. This religious opening allowed Calagurritans to remove the clandestine nature from the worship they professed to the two heroes martyred by the riverbanks of the Cidacos, whose festivity was solemnly celebrated -according to some Mozarab calendars and some martyrologies- on March, 3th, date which still coincides with the Winter Festivals held in their honour in Calahorra.

With religious freedom, the Calagurritan Christian community did not need to hide to celebrate their meetings so that, already in the middle of the 4th century, they honoured the memory of the Saints with the construction of a little basilica. Attached to it, on the same location where the two brothers had been born to their new life next to Christ, a Baptisterium (Heron or martyrium) was erected. Its water was destined to give way to the birth in the faith of Christ to all the believers who would wash their faults therein. This church, which was called principal, became the See of a great Diocese and, with the passage of time and numerous reconstructions, it turned into the Episcopal Church, and finally, into the Cathedral that we behold nowadays. The current baptisterium occupies the area where the first church of our community was built and, within it, the great baptismal font of lobed gothic style (Font of the Saints) is located on the original spot where the martyrdom took place.

The Diocese of Calahorra, sheltered by its Patron Saints, had moments of great prosperity and became the focus of attention for many parishioners, who came from different places in search for a guide which might help and strengthen their faith. Together with the periods of great splendor, the Episcopal See also suffered from the consequences derived from the great instability in certain moments in the life of the surrounding population. Thus, in the 5th century, Bishop Silvano had to defend himself from the accusations reported to Rome because, driven by necessity and the urgency of the situation, he had appointed a bishop for the vacant see in the neighbouring Auca (Villafranca de Montes de Oca) without waiting for the approval from Tarragona, given that the roads were closed due to the peasant revolt of the bagaudas. In spite of the difficulties, the crisis was soon solved and the Diocese did not face a problem of great dimensions until the arrival of the Muslims.

The archives of the Cathedral confirm that around the year 714 the troops of infidels guided by the emir Muza ibn-Nusayr occupied the Weled Assiqia (the Land of Irrigation Channels) to which Calahorra belonged, together with most of what nowadays is known as the region of Lower La Rioja. All along the 8th century Christians were the victims of punishments and prosecutions to which the new comers subjected them. By the end of the century, the oppression forced bishop Teodomirus to live in Oviedo, in exile. From that city, under the protection of the royal court, he continued the direction of the Diocese in the 9th century, during which two other Calagurritan bishops were also shetered by the king. Meanwhile, the situation in Calahorra intensified when, in the 10th century, Mutarrib al-Morrid ordered the destruction of the Cathedral in an attempt to break and submit its inhabitants. In the year 914, given the difficult situation of the Christians in La Ribera, it was decided that Najera -always attentive to the model establish by the Diocese of Calahorra- would look after the believers in the region until Calahorra would return to Christian hands once more, which happened in the next century.

Calagurris
Calagurris

In spite of the strong yoke with which the Muslims wanted to oppress the Christians, the parishioners did not stop from honouring and worshipping the Martyr Saints, who transmitted them the necessary courage to face the difficult proofs laid before them during the years that the Arabs remained in Calahorra. However, as soon as it was felt that the men of the Islam were lying on the wait, and for fear that their rage may ruin the relics of the noble brothers, a group of Calagurritans took the heads of the Saints to keep them safely in the mountains. The pilgrims advanced towards Cantabria, following the steps given by Saint Millan in the 4th century, when he had headed there for the Christianisation of those lands, where he had founded several monasteries. The travellers stopped at Somorrostro -whose strategic location opposite the sea had already led to Roman occupation. The choice of that location, at the top of the hill, may have also been prompted by a feeling of nostalgia for the little plateau where the settlement of the dearest Calahorra they had left was located. Be it as it may, they founded an abbey which would turn into the Cathedral around which,with due passage of time, a urban nucleus would develop under the name of one of the Martyr Saints, thenceforth being known as Santander.

In the year 1045, while the abbey in Santander was prospering, García III de Nájera recovered Calahorra for Christendom, and in 1076 the Cid (with the blessing of two other glorious Spanish figures, Saint Emeterius and Saint Celedonius) enabled the union of Calahorra to Castille. Far from the danger represented by the Arabs, the Diocese of Calahorra recovered its ancient location as head of the community of believers among whom the faith of the Only and True God could be preached, as it had been done earlier by its founder, Tubal, who had also carried the teachings of faith of his grandfather, Noah, to the lands of Cantabria and other points in the Iberian Peninsula. Once again erected as the Episcopal See, the Diocese of Calahorra witnessed the increase of its dimensions with the annexation of the territories of the diocese of Álava, which had always been a historical part of the Diocese according to the visigotic division of Wamba. Later, its limits extended up to include part of Burgos and Vizcay and, in different moments of our history, the eyes of Christendom were attentively set on Calahorra. During the Middle Ages the influence of the Diocese was felt in different points in Spain, where the worship and devotion for the Martyrs from Calahorra was extended, as it is widely proved by the monasteries, churches and altarpieces built under their advocacy.

The legend of the Martyr Saints has been kept alive up to the present day, so that every 3th of March the city honours its Patrons taking them in a Procession named after them. This event is repeated again on 31st of August, during the week of festivities celebrated in honour of the Saints (celebrations which where translated to the summer period so that they would not interfere with the celebration of Lent). Thus, year after year, Calagurritans approach the Cathedral united by their veneration for the relics that remind us of the courage with which the Patron Saints testified their faith and which, being kept in urns cast with the noble golden metal, announce the great love that the inhabitants of the city feel for these Saints, whose name -as the illustrious poet Prudencio sang- "was engraved in Golden letters by God. Once Calagurritans are in front of the images of their Saints, full of admiration and respect, sing their hymn so as to ask for their protection and guidance in their faith: "Glorious Martyrs, Glorious Martyrs, / Pray the Lord that He may keep our faith."

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