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Emilian of Cogolla

Spanish saint
The basics
Date of birth Berdejo, Zaragoza Province, Aragon, Spain
Date of death 574 Monastery of San Millán de Suso, San Millán de la Cogolla, La Rioja, Spain
Authority VIAF id ISNI id Library of congress id
The details

Saint Aemilian (in Latin Emilianus or Aemilianus) (12 November 472 – 11 June 573) is an Iberic saint, widely revered throughout Spain, who lived during the age of Visigothic rule.


His place of birth, described as Vergegio in his Vita, which is identified with Berceo in La Rioja, close to the monastery he founded, which bears his name and conserves his relics.

According to his Vita, written by Braulius, bishop of Caesaraugusta (modern Zaragoza) roughly a hundred years after the saint's death, Emilianus was a shepherd who had a religious experience, perhaps around the age of twenty, which led him to decide to dedicate himself to God's service. He sought out an experienced hermit in Bilibio, Felix (more usually known by the Spanish form of his common name, San Felices), where Emilianus lived for a number of years.

After leaving his teacher, Emilianus lived as a hermit (perhaps even a gyrovagus) in the mountains or on the historic Roman road which became the Camino de Santiago. Didymus the Bishop of Tarazona ordained Emilianus as priest. However, Emilianus aroused the opposition of his fellow priests because of his heavy distribution of alms or reputation for holiness or miracleworking. Emilianus returned to the wilderness, and a small community of disciples gathered around his cell. He died at a venerable age, and was buried in his cell.


Braulius also recorded miracles that occurred after Aemilian's death, but the fame of the San Millán de la Cogolla monastery dedicated in his memory (and which held his tomb) eclipsed that of its founder. San Millán de Suso monastery is known for its Mozarabic architecture, and its growing popularity during the heyday of the pilgrimage rout led to its expansion in the eleventh century with San Millán de Yuso (the communities however having separate abbots until the 12th century).

The longstanding monastic community (Benedictine by the mid-medieval era) is credited with one of the oldest books written in the Spanish language, the Vida de San Millán de la Cogolla (biography by Gonzalo de Berceo). St. Dominic of Silos (the miracleworker for whom Saint Dominic was named) also received his education and began his religious career at San Millan monastery.

He is a patron saint of La Rioja; the longer name of San Millán de la Cogolla refers to the monastic cowl. Because of the monastery's role on the traditional pilgrimage route, representations of Emilianus can be mixed with that of Saint James the Moor-slayer, such as a Benedictine on horseback with a banner and sword.

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