St. Cordula Day

Cordula's Web Editors

Cordula (also Kordula) is a feminine first name. Its latin meaning "little heart" stems from cordis. Cordula is a very rare first name, which is still in sporadic use in german and english speaking countries, though it can also be found in France, Brazil, and other parts of the world as well. St. Cordula Day, October 22nd, is dedicated to St. Ursula's companion, who died approx. 453 A.D. and was spoken a saint by St. Albertus Magnus in 1278. She is portrayed as a maiden holding a ship.
The Legend of St. Cordula

Ursula, the daughter of a Christian king of Britain, King Dionotus of Cornwall, set on to a pelerinage to Rome. She sailed up the rhine with a following of 10 virgins in 11 ships. Each of them were accompanied with 1,000 maid servants. At Basel, they moored their ships and crossed the Alps. On their way back, they were stopped near Cologne by the invading Huns. The leader of the Huns immediately fell in love with the british princess and proposed to her. As he was rejected, he went mad and ordered the slaughter of Ursula, her companions and their 11,000 maiden servants. The slaughter went on the whole night.

Cordula, one of the virgins and a close friend to Ursula, being terrified by the tortures and slayings of the others, managed to hide deep in her ship and went undiscovered throughout that dreadful night. By the morning of the next day, repenting of her deed, she went out and fought valiantly the Huns and succumbed as a martyr, October 22nd, 453 A.D.

The Roman Martyrology has this to say about St. Cordula:

Apud Coloniam Agrippinam sanctae Cordulae, quae, cum esset una ex sodalibus sanctae Ursulae, atque aliarum suppliciis et caedibus perterrita se occultasset, postridie, ejus rei paenitens, se ultro patefecit Hunnis, et, novissima omnium, martyrii coronam accepit.

(At Cologne, St. Cordula, who was one of the companions of St. Ursula. Being terrified by the punishments and slaughter of the others, she hid herself, but repenting her deed, on the next day she declared herself to the Huns of her own accord, and thus was the last of them all to receive the crown of martyrdom.)

Cordula was spoken a saint by St. Albertus Magnus in the year 1278 A.D. Her designation as a saint precedes the practice of canonization by the Pope. She is portrayed as a maiden holding a ship.

Both St. Ursula and her companion St. Cordula are venerated at Cologne. St. Ursula is considered the patroness of maidens, drapers and teachers; invoked for chastity and holy wedlock, and against the plague. Cordula's remains were buried in the Johanniterkirche in Cologne but were later moved to Königswinter and Rimini.

The Legend of St. Ursula and St. Cordula, as told above, is still being taught in schools at and near Cologne, but there are doubts about its authenticity. We've collected the following excerpts which tell a slightly different, though similar story. If you know more about the Legend of St. Ursula and St. Cordula, please let us know, so that we can include it here.

-- Cordula's Web Editors.

Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins of Cologne

A group of virgins who were martyred at Cologne, Germany, perhaps under Diocletian in the 4th century. Their number probably 11 rather than 11,000, an exaggeration due to a misreading of Roman numerals and letters (Encyclopedia), or because of later events. During the 12th century a pious romance was preposterously elaborated through the mistakes of imaginative visionaries; a public burial ground uncovered at Cologne was taken to be the grave of the martyrs, false relics came into circulation, and forged epitaphs of non- existent persons were produced (Attwater).

There are two forms of the legend: one in Cologne and another Gallic. The legend says that Ursula was the daughter of a Christian king of Britain, who was granted a three-year postponement of a marriage she did not wish to a pagan prince, set sail with 10 companions in 11 ships. Each of her companions travelled with 1,000 maid-servants. They sailed to Cologne and then along the Rhein to Basel. At Basel they moored their ships and crossed the Alps in order to visit Rome. Ursula decided to lead her companions back to Cologne. There the leader of the Huns fell in love with her, was spurned, and massacred both the British princess and her 11,000 companions.

According to another legend, Amorica was settled by British colonizers and soldiers after Emperor Magnus Clemens Maximu conquered Britain and Gaul in 383. The ruler of the settlers, Cynan Meiriadog, called on King Dionotus of Cornwall for wives for the settlers, whereupon Dionotus sent his daughter Ursula, who was to marry Cynan, with 11,000 noble maidens and 60,000 common women. Their fleet was shipwrecked and all the women were enslaved or murdered (Delaney).

The story is difficult to believe as it stands. The earliest reference to the legend of her speaks only of 10 companions. The present story began to be told only in the 8th or 9th century. Yet some truth attaches itself to the tale, as is generally the case. An ancient stone let into the wall of Saint Ursula's Church in Cologne records that a certain senator Clematius rebuilt a memorial church in the 4th century over on the site of the martyrdom of a number of maidens. Nothing more is said about them for another 400 years, when in the ninth century the ramifying legend appears as taking shape (Attwater).

Baring-Gould suggests that Saint Ursula with her bow and arrow, her ship and company of maidens, sails up the Rhine as Urschel, the Teutonic moon goddess, sailed before her, with all the graceful attributes of Isis and Diana. She is likely to be one of the saints who has become confused with the old gods, that is, a real martyr's story has been embellished with that particulars of an old myth (Roeder).

Saint Ursula is represented as a princess holding an arrow. Sometimes (1) with maidens under her mantle; (2) an angel comes to her as she sleeps (Vittore Carpaccio's The Dream of St. Ursula); (3) she takes leave of her royal parents; (4) in a boat surrounded by maidens and ecclesiastics, as she sails down the Rhein; or (5) she and her companions massacred by bowmen (Roeder).

Other images include:

Saint Ursula is venerated at Cologne. She is considered the patroness of maidens, drapers, and teachers; invoked for chastity and holy wedlock, and against the plague (Roeder).

[Source: Saint Patrick's Church: Saints of October 21.]


  • Roeder: Roeder, Helen. (1955). Saints and their attributes: With a guide to localities and patronage. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company.
  • Benedictines: Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate. (1966). The book of saints: A dictionary of persons canonized or beatified by the Catholic Church. NY: Thomas Y. Crowell. Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate. (1947). The book of saints: A dictionary of servants of God canonized by the Catholic Church extracted from the Roman and other martyrologies. NY: Macmillan.
  • Attwater: Attwater, D. (1983). The penguin dictionary of saints, 2nd edition, revised and updated by Catherine Rachel John. New York: Penguin Books.
  • Delaney: Delaney, J. J. (1983). Pocket dictionary of saints. New York: Doubleday Image.
    Delaney, J. J. (ed). (1978). Saints for all seasons. Garden City, New York: Doubleday.
    Delany, S. P. (1950). Married Saints. Westminster, Maryland: The Newman Press.

[Source: Bibliography.]

October 22 Feast Day of St. Cordula

Little is known of St. Cordula who was a very early Christian in Cologne. She is said to have been a member of the following of St. Ursula. She is believed to have been martyred by the invading Huns. Her relics are in a shrine in the Johanniterkirche in Cologne. St. Albertus Magnus spoke of her as a saint in 1278. Her designation as a saint precedes the practice of canonization by the Pope.

[Sources: Paul A. Shons; Events in Religion and Philosophy.]

Cordula and Ursula

New link, not yet investigated: Ursula

Den hellige Cordula (2/300-t (~453?))

Minnedag: 22. oktober

Skytshelgen for Köln og Tortosa

Den hellige Cordula er en apokryf helgen som var en av de "11.000 jomfruer" som skal ha ledsaget den hellige Ursula og lidd martyrdøden sammen med henne.

Legenden forteller at Cordula gjemte seg i redsel i et av skipene under blodbadet; særlig gjorde det inntrykk på henne at prinsesse Ursula ble skutt med en pil gjennom halsen. Men Herren styrket henne, og neste dag kom hun frem fra sitt skjulested til de forbløffede hunerne. Hun ble straks drept med kniv.

Fordi hun ikke led martyrdøden med de andre, ble det i lang tid ikke feiret noen fest for henne. Da viste hun seg for noen eremittnonner og gjorde kjent at man skulle feire hennes fest den 22. oktober, dagen etter de 11.000 jomfruene, noe som også skjedde.

I 1278 ble hennes relikvier skrinlagt av biskop Albert den Store (Albertus Magnus) i Johanitter-kirken i Köln. Etter sekulariseringen i Tyskland kom relikviene til Königswinter, noen også til Rimini ved Adriaterhavet i Italia.

Det er noe mystisk at hennes død blir regnet til ca år 453, mens Ursula etter legenden døde 150 år før. Hennes minnedag den 22. oktober ble strøket i 1969-revisjonen av kalenderen.

Cordula fremstilles oftest i fornem drakt, og som attributter har hun skip, pil, lanse, krans eller krone.

Kilder: Benedictines, Schauber/Schindler - Kompilasjon og oversettelse: Per Einar Odden -


Cordula. Das Schwarze Netz.

(Kordula, griech. ";Jungfräulichkeit") Diese Märtyrein war eine Zeitgenossin und Gefährtin der hl. Ursula und nahm an deren Zug der 11.000 Jungfrauen teil.

Als Ursula mitsamt ihrem frommen Heer bei Köln das Martyrium erlitt, konnte sie zunächst entrinnen, weil sie auf dem Schiff, mit dem sie reiste, ein günstiges Versteck fand. Doch als das große Töten anhub, mochte Cordula nicht zurückstehen und stellte sich, bereit zu sterben, den mordenden Hunnen.

Reliquien der Cordula konnten seit 1278 in der Johanniterkirche zu Köln ausgestellt werden, Bischof Albertus Magnus besorgte ihre Erhebung. Später (nach der Säkularisation des Gotteshauses) wurden die Gebeine nach Königswinter verbracht.

Dargestellt wird Cordula als vornehm gekleidete Frau, mit Schiff, Krone, Kranz, Pfeil und/oder Lanze.

Sie ist Patronin von Köln und Tortosa.

Gedenktag der Cordula ist der 22. Oktober.


Cordula (Kordula). Ökumenisches Heiligenlexikon

Gedenktag katholisch: 22. Oktober
Name bedeutet: das Mädchen (griech.) oder das Herz (latein).
Märtyrerin um 304 (?) oder um 451 (?) in Köln.

Cordula, von königlicher Abkunft, gilt als eine der 11.000 Gefährtinnen der Ursula von Köln. Sie hatte sich nach der Legende beim Herannahen der Hunnen im unteren Schiffsraum verborgen und war nicht entdeckt worden, verließ aber freiwillig ihr Versteck, um sich den Martertod der anderen nicht zu entziehen und wurde nachträglich mit einem Pfeilschuß umgebracht.

Cordulas Gebeine kamen in die Johanniterkirche in Köln, 1278 wurden sie von Albertus Magnus erhoben. Nach der Säkularisation kamen sie nach Königswinter und Rimini.

[Source: Ökumenisches Heiligenlexikon.]

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