Quiteria - Quiteria and The Nine Nonuplet Sisters

Quiteria and The Nine Nonuplet Sisters

Portuguese religious traditions state that Saint Quiteria was the leader of the "Nine Nonuplet Sisters," who were named Eumelia (Euphemia); Liberata (Virgeforte); Gema (Marinha, Margarida); Genebra; Germana; Basilissa; Marica; and Vitoria (Victoria). These were born in Minho to an important Roman military official. Their mother, disgusted at the fact that she had given birth to nine daughters all at once as if she were a common peasant (or an animal), ordered a maid to take them to a river to drown them. Their father was unaware of their birth.

Disobeying her mistress, however, the maid gave the girls over to some local women who brought them up. As adult women, they opposed the worship of Roman gods and were brought before their father, who recognized them as his daughters. Their father wanted them to marry Roman officers or other suitors. The nonuplets refused and were imprisoned in a tower. However, they escaped and liberated all of their other prisoners. They subsequently waged a guerrilla war in the mountains against the Roman Empire.

Quiteria was caught and beheaded. Her sister Euphemia, unable to escape from the soldiers who pursued her, threw herself from a cliff situated today in the Peneda-GerĂªs National Park (it is called today Penedo da Santa, Cliff of the Saint). A rock opened up and swallowed her and on the spot there sprang up a hot spring.

This is a legend that closely follows that of the Galician Saint Marina, who is said to have been one of nine sisters. (citation needed)

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