Volume 59, Issue 1, June 2019
Braulio of Zaragoza’s Letters on Mourning
Braulio of Zaragoza (c. 585/595-651) was one of the most prolific writers of seventh century Visigothic Spain. The collection of 44 letters that he wrote are a unique and rich depository of information for that era and region of western Christendom. He was a personal adviser to three Visigothic kings, Chinthila and Chindasvinth and Reccesvinth, and he correspondended with his renowned contemporary Isidore of Seville. This study focuses on the letters that he directed at people who had lost a loved one and who needed consolation in their moment of mourning. The letters do not reveal anything about funerary burial practices, but they do yield a rare personal glimpse of what the Church taught about mourning the dead. Personal letters by their very nature are a literary means where people
express their intimate feelings, in this case both those who were the recipients and Braulio who wrote to them. We see the Bishop of Zaragoza at his pastoral best in the letters of consolation written to family and friends who were mourning.