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St. Quiteria, Virgin and Martyr

Commemorated on May 22

St. Quiteria was a fifth century virgin martyr and saint. Her name comes from the title that the Phoenicians gave to the goddess Astarte – Kythere, Kyteria, or Kuteria – which means “the red one.” She may have been named after the pagan goddess.

St. Quiteria was the daughter of a Galician prince. Her father wanted her to marry and renounce Christianity, but Quiteria fled. Her father’s men found her at Aire-sur-l’Adour, in Gascony, and she was beheaded on the spot.

The Church of Sainte-Quitterie in Aire-sur-l’Adour is dedicated to her. This church was on the pilgrimage route called the Way of St. James. St. Quiteria was especially venerated in the border region shared by France and Spain, which included Navarre. However, there are many churches dedicated to her in France, Spain, Portugal, and Brazil.

Her relics were buried at Aire-sur-l’Adour, but were scattered by the Huguenots.

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