| The Acta
Sanctorum dates St. Hilarian of Espalion as 8th or 9th
century and cites the 17th-century Gallican Martyrology
for his martyrdom at the hands of "the impious." The author
of the martyrology also reports the tradition that Hilarian
carried his severed head to a spring, washed it clean, and
took it to his "mother" (possibly meaning the local church).
Ever after, locals have called the spring "Fontsange," or
"sacred spring," and have considered it a source of
The "impious" of the martyrology are identified as Saracens by local legend. Other texts, which I have not seen, are said to recount the saint's escape from the Saracens by crossing the river Lot using his cloak as a boat. A stained-glass window in the church in Espalion pictures this event.
In portraits, St. Hilarian carries his head in his hands, as at right. As a priest, he is usually portrayed in Mass vestments: a chasuble with a Y-shaped cross over an alb and cassock, again as at right.
Prepared in 2014 at Georgia Regents University by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English
ANOTHER IMAGE (Click for full size and description):
1 Acta Sanctorum, June vol. 2, 1068-69.