Thursday, August 21, 2014

Quitterie

This French saint name, pronouned KEY-tehr-ee (said very fast in native tongue), is lively and upbeat. Unsurprisingly, this girl's name means "quiet," from Latin quietus. This French spelling is a variant of Quiteria (key-TAY-ree-uh), known as the 5th century virgin martyr who had her own cult. She is known as Quiteira (key-TERR-uh) in Occitan. It is possible the true origin of her name is from Kythere, meaning "the red one," which was another title of the Phoenician goddess Astarte, or it could be from Cytherea, another name of Aphrodite, which is associated with the island Kythira.

Legend has it Quitterie was the daughter of a Galician prince who disobeyed her father, refusing to marry. She suffered the same fate as her sister Liberate - both were captured and beheaded for refusing to renounce Christianity. There is a church in Aire-sur-l'Adour, France devoted to her. Santa Quiteria in Brazil is also named for her.

In Portuguese religious tradition, however, Quiteria was the leader of the "Nine Nonuplet Sisters," Eumelia (Euphemia), Genebra (Ginevra), Vitoria (Victoria), Liberata (Virgeforte), Marica, Basilissa (Vasilisa), Germana, and Gema (Margarida). The tale is very similar to that of Saint Marina from Galicia. I am uncertain why it was such a bad thing, but the mother of these girls was so disgusted that she had nine children at one time that she ordered a maid to drown them in a nearby river. The maid did not follow orders and eventually the girls met their father as adults, but when they refused to marry who he wanted them to he locked them up in a tower. They were able to free themselves as well as all the other prisoners, and then a guerilla war started. In the end, Quitterie was caught and beheaded, while her sister Euphemia ran off a cliff away from soldiers.

Quitterie and her variant spellings remain rare worldwide (see here for French information). White Pages tells us there are about 4 women in the US named Quitterie, and 44 named Quiteria.

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