pietra di san patrick

St Patrick's Cathedral - St Patrick's Stone

Today we take you to Dublin, inside a very special place: St Patrick's Cathedral, one of the two Protestant cathedrals under the auspices of the Church of Ireland in Dublin, and more precisely the larger one. It houses an ancient artefact: St Patrick's stone.

But who exactly was this saint?

Most of what we know about St Patrick's life comes from his own words. All written in ancient documents called 'Confesto' and 'Epistola'. He was born in Roman Britain and at the age of 16 was captured by Irish raiders travelling along the west coast of Britain. He did not see his family for about six years. And it was during his enslavement that he found God, praying every day for strength and hope. Once freed, he became a missionary, dedicating his life to bringing Christianity to the pagan population of Ireland.

According to local legend, St Patrick used a well, right where the cathedral dedicated to him now stands, some 1500 years ago to baptise converts. Today, an ancient early Christian tombstone, discovered in 1901, can be seen in the church. It covers the remains of an ancient well that may have been the same one used by St Patrick.

The stone was found near the entrance to what is now St Patrick's Park, next to the cathedral. As many as six slabs like this one were found in 1901, while the park was under construction. These slabs are over a thousand years old and were probably used as burial markers on the site of a church that stood here before the cathedral was built.

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Basilica of San Siro - The saint and the basilisk

The Basilica of San Siro is one of the oldest churches in Genoa, erected according to tradition in the fourth century. This church, initially dedicated to the Holy Apostles, was then dedicated to San Siro, a character whose life is linked to many stories.

Saint Syrus became bishop of Genoa around the middle of the fourth century. He is also remembered as "San Siro da Struppa" or "San Siro di San Remo", the city that, while still a deacon, he was sent to evangelize.
So far, nothing extraordinary. But the saint is most famous for having defeated a legendary animal, none other than a basilisk. The basilisk is a mythological creature also referred to as the "king of serpents". This animal had the power to kill or petrify its poor victims with a single glance in the eye. And any living thing that came into contact with its breath or was bitten died instantly. The basilisk lived in desert environments created by itself. One of its main characteristics was the ability to dry up shrubs not only by touching them, but also by looking at them.

Legend has it that the monster would have tormented the Genoese for a long time. Its refuge was situated at the bottom of a well next to the present Basilica dedicated to San Siro. According to the reports, however, it seems that the bishop of Genoa decided to face it at a certain point, by removing the monster from its shelter.

The defeat of the basilisk, which according to scholars probably symbolizes the defeat of the Arian heresy, perfectly embodied by the basilisk, has left several traces behind. To recall the legendary clash between the creature and the saint, there is in fact a medieval bas-relief walled between the arches of a thirteenth-century portico in the widening in front of the southern side of the Basilica of San Siro. While inside, in the apse, you can admire a seventeenth-century fresco by Giovanni Battista Carlone.
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alabarda di san sergio

Trieste Cathedral - The halberd of St. Sergius

The story of the halberd of St. Sergius, symbol of Trieste, is one of the most ancient legends about the city, always linked to its Cathedral.
The Cathedral of Trieste is a building dedicated to Saint Just. Just was a Roman soldier who converted to Christianity and, besides refusing to kill Christians, disobeyed Diocletian's order to bow down before pagan idols. For this he ended up at the bottom of the sea with a weight on his feet.

According to tradition, however, the ropes came loose and his body was carried by the waves to the shores of Trieste. In the same night he appeared in a dream to a Christian asking him to give him a burial. The next morning, the believer went to the place indicated in the dream. So, he found the body, embalmed it, wrapped it in a linen sheet and buried it.

However, Trieste Cathedral is also linked to another saint: Saint Sergius. Sergius was a military tribune, member of the XV Apollinaris Legion. This soldier decided to embrace Christianity during a trip to Trieste. His conversion, however, soon became public. He was summoned back to court and was quickly sentenced to death.

After that, before leaving, Sergius made a promise. He promised his Christian friends in Trieste that a sign would come to the city to announce his end.

It is said that his martyrdom was atrocious.. According to the chronicles of the time, the Roman soldiers drove nails into his feet. Therefore, they forced him to walk through the Castrum of Saura, Tetrapirgio and Rosapha where he was presumably beheaded on October 7.

Legend has it, however, that at the very moment he died, on that sad day, a halberd suddenly fell from the clear sky above the Forum of Trieste. That halberd, which today is kept among the treasures of the Cathedral of San Giusto, became the very symbol of the city in honor of the late Sergio.
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