Key to Umbria: Gubbio

Numidian Martyrs

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SS Marianus and James  (30th April)

Scene from the Martyrdom of SS Marianus and James

Predella panel (ca. 1335) in the Musée des Beaux Arts, Nancy, attributed to Mello da Gubbio.

The associated polyptych n the Pinacoteca Comunale is attributed to Guiduccio Palmerucci. 

An entry in the Roman Martyrology under 30th April reads:

  1. “At Lambesa, in Numidia, the birthday of the holy martyrs Marian, lector, and James, deacon.  The former, after having successfully endured vexations for the confession of Christ, in the persecution of Decius, was again arrested with his illustrious companion, and both being subjected to severe and cruel torments, during which they were twice miraculously comforted from Heaven, finally fell by the sword with many others”.

The relics of SS Marianus and James were probably brought to Gubbio by Christians fleeing the Vandal invasion of Africa in ca. 500.  They were preserved in the church of San Mariano (the old Duomo), presumably before the first documented reference to it in 1007.  They were translated to the present Duomo in 1188 and are preserved in a late Roman sarcophagus under the high altar

SS Agapius, Secundinus and Companions (29th April)

Another group of Numidian martyrs that is recorded in the Roman Martyrology under 29th April: “At Cirtha, in Numidia, the birthday of the holy martyrs Agapius and Secundinus, bishops, who, after along exile in that city, added to the glory of their priesthood the crown of martyrdom. They suffered in the persecution of Valerian, during which the enraged gentiles made every effort to shake the faith of the just.  In their company, suffered Emilian, soldier, Tertulla and Antonia, consecrated virgins, and a woman with her twin children”.

The relics of this group of martyrs probably arrived in Gubbio by the same means as those of SS Marianus and James.  They were preserved in the church of  San Secondo, which Pope Innocent II referred to as SS Agapio e Secondino in 1142.  In 1285, the bodies of St Agapitus and one of the female martyrs among his companions (traditionally St Justina) were handed over to the Augustinians of the nearby town of Pergola that the Gubbians had founded. 

St Emilian and Companions (29th April)

The relics of St Emilian, one of the companions SS Agapius and Secundinus were apparently in the Abbazia di Sant’ Emiliano in Congiuntoli from at least the 11th century.

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