Key to Umbria: Massa Martana

SS Fidentius and Terence (27th September)

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The Roman Martyrology records under the 27th September:

  1. “At Todi in Umbria, under the same Diocletian, the holy martyrs Fidentius and Terence”.

According to the legend of these saints (BHL 2729 b-c), these saints came from Caesarea in Cappadocia (in modern Turkey) to Rome to seek martyrdom in the reign of the Emperors Diocletian and Maximian.  They were arrested and imprisoned outside the city but miraculously escaped with the help of nine bears.  An angel guided them along Via Salaria to the safety of a grotto from which a lady called St Victoria had previously expelled a dragon.  They then continued towards Todi, but they were recaptured and beheaded  “in civitate Martana Tuderte proxima” (near Civitas Martana).   They were subsequently were buried in a church near the site of their martyrdom. 

A copy of BHL 2729b is preserved under 27th September in the Leggendari del Duomo.

Relics of SS Fidentius and Terence

An inscription (7th or 8th century) in the crypt of the church of the Abbazia di SS Fidenzio e Terenzio reads "Beatus Fidentius et Terentius hic requiescunt".

Some of the relics seem to have been stolen by Bishop Theodoric of Metz in 970: in his ‘Vita Deoderici, Mettensis Episcopi Sigebert of Gembloux, who was presumably working from a list of relics at Metz, recorded their arrival there on 14th April (presumably of 971).  A copy of their legend is still preserved at Metz.

Cardinal Boncompagni (was this Ugo Boncompagni, later Pope Gregory XIII ???) translated the rest to Bassano in Teverina, near Viterbo in 1629.  The feast of SS Fidentius and Terence is still celebrated there.


Eugenio Susi (referenced below) suggests that this relatively late account was written at the Abbazia di Farfa (as indicated by the references in it to St Victoria and to the Via Salaria).  He characterises it as displaying “extensive contamination” from the Legend of the Twelve Syrians, and as forming a “prelude to the subsequent further amplification” into the Legend of the 300 Syrians (my translations).

Read more:

E. Susi, “Monachesimo e Agiografia in Umbria”, in

  1. Umbria Cristiana: dalla Diffusione del Culto al Culto dei Santi (secc. IV -X): Atti del XV Congresso Internazionale di Studi sull' Alto Medioevo, Spoleto Spoleto 23-8 October 2000”, Spoleto (2001), Volume II, pp 569-605

The material on SS Fidentius and Terence is on pp 601-3

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