Key to Umbria: Massa Martana

St Illuminata (29th November)

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An entry in the Roman Martyrology under 29th November reads: “At Todi in Umbria, St Illuminata, virgin”.

According to a late legend (BHL 4267), St Illuminata was born near Ravenna.  She was imprisoned when she converted to Christianity and refused to marry Sebastian, the Prefect of Ravenna.  An angel freed her and she fled to Civitas Martana, where her family joined her.

When St Illuminata began to perform miracles in 303, the Prefect of Civitas Martana arrested and executed her.  She was buried in a place called at that time "Papinianus" near modern Collevalenza, between Todi and Massa Martana.   One version of the legend says that this was later the site of a church dedicated to her (the Abbazia di Sant’ Illuminata).

There is no surviving evidence of her cult before 1037, when the Emperor Conrad II gave the Abbazia di Sant’ Illuminata  to the Abbazia di Sant' Apollinare in Ravenna.

A copy of BHL 4267 is preserved under 27th September in the Leggendari del Duomo.