Key to Umbria: Foligno

St Maron (9th February; 17th August)

Umbria:  Home   Cities    History    Art    Hagiography    Contact

Foligno:  Home    History    Art    Saints    Walks    Monuments   Museums

St Maron, a Syrian hermit who lived in the 5th century, was greatly admired by St John Chrysostom and other prominent men in the Eastern Church.  After his death, his skull was preserved in the shrine of Beit Maroun, which was built outside Aleppo in 452 AD, and this became a Maronite monastery.   The monks under St John Maron fled to Lebanon in 686 AD, taking the precious relic with them, and built a new monastery dedicated as "Rish Mro" (Maron’s head).

According to Ludovico Jacobilli, Conte Michele degli Atti, Conte di Uppello brought the relic to Italy on his way back from a pilgrimage in 1130 and gave it to the Abbazia di Sassovivo.  The crypt at Sassovivo is still dedicated to St Maron.

A church dedicated as San Mauro was built on land that the abbey owned at Volperino di Foligno (16 km east of Sassovivo) in ca. 1135.  It probably housed the relic from 1138, when Pope Innocent II granted it indulgences.  The feast of St Maron is still celebrated there on 17th August, the date on which the church was consecrated.  

Bishop Luca Cibo translated the relic to the Duomo in 1490.  It was subsequently encased in a reliquary (1499) that represents the tonsured and wounded head of a young deacon.  This reliquary was translated from the Duomo to Sassovivo in 2000, when the Cripta di San Marone was re-opened after the damage done by the earthquake of 1997.  It was stolen in 2005 but subsequently recovered and placed in the crypt of the Duomo.

Possible Double for St Maron

Although The account of Ludovico Jacobilli is accepted locally, there is another candidate for the saint whose relic is venerated at Foligno:

SS Maron, Eutychius and Victorinus (15th April)

An entry in the Roman Martyrology under 15th April reads: “the holy martyrs Maro, Eutyches, and Victorinus, who, along with blessed Flavia Domitilla, had been banished to the island of Pontia for the confession of Christ.  Being recalled in the reign of Nerva, and having converted many to the faith, they were put to death in different ways by the judge Valerian, during the persecution of Trajan”.

The legend of SS Maron, Eutychius and Victorinus (BHL 6064-5) seems to have been written at the Abbazia di Farfa in ca. 930: the monks had previously fled from Farfa to Santa Vittoria in Matenano in the face of Saracen attack, and were then re-establishing themselves in their original abbeyIn this legend, the three saints were martyred in turn at various points on the roads that linked Farfa with its other major monasteries.  Specifically, St Maron was martyred at the 130th milestone on Via Salaria, probably at “Firmana, ad Sancti Marotum”, near Santa Vittoria in Matenano.

Bishop Sigemanno of Foligno is noted at a synod that the Emperor Henry III held in 1047 “in comitatu Firmana, ad Sancti Marotum”, and he probably brought the cult of St Maron to Foligno at this time.