St. Bassus

S. Basso
St. Bassus (Nice, ca. 190 – Nice, December 5th, 250) was a Roman saint. He is venerated as a saint and martyr and is traditionally the second bishop of Nice. He is the patron saint of Cupra Marittima. He was elected bishop of his birthplace around 230 and up until 244 he governed the Christian community of Nice with great merit and devotion. Following his ascent to the throne, the emperor Decius decided to restore the ancient Roman traditions. With this end in mind, judging the Christian doctrine politically dangerous, he renewed the persecutions against its followers. Therefore, the Bassus took refuge in the homes of some Christian families. Soon, however, in fear that danger would befall upon his hosts, he decided to turn himself in to the Roman authorities. He was questioned, threatened, imprisoned and tortured on the rack (an instrument of torture where the victim was tied by the wrists and ankles and slowly stretched in opposite directions) together with the placing of red-hot metal plates on his sides. Despite the torture, with tenacious resistance he did not recant and was therefore sentenced to death. The capital punishment, inflicted upon him on December 5th, 230, day of the martyrdom, was unique in its cruelty: he was pierced using two long nails, used in the port of Nice for building ships, from his feet to his head. According to tradition, St. Bassus' body was taken from Nice to Cupra by sea at the beginning of the 6th century. Cupra was chosen by the refugees of Nice probably because it had brought help to this city during the famine that hit at the very beginning if the 6th century. They went there and settled north of the city, in an area near the famous port of the Roman Cupra that, since the 16th century, popular tradition continues to call Nizza - the Italian name of Nice. Later they moved near the source of Acqua Santa - i.e. holy water - taking with them the body of the saint. The spring was later named San Basso. It was in fact in this area that rose the church known as Pieve di San Basso alla Civita or of San Basso Fora (9th century) which at length housed the sepulcher of the saint, whose body was moved only in the 10th century to Marano, first at the matrix Church of Santa Maria in Castello and later in the new church of San Basso in Marano, where it remained until 1876. From 1876 to 1887, the body of the Saint was kept in the Church of the Annunciation (at the top of the village) while waiting for the church dedicated to Saints Margaret and Basso Cupra Marittima to be built, which for over a century has been the Saint’s resting place. It is currently preserved below the main altar in an urn made of red marble of Verona. The body is missing the right arm and forearm. The arm was sent as a relic to the people of Nice in 1750, upon request of their bishop, and is now kept in a silver urn in Nice Cathedral.