St. Severinus

  • G55 North side Spire
  • 8 Jan Austria, Bavaria, City of San Severo, City of Striano Cross
S. Severino
Severinus (Italy, 410 – Mautern an der Donau, January 8th, 482) was an Italian monk and abbot. Venerated as a saint by the Catholic Church, he is the main patron saint of Austria, Bavaria, of the city and diocese of San Severo in Apulia and of the city of Striano. His liturgical memory is celebrated on January 8th. Born around 410 in Italy, in 453, Severinus went to Noricum (now Austria). His intense activity was both charitable and political, and extended also to eastern Rhaetia, with chief towns in Asturis (Klosterneuburg or Zwentendorf an der Donau), Comagenis (Tulln), Favianis (of uncertain identification, probably today's Mautern an der Donau, while mention of Wien-Heiligenstadt remains without documentary or archaeological foundation), Cucullis (Kuchl) and Iuvao (Salzburg), Quintanis (Plattling, near Osterhofen, in Bavaria), Batavis and Boiotro (Passau and Passau-Innstadt), Lauriacum (Lorch) and again in Comagenis and Favianis. Thanks to his considerable organizational and administrative skills, the monk made up for the absolute absence of control on Rome's part, taking care of both the religious and material aspects of the Roman people who resided there (such as supplying food and clothing, up to the liberation of hostages in the hands of the Germans) and the military defense (in any case subject to finer diplomacy) against the Rugians, who were pressing the eastern borders threatening destruction and pillaging. He attempted more than once to establish lasting and peaceful coexistence with these proud people, but always in vain. Severinus, who according to hagiographic legends had the gift of foresight, converted the people of Noricum to the Christian faith, established many churches and coenobies - probably making a rule of outlawing patristic texts - and, though lacking any official recognition, he de facto wielded power in the vast region that is now divided between southern Germany (south of Bavaria) and Austria, to the point of imposing tithes for supporting the poor. Severinus lived in poverty, wearing a tunic in both summer and winter and sleeping on the ground, with his hips bound by a cilice. During Lent, he would eat only once a week. Severinus, soon named the Apostle of Noricum, died on January 8th, 482, in the monastery of Favianis. Thanks to the many monks belonging to the congregation he established, who wished to protect them from possible Barbarian raids or - according to others - by order of Odoacer, who imposed the mass migration of the Romans of Noricum toward safer areas within the boundaries of his kingdom, his remains were transferred to Italy, initially in the Montefeltro region in 488, and later, under Pope Gelasius I (492-496), to the area of Naples, more precisely Castellum or Castrum Lucullanum, so named after the villa that Lucullus had built on the islet of Megaris, the reef where the celebrated Castel dell'Ovo, grand Norman-Swabian fortress and royal Angevin residence, now stands. Here Eugippius, St. Severinus’ disciple and hagiographer (author of the important Vita sancti Severini – The Life of St. Severinus - written around 511) established, together with his fellow monks, a monastery of which he later became abbot. It was only in 902, when the castellum had fallen into disuse and been leveled that the Severinus’ remains were transferred to the monumental Neapolitan basilica of Saints Severinus and Sossius, the magnificent building attached to the abbey of the same name, founded by the Benedictines in the 9th century. The transfer of the apostle's body is described in Translatio Sancti Severini by John the Deacon, who attended the event. The remains of the deacon Sossius, after whom the temple was also named, were placed in the distinguished building in 904, after being in Misenum. In 1807, following the suppression of monasteries carried out one year earlier, the remains of St. Severinus were transferred, together with those of St. Sossius, to the mother church of Frattamaggiore in the province of Naples. Celebrated relics of the saint are also venerated in the church that bears his name in San Severo and in the mother church of Striano. St. Severinus Abbot has for centuries now been the main patron saint of the City of Striano. In the 13th century, there were already traces of a church dedicated to the Saint of Noricum built outside the city walls and over the centuries founded as Parish. In fact, the title page of the Baptism register reads: LIBER BAPTIZZATORUM DE PAROCHIALI ECCLESIA S. SEVERINI ABBATIS TERRAE STRIANO A.D. 1574-1589. Unfortunately, various natural disasters (earthquakes, eruption of Mt. Vesuvius) and the inevitable wear of time caused the ruin of this splendid building until it was completely abandoned toward the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. It is therefore possible that, during the course of the first half of the 19th century, the old church collapsed once and for all. The ground it stood on and that of the area in front of it was chosen and used by the Municipality of Striano to be the site of its churchyard, and on top of the ruins of the ancient parish now stands the mother chapel of the cemetery that dates back to the mid-19th century. The new and current Church dedicated to St. John the Baptist, built in the old town center toward the end of the 16th century, was elevated to parish in 1741. It houses some of the works of art of the old church of St. Severinus Abbot, among which a splendid altar-piece by the painter Protasio Crivelli, dated 1506. Despite the difficulties of the times and the passing of the centuries, the devotion and worship of the people of Striano toward St. Severinus never failed. His name was and still is quite common among its inhabitants and the continuous prayers and supplications to him are never-ending. On January 8th of each year, liturgical memory of the Heavenly Patron Saint, the traditional procession takes place in the name of the Saint through the streets of Striano.