St. Felix

  • G16 Façade Spire
  • 15 Nov The City of Nola Pastoral staff, Chalice of the Holy Manna, Arm stretched out toward Mt. Vesuvius
San Felice
There is very little certain information regarding this figure, most of which is either legend or unclear. What is sure is the start of his papacy, which dates back to 473, and his death, which occurred on February 9th, 484, as proven by a sepulchral inscription. Otherwise, legend has worked very hard in creating confusion that is not easy to untangle. Other saints named Felix were venerated in Central Italy (Felix and Adauctus in Rome) and in the South (Felix of Thibiuca in Venosa). Even in Nola and some of the surrounding regions, another St. Felix, a priest, was greatly worshiped, hence medieval hagiographers often confused them giving rise, in the Passions, to curious misunderstandings. Mistaken identities were born: in fact, in Nola there was mention of a Felix protobishop, different from the more famous priest. There was also a Passion written about this first bishop, which tells that Felix already showed miraculous virtues at the age of fifteen. He went to Persia and, upon his return to Nola he converted the governor Archelaus, who wanted to convict him because he was a Christian. Later, under Valerian, he was sentenced by Marcian, together with another thirty people, to decapitation (November 15th, 259). The abbot Elpidius hid the body in a well upon which a church was later built. These stories were then written in various Martyrologies: the one of Lyon, dated 806, commemorates him on August 27th; Florus and Adonis on November 15th and the Roman Martyrology also refers to the latter date. Actually, the protagonist of this Passion, Felix, bishop of Nola in the 3rd century, never existed. It is therefore a case of mistaken identity of Felix the priest who became, in the writings of legend, a bishop and martyr. The first bishop by this name instead surely lived toward the end of the 5th century (by many known as Felix II or the Younger), but he died on February 9th, 484. In the diocese of Nola, Felix Episcopus et Martyr is celebrated on November 15th.