Brescia: the legend of San Faustino and Giovita

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Alejandra Rangel

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From the multitude of sweets and treats that stimulate the desire to become children again up to the unmistakable classic "Tirapicio"Which for the uninitiated is the" Tiramolla ". The classic string with a mixed toffee / licorice flavor that can be found in the bags of all the people who finish their visit to the fair. For the people of Brescia, this is the daily routine of February 15th which then comes back a few days later in the valtriumplino village of Sarezzo.

But if I'm talking to you reader from Brescia, surely all these things already know. But how nice it is to make our party known even to those who are not from Brescia, right?

So, yes, now I'm talking to you not Brescia, don't miss every 15th of February the feast of San Faustino and Giovita in Brescia, you will find an entire city in celebration. Many but many stalls that will enliven this anniversary which is a must for Brescia!

Speaking of the party, I'm not telling you anything more than you already know, so let's tell you something more, something you may already know, or not !?

You are visiting Brescia on the day of San Faustino, why not extend a few days and discover the city, you might be interested in the article on what to see in Brescia, or that of a itinerary to discover the historic center or discovering the Brescia Castle.

The history and legend of San Faustino and Giovita

San Faustino and Giovita, patrons of the city of Brescia, lived in XNUMXnd century AD C. and they were two brothers, sons of an important pagan family from Brescia. They belonged to the order of the Knights. During their acquaintances, they met Sant'Apollonio, the bishop of Brescia, and were attracted to Christianity to which they later converted.

It was St. Apollonio himself who baptized them. From the very beginning they worked hard by committing themselves to the evangelization of the territory. For this reason, the same bishop appointed priest San Faustino and Giovita deacon. San Faustino and Giovita were very successful. This annoyed the pagan community worried about a possible rapid spread of Christianity, also due to the fact that San Faustino and Giovita were of noble extraction and therefore could influence the highest offices.

At that time the persecution wanted by Trajan and this led some important exponents of the city to invite Italico, the governor of Rezia, to Brescia, in order to stop them by implementing the imperial directives of Trajan. The persecution was bloody, so much so that even Afra, the wife of the Italian governor, was killed because of having converted to Christianity.

It came the death of Trajan which was succeeded by Adriano and this fact delayed Italico's repression. The latter awaited Hadrian's visit to Milan to denounce and highlight San Faustino and Giovita as enemies for the pagans and for the Empire itself. Adriano then ordered Italico to carry out the persecution and asked San Faustino and Giovita to renounce what they professed, renounce their faith by ordering him to be beheaded.

San Faustino and Giovita were put in prison. The same emperor Hadrian at the end of a military campaign passed through Brescia and turned to them for the act of devotion to the sun god.

When they refused, it ordered them to be fed to the circus beasts.

How does the story of San Faustino and Giovita continue?

You all will think that the story of San Faustino and Giovita ends in this instant. In fact, the "Major Legend" tells that they were protected by God and tells of several miraculous episodes. The beasts remained meek rather than devouring them. This led to the conversion to Christianity of some of the spectators who had gone to watch the bloody "show".

They followed one another other miraculous facts. Following the episode of the beasts, the governor ordered them to be burned at the stake but the flames stopped. They were tortured several times and taken to Rome to feed them again to the tigers, but this time too they did not move. They were even boarded on a stormy ship but the storm subsided during the voyage. In short, the tortures continued, the martyrdom did not end until the death sentence was imposed on them and they were beheaded in Brescia on February 15, 120-134 AD.

This is why the day of death is celebrated as the holiday so dear to us, this very day coincides with their entry into Paradise. They were then buried in the place where the later will be built church of San Faustino and Giovita.

As patrons of Bresca, San Faustino and Giovita?

The legend does not end here therefore, it is articulated in two more episodes.

In the XNUMXth century, the miracle of the exudation of the remains of San Faustino and Giovita which took place during the procession towards San Faustino Maggiore. It is said that the procession stopped near the church and the relics of the two martyrs began to exude blood. Duke Dwarf of Bavaria himself, who participated in the procession, saw the miracle and recovered from an illness. Consequently he too converted to Christianity and gave Brescia a piece of the cross of Christ, now preserved inside the Old Cathedral. This relic was very important as it gave a lot of prestige to the city.

The legend therefore reaches its last phase, the third episode that characterizes it.

In 1438 Brescia is under the dominion of Venice and is under siege by the Visconti of Milan. They make use of the army of Niccolò Piccinino. It is said that the 13 December there is an apparition of San Faustino and Giovita on the castle walls dressed in military clothing as if to signify that they were protecting the city. The apparition takes place in the part of the castle called Roverotto.

Note the date well: December 13… reminds you of anything?

December 13 and Santa Lucia

In Brescia there is a fort popular attachment to the day of Saint Lucia. This is a saint venerated by the Venetians who at that time dominated Brescia who associated the event. Since then, the habit of giving gifts to children has developed.

So here comes the end of the legend which as such obviously presents some inaccuracies and delland inconsistencies. For example, it is said that the saints were converted by Sant'Apollonio but he was bishop of Brescia in the fourth century AD so the periods do not add up.

In any case, now you know a little more about this festival that animates the city every year.

If anyone should have more information to make this article more complete just write me via the contact form rather than comment on this post.

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