Herculanus of Perugia
|Saint Herculanus of Perugia|
|Bishop and martyr|
|Roman Catholic Church|
|Feast||November 7; also March 1|
Saint Herculanus (Sant' Ercolano) of Perugia (died 549) was a bishop of Perugia and is patron saint of that city. His main feast day is November 7; his second feast is celebrated on March 1. According to Saint Gregory the Great in his Dialogues, Herculanus suffered martyrdom when Totila, king of the Ostrogoths, captured Perugia in 549.
Before the city was captured, Herculanus is said to have tried to save the city with an old ruse: he fed the last sack of grain to the last lamb. This was meant to give the Ostrogoth forces the impression that the Perugians had food to spare, and were able to feed a weak lamb with their precious grain. With food to spare, they were thus able to withstand the siege. However, Totila was not fooled by this trick and captured the city just the same.
This same trick has also been attributed to Gagliaudo, who saved his city (Alessandria)--successfully—from the forces of Frederick Barbarossa. An interpretation of the tale is found in Umberto Eco's novel Baudolino.
Totila is said to have commanded Herculanus to be completely flayed. However, the Ostrogoth soldier asked to perform this gruesome task took pity on the bishop and decapitated Herculanus before the flaying had been completed.
Gregory writes that forty days after Herculanus' head had been cut off, it was found to have been reunited to the body.
- Gregory the Great, Dialogues (1911) Book 3. pp. 105-174
- Bangkok When the Leaves Turn, Part VII
- Dominican Martyrology: March
- La Strada del Sagrantino
- Saint of the Day, November 7: Herculanus of Perugia at SaintPatrickDC.org
- (Norwegian) Den hellige Herculanus av Perugia
- Ekkart Sauser (2003). "Herculanus von Perugia". In Bautz, Traugott. Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German) 22. Nordhausen: Bautz. col. 517. ISBN 3-88309-133-2.