Herculanus of Perugia

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Saint Herculanus of Perugia
Pietro Perugino cat48h.jpg
Bishop and martyr
Died 549 AD
Honored in
Roman Catholic Church
Canonized Pre-Congregation
Feast November 7; also March 1
Patronage Perugia

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,[1] 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.[2]

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.[3]

The inhabitants of the castle of Cisterna, above the Puglia river, were under Perugian rule; they had to send three pounds of wax to Perugia for the feast of St. Herculanus.[4]

Perugian coin of the 15th century (CNG Coins). It depicts the half-length bust of St. Herculanus, holding a crozier.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gregory the Great, Dialogues (1911) Book 3. pp. 105-174
  2. ^ Bangkok When the Leaves Turn, Part VII
  3. ^ Dominican Martyrology: March
  4. ^ La Strada del Sagrantino

External links[edit]