Sophia of Rome
Saint Sophia of Rome
Late gothic wooden sculpture of saints Sophia, Faith, Hope and Charity (Eschau, 1470)
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church; Eastern Orthodox Church|
|Feast||May 15 (in Germany, celebrated as Sophientag)|
|Attributes||palm, book, trough, and sword|
|Patronage||invoked against late frosts|
Saint Sophia of Rome is venerated as a Christian martyr. She is identified in hagiographical tradition with the figure of Sophia of Milan, the mother of Saints Faith, Hope and Charity, whose veneration is attested for the 6th century.
However, there are conflicting hagiographical traditions; one tradition makes Sophia herself a martyr under the Diocletian Persecution (303/4). This conflicts with the much more widespread hagiographical tradition (BHL 2966, also extant in Greek, Armenian and Georgian versions) placing Sophia, the mother of Faith, Hope and Charity, in the time of Diocletian (early 2nd century) and reporting her dying not as a martyr but mourning for her martyred daughters. Her relics are said to have been translated to the convent at Eschau, Alsace in 778, and her cult spread to Germany from there. Acta Sanctorum reports that her feast day of 15 May is attested in German, Belgian and English breviaries of the 16th century.
Roman Catholic hagiography of the early modern period attempted to identify the Saint Sophia venerated in Germany with various records of martyrs named Sophia recorded in the early medieval period, among them a record from the time of Pope Sergius II (9th century) reporting an inscription mentioning a virgin martyr named Sophia at the high altar of the church of San Martino ai Monti. Saxer (2000) suggests that her veneration may indeed have originated in the later 6th century based on such inscriptions of the 4th to 6th centuries.
Based on her feast day on 15 May, she became one of the "Ice Saints", the saints whose feast days are traditionally associated with the last possibility of frost in Central Europe. She is known as kalte Sophie "cold Sophia" in Germany, and in Slovenia as poscana Zofka "pissing Sophia" or mokra Zofija "wet Sophia".
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- Carnandet (ed.), Acta Sanctorum vol. 16 (1866), p. 463.
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