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article imageMeet the patron saint of epidemics and pestilence — Saint Corona

By Karen Graham     Mar 26, 2020 in Science
Germany’s Aachen Cathedral has dug out the relics of little-known Saint Corona, patron saint of resisting epidemics, from its treasure chamber and is polishing up her elaborate shrine to showcase once the coronavirus pandemic has passed.
Call it coincidence, if you will, but there really was a Christian martyr widely venerated as the saint to turn to in times of pestilence and violent storms in northern Italy, Austria, and southern Germany. In these regions, one can find many St. Corona churches and chapels, including several St Corona pilgrimages, according to The Tablet, an International Catholic News Weekly.
According to Reuters, the Christian martyr was believed to have been killed by the Romans around 1,800 years ago. However, other sources say Saints Victor and Corona (also known as Victor and Stephanie) are two Christian martyrs that were killed in Roman Syria during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (170s AD).
Actually, some religious texts disagree about the site of their martyrdom, with some stating that it was Damascus, while Coptic sources state that it was Antioch. Some Western sources state that Alexandria or Sicily was their place of martyrdom. But regardless of where they were martyred, they did die very gruesome deaths.
Illuminated miniature of the martyrdom of Saint Victor and Saint Corona  on a full leaf from a Book ...
Illuminated miniature of the martyrdom of Saint Victor and Saint Corona, on a full leaf from a Book of Hours, France (Paris), ca. 1480.
Anonymous, French artist - circa 1480
According to legend, Saint Corona, or Stephanie was the 15-year-old wife of a Roman soldier. Romans had arrested a Roman soldier called Victor, accusing him of being a Christian. The soldiers cut off his fingers, put out his eyes, and beheaded him. Stephanie saw all this suffering in the man and loudly cried out -calling him blessed and saying that she saw two crowns prepared, one for him, and one for herself.
She was taken by the Roman soldiers and tied to two palm trunks that had been bent to the ground and when they whipped back up her body was torn to pieces. Her saint’s day is 14 May. Due to her gruesome death, she was named the patron saint of lumberjacks - go figure. That she became the patron of epidemics is purely coincidence, says Falk.
St Corona’s main relics are in the Basilica of Sts. Victor and Corona in Feltre, a hill town in the province of Belluno in the Veneto region in northern Italy, one of the first regions to be quarantined due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prepping of the relics
The very large gold, bronze, and ivory shrine has been hidden from public view for the last 25 years. Interestingly, it was decided to get the shrine out of storage for an exhibition on gold craftsmanship planned for this summer.
Image of Saint Corona on the altar of St. Corona am Wechsel parish church  Lower Austria.
Image of Saint Corona on the altar of St. Corona am Wechsel parish church, Lower Austria.
Wolfgang Glock (CC BY-SA 3.0)
“We have brought the shrine out a bit earlier than planned and now we expect more interest due to the virus,” said Aachen Cathedral spokeswoman Daniela Loevenich. It is not known if people will be able to view the shrine due to the strict quarantine regulations already in place.
The relics themselves, which are in a special sealed and tamper-proof container in the shrine, will not be touched. The shrine will not be on show permanently as it is too large. "The St Corona shrine is so large that it will not fit into any of our showcases”, Birgitta Falk, who is in charge of the treasury, told domradio.de.
Keep in mind that Saint Corona is the patron saint of resisting all epidemics, not just this specific virus going around. COVID-19, a coronavirus, gets its name because, under a microscope, it looks like a globe with little globules, resembling a crown, said Falk. In Latin corona means crown or garland.
More about patron saint, Saint Corona, epidemics and pestilence, Christian Martyr, Saint Victor
 
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