Saint of the Day – 8 October – St Reparata – Virgin, Martyr (3rd century Caesarea, Palestine – beheaded in the 3rd century). Her relics translated to the Nice Cathedral in 1690. Patronages – Florence, Italy, Nice, France, city of, Nice, France, diocese of, Teano, Italy. Attributes – banner with red cross on a white background, dove, holding a crown and palm of martyrdom, sitting in fire, standing near the Blessed Virgin Mary, with Saint Ansanus.
St Reparata was a third-century Christian virgin and martyr of Caesarea in Palestine. Sources vary as to her age – from 11 to 20 years old – though the Sainte-Réparate cathedral in Nice gives it as 15. She was arrested for her faith and tortured during the persecution of Decius.
Her persecutors tried to burn her alive but she was saved by a shower of rain. She was then made to drink boiling pitch. When she again refused to apostatise, she was beheaded. Her legend states that as she fell dead, her spirit emerged from her body in the form a dove. Later elaborations of her legend state that her body was laid in a boat and blown by the breath of angels to the bay now known as the Baie des Anges in Nice.
Evidence of her cult does not exist before the ninth century, when her name appears in the martyrology of Bede. She is not mentioned by Eusebius of Caesarea, who recorded the martyrdoms that took place in the Holy Land during the 3rd century.
Her cult became widespread in Europe during the Middle Ages, as evidenced by the multiple Passiones found in various parts of the continent -especially Italy, where her cult was particularly popular in Florence, Atri, Naples, and Chieti. Numerous painters created depictions of her, including Fra Bartolomeo, Arnolfo di Cambio, Andrea Pisano, Domenico Passignano, Lorenzo di Niccolò and Bernardo Daddi.
She is the patron saint of Nice and a co-patron saint of Florence (with Saint Zenobius). The former cathedral of Santa Reparata in Florence was dedicated to her. Sainte-Réparate Cathedral, in Nice, is also dedicated to her.
Florence holds a celebration in honour of Reparata each year on October 8 in commemoration of its deliverance from the Ostrogoths in 406, which they attribute to the intercession of St Reparata.