Saint of the Day – 25 June – Saint Prosper of Reggio (Died c 466) Bishop. Patronage – Reggio.
Tradition and documents attest that he was indeed the bishop of Reggio for 22 years in the fifth century. He is remembered for his strong sense of charity and to this day – his Feast Day is celebrated in Reggio, Italy with large festivals and celebrations.
His strongest following was up until the fourteenth century, before devotion to him has slowed down. He has 31 churches and chapels that are dedicated to him today in Parma, Bologna, Lucca and other cities surrounding Reggio, Italy – most being built in the Middle Ages. He personally built a church in San Prospero and it is dedicated to Saint Apollinaris. To this day in Reggio, they celebrate his feast locally on 24 November but 25 June is his feast day on general liturgical calendars. Giovanni Soncini did a painting of St Prosper and St Bernard, see below.
In the tenth century, Reggio being vunerable to attacks from the sea, Bishop Ermenaldo transported Prosper’s relics to the Cathedral of Santa Maria in the centre of the city while the church dedicated to Prosper was being built. This was completed by his successor Tenzone. Pope Gregory V, consecrated the church in 997. In the 16th century the church was rebuilt and Prosper’s body lies under the great altar. And fittingly enough he is the principal Patron of the city.
Saint Prosper was a very humble and charitable bishop and the people of Reggio celebrate his life, seeking his intercession and having festivals on his Feast Day. St Prosper took Jesus litterally when Jesus said, “Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come follow me”. Tradition holds that Prosper, a true follower of Jesus, took His command seriously. He distributed his goods to the poor.
St Prosper is a saint that shows us by his life and love for the church, that only by clearing ourselves of material things in this world, can we become Disciples of Christ. He sold his belongings and distributed it to the poor. His overwhelming gift of Charity was so prominent, that 17 centuries later – the faithful celebrate his Feast Day with festivals and celebrations! We too, as faithful, can impact those around us by our Charity of time, talent and treasures – as our means permit.