Saint of the Day – 4 October – Saint Petronius (Died c 450) – Bishop of Bologna
Patronages – Bologna, Italy, archdiocese of and the city of Bologna.
The only certain historical information we possess concerning St Petronius is derived from a letter written by Bishop Eucherius of Lyons (died 450-5) to Valerianus and from Gennadius of Massilia (died c 496) “De viris illustribus.” Eucherius writes, that the holy Bishop Petronius was then renowned in Italy for his virtues.
From Gennadius we receive more detailed personal information – Petronius belonged to a noble family, whose members occupied high positions at the imperial Court at Milan and, in the provincial administrations, at the end of the fourth and the beginning of the fifth centuries. His father (also named Petronius) was probably a governor, since a Petronius filled this office in Gaul in 402-8. Eucherius also seems to suggest that the future bishop also held an important secular position.
Even in his youth Petronius devoted himself to the practices of asceticism and seems to have visited the Holy Places in Jerusalem, perhaps on a pilgrimage.
About 432 he was elected and consecrated Bishop of Bologna, where he erected a church to St Stephen, the building design of which, was in imitation of the shrines on Golgotha and the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
According to Gennadius, Petronius died during the reign of Emperor Theodosius and Valentinian, i. e., before 450., of natural causes. A biography and relics, were discovered in 1141. Shortly afterwards, a church was erected in his honour at Bologna, a second, planned on a larger site, was begun in 1390 and partially completed. In 1659 the building work was resumed and the glorious Italian-Gothic church completed as it stands to-day.
In iconography, he is depicted as a bishop holding a model of Bologna in his hand.