Saint of the Day – 10 August – Saint Bessus (Died c 286) Martyr, Soldier, Missionary evangelist, miracle-worker. Died by being thrown from Mount Fautenio c 286 in Campiglia Soana, Turin, Italy. Patronages – soldiers, for fertility, Campiglia Soana, Italy, Cogne, Italy, Ivrea, Italy, Valprato Soana, Italy. Also known as – Besso, Besse.
Bessus was a soldier of the Theban legion who were nearly all converted to Christianity. Around 286, the Roman Emperor Maximian was ,with his troops ,in Agaunum (today’s Saint-Maurice in Switzerland).
Christian soldiers of the Theban legion were massacred for refusing to sacrifice to the pagan gods. Only a few legionaries survived the massacre and they began to wander the mountains, carrying the message of the new faith.
These often martyred soldiers were the first evangelists of many valleys in the Western Alps. Bessus too was able to convert a large number of mountain dwellers of the Val Soana, until he was captured and thrown down from Monte Fautenio.
Besso died but miraculously left his mark on the rock below, where the Sanctuary dedicated to him now stands.
San Besso was famous as a great thaumaturge saint, author of countless miracles, protector of soldiers against the dangers of war. The special devotion to the Saint is still expressed today in the feast in his honour celebrated annually on 10 August in the Sanctuary located in the mountains of the Gran Paradiso National Park, in the high Val Soana at over 2000 meters above sea level. The faithful flock in large numbers both from Campiglia and from the Cogne valley, from which it is necessary to leave the day before and stay overnight at the Sanctuary shelter. Many once wore the colourful traditional costumes of the different valleys.
The Statue of the Saint is carried in procession by completing a tour around the great cliff that witnessed his Martyrdom – the honour of carrying the Statuei s in itself a ceremony.