Saint of the Day – 24 September – Saint Terence of Persaro (c 210-c 247) Martyr, layman, soldier. Born in c 210 in Pannonia (modern Hungary) and died on 24 September c 247 at Pesaro, Italy. Also known as Terenzio, Terentius . Patronage – Pesaro, Italy.
St Terence was a native of Pannonia (now Hungary), already conquered by the Romans since the 7th year of Christ. To escape the persecution commanded by the Emperors against the followers of the Nazarene, he left his homeland and landed on the shores of the Adriatic Sea. After several events, he set out to go to Rome and was killed for the Christian faith in a place called Acqua Mala, near Pesaro.
Regarding the place of his Martyrdom, while some believe that it took place not very far from the City, the tradition which speaks of borders, gives value to a tradition, according to which, Terence suffered Martyrdom near our Abbey of St Tomaso in Foglia, located precisely on the territorial border between Pesaro and Urbino. This tradition is corroborated by the existence in those places, of a perennial pool of sulphurous water, which not only gushes, even in the greatest droughts but, which although repeatedly diverted or destroyed, has always returned to rise again.
It is called “the Water of St Terence,” considering that the Patron Saint was Martyred there and his body was then thrown into the nearby whirlpool of the water – mala; which now no longer exists because the valley was filled in, in subsequent agricultural works.
His body may have been buried by Bishop Florentius of Pesaro outside the City, close to Caprile, which ancient documents call the Valle di St Terenzio. Another tradition states that his body was buried by a local woman named Theodosia. His relics were then translated to the basilica of San Decenzio (now the Chiesa del Cimitero centrale) before being translated, in the sixth century, to the new Cathedral at Pesaro by Bishop Felix of Pesaro.
The relics, placed initially in a crypt, were transferred by Giovanni Benedetti in 1447 to a large Altar in which the relics were placed in a wooden urn, on which the aforementioned painter Bellinzoni depicted Terence. The urn is now found at the Museo Civico, in Palazzo Toschi-Mosca, and the relics themselves were translated to a new urn in a new Cathedral Chapel inaugurated in 1909
As a soldier Saint, Terence is considered to have appeared twice in times of crisis, the second vision occurring on 9 June 1793, in the times of the Cisalpine Republic, when Pesaro was besieged by French troops: a horseman appeared on the walls of the City, accompanied by a woman (Our Lady) dispensing munitions. The vision terrified the French so much, that they abandoned their siege. In gratitude, Terence was officially proclaimed Patron of the City on 20 March 1802.
Terence’s most famous figuration in art is his minor appearance—as a young soldier Saint—in a predella panel of Giovanni Bellini’s “Pesaro Altarpiece, The Coronation of the Virgin” (ca. 1475–80). In it, Terence, as the City’s Patron, holds a model representing the Nuova Rocca, or Fortezza Costanzo, the Citadel of Pesaro newly rebuilt by Costanzo Sforza. The Altarpiece is below – St Terence is bottom right of the bottom panel – see amplified image above.