Saint of the Day – 15 January – Saint Romedius of Nonsberg (Died 4th Century or 11th Century) Hermit, Penitent., Pilgrim. Born in Thaur, Tyrol, Austria and died in the 4th Century in Salzburg, Austria of natural causes. Also known as – Romedio of Hohenwart, Romedio of Salzburg, Romedio of Sanzeno, Romedio of Thaur. Romedio. Additional Memorial – 1st Sunday in October (translation of relics). Patronages – against accidents, against bone diseases, against danger at sea, against fever, against fire, against floods, against hail, against headaches, against toothaches, of prisoners, theology students, travellers. Canonised on 24 July 1907 by Pope Pius X (cultus confirmation).
The Roman Martyrology states: “In the Val di Non in Trentino, St Romedius, an anchorite, who, having given his possessions to the Church, led a life of penance in the hermitage that still bears his name today.”
Romedius was the son and heir of the wealthy Count of Thaur, the lord of a castle near Innsbruck and owner of salt pans in the valley of the River Inn. After a pilgrimage to Rome, Romedius gave all his possessions to the Church, withdrawing into a hermitage in grottoes in the Val di Non. he was accompanied by two companions, Abraham and David.
A later date emerges from the history of his works and extensive research. It is most likely that Romedius came from the family of the Counts of Andechs , lived in the 11th century, gave up his fortune in Thaur and joined the then spreading mendicant movement. After a visit to the Bishop of Trento , he visited the Martyrs’ graves of Alexander , Martyrius and Sisinnius in Sanzeno. It is believed that he died at the age of 74.
Romedius is often depicted alongside or astride a bear. According to his hagiography he wanted to visit the friend of his youth, St Vigilius, Bishop of Trento (who died in 405) but his horse was torn to pieces by a wild bear. Romedius, however, had the bear bridled by his disciple David. The bear became docile and carried Romedius on its back to Trento.
Upon Romedius’ death, his body was laid to rest in a small tomb above his cave in the mountains, a site that was soon visited by pilgrims. The Sanctuary of San Romedio grew from the little Church that was built to venerate him, to a popular pilgrimage site. The Santuario di San Romedio is across the lake from Cles at the head of the Val di Non, above the village of Sanzeno. The Sanctuary where Romedius lived with his bear companion, is now a complex of several Churches, from the Romanesque period to the 20th century beyond a gateway on the forested slopes. Votive offerings of crutches line the walls of the narrow stone stairwell up to the highest chapel, said to mark the site of the Saint’s retreat.
His local cult, which consolidated itself in the course of the 11th century, was officially recognised in the twelfth by the Bishop of Trento. In 1795, permission was given for special offices in his name in the Diocese of Brixen, which at that time, included the Northern Tyrol. His cult remains popular in Trentino, Bavaria, and the Tyrol.
In remembrance of this legend, in 1958 Italian Senator G. G. Gallarati Scotti, honorary member of the committee for the foundation of the World Wildlife Fund in Italy, purchased Charlie, a bear intended to be killed and donated it to the Sanctuary of San Romedius, in the Valle di Non.
Today, the Province of Trentino protects the last brown bears of the Alps in the Adamello-Brenta National Park and, near the Sanctuary, takes care of young bears born in captivity in Trentino.
In the work known as Illustrissimi, a collection of letters written by Pope John Paul I when he was Patriarch of Venice, Romedius’ bear is one of the “recipients” of the letters.