Posted in MARTYRS, SAINT of the DAY

Saints of the Day – 12 July – Saints Nabor and Felix of Milan (Died c 304) Martyrs,

Saints of the Day – 12 July – Saints Nabor and Felix of Milan (Died c 304) Martyrs, Roman Soldiers. lLymen Soldiers Martyred during the Persecution under the Roman emperor Maximian.

12 July is traditionally the Feast day of two early Martyrs of the Church of Milan, Saints Nabor and Felix, who have long occupied a prominent place in the Ambrosian Rite. Together with their fellow Soldier St Victor, they are named in the Communicantes of the Ambrosian Canon. In the Roman Rite, they have been kept as a commemoration on the Feast of St John Gualbert, since the early 17th century.

The Hymn for Vespers of their Feast, which was composed by St Ambrose himself, refers to them as “Mauri genus – Moors by birth,”,since they were from the Roman Province of Mauretania in Africa. It is also sung on the Feast of St Victor on 8 May, as he was also a Moor and Martyred in the same persecution – they may have all belonged to a Berber tribe known as the Gaetuli, a great many of whom served in the Roman armies in the 3rd and 4th centuries. A later tradition associates all three of them with the Theban Legion, partly because they were in Milan in service to the Emperor Maximian, who made his headquarters in that City and was the persecutor of that legion.

Their 5th century Acts recount that they refused to sacrifice to the gods worshipped by the Empire and the army and were, therefore, beheaded at the City of Laus Pompeia (now called Lodi Vecchio). A noblewoman named Savina, a native of Milan married to a Patrician of Laus Pompeia, is said to have comforted them in prison and then to have secretly buried them in her own home after their execution. Once the persecution had ceased, in the year 310, she brought their relics to Milan, where they were laid to rest in the Chapel of her family, the Valerii. This Chapel then came to be known as the Basilica Naboriana.

Within the Basilica of St Ambrose in Milan, the Chapel known as “San Vittore in Ciel d’Oro – St Victor in the Heaven of Gold” contains a mosaic portrait of the Bishop of Milan at the time of this translation, St Maternus, with the Mart,yrs to either side of him. On the opposite wall are St Ambrose with Ss Gervasius and Protasius, underlining the parallels between the two Bishops in their devotion to the Martyrs. And in point of fact, the place where St Ambrose discovered the relics of Gervasius and Protasius, was very close to the Basilica Naboriana.

By 1249, the ancient Church was in very poor condition, and it was decided to entrust it to the then very new order of the Franciscans, recently arrived in Milan. A much larger Church was built to replace it, which was long known as San Francesco Grande. Devotion to the Martyrs was renewed, to such an extent, that in 1396, their Feast was declared a public holiday in Milan. In 1472, the relics were moved to be closer to the High Altar – the skulls of the two Martyrs were separated from the other bones and placed in their own bust-shaped Reliquaries, which were traditionally exposed on the Altar on major Feast days.

In 1798, when the French armies under Napoleon invaded northern Italy and the religious Orders were suppressed throughout the region, the Church of San Francesco Grande was destroyed. The Martyrs’ relics were fortunately saved and brought to the Basilica of St Ambrose. Since 1960, they have been enclosed within the Sarcophagus below, although some still reside in the Reliquary above.

It was probably at this point that the Reliquaries containing the skulls disappeared, most likely stolen by French soldiers. It was not until 1959 that they were rediscovered, with both the relics and authentication papers sealed and intact, in an antique shop in Namur, Belgium. The Bishop of Namur, André Charue, to whom they had been handed over, then generously returned them to Milan. the Cardinal Archbishop Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Pope Paul VI, had them installed in a new Parish built on the outskirts of the City, where they remain to this day, after solemn expositions at both Milan and Lodi.

The Virgin Mary Crowned by the Holy Trinity, with Saints Francis, Claire, John the Baptist, Saint Mary Magdalene, Catherine of Alexandria and (in the foreground) Nabor and Felix; painted by Orazio Samacchini ca. 1575 for the Church of San Francesco Grande in Milan, now in the National Painting Gallery in Bologna.


Passionate Catholic. Being a Catholic is a way of life - a love affair "Religion must be like the air we breathe..."- St John Bosco Prayer is what the world needs combined with the example of our lives which testify to the Light of Christ. This site, which is now using the Traditional Calendar, will mainly concentrate on Daily Prayers, Novenas and the Memorials and Feast Days of our friends in Heaven, the Saints who went before us and the great blessings the Church provides in our Catholic Monthly Devotions. This Site is placed under the Patronage of my many favourite Saints and especially, St Paul. "For the Saints are sent to us by God as so many sermons. We do not use them, it is they who move us and lead us, to where we had not expected to go.” Charles Cardinal Journet (1891-1975) This site adheres to the Catholic Church and all her teachings. PLEASE ADVISE ME OF ANY GLARING TYPOS etc - In June 2021 I lost 95% sight in my left eye and sometimes miss errors. Thank you and I pray all those who visit here will be abundantly blessed. Pax et bonum! 🙏

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