Saint of the Day – 8 January – Saint Severinus of Noricum (c 410-482) Abbot, Hermit, Missionary, established Monasteries and refuge centres for those stricken by war. Severinus was graced with the gifts of prophecy. and miracles. He is known as “The Apostle to Noricum” – Noricum is the Latin name for the Celtic kingdom or federation of tribes that included most of modern Austria and part of Slovenia. Born in c 410 and died on 8 January 482 at Favianae, Noricum of natural causes. Patronages – against famine, of linen weavers, prisoners, vineyards/vintners/wine farms, Austria, Bavaria, Germany, the Diocese of Linz, Austria. Also known as – Severrin, Severino.
The Roman Martyrology reads today: “This same day, among the inhabitants of Noricum (now Austria), the Abbot, St Severin, who preached the Gospel in that country and is called it’s apostle. By Divine Power, his body was carried to Lucullanum, near Naples and thence transferred to the Monastery of St Severin.”
It has been speculated that Severinus was born in either Southern Italy or in the Roman province of Africa. Severinus himself refused to discuss his personal history prior to arriving along the Danube in Noricum. However, he did mention experiences with eastern desert monasticism and his Vita draws connections between Severinus and Saint Anthony of Lérins (c 428-c 520) https://anastpaul.com/2021/12/28/saint-of-the-day-28-december-saint-anthony-of-lerins-c-428-c-520/
Little is known of his origins. The source for information about him is the Commemoratorium Vitae St Severini (511) by Eugippius (c 460-c 535), who was a disciple of Severinus. In 511 Eugippius wrote to Paschasius and asked his venerated and dear friend, who had great literary skill, to write a biography of St Severinus from the accounts of the Saint which he (Eugippius) had put together in crude and unartistic form. Paschasius, however, replied that the acts and miracles of the Saint could not be described better than had done by Eugippius. This Vita is available online at: https://www.tertullian.org/fathers/severinus_02_text.htm
Severinus was a high-born Roman living as an Hermit in the East. He was an ascetic in practice. He is first recorded as travelling along the Danube in Noricum and Bavaria, preaching Christianity, procuring supplies for the starving, redeeming captives and establishing Monasteries at Passau and Favianae,
While the Western Empire was falling apart, Severinus, thanks to his virtues and organisational skills, committed himself to the religious and material care of the frontier peoples, also taking care of their military defence. He organised refugee camps, migrations to safer areas and food distribution.
Serverinus offered practical leadership, as well as spiritual leadership. He was a tireless preacher and a marvellous Miracle-worker – he miraculously multiplied food reserves, cured the sick, cast out devils, commanded the elements of nature and once even resurrected the dead.
The main theme of his teaching was the value of penance. It was a propitious choice. The sufferings of his people under the Germanic invasions were acute and, uniting them with Christ’s sufferings for the reparation of sin and the conversion of sinners, enabled them to find meaning and strength amid calamity. He also practiced what he preached. In his constant barefoot journeying throughout Austria and Bavaria, he ate only one meal a day and slept on a sack which he carried around with him, wherever he happened to find himself at bedtime.
His efforts seem to have won him wide respect, including that of the Germanic chieftain Odoacer. Eugippius credits him with the prediction that Odoacer would become king of Rome. However, Severinus warned that Odoacer would rule not more than fourteen years.
Severinus also prophesied the destruction of Asturis in Austria, by the Huns. When the people would not heed his warning, he took refuge in Comagena. There he established refugee centres for people displaced by the invasion and founded Monasteries to re-establish spirituality and preserve learning in the stricken region.
He died in his monastic cell at Favianae while singing Psalm 150. Six years after his death, his Monks were driven from their Abbey and his body was taken to Italy, where it was at first kept in the Castel dell’Ovo, Naples, then eventually interred at the Benedictine Monastery rededicated to him, the Abbey of San Severino in the City of Naples.