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San Geminiano

Like all Italian cities Modena has a Patron Saint: San Geminiano...


He was born in Cognento near Modena around 312 A.D. Even as a young man he was well liked by all because he was strong and zealous, yet at the same time very amiable and kind to everyone.

His family sent him to study at Modena where he met Modena's Bishop Antonino and thanks to him, Geminiano realised that his purpose in life was to follow God. Bishop Antonino guided him through his theological studies, and soon thereafter with the approval of all the people, Bishop Antonino made him his deacon. When Bishop Antonino died, all the citizens of Modena unanimously asked that Geminiano become their new Bishop, but according to legend, Geminiano did not feel worthy of the position and fled Modena. The people of Modena found and persuaded him to accept the assignment.

Geminiano performing an exorcism on Emperor Jovian's daughterGeminiano had the power to cast out demons from the bodies of the possessed, and for this gift Emperor Jovian insisted he come to Constantinople to heal his daughter from the demons that possessed her. This tale is found on the bas-relief of the outer frame of the "Porta dei Principi ("Princes' Gate")" located on the Piazza Grande side of Modena's Cathedral.

San Geminiano performed many miracles in his life and is attributed to even more after his death. After invading Veneto in 452, Attila the Hun "Scourge of God" headed South to conquer our region. The people of Modena prayed to San Geminiano for help and Geminiano answered their prayers by covering the area with a thick fog causing Attila to pass by, protecting the city from destruction. Another miracle chronicals the rescue of a child who fell from the Ghirlandina and inexplicably escaped death. According to popular belief, St. Geminiano saved him by reaching down and grabbing him by the hair.


Statue of San Geminiano in Modena's CathedralBishop Geminiano died in 397 A.D. and due to the profound devotion of the Modenese, his successor Bishop Teodoro had built over the tomb of Saint Geminiano, the first Cathedral of Modena which was substituted four centuries later with an even bigger and more beautiful cathedral. San Geminiano's remains were moved to its current location within the sanctuary which was nominated "Domus Clari Geminiani" (The House of San Geminiano).


Until the beginning of the last century the people of Modena were also called "Geminiani's", a testimony to the strong devotion to their patron saint. January 31st is a local holiday in Modena, celebrating their Patron Saint Geminiano with a special mass dedicated to him in Modena's cathedral and with the opening of his crypt for viewing. Piazza Grande and all of the streets in the historic downtown are filled with festive street vendors, and for the athletes the "Corrida di San Geminiano" is an international running event which starts from Modena, goes to Cognento and finishes at Modena.


Every January 31st is Saint Geminianus Day in Modena


The popularity of San Geminiano even exceeds the boundaries of Modena's province. There is a small village in Tuscany near Siena, San Gimignano, which is named in honor of our patron saint who saved the village in the tenth century from the invasion of the barbarian hordes.