05 DecemberSouth transept Spire-G69
Patron Saint: City of Cupra Marittima Symbol: Pastoral staff

San Basso (Nice, 190 ca. – Nice, 5 December 250) was a Roman saint who was elected bishop of his native city, Nice, around 230 AD. For more than 10 years he governed its Christian community with deep commitment and devotion. But when Emperor Decius rose to the throne, he wanted to restore the glory of ancient Roman traditions, thus judging the Christian doctrine as politically dangerous. During the persecutions, Basso was questioned, threatened, imprisoned and tortured on the rack (a torture device on which hands and feet were bound and pulled in opposite directions), with the concurrent application of burning hot metal slabs on his sides. San Basso tenaciously resisted this torture and refused to abjure; hence, he was sentenced to death. It is said that San Basso’s body was taken from Nice to the town Cupra Marittima, in Italy, in the early 6th century. From 1876 to 1887 the Saint’s body was placed in the Church of the Annunziata while waiting for the church dedicated to saints Margherita and Basso to be built in Cupra Marittima. This church has cherished the saint’s body under the main altar for more than one century. But the body lacks an arm, which was sent as a relic to the residents of Nice in 1750, following their Bishop’s request, and is currently preserved in a silver urn in the Cathedral of Nice. Studies conducted on this work identify the subject as San Basso. Especially the statue’s arms, crossed as if the torture device were pulling them backwards, as described in the story of his martyrdom, symbolically refer to him. The statue, like other martyrs at the Duomo, is portrayed partly nude, with a drape covering only the bottom part of the body. There is no other information either about the author or the period of execution.