13 MarchSouth transept Spire-G68
Patron Saint: City of Arona (Novara)

The city of Arona, on the Piedmont banks of Lake Maggiore, celebrates the two pairs of martyrs: Graziano and Felino (Gratian and Felinus), Carpoforo and Fedele, as its patron saints. Today they are still the protagonists of the famous feast of the Tredicino, related to the presence of the four saints’ relics in Arona. To understand the importance of this feast and to clearly identify the martyr saints, we must necessarily start from the information provided in a document of the 10th century. Graziano and Felino were two Roman soldiers stationed in Perugia. They converted to Christianity and were baptised by the Bishop of the city. But during Emperor Decius’ persecution, they suffered martyrdom for not denying their faith, and their bodies were buried in a land not far from the site of their martyrdom. In 979, Count Amizzone del Seprio, captain in the employ of Emperor Otto I, is supposed to have moved the remains of the two saints to the municipality of Arona as a gift for the monastery under construction, which was later named after them. But some scholars say that the two Saints should actually be identified as another two martyrs: Gratiliano (Gratilian) and Felicissima. The pair of saints is supposed to have been confused with another two saints already at the time of Amizzone, probably due to a wrong interpretation or transcription of the name Gratiliano and of the initials Fel interpreted as Felino, instead of Felicissima. It is widely known that there is often some mystery regarding the lives of saints due to the lack of unquestionable data, thus making room for both legend and faith. The statue produced by Pietro Possenti in 1812 was replaced by a copy, which we admire today on Spire G68. San Felino is portrayed as a handsome youth, according to the period’s principles of Neoclassical sculpture: proportionate, with the young face framed by curls. Like other statues of martyrs, he too is portrayed semi-nude, partly covered only by a drape tied to his waist. His gaze is turned to the right, while the right hand most probably held an object, which could have been the palm branch of martyrdom or a lance.