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Saint Faith ( 250 - 290 )  Category ( Saints ) [suggest a correction]

Saint FaithIn the Christian and art history worlds, Saint Faith (Latin Sancta Fides, French Sainte Foy, Spanish Santa Fe) is best known as a virgin martyr for Christianity, whose shrine holds a unique place in the history of Christian pilgrimage. She is a saint, and her center of cult was transferred to the Abbey of Sainte-Foy, Conques, where her relics arrived in the ninth century. Those relics were stolen from Agen (said to be her birthplace) by a monk from the Abbey at nearby Conques. Her legend recounts how she was arrested during persecutions of Christians by the Roman Empire and refused to make pagan sacrifices even under torture. Legend has it that she was tortured to death with a red-hot brazier. Her legend also portrays her as a patron who could turn against those who only gave small donations to her church at Conques. Miracles associated with Faith are referred to as joca -- Latin for "tricks," or "jokes."

During the ninth century, Faith's cult was fused with that of Caprasius of Agen and Alberta of Agen. One legend states that during Christian persecution, Caprasius fled to Mont-Saint-Vincent, near Agen, where he witnessed the execution of Faith from atop the hill. Caprasius was condemned to death along with Alberta, Faith's sister, and two brothers. All four, according to the story, were beheaded.

In the fifth century, Dulcitius, bishop of Agen, ordered the construction of a basilica dedicated to St. Faith, later restored in the eigth century and enlarged in the fifteenth. However, the center of her cult was not there but at the church at Conques. In 866, her remains were transferred there, which was conveniently located along the road to Compostela, an extremely popular Catholic pilgrimage destination. As a result, her cult became very popular in England, Italy, and South America. The famous gilded reliquary at Conques was created in about 1010. It has ever since been repeatedly adapted and enriched, well into the nineteenth century. The head itself is made of gold, and the body is plates of thin gold fashioned over a yew wood. Scholars believe that the head may be identified as an imperial portrait of the later Roman Empire. The reliquary figure is heavily ornamented and creates a striking impression to visitors and pilgrims. Saint Faith's feast day is October 6, and her attributes are the gridiron, rods, and the sword. She is patron saint to pilgrims, prisoners, and soldiers.

Image: Medieval depiction of the martyrdom of St. Faith (Martyr de Ste Foy).

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