A Saint for our times
The pandemic caused by the Coronavirus has boosted interest in St Corona, who is widely venerated as the saint to turn to in times of pestilence and violent storms. In northern Italy, Austria and southern Germany, churches and chapels dedicated to St Corona abound and there are several St Corona pilgrimages. Corona pilgrimages are still held today in Austria and Bavaria. According to legend, she was a 16-year-old Christian who was martyred for her faith in Syria in the second century. According to legend, she stood up publicly for a Roman soldier who was being tortured because he had converted to Christianity and died a horrible death as a consequence. Her feast day is 14 May. St Corona’s main relics are in the Basilica of Ss Victor and Corona in Feltre, a hill town in the province of Belluno in the Veneto region in northern Italy, one of the first regions to be cordoned off due to the current Coronavirus pandemic. St Corona is the patron saint of Belluno-Feltre. The Holy Roman Emperor Otto III (996-1002) took relics of St Corona to Aachen in 997, where they were kept in a lead coffin close to the altar. In 1910, the lead coffin was replace by a golden reliquary and moved to the Cathedral Treasury.
The reliquary has now been fetched out of the treasury and is being cleaned and restored so that it can be exhibited. The relics themselves, which are in a special sealed and tamper-proof container in the shrine, will not be touched. The shrine will not be on show permanently as it is too large. A fourteenth century lead glass window in Strasbourg Cathedral shows St Corona in a long dress and wearing a veil with a martyr’s palm in her left hand. I always knew there was a saint for every occasion. Paul Smith, Reader at St Michael's