Saint Placidus is venerated, together with Saint Maurus, on 5 October. He was a disciple of Saint Benedict, founder of Western monasticism. One of the first communities Benedict created was at Subiaco (not far from Rome), where Placidus was brought as a child.
In his Dialogues (II, vii), Gregory the Great narrates that the young Placidus risked drowning in a lake and was miraculously saved by his fellow monk Saint Maurus, alerted by Saint Benedict. Maurus rescued him by walking on the water, a scene that artists have often depicted.
Not much of Placidus’ later life is known. He probably followed St. Benedict to the monastery of Monte Cassino around 530. According to an apocryphal legend, he eventually moved to Sicily and founded the Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Messina. There he was martyred with thirty companions, including his sister Flavia.
Lorenzo Monaco, Saint Benedict admitting SS. Maurus and Placidus into the Order – from the Incidents in the Life of Saint Benedict (predella of the San Benedetto Altarpiece), 1407-09, egg tempera on wood, London, National Gallery.
Fra Filippo Lippi, Saint Benedict Orders Saint Maurus to the Rescue of Saint Placidus, c. 1445/1450, tempera on panel, Washington, National Gallery of Art.
Sodoma, Benedict Receives Maurus and Placidus – from the Life of St. Benedict cycle, 1505-08, fresco, Abbazia di Monteoliveto Maggiore (Siena).
Francesco Solimena, The Martyrdom of Sts Placidus and Flavia, 1697-1708, oil on canvas, Budapest, Museum of Fine Arts