By Anne Leader
7 February is the anniversary of the translation of the relics of St. Romuald in 1481 from his burial site in Val di Castro, where he died in 1027, to Fabriano.
Romuald was born in Ravenna in the middle of the 10th century to a noble family. After a youth spent focused on pleasures of the flesh, Romuald withdrew from society to join the Benedictine monastery of Sant’Apollinare in Classe. (The impetus was his witness to a murder committed by his father over an argument with a relative.) Romuald did not find their rule to be strict enough, however, and soon moved to Venice to live according to the teachings of the hermit Marinus. A group of disciples gathered around him, and he went on to found and reform numerous monasteries and hermitages in Italy. His last foundation was the hermitage at Camaldoli, which became the mother house of the so-called Camaldolese Order after 1012. Camaldolese monks wear simple white habits and spend some time in community and other time alone as hermits. The order has produced several artists, including Don Silvestro Gherarducci and Don Lorenzo Monaco, who both lived at the Florentine abbey of Santa Maria degli Angeli.
From 1595 to 1969, the church celebrated Romuald’s feast on February 7. It is now honored on the traditional celebration day of 19 June in commemoration of the saint’s death.
Don Silvestro dei Gherarducci, St. Romauld, Gradual from S. Maria degli Angeli, fol. 90, c. 1370. Tempera and gold on parchment. British Library, London.
Don Lorenzo Monaco, Christ on the Cross with Saints Benedict, Romuald, and Francis, 1405-7. Tempera on wood. Lindenau-Museum, Altenburg
Bicci di Lorenzo, St. Romuald, ca. 1425-50. Tempera on wood. The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, UK
Fra Angelico, Crucifxion and Saints (detail showing St. Romuald), 1441-2. Fresco. San Marco, Florence
Andrea Sacchi, The Vision of St. Romuald, c. 1631. Oil on canvas. Pinacoteca, Vatican
Guercino, St. Romuald, 1640-1. Oil on canvas. Pinacoteca Comunale, Ravenna