July 24, 2015

The Incorrupt Relics of Saint Christina the Great Martyr in Venice

The incorrupt relic of Saint Christina the Great Martyr was transferred to Constantinople from Syria, where she was martyred in the early third century. In Constantinople there was a church dedicated to her in the area of the Imperial Palace, which contained her relics and celebrated her memory on July 24th. During the Frankish occupation of Constantinople, the relic of St. Christina was stolen and brought to Torcello in 1252.

The island of Santa Cristina has a surface of 27 hectares and lies on the Northern lagoon, between the San Felice canal and the island of La Cura. Inland there are a series of rather wide canals which make it look quite peculiar. A church and monastery called San Marco was built in the seventh century to host the Benedictine nuns. In 1325 St. Christina's relic was transported there, and that is how the island got its name.

In 1340, given the difficult environmental conditions of Santa Cristina, most of the nuns were allowed to move to Murano, therefore the relic was transferred to the Church of San Mattia in Murano. Then in 1435 Pope Euegene IV ordered it transferred to the Church of San Antonio, also in Torcello. It was then transferred to the Basilica of Santa Giustina in Venice in 1793, and finally was brought to its current location in the Church of San Francesco della Vigna in Venice, where it remains incorrupt.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
O dove of golden wings, thou shonest like lightning, and flewest up unto the height of the Heavens, august Christina; therefore we all celebrate thy glorious festival, as we faithfully rev'rence the worshipful shrine wherein thy pure relics are treasured, whence thou dost truly well forth unto all divine cures both for the body and for the soul.

Island of Santa Cristina

Church of San Francesco della Vigna