February 6, 2020

The Relics and Miracles of Saint Barsanuphios of Gaza in Oria, Italy

An anonymous Palestinian monk transferred the relics of Saint Barsanuphios of Gaza to the city of Oria in the province of Brindisi near Siponto in southern Italy in the year 850, and the local bishop Theodosius placed it in the current Church of San Francesco da Paola (which was built in 1580), where remains of the Crypt of Saint Barsanuphios can still be seen today. 

During the siege and capture of the city by the Saracens in 925/26, the relic was lost, but was again found in 1170 by the cleric Marco who received a vision of the Saint and indicated to him the relics, and they were placed in the Basilica of the city by Bishop Lupone on August 30 of the same year. 

According to tradition, San Barsanofio has since saved the city at least twice. In particular, it is said that he prevented a Spanish invasion in 1504 by appearing in front of the Spanish commander Pedro De Paz armed with a sword. Also, during World War II, on 7 September 1943, he is said to have spread his blue cloak in the sky above the city causing a rain storm and thus preventing the allied air bombardment of Oria. Some American airmen reported that a man with a thick gray beard appeared in the sky, spreading his cloak to protect Oria. The episode was witnessed by a large number of people still living, as well as reported by the archpriest of Oria Msgr. Elia Farina in his book Glorie di Oria.

For this reason, Saint Barsanuphios is the patron saint of Oria where he is celebrated on February 20 (in memory of his miraculous intervention to protect the Orian people on the occasion of the earthquake that occurred in 1743) and August 30 (the finding and placement of his relics in Oria), though in the Catholic Church he is generally commemorated on April 11, and in the Orthodox Church he is celebrated on February 6. 

Currently the Cathedral Basilica of Oria owns and venerates the arm of San Barsanofio.

Arm of St. Barsanuphios

Crypt of Saint Barsanuphios in Oria