Thursday, April 11, 2019

St. Domnius - April 11

Painting of St. Domnius in the Franciscan Church of the Paludi in Spalato
Painted by Italian artist Girolamo da Santacroce (left)
& the Cathedral of San Doimo in Spalato (right)

April 11 is the feast of St. Domnius, bishop and martyr.

St. Domnius (San Doimo or Domnione di Salona) was a Roman bishop who from about 284-304 AD was the second Bishop of Salona.

St. Domnius was born in the Roman colony of Antioch, capital of the Province of Syria-Coele. According to tradition his father Theodosius was a wealthy Roman and his mother Migdonia was of Greek origin. Domnius later moved to Salona, which at that time was a large Roman city and the capital of the Province of Dalmatia. He worked there as a missionary and in c. 284 AD he became bishop of that city, succeeding St. Venantius. In 303 or 304 AD, during the height of the Diocletianic Persecution, he was beheaded, suffering martyrdom together with seven other Christians.

He was buried outside the city walls by Roman soldiers. After the legalization of Christianity by the Edict of Milan in 313 AD, a chapel was erected on his grave. It later became a church and in the 5th century was converted into a large basilica.

The Destruction of Salona and Foundation of Spalato

The Avars and Slavs began to invade the Province of Dalmatia in the 7th century, and in 639 AD they sacked and completely destroyed the city of Salona. The surviving Roman inhabitants fled to the nearby coast, where they barricaded themselves behind the walls of Diocletian's Palace. Within these walls a new city was established: the city of Spalato.

The Romans had brought with them the relics of St. Domnius. He became the patron saint of the new city and his relics were preserved inside a new church which they dedicated to him: the Cathedral of San Doimo – providentially built inside the Mausoleum of the very emperor who had caused the saint's death.

In 641 AD Pope John IV requested that St. Domnius' relics be transferred to the Lateran Basilica in Rome, in order to protect them from the Slavic invaders. A portion of the relics were later returned to Spalato, while the rest remained in the Lateran. Today both Spalato and Rome each possess some of the saint's relics.

In Spalato the feast is celebrated on May 7, instead of the usual April 11; the date was moved forward in the diocese of Spalato due to the feast often coinciding with Palm Sunday.