Founder Saint Marino

 

According to legend, the State of San Marino was founded in 301 A.D. by a stonecutter named Marino, who came from the island of Rab, in Dalmatia.

The life of the Founder Saint
In the year 257 of the Christian era, at a time when the persecutions against the Christians were becoming more and more harsh, the Roman emperors Diocletian and Maximian decided to rebuild the city of Rimini, which was destroyed by Demosthenes, king of the Liburni people. To this end, they recruited architects, masons and skilled workers from every part of the Empire. Among these, Marino and Leone came to Rimini from Dalmatia and they soon distinguished themselves for their expertise in stone working, as well as for their exceptional moral virtues.
A short time later, Leo and Marino were sent to Mount Titano to take the stone from the quarries. They remained there for three long years. After this period, Leo moved to Mount Feretro, which later took the name of San Leo, while Marino returned to Rimini. He remained in Rimini for twelve years and three months, working hard, preaching the Gospel and combating idolatry, so his reputation as a virtuous and holy man increased and also reached his native land.
As a consequence, the devil, extremely annoyed, suggested to a woman, native of Dalmatia like Marino, to join him in Rimini and publicly pretend to be his lawful wife. Firmly rejected by the holy man, the woman decided to turn to the Roman governor for justice. Fearful of the possible consequences, Marino took refuge on the slopes of Mount Titano, where he remained for 12 months hiding in a cold and inaccessible cave, eating only berries and devoting himself to prayer. But one day he was found by some shepherds and again was reached and harassed by the possessed woman. 

Marino, hidden in his shelter, refused to meet her and, finally, after six days, the woman gave up and returned to Rimini, where she died soon after confessing her wicked lies.
Marino, cleared of all charges, decided however to stay on Mount Titano to live in perfect hermitage and settled on the ridge where he built a cell for himself and a small church dedicated to St. Peter.
But a young man, Verissimo, son of Felicissima, the Roman woman owner of the Mount, not tolerating the presence of the hermit on his property, ferociously warned him to leave the place immediately. Marino, to avert any act of violence, prayed the Lord to stop Verissimo, who suddenly fell to the ground paralysed in the limbs and in the word.
Felicissima, informed of the incident, rushed with her entourage to the holy hermit to implore the healing of her son, promising in return to fulfil all his requests. Marino recommended those present to convert to the true faith and asked to have a small portion of the Mount for his own burial. Felicissima consented and promised as a gift to Marino and his successors the Mount and the surrounding areas, so that they could use them forever. Marino then touched Verissimo, who was immediately healed from his sudden paralysis; with his mother and fifty-three members of his family, he repudiated idolatry and converted to Christianity.
Meanwhile, the fame of the virtues of Marino and Leo was so widespread that the Bishop of San Gaudenzio, arrived in Rimini, summoned them to thank them for their apostolate, consecrating Leo as priest and appointing Marino as deacon.
Back in his humble abode, Marino found in his backyard a ferocious bear devouring the donkey that helped him with his daily works. Marino was outraged and tied to the millstone the bear, which, once tamed, performed from then on the usual tasks of the killed donkey.
Leone passed on to a better life, while Marino continued to live in his hermitage where he alternated work with prayer and where he remained until his death on the third day of September, surrounded by the affection and veneration of the small community of his followers, who buried him in the church built by Marino himself.


Worship and fortune
The story of Marino's life, as presented here, is taken from "Vita Sancti Marini", a hagiographic text dating back to the Early Medieval Age which, although imaginative and not very consistent with the data of a reliable historical reconstruction, can be considered among the oldest "documentary sources" certifying the birth of the free community of San Marino.
Indeed, the unknown author, perhaps drawing inspiration from an older tradition, or perhaps inclined to meet the needs of a small community with libertarian aspirations, dates back to Marino the possession of Mount Titano and of the immediately adjacent lands, which will constitute first the territory of the free Commune and then that of the independent Republic.
Marino is therefore not only the "Patron" of the Republic, but mainly its "Founder", as reiterated by another long-standing tradition that attributes to the Saint, about to leave this earthly life, the famous words "Relinquo vos liberos ab utroque homine". Over the past few centuries, the apologetic historiography has considered these words as the foundations of San Marino's libertas.
The symbolic significance of Saint Marino is therefore both religious and civil. Thanks to this dual connotation, the worship and devotion of Saint Marino have always permeated the life and the main institutions of the Republic, its traditional ceremonies and its main civil holidays.
3 September of each year, the day that the liturgy dedicates to the veneration of Saint Marino, is conventionally celebrated by San Marino community as the "Feast of the Republic's Foundation", with a solemn ceremony that takes place first in the Saint's Basilica and then in the Government Building, in the presence of the major civil and religious authorities and with great participation of the citizens. Even today, as in past centuries, during the election, every six months, of the new Captains Regent, the members of the Great and General Council, before the formal voting in the Council's Hall, seek the "inspiration" of the Saint and again the Saint is invoked by the Captains Regent in the solemn oath uttered upon their investiture.

Tangible evidence of the devotion and "fortune" that have always accompanied the figure of Saint Marino are the numerous graphic works, both paintings and sculptures, dedicated to him throughout the centuries, which are preserved in the Republic. Alongside those by more known and appreciated artists, such as Francesco Menzocchi from Forlė, Girolamo Marchesi from Cotignola, Bartolomeo Gennari of Guercino's school and the famous artist Pompeo Batoni, usually commissioned to decorate churches, public buildings and the most sumptuous noble homes, in our territory there are many depictions of the Saint of a minor aesthetic and artistic quality, interpretations of anonymous local artists, often naive, testifying to the true "devotion" and genuine "affection" to the patron Saint and Founder."
(Text by Anna Simoncini, Director of the State Museums)
In the photo gallery below are the images related to the iconography of Saint Marino. The following works: "Saint Marino", by Bartolomeo Gennari, "Saint Marino blesses the city" by Gian Francesco Barbieri (Guercino), "Saint Marino meets Felicita", "Saint Marino moves away the woman tempting him", "Saint Marino meets Verissimo" (decoration of the ceiling) by an unknown artist from Rimini, "Saint Marino uplifts the Republic" by Pompeo Batoni, Saint Marino (holding Mount Titano) by Ghirlandaio, "Madonna in Glory with Saints Marino, Antonio Da Padova, Francis and Clare" by Giovan Battista Urbinelli, fall within the competence of the Directorate of San Marino State Museums. The publication of any reproductions must be therefore authorised by said institution.

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