Iconography of Saint Orontius

A collection of the artworks celebrating the Patron Saint of Lecce

By ArtWork Cooperativa Sociale

Chapel dedicated to Saint Orontius - Duomo of Lecce (1671 - 1674) by Giuseppe Zimbalo and Giovanni Andrea LarducciArtWork Cooperativa Sociale

Saint Orontius was bestowed the title of Saint Patron of Lecce in 1656 and is celebrated, together with Justus and Fortunatus, on August 24, 25 and 26, in memory of his martyrdom (August 26, 68 AD).

Saint Orontius saves Lecce from the earthquake - Basilica of Santa Croce by UnknownArtWork Cooperativa Sociale

A lot of artworks celebrating the love for the Patron Saint embellish the most beautiful sites – ecclesiastical or not – in the city, starting from the very peculiar one in the Basilica of Santa Croce

The painting bears the date 1743 and depicts people gathered before the Porta Rudiae thanking Saint Orontius for having saved them from a terrible earthquake without causing victims or destruction.

A genuine evidence of popular devotion, the painting displays a dedicatory inscription in the local dialect, that is a real rarity because, in those days, Latin was the only language allowed.

Silver bust of Saint Orontius - MuDAS (1671) by Domenico GiganteArtWork Cooperativa Sociale

The precious silver bust of the Patron Saint, part of the Treasure of the Duomo, with the mitre studded with topaz, can be admired in the Museum of Sacred Art.

It had to be smelted several times due to a defect in the eyebrow. In the end, a handy solution was found: the Saint made it known that the defect depicted a scar he had acquired as a boy.

Aedicula of the Bell Tower - Duomo of Lecce (1661-1682) by Giuseppe ZimbaloArtWork Cooperativa Sociale

On the top of the dome of the bell tower of the Duomo of Lecce, there is a plate depicting Saint Orontius in the act of blessing the city.

View of the third order of the Bell Tower of the Duomo of Lecce (1661-1682) by Giuseppe ZimbaloArtWork Cooperativa Sociale

Moreover, the biggest among the bells housed in the third order of the building is called Assunta Oronzo by the local people.

It has an unmistakeable toll for the people of Lecce who, on hearing it, invariably say: “Sta sona lu Ronzu” (Oronzo is tolling).

Saint Orontius, bishop and martyr - Duomo of Lecce (1656) by Giovanni Andrea CoppolaArtWork Cooperativa Sociale

At the centre of the chapel of Saint Orontius in the Duomo of Lecce, there is the painting of Giovanni Andrea Coppola, a famous doctor and painter from Gallipoli.

The painting depicts Saint Orontius that, in pontifical robes, banishes paganism.

The Saint is depicted between two angels, with a pagan idol in pieces at his feet.
In the background, in the distance, there is the city of Lecce.

Protection of Saint Orontius - Duomo of Lecce by Giuseppe da BrindisiArtWork Cooperativa Sociale

There is an ancient and orally transmitted hymn in honour of Saint Orontius, “Ave Oronti”. PortaLecce – the newspaper of the Archdiocese – wanted to treasure and hand it down to future generations.

Saint Orontius is mandated to protect Lecce - Museum of Sacred Art (MuDAS) (1766) by Serafino ElmoArtWork Cooperativa Sociale

For this reason, don Biagio Mandorino – diocesan choirmaster of Otranto, expert in ancient and modern music – re-arranged the hymn for orchestra and recorded it.

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