San Bernolfo Mondovì, Venerated Martyr
The sources on the life of St. Bernolfo, bishop of the diocese alleged Piedmont Mondovì, are very scarce and are mainly of nature worship. In 1514, during the consecration of the high altar of the cathedral, Bishop Lorenzo Fieschi recalled that he had placed there the relics of San Donato, where the building was dedicated, and San Bernolfo, martyr.
The tradition seems to have emerged from this deposition, he was made a bishop of the holy city and was killed during one of the many Saracen raids that took place in Piedmont, South Atlantic in the IX – X century. The cult that was devoted to this unknown saint, was centered in a chapel erected in the village Priola, taken in the casina Saracino, not far from Mondovì. This building, erected on the presumed site of the martyrdom of Bernolfo, contained a painting, perhaps of the thirteenth century, which depicts the his death by flaying and there was also a revered wooden statue portraying him with Episcopal vestments.
In the cathedral, the chapel that a noble family Monregalese had built in his honor, no longer exists and the only witness to a cult of the saint is a silver reliquary in which his head is retained.
Based on these few reports it is not easy to reconstruct the true identity of Bernolfo nor determine more precisely the time and circumstances of his eventual martyrdom. Perhaps he was a Christian who was persecuted or was killed during the Saracen domination, whose memory was later codified in the mentioned identification with a local prelate. Bernolfo may have been a martyr of some other Italian village, whose relics, as happened in 1488, with the patron saint San Donato martyr and bishop of Arezzo, were transferred to Mondovi.
His liturgical feast is celebrated March 24.
Author: Damian Pomi
Source: Santi e Beati