Saint Teonesto, Martyr in Vercelli
Teonesto was a member of the primitive Christian community of Vercelli, the previous bishop of Eusebius, and perhaps even peace of Constantine, who testified at the sacrifice of his life for his faith. After the martyrdom, his body was buried in a cemetery area where Christian and pagan remains were located, without particular distinction. It would appear that Eusebius himself erected the chapel in which lie the remains of the saint, which was enlarged and transformed by the end of the fourth century into the first Basilica Eusebiana. Today the saint’s relics are kept in a niche above the altar of Our Lady placed the slap in the cathedral of Vercelli.
Roman Martyrology: At Vercelli, Saint Teonesto, Martyr, the Bishop in whose honor Saint Eusebius built a Basilica.
The only ancient source that recalls St. Teonesto is the life of the holy Bishop Eusebius of Vercelli, who is remembered because the Bishop wished to be buried before the relics of the Mmartyr venerated in a shrine in the tomb outside the walls of the city of Vercelli. The question is what information learned from this little news to try to reconstruct the identity of the saint, unknown to any other source hagiography.
The text of Eusebius, Life, mentioned above, is to be placed in the eighth century, an era already very far from the facts he describes, a fact that calls into question the historical reliability. It would appear that Eusebius himself had built the chapel in which lie the remains of the saint, then enlarged and transformed by the end of the fourth century into the first Basilica Eusebiana. When at the end of the sixteenth century, the church structure was gradually demolished to make way for the present cathedral, The Holy Bishop and Saint Teonesto were found side by side as Eusebius had wanted. On the tomb of the Martyr, there was an inscription cruciform, now unfortunately lost: S. MARTYR THEONESTUS, judged by Bruzza Eusebiana era.
If this dating is correct, it could be considered the holy one member of the primitive Christian community Vercelli before the bishop of Eusebius, and perhaps even peace of Constantine, who testified at the sacrifice of his life his faith. After the martyrdom, his body was buried in a cemetery where Christians and pagans were buried, without distinction, also the inscription would suggest that the grave contained the entire body of the Saint and not only preserve the relics. The latter hypothesis could be confirmed only by analyzing the remains scientifically attributed to Teonesto, now kept in a niche above the altar of Our Lady placed the slap in the cathedral of Vercelli.
So if it was not only incomplete relics, but the bodily remains you might consider Vercelli the place where the saint died and therefore exclude the hypothesis of those who would like to identify him with a saint of the same name who was killed by the legendary Bishop Aryans in Altino, Veneto, along with other comrades. On the contrary, being now satisfied that the hagiographic narrative of that saint is just a story that unites in a single imaginative narrative saints venerated in various locations (Albano in Mainz, Orso in Aosta), one might hypothesize that it is in Vercelli the holy bishop was transformed into itinerant.
In the city and diocese of Vercelli, Teonesto, while still being celebrated liturgically November 20, never enjoyed special veneration, so that his iconography is entirely lacking, not knowing who currently works mirror, his name was never associated with any particular patronage. Paradoxically, however, are not these skinny and essential information that provide more than uncontrollable and very credible legend, the authenticity of memory regarding cultic San Teonesto.
Author: Damian Pomi
source: Santi e Beati