Pandemic casts spotlight St Corona

A restorer cleans the reliquary of St Corona at the cathedral in Aachen, Germany, on Wednesday (CNS/Thilo Schmuelgen, Reuters)

Little is known about the young woman who was killed for her Christian faith, presumably in the second century A.D. But now, a pandemic is shedding light on St Corona. Source: CNS.

The German Catholic news agency KNA reports the Church’s martyr records put the year of her death at 177 AD. It is not certain where she lived. A Greek account put it in Syria, while a Latin one said it was Marseilles, France, and Sicily. What is proven is that she began to be honoured in the sixth century in northern and central Italy. All the rest is the stuff of legend — propagated above all by monks in the Alpine region.

“This has nothing to do with the real history of Corona, but instead with stories aimed at deepening the faith,” said Manfred Becker-Huberti, a German theologian known in the Rhineland as an expert on folklore and customs.

The St Corona legends are bloody. One account is that, as a 16-year-old, she was forced to watch her husband, St Victor, being murdered because of his faith. She died in a gruesome manner: Her persecutors tied her between two palm trees that had been bent to the ground. Her body was then torn apart when the trees were set loose to snap back into standing position.

Some relics of the martyr were taken to the Prague cathedral in the 14th century.

As early as the 10th century, under Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, St Corona relics were taken to Aachen. In 1910, during excavation work at the cathedral there, archaeologists came across the relics, which were removed from a crypt and placed in a shrine. This one metre tall, 100 kilo relic has, until recently, been kept in storage in the Aachen cathedral treasure vault. With the coronavirus pandemic, experts have taken it out to dust it off and conserve it.

St Corona is not the namesake for the virus. The Latin word “corona” means “crown,” an indication that the young saint had achieved the “crown of eternal life” because of the steadfastness of her faith. The connection with the coronaviruses, named because of their crown-like structure, is just a coincidence.


Pandemic casts spotlight on a nearly forgotten martyr: St Corona (CNS

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