Nabor and Felix

Last updated
Saints Nabor and Felix
Born3rd century
Mauretania Caesariensis (modern-day Algeria)
Diedc. 303
Laus Pompeia, Italy
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Major shrine Milan, Italy
Feast July 12
Attributes two young men in military attire; palms

Nabor and Felix (d.c.AD 303) were Christian martyrs thought to have been killed during the Great Persecution under the Roman emperor Diocletian. A tomb in Milan is believed to contain their relics.

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with about 2.4 billion followers.

Roman Empire Period of Imperial Rome following the Roman Republic (27 BC–476 AD)

The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of ancient Rome, consisting of large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean sea in Europe, North Africa and West Asia ruled by emperors. From the accession of Caesar Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, it was a principate with Italy as metropole of the provinces and its city of Rome as sole capital. The Roman Empire was then ruled by multiple emperors and divided into a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople. Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when it sent the imperial insignia to Constantinople following the capture of Ravenna by the barbarians of Odoacer and the subsequent deposition of Romulus Augustus. The fall of the Western Roman Empire to Germanic kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, is conventionally used to mark the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages.

Diocletian Roman Emperor from 284 to 305

Diocletian, born Diocles, was a Roman emperor from 284 to 305. Born to a family of low status in Dalmatia, Diocletian rose through the ranks of the military to become Roman cavalry commander to the Emperor Carus. After the deaths of Carus and his son Numerian on campaign in Persia, Diocletian was proclaimed emperor. The title was also claimed by Carus' surviving son, Carinus, but Diocletian defeated him in the Battle of the Margus.



In the apocryphal "Acts of Saints Nabor and Felix" (which are imitated from the Acts of other martyrs (such as those of Saint Firmus and Saint Rusticus), the two are said to have been Roman soldiers from Mauretania Caesariensis serving under Maximian. They were condemned in Milan and executed by decapitation in Laus Pompeia (Lodi Vecchio).

Apocrypha Works of unknown authorship or of doubtful origin

Apocrypha are works, usually written, of unknown authorship or of doubtful origin. Biblical apocrypha are a set of texts included in the Latin Vulgate and Septuagint but not in the Hebrew Bible. While Catholic tradition considers some of these texts to be deuterocanonical, Protestants consider them apocryphal. Thus, Protestant bibles do not include the books within the Old Testament but have sometimes included them in a separate section, usually called the Apocrypha. Other non-canonical apocryphal texts are generally called pseudepigrapha, a term that means "false attribution".

Ancient Rome History of Rome from the 8th-century BC to the 5th-century

In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic and Roman Empire until the fall of the western empire. The civilization began as an Italic settlement in the Italian Peninsula, conventionally founded in 753 BC, that grew into the city of Rome and which subsequently gave its name to the empire over which it ruled and to the widespread civilisation the empire developed. The Roman Empire expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world, though still ruled from the city, with an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants ) and covering 5.0 million square kilometres at its height in AD 117.

Mauretania Caesariensis province of the Roman Empire in northwest Africa

Mauretania Caesariensis was a Roman province located in what is now Algeria in the Maghreb. The full name refers to its capital Caesarea Mauretaniae, in order to distinguish it from neighboring Mauretania Tingitana, which was ruled from Tingis.

A pair of saints "Nabor and Felix" were also said to have been martyred at Nicopolis in Lesser Armenia in AD 320 alongside SS "Januarius and Marinus". They may be distinct or may have been a merging of the story of the Italian saints with the local couple Januarius and Pelagia. [1] [n 1] The feast day of Januarius and Pelagia was observed on July 11 [2] and that of the quartet on July 10. [1]

Nicopolis (Armenia)

Nicopolis was a Roman colony in Lesser Armenia founded by Pompey in 63 BC after conquering the Kingdom of Pontus in the third Mithridatic War. It became part of the Roman province of Armenia Prima. Today, the city of Koyulhisar in northeastern Turkey occupies the site.

Lesser Armenia, also known as Armenia Minor and Armenia Inferior, comprised the Armenian–populated regions primarily to the west and northwest of the ancient Kingdom of Armenia. The region was later reorganized into the Armeniac Theme under the Byzantine Empire.

Januarius and Pelagia were joint Christian martyrs and saints recorded in the Jerusalem Martyrology. They were beheaded or racked and torn with iron claws and pieces of earthware at Nicopolis in Armenia during the reign of the Roman emperor Licinius. Their feast day observed on July 11. They are possibly to be considered identical with SS Januarius and Marinus who were martyred in the same place in the same year under identical circumstances with the martyrs Nabor and Felix; their feast day, however, was observed on July 10. Alternatively, the quartet may have been a combination of Januarius and Pelagia with the SS Nabor and Felix were martyred in Italy in the early 4th century.


In early 4th-century, their relics were translated, probably by the Bishop of Milan Maternus from their place of interment to a place outside the walls of Milan, placed a few hundred meters north of the present Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio. A church (Basilica Naboriana) was built over their new tomb, as recorded by Paulinus of Milan in his life of Saint Ambrose. Tradition states that Savina of Milan died while praying at the tomb of Nabor and Felix. Saint Ambrose wrote a hymn about them.

Maternus (bishop of Milan) Archbishop of Milan

Maternus was Archbishop of Milan from c. 316 to c. 328. He is honoured as a Saint in the Catholic Church and his feast day is on July 18.

Basilica of SantAmbrogio Romanesque church in Milan

The Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio is a church in Milan, northern Italy.

Savina of Milan Christian martyr and saint

Saint Savina was a Milanese martyr under Diocletian. Her feast day is the 30th of January. She gave aid to Christian prisoners and also ensured that they received proper burials after their executions, and for this reason she was martyred. Tradition states that she died while praying at the tomb of Saints Nabor and Felix.

When Emperor Frederick Barbarossa captured Milan in 1158, he gave some of the relics of Saints Felix and Nabor to Rainald of Dassel, archbishop of Cologne, who brought them to his episcopal see. [3] The relics associated with Felix and Nabor are situated in a chapel in Cologne Cathedral. [4] Nabor and Felix are depicted on the 1181 "Shrine of the Three Kings" by Nicholas of Verdun in Cologne Cathedral. [5]

Milan Italian city

Milan is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the second-most populous city in Italy after Rome, with the city proper having a population of 1,395,274 while its metropolitan city has a population of 3,255,773. Its continuously built-up urban area has a population estimated to be about 5,270,000 over 1,891 square kilometres. The wider Milan metropolitan area, known as Greater Milan, is a polycentric metropolitan region that extends over central Lombardy and eastern Piedmont and which counts an estimated total population of 7.5 million, making it by far the largest metropolitan area in Italy and the 54th largest in the world. Milan served as capital of the Western Roman Empire from 286 to 402 and the Duchy of Milan during the medieval period and early modern age.

Rainald of Dassel archbishop of Cologne, archchancellor of Italy

Rainald of Dassel was Archbishop of Cologne and Archchancellor of Italy from 1159 until his death. A close advisor to the Hohenstaufen emperor Frederick Barbarossa, he had an important influence on Imperial politics, mainly in the Italian conflict of Guelphs and Ghibellines.

Archbishop of Cologne Wikimedia list article

The Archbishop of Cologne is an archbishop representing the Archdiocese of Cologne of the Catholic Church in western North Rhine-Westphalia and northern Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany and was ex officio one of the electors of the Holy Roman Empire, the Elector of Cologne, from 1356 to 1801.

In 1258 their relics were moved to the church of Saint Francis of Assisi that was erected in place of the Basilica Naboriana. On 14-16 April 1798, shortly before the demolition of the church of Saint Francis of Assisi, their relics were translated in the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio. Their relics are placed today in an ancient sarcophagus in the right nave of Sant'Ambrogio Basilica along with the relics of Saint Maternus and of Saint Valeria. [6]

Sarcophagus Box-like funeral receptacle

A sarcophagus is a box-like funeral receptacle for a corpse, most commonly carved in stone, and usually displayed above ground, though it may also be buried. The word "sarcophagus" comes from the Greek σάρξ sarx meaning "flesh", and φαγεῖν phagein meaning "to eat"; hence sarcophagus means "flesh-eating", from the phrase lithos sarkophagos, "flesh-eating stone". The word also came to refer to a particular kind of limestone that was thought to rapidly facilitate the decomposition of the flesh of corpses contained within it due to the chemical properties of the limestone itself.

Feast day

The Roman Catholic Church recognizes Nabor and Felix as martyr saints, inserting them, under the date of 12 July, in the Roman Martyrology, its official list of saints. [7] They were also included in the General Roman Calendar from before the 12th century. [8] with a feast day that was reduced to a commemoration when Saint John Gualbert was added to the calendar in 1595. The 1969 revision removed mention of Nabor and Felix from the General Roman Calendar, but the rules in the Roman Missal published in the same year authorizes celebration of their Mass on their feast day everywhere, unless in some locality an obligatory celebration is assigned to that day. [9]

Desventuradas Islands

The Desventuradas Islands, San Félix and San Ambrosio, were sighted by Juan Fernández in 1574. Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa wrote in 1579 that "they are now called after St Felix and St Ambor (i.e. Felix and Nabor)." Due to linguistic corruption, the name Ambor (Nabor) became confused with that of the more famous Bishop of Milan Saint Ambrose (San Ambrosio). [10]

See also


  1. Marinus being the male form of the Greek name Pelagios and gender bending being a common theme among the many saints conflated with St Pelagia the Harlot.

Related Research Articles

Antipope Felix II Antipope

Antipope Felix, an archdeacon of Rome, was installed as Pope in AD 355 after the Emperor Constantius II banished the reigning Pope, Liberius, for refusing to subscribe to a sentence of condemnation against Saint Athanasius.

Pope Felix I 3rd-century Pope

Pope Felix I was the Bishop of Rome or Pope from 5 January 269 to his death in 274.

Agnes of Rome Christian martyr

Agnes of Rome is a virgin martyr, venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, the Anglican Communion, and Lutheranism. She is one of seven women who, along with the Blessed Virgin, are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.

Mediolanum ancient Milan, an Insubrian, later Roman city

Mediolanum, the ancient Milan, was originally an Insubrian city, but afterwards became an important Roman city in northern Italy. The city was settled by the Insubres around 600 BC, conquered by the Romans in 222 BC, and developed into a key centre of Western Christianity and capital of the Western Roman Empire. It declined under the ravages of the Gothic War, its capture by the Lombards in 569, and their decision to make Ticinum the capital of their Kingdom of Italy.

Saint Ursula is a Romano-British Christian saint, died on October 21, 383. Her feast day in the pre-1970 General Roman Calendar is October 21. There is little definite information about her and the anonymous group of holy virgins who accompanied her and on some uncertain date were killed at Cologne. They remain in the Roman Martyrology, although their commemoration does not appear in the simplified Calendarium Romanum Generale of the 1970 Missale Romanum.

Pelagia Antiochene saint

Pelagia, distinguished as Pelagia of Antioch, Pelagia the Penitent, and Pelagia the Harlot, was a Christian saint and hermit in the 4th or 5th century. Her feast day was celebrated on 8 October, originally in common with Saints Pelagia the Virgin and Pelagia of Tarsus.

Gervasius and Protasius christian saints and martyrs

Saints Gervasius and Protasius are venerated as Christian martyrs, probably of the 2nd century. They are the patron saints of Milan and of haymakers and are invoked for the discovery of thieves. Their feast day in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church is 19 June, the day marking the translation of their relics. In the Eastern Orthodox Church and in the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, their feast takes place on 14 October (O.S.)/24 October (N.S.), the traditional day of their death. In Christian iconography their emblems are the scourge, the club and the sword.

Martinian and Processus Christian martyrs

Martinian and Processus were Christian martyrs of ancient Rome. Neither the years they lived nor the circumstances of their deaths are known. They are currently buried in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Felicitas of Rome Christian saint and martyr

Felicitas of Rome, also anglicized as Felicity, is a saint numbered among the Christian martyrs. Apart from her name, the only thing known for certain about this martyr is that she was buried in the Cemetery of Maximus, on the Via Salaria on a 23 November. However, a legend presents her as the mother of the seven martyrs whose feast is celebrated on 10 July. The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates their martyrdom on 25 January.

Simplician former Archbishop of Milan; a Saint in the Catholic Church

Simplician was Bishop of Milan from 397 to 400 or 401 AD. He is honoured as a Saint in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches and his feast day is August 14.

Rufina and Secunda Roman virgin-martyrs and Christian saints

Rufina and Secunda were Roman virgin-martyrs and Christian saints. Their feast day is celebrated on 10 July.

Saint Hermes Greek saint

Saint Hermes, born in Greece, died in Rome as a martyr in 120, is venerated as a saint by the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. His name appears in the Martyrologium Hieronymianum as well as entries in the Depositio Martyrum (354). There was a large basilica over his tomb that was built around 600 by Pope Pelagius I. It was restored by Pope Adrian I. A catacomb in the Salarian Way bears his name.

The Tridentine Calendar is the calendar of saints to be honoured in the course of the liturgical year in the official liturgy of the Roman Rite as reformed by Pope Pius V, implementing a decision of the Council of Trent, which entrusted the task to the Pope.

Agapitus of Palestrina Teenage Christian martyr

Saint Agapitus is venerated as a martyr saint, who died on August 18, perhaps in 274, a date that the latest editions of the Roman Martyrology say is uncertain.

Mysterii Paschalis is an apostolic letter issued motu proprio by Pope Paul VI on 14 February 1969. It reorganized the liturgical year of the Roman Rite and revised the liturgical celebrations of Jesus Christ and the saints in the General Roman Calendar.

Caius (bishop of Milan) 3rd century bishop of Milan and saint

Caius was Bishop of Milan in early 3rd-century. He is honoured as a Saint in the Catholic Church and his feast day is on September 27.

Felix (d. 303) was a bishop of Thibiuca in Africa who was martyred during the Great Persecution under the Roman emperor Diocletian alongside Audactus, Fortunatus, Januarius, and Septimus. Felix is said to have resisted the command of the local magistrate Magnillian to surrender his church's copies of the Christian scriptures. In one account, Felix and the others were taken to Carthage and decapitated on July 15. These Five Martyrs of Carthage were venerated in the basilica of St Faustus. Another placed his martyrdom at Venosa in Italy. His companions may have been deacons but, apart from their joint martyrdom with Felix, are now unknown. Their feast day was observed jointly on October 24.



  1. 1 2 Bunson & al. (2003), "Januarius, Marinus, Nabor, and Felix".
  2. Bunson & al. (2003), "Januarius and Pelagia".
  3. The relics of Saint Gregory of Spoleto were also brought there at the same time.
  4. Catholic Culture : Missing Page Redirect Archived 2006-10-15 at the Wayback Machine
  5. Rosa Giorgi, "Saints: A Year in Faith and Art" (Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2006).
  6. Pasini, Cesare (1990). "Materno di Milano, santo (sec. IV)". Dizionario della Chiesa Ambrosiana. 4. Milano: NED. p. 21122114. ISBN   88-7023-102-X.(in Italian)
  7. "Martyrologium Romanum" (Libreria Vaticana 2001 ISBN   88-209-7210-7)
  8. "Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 129
  9. General Instruction of the Roman Missal Archived 2008-07-20 at the Wayback Machine , 355 c
  10. B. Glanvill Corney, "The Isles of San Felix and San Nabor," The Geographical Journal, Vol. 56, No. 3 (September 1920), pp. 196-200