Antiochus is the saint who gave the name to the island of Sant’Antioco. His story is very interesting. In an historical moment in which the migration of people from our neighboring countries is the daily debate, the figure of the Holy Martyr Sant’Antioco – the saint who came from the sea – is even more relevant.
Antiochus, despite the difficulties, managed to reach our shores and spread the word of Christ in Sardinia. He founded the first catholic church in Sardinia. He was born nearly 2,000 years ago and he came from a region of North Africa, Mauritania, which today corresponds to the current Morocco/Algeria. At that time it was a Roman province during the reign of Hadrian and Christians were persecuted. Antiochus was a doctor who he believed and professed Christ’s word so he had no choice but to emigrate. He was forced to embark on a journey of luck that brought him into the Sardinian coast. The Emperor Hadrian was not particularly bad, but at that time there were too many riots in North Africa and to quell the riots he decided to put the saint in a boat along with a centurion named Ciriaco and reached Sulcis, a Roman city. Sant’Antioco is a saint that really existed, the only Christian catacombs in Sardinia are his. His fame was such that he was proclaimed patron of Sardinia and to him are ascribed thousands of miracles.
In 2015 it was the “holy extraordinary year“ (18th march 1615 – 18th march 2015 4th centenary of the discovery of the body of Sant’Antioco martyr): people devout to the patron of Sardinia had the opportunity to worship his recomposed relics in the Basilica of Sant’Antioco.
Lately an exhibition of contemporary art – the Holy Antiochus came from the sea was presented in Rome, curated by Robert Lai, scholar and researcher of the cult of Sant’Antioco. Over the years, the figure of the Saint has changed and has been represented in various ways by different artists. From 5th december the exhibition was visible again in Guidonia Montecelio. Then it stopped at Nettuno, Ozieri and then back to Sant’Antioco.
If you are planning to visit Sant’Antioco and want to understand more about its history and worship the Saint, try not to miss the old local festival dedicated to the Saint “Sagra di Sant’Antioco”.