My ever-growing fascination with the pantheon of Catholic saints encountered a particularly fascinating example recently, a name I hadn’t heard before: Sant'Emidio (sometimes, Emygdius). Travelling in the southern part of the province of Le Marche, I met a gentleman named Emidio Pepe. When I visited the nearby city of Ascoli Piceno, I discovered the inspiration for the gentleman’s unusual first name: Sant' Emidio is the patron saint and protector of the city, and the Duomo in Ascoli Piceno is dedicated to him.
Rather restrained externally, the Duomo is a riot of colours on the inside. And there’s a crypt, with the relics of the saint, and a rather lovely 20th century mosaic series about events in the city in 1943 (a bad year all round - war and earthquake).
In the south nave of the Duomo is the Cappella del Santo Sacramento which houses a famous polyptych by Carlo Crivelli from 1473. It’s a beautiful thing, painted wood panels, studded with gold and jewels (there were more, but they were removed by Napoleon’s troops).
While admiring this exquisite medieval artwork, I noticed a painting on the side wall -- something from the life of saint, it seemed. But the saint in question was headless, and carrying his own head. Could this be Sant'Emidio? [...]