St. Ursus of Aosta
Ursus of Aosta, Archdeacon
Feast day: February 1
sometimes June 17
also known as Orso, Ours
Patron of Ivrea; Cogne; invoked in childbirth; children who die before baptism; invoked against faintness, kidney disease, and rheumatism
Archdeacon of Aosta, Italy. Originally from Ireland, he journeyed to the Continent and spent years preaching against the Arian hertics.
Died at Aosta, Italy, in the 6th century; feast celebrated on June 17 in some places.
Irish Saint Ursus evangelized the region of Digne and was an arch- opponent of Arianism. He served Bishop Jucundus as archdeacon. At the bishop's death the Arian Plocean ascended the cathedra, whereupon Ursus and several canons removed themselves to the church of Saint Peter outside Aosta, which is now the collegiate church of Saints Peter and Ursus. It is said that he efforts at evangelizing and catechising the area were so effective that even a millenium later, none would follow any but the Church of Rome. Aosta has many memorials to Saint Ursus, including a lime tree under which the council of the area met and chapels and hospitals (D'Arcy, Encyclopedia, O'Kelly, Tommasini).
In art, Saint Ursus is portrayed as an archdeacon with a staff and book, bearing birds on his shoulder. He may also be shown
1 with a fur pelisse in a religious habit
2 striking water from a rock
3 giving shoes to the poor .
The collegiate church in Aosta, dedicated to Sant'Orso, contains many missals and precious reliquaries of inestimable value, including the saint's relics, which rest in the crypt, called the Confession of Saint Ursus. The church cloister has historiated capitals depicting the life of Ursus (Michelin). There is an altar with a painting of Saint Ursus above it in the cathedral of Turin (D'Arcy).
Saint Ursus together with Saint Brigid of Kildare are the patrons of Ivrea, where their joint feast on February 1 was kept as a day of obligation (D'Arcy). Ursus is invoked in childbirth and for children who die before baptism, as well as against faintness, kidney disease, and rheumatism