The Legend of Santa Bona

The Abbey today and its long, almost millenial, history only exist due to the relics that Giovanni Gravone brought back with him from the Holy Land. But who was Santa Bona? She is indeed absent from the official calendar of the saints, and it is rather difficult to find close to any information about her both online and offline. Hence, where did she come from and why has she been worshipped for more than 9 centuries?

Santa Bona was an Egyptian virgin. The oldest version of her story can be found in the martirologue of the 14th century, even if it is believed to be a translation of a Greek legend from the VIIIth century.

Bona is born in Egypt from a royal bloodline, under the name of Cordimunda, meaning pure at heart. Remaining orphan at an early age, she is raised by her relatives who, as she turns 12, decide to marry her. The young girl rebels though at the proposal, declaring that she is already married to Christ.

She runs away to a monastery, where the abbess, announced in a dream that the girl would come, sees to it that she would be baptized and ointed as nun with the name of Bona. Bona lives the rest of her life in the monastery, where she becomes very closely befriended to another nun. As the latter becomes ill and is approaching her last breath, the young Bona prays to God to allow her to join her friend in paradise. This is how, precisely three days after the death of her friend, Bona crosses into the afterlife, surrounded by the other nuns, who sing psalms to accompany her on her journey. The legend says that her body perfumed with a fine scent and emanated a candid light until its burial.

The bones of the Saint have been conserved for more than 900 years in the church of the Abbey, where they can still be honoured during private visits and, once a year, during the mass dedicated to Saint Bona, celebrated every second Sunday of September.

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