St. Severinus of Noricum

Cathedral of St. Stephen, Passau, Germany

The first two lines of the inscription are in Latin: "An apostolic gift is a mind that sees into the future. What wonderful deeds did Father Severinus perform!" Eugippius relates that Severinus foretold the sack of Salzburg by the barbarian Heruli and counseled its citizens to flee the city while they had the chance.1 This appears to be the event pictured by the painting. The actual Salzburg fortress is indeed on a sloping hill above the river just as shown.

The next two lines are in German: "With wisdom, erudition, and miracles he showed himself apostolic. Therefore one should highly honor the holy Father Severinus." The emphasis on the word "apostolic" goes with this saint's title, as declared in the Roman Martyrology and on the scroll at the top of this painting: "Apostle to the Norici." The word appears at the beginning of Eugippius's first chapter: "he lived in accordance with the evangelical and apostolic doctrine" (29).

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Photographed at the cathedral by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

1 In the Robinson translation (74) the town is called Joviaco, which Robinson explains as Schlögen, a village on the Danube about 45 kilometers SE of Passau. But most of the texts surveyed for the Acta Sanctorum call it Topia or Iuvavia, names of what is now Salzburg (January vol. 1, 492).