Horatio Marina
St. Bassianus

Piazza Libertà, Bassano del Grappa, Italy

St. Bassianus was a 4th-century bishop of Lodi, in what is now Lombardy. He collaborated with St. Ambrose of Milan in opposing the teachings of the Arians. The doe sitting at his feet refers to a story in his legend: While traveling on his way to Ravenna he found a doe caught with her two fawns in a trap that had been set by some hunters. He freed them, and the doe then sat down and tamely licked his feet. When the hunters arrived, one of them was so angry that he struck the saint, whereupon a devil arrived and carried him off (Acta Sanctorum, January vol. II, 223).

The crozier in the bishop's left hand can be attested in Christian contexts as early as the 4th century and in liturgical use as early as the 5th. However, the cope and mitre are anachronisms, not having come into use as episcopal vestments until centuries later.1

The Roman Martyrology for January 19 records the death at Lodi of "Saint Bassianus, bishop and confessor, who along with St. Ambrose fought vigorously against the heretics." Watkins dates his death at the year 413; some websites accept this date, while others put it at 409.

Bassianus also figures, without the doe, in this 16th-century fresco of the Madonna and Child by Jacopo Da Ponte.

Left: The statue's place in the Piazza Libertà. Right: An inscription on the column gives the date and sculptor of the statue and commemorates the translation of relics of the saint from Lodi to Bassano in 1856.

View the statue and column in full resolution.

Photographed in the Piazza Libertà by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

1 See our page for the mitre and crozier and Catholic Encyclopedia s.v. "Cope" and "Crosier."