In Caesarea in Palestine, the passion That is, the suffering and death of St. Reparata, Virgin and Martyr. During the reign of the Emperor Decius she refused to sacrifice to idols and was tortured with various kinds of torments and finally put to the sword. Then her soul was seen to leave her body and fly up to Heaven in the form of a dove. – Roman Martyrology for October 8
Various early sources place St. Reparata's death and burial in Caesarea in Palestine.3, but her Passio says nothing of her origin or her life before she was brought before a Roman governor by the name of Decius. He urged her to sacrifice to the gods and preserve her life, but she refused. After the incident of the boiling lead she was cast into a burning furnace. Neither of these tortures harmed her in the slightest, so Decius ordered her beheaded. When the head came off, a dove flew up from her neck.
Images of St. Reparata are not common, and of those that exist I have found only one that accords her an attribute specific to her story: In the statue by Arnolfo di Cambio at right she holds the pot of boiling lead that was poured over her in an attempt to persuade her to sacrifice to the gods.
In a few paintings she carries a white flag with a red cross, as at right. This is the secondary flag of the city of Florence, which looked to Reparata as one of its patron saints. Flags of the World says it is the city's "People's Flag."1 In the Middle Ages the same flag also represented England and usually appears in portraits of the English virgin martyr St. Ursula. In those the saint is often flanked by a large number of fellow virgins; this is never the case for St. Reparata.
In other pictures the saint will have just a martyr's palm and/or a crown. The crown is most likely intended simply as a mark of martyrdom, but a poem about the saint does say an angel "placed on her head a beautiful tiara adorned with gems and emeralds."2
Prepared in 2015 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University. Revised 2020-05-28.