Santa Cristiana

3 January 2018 by Federica Ghimenti

January 4th is an important day in Santa Croce sull’Arno. It is day day dedicated to their Patron Saint Santa Cristiana or Oringa Menabuoi.

Oringa … what a difficult name, on the other hand, was born between 1237 and 1240 in Santa Croce and in those years, especially in these areas, the Latin was merged with the Lombards. As the scholar Giovanni Lami explains to us, to whom we know themost of the news on the history of Santa Croce, it could be a contracted form of Auring, where “Aura” comes from Latin “Oro” and “ing” is the diminutive ending of name in Longobard or German (Inge is still a personal name). Let’s say that today it would be called Oretta, Aurea, Sublime, Eccelsa.

The people from Santa Croce sull’Arno are particularly linked to this figure perhaps because in itself embodies the typical characteristics of the local women: courageous, enterprising, but with a big heart.

It took courage in fact to rebel against the brothers, the only family members who had remained, who in 1258 wanted her soon married to one of their chosen good parties. For this reason Oringa escapes from Santa Croce, but must cross the river Usciana. Here the miracle happens, between Ponte a Cappiano and today’s Cerri village, thanks to the divine power the girl crosses the river unscathed and runs along the Via Francigena to reach Lucca. This story of water separation is not new …

It took courage to escape alone from his hometown and to remain alone in the domestic service of a certain Lord Cortevecchia Cavaliere Lucchese, noble of Porcari, with an exemplary life. These are times when the struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines exterminate whole families and the echo of the violence to which their native lands are subjected arrives.

With his initiative, under the call of vocation and with the indulgence and indirect support of the lords of Cortevecchia, Oringa resumed his journey in search of his vision. In Assisi he receives an illumination: to found a Monastery in Santa Croce sull’Arno.

So in 1277 Oringa returns to his native village where, together with a group of women, he gives life to a  religious community. The beginnings were not easy: a collaboration was established with the civic authority and the bishop, with whom, however, the relations had alternate phases. On October 31, 1279, the city council granted a house in the San Nicola district. In December, the resolution and the finalization of the donation.

But Oringa is remembered above all for her big heart like. According to some anecdotes handed down, during a famine, Cristiana opens the monastery to allow the citizens to feed themselves with the fruits of the convent garden and one day emerged from the cloister and presented to the Council of the elders of the town avoiding the war with Fucecchio, but they listen to it and the consequences lead to a painful defeat.

Having reached the threshold of seventy years, after three years of infirmity, Blessed Cristiana is struck by a paralysis, afflicted by acute pains, but comforted by prayer. Mother Cristiana died on January 4, 1310, surrounded by her sisters.

A spiritual life, yes, but also adventurous and fair, as are the women of Santa Croce sull’Arno: direct and sincere, you can always count on them.



Deliciae Eruditorum Seu Veterum Anekdotōn Opusculorum Collectanea  di Giovanni Lami

La miracolsa vita, et morte della gloriosa vergine santa Cristiana di Onorio Martini

Alberto Malvolti “Fucecchio e dintorni – Storie e microstorie tra Medioevo ed età moderna”

CasaLina & CasAlfredo