St Nonnosus healing oil
St Nonnosus healing oil is dedicated to the 6th century Italian saint.
He was a prior at the San Silvestre monastery, Rome. He was later a monk at Suppentonia. Nonnosus was a contemporary of SaintSt Benedict of Nursia.
Veneration of St Nonnosus was established at Monte Soratte in the 1650s. In 1661 some of his relics returned to Monte Soratte. Nonnosus’ cult spread across central Italy. It is highly likely that the legends of two different persons had been merged into one by then.
The sole source on Nonnosus’ life is Pope Gregory 1 (r. 590-604). He wrote about Saint Nonnosus after being asked by some friends to create a compendium of miracle stories associated with Italian saints. Maximian, bishop of Syracuse, provided Gregory with information about Nonnosus. Laurio, an old monk of the monastery of Suppentonia. Laurio had been a friend of Nonnosus while the two lived the monastic life there. According to Gregory, Nonnosus was a particularly good-natured man and was buried at Monte Soratte.
St Nonnosus miracles
A re-interpretation for the origins of Nonnosus was posited by archaeological excavations at the village of Molzbichl. There, a tombstone carries an early Christian inscription plate that reads: “Here rests the servant of Christ, Nonnosus, deacon, who lived more or less for 103 years. He died on September 2 at this place. The plate may have been translated to the church from the nearby ancient city of Teurnia. Nonnosus could have served as a deacon in the troubled border area near the Danube. The area of St. Peter in Holz was, since the days of Emperor Arnulf, under the jurisdiction of the bishops of Freising. The relics could have been transferred to Freising from there.
Miracles told of Nonnosus, as recorded by St. Gregory, state that Nonnosus removed an enormous rock that had occupied land on which he wanted to grow cabbage –fifty pairs of oxen had not been able to move it. Also, that he miraculously restored a glass lamp that had been shattered against the floor. And that he completely filled several receptacles with olive oil after a particularly bad harvest for the olive crop. The legends told of him tell of his ability to calm his abbot, who was a despotic and irascible man.
St Nonnosus relics
When Monte Soratte was attacked by Muslim forces at the end of the 9th century, Nonnosus’ relics were taken to Suppentonia. A fire damaged the cathedral of Freising in 1159. In 1161, while the foundations of the church were being dug, remains of three people were discovered, identified as the relics of Nonnosus, and two other saints: Alexander and Justin. The relics were reburied in the crypt of the cathedral.
In 1708, they were rediscovered again when a brick wall collapsed, but no one could remember their origin. Nevertheless, they identified them as belonging to Nonnosus and buried the relics in 1709 with great pomp in the crypt again. Subsequently, the cathedral became a popular pilgrimage site. Nonnosus’ head was taken to Bamberg at an uncertain date.
In Germany, Nonnosus was prayed to by sufferers from diseases of the kidneys.
Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Applying the oil while praying are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.