St Reparata healing oil
St Reparata was a Catholic virgin and martyr of the 3rd century AD, She was born in Caesarea, the Roman Province of Palestine. Sources record her age as being from 11 to 20 years old. Sainte-Réparate Cathedrale in Nice gives it as 15 years. She was arrested for her faith and tortured during the persecution of Roman Emperor Decius.
Her persecutors tried to burn her alive, but she was saved by a shower of rain. She was then compelled to drink boiling pitch. When she again refused to apostatize, she was decapitated. Her legend states that immediately upon dying a dove appeared to symbolize the departure of her spirit to Heaven. Later elaborations of her legend state that her body was laid in a boat and blown by the breath of angels to the bay presently denominated the “Bay of Angels” in Nice.
Evidence of her cult does not exist before the ninth century when her name appeared in the martyrology of St. Bede. Eusebius of Caesarea, who recorded the martyrdoms that occurred in the Holy Land during the 3rd century, did not reference her.
Her cult became widespread in Europe during the Middle Ages, as evidenced by the multiple Passiones in various parts of the continent, especially in Italy. There her cult was especially popular, specifically in Florence, Atri, Naples, and Chieti. Numerous painters depicted her.
She remained primary patroness of Florence until the High Middle Ages; Anna Jameson writes that circa “1298 she appears to have been deposed from her dignity as sole patroness; the city was placed under the immediate tutelage of the Virgin and St. John the Baptist.”
She is the patroness of Nice and a co-patroness of Florence (with Saint Zenobius). The former Cathedral of Santa Reparata in Florence was dedicated in honor of her.
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.
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