Pisa pays tribute to Saint Torpé

Pisa rende omaggio a San Torpè
Pisa rende omaggio a San Torpè
Chiesa di San Torpè
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On the 70th anniversary of the first pilgrimage, the municipal administration has prepared a solemn programme of festivities, aimed at the French pilgrims who will be in Pisa to pay homage to Saint Torpè, led by the mayor of the French town, and above all at the Pisans, who now know very little about the saint.

It will begin on Saturday 27 April at 7 p.m. in the church of San Torpè with the presentation of the book 'Il Martire San Torpè' specially written by Father Bruno Moriconi to celebrate the anniversary. Father Bruno Moriconi belongs to the Order of the Discalced Carmelite Fathers, who have been the custodians of the 'precious' relic of the Pisan martyr since 1816. The book was printed by the Municipal Administration in Italian and French, precisely as a gift to the pilgrims.

This will continue on Sunday 28 April with the extraordinary opening to visitors of the Bagni di Nerone. At 5.00 p.m., on the lawn surrounding the Roman ruins, Professor Mauro Ronzani, Professor of Medieval History at the University of Pisa, will illustrate the history of San Torpè, followed by the archaeologist Dr. Antonio Campus, who will lead a visit to the ancient monument. The Filarmonica Sangiulianese will animate the speeches.

At 6.15 p.m. in the church of San Torpè, Holy Mass will be celebrated, during which the investiture of the Ambassador of the Parte di Tramontana del Gioco del Ponte, which has elected San Torpè as its patron saint, will take place.

Finally, on Monday 29 April, the liturgical feast of Saint Torpè, at 10.00 a.m. in the Church of Saint Torpè, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Pisa, Monsignor Giovanni Paolo Benotto, will celebrate the Holy Mass in the presence of the Mayors of Pisa and Saint-Tropez and numerous French pilgrims. Following this, at 11.45 a.m., in the Sala delle Baleari, the Municipal Administration will greet and welcome the French pilgrims with the traditional "vin d'honeur".


Few Pisans know the story of the martyr Torpè, who was beheaded 'in litore pisano' (in the Pisan litore), and of the fact that his head is contained in a precious reliquary housed in the church of the same name in the Bagni di Nerone (Baths of Nero). Equally few are those who know that every year, on the feast of the saint, a large group of French people from Saint-Tropez make a devout pilgrimage to Pisa to venerate and pray to the martyr saint who lived at the time of the Apostle Peter. In Pisa, the pilgrims are welcomed by the municipal administration and receive sober hospitality from the Carmelite Fathers.

According to tradition, Torpè, a Roman soldier who converted to Christianity, suffered the martyrdom of beheading on the beaches of Pisa in 68 A.D.: his body, missing his head, was left adrift on a boat together with a rooster and a dog that reached the French coast, where Saint-Tropez stands today. The head, however, was recovered and jealously guarded to this day in the church today officiated by the Discalced Carmelite Fathers.

Saint Torpè was certainly highly venerated in Pisa in the past, and it is no coincidence that Turino Vanni painted him with Saint Ranieri next to the Virgin, both wearing the Pisan insignia: Ranieri holds the better known white cross on a red field (the flag of the people), while Torpè holds the red flag, the emblem of Pisa. Many prodigies are attributed to him, including, on 29 April 1633, the deliverance from the plague that was rampant in the city of Pisa. In the course of time, the cult in the city waned, and the circumstance of a Frenchman from Saint-Tropez happening upon the church at the Bagni di Nerone in 1953 gave rise to an uninterrupted pilgrimage of Frenchmen to Pisa for over seventy years. In Saint-Tropez (where the saint's body was kept and was unfortunately later lost), the celebrations take place instead in mid-May with the famous 'Bravade', during which the simulacrum of the saint is carried on the shoulders of four valets of the Municipality of Pisa and is festively welcomed through the streets of the town, while an army of musketeers, sailors and bravadeurs greet him by firing countless rifle shots.

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