During the town’s patron saint’s day, on 31 January, solemn celebrations take place in the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, with the participation of the town authorities. A fair is held in honour of the saint in piazza del Duomo and piazza della Cisterna. After more than 16 centuries, San Gimignano, like Pontremoli, still solemnly remembers the area’s first bearer of the gospel, Saint Geminiano. Thanks to the missionary spirit that drove him to cross the Tosco-Emilian Apennines, he became the town’s celestial patron saint. Recent studies place his episcopate in Modena between 342 and 44 and approximately 396, where he succeeded Bishop Antonio, unanimously appointed by his fellow citizens. Fearful, he fled to escape the seriousness of the role, but he was soon found again and was obliged to fulfil his divine duty. His government proved particularly fruitful: the entire city converted to Christianity and the Pagan temples were consecrated with the new religion, in line with the fifteenth-century feel, which saw the emperor Theodosius I proclaim Christianity as the official religion and ban Paganism. Geminiano was a man of prayer and profound piety, remembered also for his power over demons. Tradition has it that his reputation extended as far as the court of Constantinople, where he went to improve emperor Jovian’s daughter’s health. In all probability, the Modena bishop-saint is the same Geminiano who, in 390, attended the bishops’ council of northern Italy, chaired by Saint Ambrose, where the heretic Jovinian was condemned. In the synodial letter by the great Milanese pastor to Pope Siricius, among the bishops’ signature we find “ex jussu Domini Episcopi Geminiani, ipso praesente, Aper presbiter subscripsi”. The recognition of his relics, dating to 1955, ascertained that the sarcophagus, which still contains the relics, was the one in which the saint’s body was originally deposed after his demise. The devotion is not only widespread in San Gimignano, but especially in the Modena area, in Pontremoli and Venice, where there was once a church, reworked by Sansovino, which was later knocked down. IN San Gimignano, the patron saint’s feast day is 31 January, with stalls in the square and a Mass in the Cathedral.
Source: AA.VV. Enciclopedia dei Santi, Bibliotheca Sanctorum, Città Nuova Editrice, Rome, 2013
Symbol of the saint: shepherd's stick.