Santa Cristina

March 18, 2009 / Places
scristina1Although the Lake Bolsena Territorial Museum sits at the top of the hill overlooking the medieval town and is dedicated to Bolsena’s history, it is the Church of Santa Cristina that captivates me each time we visit the town.

This Romanesque church was built in 1078 over the catacombs where Santa Cristina, a young woman martyred during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, was buried. Thrown into the lake she refused to die, and floated to the top on a slab of volcanic rock.

In 1263 or 1264, a young priest visiting from Prague on his way to Rome was saying Mass when he was amazed to see the host and wine actually turn into the body and blood of Christ. This then spilled onto the white altar cloth creating a stain resembling Jesus, onto the marble floor (a piece of it now in the reliquary – see photo), and into the catacombs below.

The event had such a tremendous impact on the Christian world that Pope Urban IV, who was in nearby Orvieto at the time, immediately called it a miracle and inaugurated the Feast of Corpus Domini, which is still celebrated throughout the Catholic world today.


Evanne Brandon-Diner

by Evanne Brandon-Diner

Chronicler of local village life in Northern Lazio, and property restoration and purchasing consultant.

4 Responses to “Santa Cristina”

  1. Great story, but I believe Mass shoudl have the first letter capitalized. thanks

  2. Mary Galeani

    how wonderful! My father came from Bolsena, and I went for the first time just 4 years ago. I went hoping to maybe find a cemetary marker, and instead, I found family “dappertutto!” I’ve been back a few times now, visiting relatives in Bolsena and also around the lago, in Valentano & Ischia di Castro. Last time we actually rented a little apartamento in centro Bolsena, and toured everyday through Umbria & Tuscany, & Lazio. My father was baptized at Santa Cristina and served as altar boy there many many years ago. My husband & I have seen a bit of Italy now (his family is in Abruzzo) but we agree the Bolsena/Orvieto area is where we’d like to retire, hopefully, someday soon. Thank you SO MUCH for showcasing beautiful Bolsena! Mary Galeani

  3. Beverly

    Wow I never heard of this, but I am glad my friend showed us this site. thanks!!


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