Saint Orso of Aosta, Confessor

June 17

Today is the feast day of Saint Orso.  Ora pro nobis.

Very little is know about Saint Orso. Leaving his native Ireland and traveling to Italy, Orso evangelized in the region of Aosta, bordering Switzerland and France in Italy’s extreme northwest comer.

He was a man of great faith who had a speaking style that made him an effective missionary and preacher. A staunch opponent of Arianism, Orso spoke vehemently against those who espoused such heresy.

Saint Orso did not distinguish himself by brilliant actions, for his holiness was derived from charity for one another, simplicity and humility, the faithful fulfillment of his duty as guardian of the cemetery of Saint Peter, in the town of Aosta, according to legend.

In addition to gaining scores of new converts, Orso also gained the attention of Bishop Jucundus, and was appointed Archdeacon of Aosta. Following the bishop’s death, Orso and several church canons relocated to the Church of St. Peter near Aosta. He is credited with many miracles, including one that took place on a particularly hot summer day. As he listened to the people of the town complaining of a lack of water, the Saint recalled the passage in Mark 9:23: “I do believe, Lord, help my unbelief.” With that truth as his inspiration, Orso tapped a nearby rock with his staff, and water immediately flowed forth in a stream. The spring, known locally as Saint Bear’s Fountain, continues to flow today. 

The Church of St. Peter, where Orso spent so many years, was later renamed the Collegiate Church of SS. Peter and Orso. Today every year thousands of visitors tour the church, where the Saint’s relics rest in a crypt. Several other memorials to Orso are found in Aosta, including chapels and hospitals.

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