Lentini: SS.Alfio,Filadelfo,Cirino

         

The History of the Martyrs: The three brothers, Alfio, Filadelfo and Cirino sons of Christian parents Vitale and Benedetta, were born in the III century d.C., in the town of Vaste in the region of Puglia (southern Italy). They were persecuted by the Romans and accused to provoke the general downfall in which the roman empire had fallen. In 250 d.C. the emperor Decio I emanated an edict according to which every person suspected of Christianity had to offer incense to all roman divinities and to himself too. All those who were so brave to refuse to submit to the empire and to adore the emperor, were punished with death. At the end of 251, under the empire of Treboniano Gallo, Decio's successor, a platoon of Roman soldiers arrested  the 3 young brothers,  guilty to have broken the rules with their faithful brehaviour to the cristian religion. 
They were first questioned by Nigellione, the sobstitute of the emperor delegated for southern Italy. Then they were brought to Rome to face the trial of the prefect Licinio in the jail Memertino. Licinio tried to force them to give up their faith for Christ. The roman authorities, concerning that they belonged to one of the most notable family of the Empire, gave them the change to save their life exepcting subjugation to the pagan religion. That's why they were transferred to Pozzuoli, near Neaples, where not even the headmaster Diomede was able to convince them. Their last destination was Sicily, ruled in that period by Tertullo, a young roman patrician. They landed in the island the 25 August of 252. The 3 brothers suffered a first trial in Taormina and, after a long painful pilgrimage, they stopped first by Trecastagni, located down hill in the eastern side of the Mountain Etna, to get, at the end, to Lentini (3 September of 252).  
In that moment Lentini was controlled by Alexander, the vicar of Tertullo. During his assence he had to keep the rule to force the brothers to give up the christian religion. Alexander, belonged to a very prestigious family and his cousin the noble Tecla, at that time, struck from paralysis to the legs from over 6 years, she required, with great risk for Alexander, to have the possibility to meet the 3 brothers. When they saw the beautiful young lady paraliysed they promised to pray for her. During the same night the apostle Andrew appeared in her dream and when she woke up she was completely recovered. Since that moment, thanks to the complicity of the bewildered Alexander, she went, every day to visit, assist and feed the 3 brothers. 
This is what happened since the day of their execution: Tertullo realised that was not northed to wait for a subjugation to the pagan religion that would have never become real, they were forced to be whipped while they were walking in the street in front of the hostile population. At the end the hang men cut the tongue of Alfio and he died drained of blood, Filadelfo was burnt on a grid, Cirino was dipped in a boiler of hot oil. This happened on the 10 May of 253, Alfio was 22, Filadelfo 21 and Cirino 19 years old. 
Their dead bodies were tied with ropes and dragged to a forest, to be, at the end, thrown into a dry well, close to the house of Tecla. The noble woman, converted to the christian religion, with the help of her cousin Giustina and 11 christian servants, 5 women and 6 men, during the night between the 10 and the 11 of may took the bodies out of the well, to put them in a small cave. This cave still exists, as the tomb of the 3 martyrs, in the christian church of Sant'Alfio, erected in Lentini in the 261 a.C. when the persecutions were over. 
From that moment till nowadays the Martyrdom has always been remebered with a solemn celebration that involves the whole population of Lentini (9-10-11 May of every year).
 
The Church and the Martyrs:  the brief life of the three Saints was over,  but their blood had not been poured in vain: it was the seed of that "Church Leontina" that had the privilege to be raised to "Episcopalian center", privilege that kept till 790 a.C. 
The first bishop of Lentini was Neophyte, new name of Alexander, vicar of Tertullo, that accepted to be converted to the Christian religion. He was consecrated by Saint Andrew in 259. The ones that followed are: Rodippos (290), Crispo (305), Teodosio Maratonide (338), Feliciano (372), Herodion (407), Teodosio (438), Crescenzio (496), Luciano I (538), Alexander (600), Shiny (643), Luciano II (649), Costantino (787), that closed the series historically proved.
 
****** It was note this last, intimidated by the dangers of an imminent Moslem invasion, to want in big secret the transfer of the sacred relics in his convent of Fragala ' to the principle of the 9░ century. and since then the lentinesis didn't have any more ' news. Actually to the 22 September of 1516 when some workers, in him to demolish a wall of the monastery of Fragala ', they found a lot of cloth hidden in a cassette containing human bones and a manuscript in Greek ancient. Informed the abbot, these him premuro ' to have the document that I confirm translated ' to be those bones the human rests of the 3 young people brothers that had been martyred to Lentini. Great it was the joy of the monks that, after a solemn procession they preserved the relics in their church under the time altar consecrated to the 3 martyrs. Well soon The news came in Catania and then to Lentini, where he decided to send 5 priests and 1 secular to the Abbey of Fragala ' to sound the humors of that monks and at the same time studying the topography of the convent in the case had to be opted for a recourse to strength. The mission didn't have a happy result unfortunately: on the their required the monks didn't pronounce each other openly, they guaranteed laws, they asked to feel first their superior. To the return to Lentini this taken of position was illustrated from defeats him ambassadorial to their fellow citizens that, desirous to have to the more ' the rests of the own protecting Martyrs, voted soon to unanimity ' in meeting to arm a consignment to have with strength what you/they had not succeeded in getting with the strength of that natural law that gave the law to them to the possession of the sacred relics. This, came on the behavior of the night of on August 29 to the command of Giovanni Musso, in front of the Convent of Fragala '. After having knocked repeatedly and reassured the monks of their intentions, the lentinesis, vain visas peaceful attempts access, decided the action of strength. Shortly they entered in the courtyard. To the monks, afraid for that abrupt invasion of armed, they participated once more the noble purpose of their mission, that other was not to return in possession of the relics of their protecting Saints; relics that at the end they were them delivered by the abbot. September 2 nd 1517 therefore, 80 riders entered to the gallop to Lentini, welcomed by the applauses, and they brought, supported from between servant of God the cassette with the relics of the Saints Alfio, Filadelfo and Cirino. This was delivered to the priests of the church of Lentini and after a solemn procession guarded in the Church of the Martyrs. But if the city lentinese had been satisfied in its aspirations, the church leontina, can not close this chapter dell asua noble history with that action of strength ' extra legems '. I send ' varied gifts to the monks of Fragala ' and subsequently, medium to the bright harangue of defense of Don Costantino, envoy expressly from the senate Lentinese in Vatican, churches and it got from the top pontiff Leo X the confirmation of the titolarita ' of the possession of the relics and the remission of every censorship.
 
  S.ALFIO IN ITALY & IN THE WORLD