Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Sts. Innocentius

Innocentius, Saints.—A number of saints are to be found bearing the name Innocentius, but only three besides Pope Innocent I seem to deserve special mention.

St. Innocentius, Bishop of Tortona, in Italy, probably in the fourth century. A legendary "Vita" of St. Innocentius relates that he was thrown into a dungeon during the persecution of Diocletian, and later fled to Rome, where he was afterwards made a deacon of the Roman Church by Pope Sylvester, and was finally consecrated Bishop of Tortona. The narrative, however, rests on no historical foundation and is of comparatively late origin, probably appearing for the first time in the twelfth century. As a matter of fact, however, Innocentius was one of the first, if not actually the first of the bishops of Tortona. From the earliest times, the Church of Tortona celebrated not only the day of his death, April 17, but also the day of his consecration as bishop, September 24. It is to be remarked that the custom of celebrating in a special manner the day of consecration of a bishop became widespread in the fourth and fifth centuries. Moreover, the tomb of Innocentius is beneath the high altar of the old cathedral of Tortona. These special distinctions accorded to the holy bishop can best be explained by regarding him as the first bishop of that city.

Positive chronological proof exists of the occupation of the See of Tortona by one Exuperantius, who attended the Council of Aquileia in 381. From a letter written in exile by Eusebius of Vercelli to his community in 356, we are further informed that at that time Tortona still belonged to the Diocese of Vercelli. The episcopate, therefore, of St. Innocentius, whom we presume to have been the first Bishop of Tortona, is to be placed somewhere in the period between 360 and 380.

St. Innocentius, according to legend, Bishop of Justiniana (Adrumetum?) in Africa, in the fourth century. He is venerated at Gaeta in Italy. It would seem that towards the end of his life he went to Italy, where he died; and that his body was afterwards translated to Gaeta. The commemoration of his feast takes place on May 7.

St. Innocentius (Innocens), Bishop of Le Mans, France; d. 559. He was the seventh bishop, and assisted at the Synods of Orleans held in 533 and 541. In all probability, he was bishop as early as 524. According to the "Acta" of the bishops of Le Mans, he restored the cathedral and other churches, and founded or endowed many convents in his diocese. Gregory of Tours mentions his death. His feast is observed on June 19.

J. P. Kirsch.