In the end of the 3rd century A.C., the emperor Massimiano had in tow a servant called Donnino.
The servant was a freedman who had a favoured relation with the emperor so he had many privileges: he was the guard of the treasure and every day he had the task to put the imperial crown on Massimiano’s head.
Destiny though, drove Donnino to convert himself to Christianism against the will of the emperor, who banished him from his role and followed him to the Stirone River, to behead him.
The case of the freedman is well represented on the main portal of the Fidenza’s Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Donnino, who refused to deny his faith in Christ and for this reason was beheaded in 293, by the ancient roman bridge on the Stirone.
At this point, the story is intertwined with the myth: they say that actually, Donnino, after collecting his cut head from the bottom crossed the river and once he reached the other side, he lied down with his head well placed on him. Left the body, his soul would have rose to heaven, led by angels, as told by the Cathedral relief.
They lost signs of any burial of the martyr until the day that Charlemagne, king of the Frech, went to Rome to be crowned by the pope Lion III. When he arrived to the place of the martyrdom, his horse refused to proceed and appeared an angel to inform him of the presence of the body of the Saint right under his feet. Charlemagne and his men started digging immediately and when they found the remains of Donnino, he gave the order of building a sanctuary in that place.
During time came there more and more pilgrims from all around Italy, and around the sanctuary born a real village (Borgo) called “San Donnino”.
Today, the saint’s body is shielded in the crypt of the cathedral, in a silver urn inside a marble altar. The crypt is probably part of the first sanctuary of “Borgo San Donnino”, today better known as Fidenza.