Foy, St.

views updated


Virgin martyr under Dacian; b. Agen, France, c. 290;d. there, 303. She is known in the various European languages as Faith, Fe, Fede, Fides, and Getreu. The passio of St. Foy is similar to that of St. agatha; also, before being beheaded she was roasted on a griddle, as was St. lawrence. She should not be confused with the daughter of St. Sophia who was martyred at Rome with her sisters Hope and Charity. In the ninth century the body of St. Foy was removed from Agen to Conques, where it was venerated by pilgrims, some of whom were on their way to santiago de compostela, and by Crusaders. Until approximately 1050 her reliquary was displayed behind a screen of chains left by former prisoners, who attributed their release to her intercession. In art she appears with a griddle, the martyr's palm, the sword of her martyrdom, and sometimes the dove that reputedly brought her the martyr's crown.

The most famous representation of St. Foy is on a reliquary commissioned in 949 by Bp. Étienne of Clermont, abbot of Conques. The saint is shown as somewhat older than she was at the time of her martyrdom. She is seated on a throne in a hieratic pose. Her blue enameled eyes are the first reported in the history of art. Later the figure was decorated with jewels given by pilgrims. The two small tubes she holds have been identified as flower vases or as parts of her griddle. The reliquary was one of the "Majestés d'or" brought to the Synod of Rodez in 1161. She is represented also on the portal of the Last Judgment in the church of St. Foy, Conques, where she kneels before the abbot's chair and is blessed by the hand of God.

Feast: Oct. 6.

Bibliography: h. green, Little Saint (New York 2000). k. m. ashley and p. sheingorn, Writing Faith: Text, Sign & History in the Miracles of Sainte Foy (Chicago 1999). The Book of Sainte Foy, tr. p. sheingorn and The Song of Sainte Foy, tr. r. l. a. clark (Philadelphia 1995). bernardus scholasticus, Liber miraculorum sancte Fidis, ed. l. robertini, critical ed. (Spoleto 1994). g. goyau, "Rodez," The Catholic Encyclopedia, ed. c. g. herbermann, 16 v. (New York 190714; suppl. 1922) 13:108. a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater, 4 v. (New York 1956). j. evans, Art in Mediaeval France, 9871498 (New York 1948). k. kÜnstle, Ikonographie der christlichen Kunst, 2 v. (Freiburg 192628). l. rÉau, Iconographie de l'art chrétien, 6 v. (Paris 195559). r. rey, L'Art roman et ses origines (Paris 1945). c. bernouilli, Die Skulpturen der Abtei Conques-en-Rouergue (Basel 1956), reviewed by m. aubert, Gazette des beaux-arts 50 (1957) 237.

[b. e. foye]