SURVIVAL GUIDE: SAN GIUSTO THE PATRON SAINT OF TRIESTE

The story of San Giusto (St. Justus) is that he lived in Tergesteo (the Roman name for Trieste) and was known to citizens for his charitable work. When charges of being a Christian were brought against him, he was tried according to Roman law. As a test he was required to make a sacrifice to the Roman gods, but he refused and so, was found guilty and sentenced to death by drowning. According to local lore, he was bound with weights and he was thrown into the Gulf of Trieste, just near “La Sachetta” at the end of the Rive.

On the night of his death, his friend and fellow Christian, Sebastiano, dreamt that in spite of the weights, Giusto’s body had washed ashore and sure enough, when they went searching they found the body on what is today Riva Grumula. Giusto was then buried not far from the shore where he had been found. In ancient times the area near Piazza Hortis in Trieste was a burial ground and there is a good possibility that the former basilica of the Holy Martyrs at the corner of Via Ciamician and Via Duca d’Aosta was built on San Giusto’s tomb.

In the Middle Ages the remains of San Giusto were moved to a chapel adjacent to the church of Mary Mother of God (present day Duomo). When, in the 10thC, the chapel was joined to the church, the cathedral, though dedicated to Mary Mother of God, became known as La Cattedrale di San Guisto.

His feast day is 2 November, but the celebration of it is postponed for liturgical reasons until the following day, and thus 3 November is the day of San Giusto. 

According to the Circolo Sommozzatori Trieste (C.S.T. – the local scuba club) professional diver Fulvio Loperfido had the idea of placing a staute of San Giusto in the Gulf of Trieste for all those who work or spend time on the sea or underwater. On November 3, 1984 a bronze statue, (a larger copy of the famous “San Giusto, Trieste”) by artist Tristano Alberti (1915-1976), was positioned 40m from the cliff at Grignano. However, the establishment of the Miramare Marine Reserve in 1986 forbade swimmers and so also prevented divers from visiting the site. Therefore the Scuba club decided to retrieve the statue, clean it and reposition the statue in a more suitable site for divers. Thus on November 3, 2010, with a major ceremony in the presence of the Bishop of Trieste and the highest civil and military authorities of Trieste, the statue was re-submerged in Grignano waters, closer to the cliff, away from the Reserve and at the depth of 9m, making it visible from the surface in particularly clear waters. Since then, the C.S.T. has, each year recovered, repaired and cleaned the statue and beginning in 2013, they were invited to exhibit the statue at the Cathedral of San Giusto during the month before the anniversary of the festival dedicated to the saint. The statue, is placed in a cylinder of transparent Plexiglas filled with water, which makes it unique in the world. This year, the statue will be on display at least until mid-November. 

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