Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Scotsman in Tuscany

A Scotsman in Tuscany

St Terence (or Terenzo, or Terenzio) was a Scottish noble. He became the fifth Bishop of the City of Luni (near Carrara) in the eighth century.

He apparently came to Luni whilst on a pilgrimage to Rome to venerate the relics of Saints Peter and Paul. He liked the place so much, he stayed. He was elected its Bishop.

As Bishop his mission was to combat the Arian heresy which accompanied the invasion of the Longobards.

On a journey to Rome, he was attacked by brigands near Avenza di Carrara and was killed about the year 721. There is some evidence that he may have been killed by Arian devotees.

In 880, a successor Bishop Gualtiero wished to erect a church over the bones of the saint. However for various reasons this was not possible and it was decided to transfer the bones to a place of safety. They were taken to a village called Castel Moro. It was in the heart of the mountains of Lunigiana in the west of Tuscany. The town then became known as San Terenzo and a church in honour of the saint was built. The town is now known as San Terenzo Monti, to distinguish it from the town of San Terenzo al Mare, which is next to Lerici (near La Spezia).

Both towns Monti and al Mare are both named in honour of the Scottish saint.

It is thought that the village of Terenzo near Berceto (Parma) on the Via Francigena may also be named after this saint.


In August 1944, San Terenzo Monti and its neighbouring village Bardine were the scenes of Nazi attrocities. Under the reprisal policy of "10 for 1", the German army killed 170: men,women and children of both villages. The names of most of the victims and a full account is given in

There is also a full account of this massacre and other massacres of Italian civilians at the time such as Marzabotto and the Ardeatine Caves in Richard Lamb War in Italy 1943-1945: A Brutal Story (Penguin) (ISBN 0-14-023744-5)

He writes:

"At Bardine and San Terenzo in August 1944 there was a considerable amount of partisan activity against German troops. The 16 Reichsfuhrer Division was deployed to counteract this. On August 20 seventeen German SS were killed and their vehicle destroyed by fire, and a German colonel and a passenger were killed in a staff car nearby. SS Majors Reder and Loos sent troops to search various villages. They looted and burnt houses. They took 53 civilians to the burnt-out German vehicles. Some were tied to the vehicles, others to posts, and forty nine were shot. Their bodies were not removed.

A priest testified that on 21st August 1944 at Bardine he saw:

`...on both sides of the road a number of bodies. The majority of these were tied by the neck to fencing posts; others were tied in similar manner to poles which support the wires. Al had been shot. I counted 53 corpses. These men were not of Bardine or San Terenzo. They had been brought by the SS from Mozzana Castello.

I later saw in Valla [part of San Terenzo] 107 bodies, of men, women and children. These were all persons of San Terenzo and all had been shot. Five were men, the remainder woman and children.

In the vicinity of the German truck I found two notices written in Italian. These had been left by the Germans after the hostages had been killed. The signs read:

`This is the way all anti-Fascists and enemies of the Axis shall end. This is the first revenge for the seventeen Germans killed at Bardine.`

For four days the reprisals continued and a total of 369 persons in the area, mostly women and children were massacred and 454 houses totally destroyed.

One member of the execution squad, a twenty year old SS conscript captured in October 1944 by French troops stated that his platoon was ordered to shoot civilians,including women and children, indiscriminately, and to burn a whole village."

See also:

There are two monuments to the victims: one in the cemetery and the other (more modern) at the scene of the main slaughter.

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