The Parish Church of San Ruffillo

San Ruffillo, whose Latin name “rufus”, “rufulus” means reddish, almost blond,  it was the first bishop of Forlimpopolis in the 4th century.

Received about him are not very reliable, the prevailing news say that he was an Athenian converted to Christianity. He was an evangelizer of pagans and combats the Aryan heresy that had its driving force in Rimini. A legend exists about his fight against evil, perhaps from the 12th century, according to which he and San Mercuriale would have come to San Martino in Avello ( parish church near Dovadola) to free that locality from a dragon that infested it. After fighting him, the two Saints would throw him into a well and close his mouth with a large stone. The story, which aims to highlight the success of the bishops against the heresies and evils of the time, has meant that in the iconography San Ruffillo is represented with the pastoral care that pierces the dragon.

According to a late pious legend, remembered since the end of the seventeenth century, San Ruffillo died in Portico while visiting the diocese and was temporarily buried in a small church located on the banks of the Montone river. A sudden and violent flood of the river would have dragged the body to the place where the church dedicated to him now stands, near Dovadola, and from here a further wave would have definitively taken it to Forli where it was collected and deposited in the church of Santa Lucia. In reality, the relics of the Saint rested in Forlimpopoli. In 1362, when Cardinal Albornoz destroyed the town, they were transported to Forli in the church of Santa Lucia, where they remained until 1964 when they returned to Forlimpopoli in the collegiate church dedicated to San Ruffillo. From the ninth to the twelfth century, the parishes, due to their function as bauesimal churches, assumed great importance not only in the religious but also in the civil sphere, carrying out functions that are now considered public and often becoming meeting places, places for the conclusion of contracts and localities where markets were held.

The current church, the third built since the foundation of the Parish Church, recently restored, was built, in the second half of the eighteenth century by order of Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo, by the architect Fallani. Today, the deconsecrated church is part of the ” Corte di San Ruffillo” complex.

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