Saint Alexander of Bergamo (died c. 303) is the patron saint of Bergamo, as well as Capriate San Gervasio and Cervignano d'Adda. Alexander may simply have been a Roman soldier or resident of Bergamo who was tortured and killed for not renouncing his Christian faith. Details of his life are uncertain, but subsequent Christian stories consider him a centurion of the Theban Legion commanded by Saint Maurice.
In the year 286, a legion of soldiers, consisting of six thousand six hundred and sixty-six men, contained none but Christians. This legion was called the Theban Legion, because the men were Egyptian Christian Copts who had been recruited from and stationed in Thebias in Upper Egypt. The Theban Legion were quartered in the east until the emperor Maximian ordered them to march to Gaul, to assist him against the rebels of Burgundy. It was the custom of the Romans to move troops from extreme parts of the empire to avoid the problem of Roman-trained soldiers participating in uprisings to free their native lands. More on Theban Legion
Carucci an orphaned boy, "young, melancholy and lonely", was shuttled around as a young apprentice.
He had not been many months in Florence when Bernardo Vettori sent him to stay with Leonardo da Vinci, and then with Mariotto Albertinelli, Piero di Cosimo, and finally, in 1512, with Andrea del Sarto.
Pontormo painted in and around Florence, often supported by Medici patronage. A foray to Rome, largely to see Michelangelo's work, influenced his later style. Haunted faces and elongated bodies are characteristic of his work.
In the earlier work, Pontormo is much closer in style to his teacher, Andrea del Sarto, and to the early sixteenth century renaissance artistic principles. Moreover, the clear architectural setting that is carefully constructed in earlier piece has been completely abandoned in favor of a peculiar nondescript urban setting.
Pontormo took part in the fresco decoration of the salon of the Medici country villa at Poggio a Caiano. There he painted frescoes in a pastoral genre style.
In 1522, when the plague broke out in Florence, Pontormo left for the Certosa di Galluzzo, a cloistered Carthusian monastery where the monks followed vows of silence. He painted a series of frescoes, now quite damaged, on the passion and resurrection of Christ. More on Jacopo Carucci
Prior to the commencement of the Diocletianic Persecution in 303, both Galerius and Maximian in the West inaugurated, on their own responsibility, a crusade against Christianity and sought particularly to remove all Christians from the armies.
St. Alexander was one of the victims of this persecution. He is reputed to have been a survivor of the decimation (the killing of every tenth man) ordered against the Theban Legion. He escaped to Milan.
Saint Fidelis of Como was a Christian soldier in the imperial Roman army. Martyred in the persecutions of Maximian Herculeus.
Brought back to Milan, he was once more condemned to death by decapitation, but during the execution the executioner's arms went stiff. He was imprisoned again, but Alexander once again managed to escape, and ended up in Bergamo. At Bergamo, he was the guest of the lord Crotacius, who bid him to hide from his persecutors. However, Alexander decided to become a preacher instead and converted many natives of Bergamo.
Alexander was once again captured and was finally decapitated on August 26, 303, on the spot now occupied by the church of San Alessandro in Colonna. More on Saint Alexander of Bergamo