The month of Mary: A Marian Month
Saint of the day:
Patron Saint of The dauphins of France; mountain travellers;
treaties between Popes and Frankish emperors; invoked against fever
Saint Petronilla's Story
St. Petronilla is believed to have been the daughter of St. Peter. Until the XVII Century, she was called his physical daughter, and since then, she has been thought a spiritual daughter who was consecrated to his service. Legends quoted in Manichćan documents relate that Peter cured her of a palsy. Stories found in the writings of St. Marcellus (and retold in The Golden Legend) say that Peter, who thought his daughter too beautiful, asked God to afflict her with a fever, of which he refused to cure her until she began to be perfected in the love of God. She is said to have refused Count Flaccus' hand in marriage. Traditions say she died a natural death, but accounts of her martyrdom can be found. Petronilla is thought to have been Aurelia Petronilla, a scion of the gens Flavius, the family of Vespasian and Domitian. She was also related to St. Domitilla, who was exiled in I Century to Pandateria, whose property on the Via Ardentina became a catacomb cemetary. Inscriptions there describe Petronilla as a martyr. During the papacy of Siricius (384-399), a basilica was built on the site of her tomb. In the VIII Century, Gregory III established a place of public prayer in the basilica, and her relics were translated to St. Peter's, where a chapel was dedicated in her honor. Charlemagne (d. 814) and Carlomen (d. 771) were considered adopted sons of St. Peter, and they, along with the French monarchs who succeeded them, considered Petronilla their sister. Her chapel became the chapel of the kings of France. Her emblem, like that of St. Peter, is a set of keys.
The Catacombs of Domitilla
Via delle Sette Chiese, 282, 00147 Roma RM, Italy
Tartiflette Soup with Ham Crisps
When tartiflette, a classic French alpine dish, meets a warming bowl of soup, great things happen.
Topped with crispy ham and cornichons, this is the most indulgent lunch around.
50g unsalted butter
2 large onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
½ nutmeg, freshly grated
300ml dry white wine
1kg floury potatoes, such as maris piper, chopped into small chunks
1 litre fresh chicken stock
200ml double cream
200g reblochon cheese, chopped
6 slices parma ham
3 tbsp finely chopped cornichons (pickles)
Melt the butter in a large pan over a low-medium heat, then add the onions and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 10-15 minutes until the onion is softened but not coloured. Add the nutmeg and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes. Turn up the heat, then add 250ml of the white wine and bubble until almost all has evaporated. Add the potatoes and pour in the stock. Bring to a simmer, then cook for 20 minutes until tender.
Pour in the cream and add the cheese, then season well. Transfer the soup, in batches, to a jug blender and mix until completely smooth (or use a stick blender). Return the soup to the pan, taste and season, then add the remaining wine. Set aside while you make the crisps.
Heat a frying pan over a medium heat, then fry the ham for 2-3 minutes on each side until crisp (or cook in the microwave on full power until shrivelled). Drain on kitchen paper, then break into shards.
Reheat the soup until steaming, ladle into bowls, top with the ham crisps and cornichons, then serve.