Fredianus (d. c.588) of Lucca, Irish peregrinus and bishop, was (according to some sources) son of a king of the Ulaid – though it has been suggested that he may have been a local Tuscan saint whose cult was adopted by later Irish pilgrims to Italy. The tradition is that he was Irish; he is generally regarded as such, but there is no documentary evidence.
His earliest Life relates that he lived a life of sanctity in Ireland for a number of years before going on pilgrimage to Italy, where he settled in Monte Pisano near Lucca. On the death of the incumbent bishop of Lucca, Fredianus was elected bishop by popular consent, possibly c.560; he is said to have occupied the see till his death which may have taken place c.588. He tended to the needs of his flock during the appalling hardships arising from the Lombard invasions after 564. He founded many churches – twenty-eight, according to tradition, corresponding with the years of his episcopate – and converted many of the Lombards from Arianism. Fredianus (‘Frigidianus’) is said to have been ‘a man of wonderful virtue, a bishop’.
The earliest reference to Fredianus is in the ‘Dialogues’ of Gregory the Great (iii, 9), composed in 593, in which Gregory relates a miracle performed by Fredianus a few years after his death in which he changed the course of the river Serchio and saved the city of Lucca from flooding. The story was told to Gregory by his close neighbour, Bishop Venantius of Luni, who claimed it had occurred a short time previously: it may therefore have some historical basis. Gregory, however, makes no reference to Frediano's nationality. There are a number of redactions of the Life of Fredianus, but none earlier than the eleventh century, although a tenth-century list of the books belonging to the episcopal library of Lucca lists a ‘Memoria sancti Frediani’. The Life of Frediano includes a number of anecdotes relating to Finnian (qv) of Movilla with whom he was sometimes confused.
A monastic church founded by Fredianus is mentioned in two charters dated 685 and 686. The church of S. Frediano in Lucca, originally that of S. Vincenzo, was famous in the middle ages and contains the bodies of several notable persons as well as a fresco depicting Fredianus saving the city from flooding. There are also church dedications to him elsewhere in Italy, and one in Corsica. His remains were first translated in 782, when they were laid in a marble coffin and placed under an altar, on a date traditionally given as 18 November and attested in a document of 857. His remains were translated three further times, the last being in 1652; they now rest below the high altar in the church dedicated to him.
Fredianus is mentioned in the Roman martyrology and in that of Fiorentini. His feast-day is 18 March, but its importance has been overshadowed by the commemoration of his first translation. Lucca was certainly frequented by Irish travellers in the middle ages; there is clear evidence of the influence of Irish script on manuscripts written there in the eighth century, as Schiaparelli has shown. If Fredianus was indeed Irish, the tradition of Irish pilgrimage to Italy is earlier than Columbanus (qv).