Raised in a Christian family in North Africa. Priest, ordained by Saint Regulus. He and most other Christians in his area fled ahead of the Vandal persecutions; he and many other moved to the Tuscany region of Italy and lived as hermits.
His reputation for holiness spread, and Cerbonius was chosen bishop of Populonia, Italy c.544; he soon became unpopular as he conducted Sunday Mass at dawn, forcing his flock to get up in the middle of the night. Pope Vigilius summoned him to Rome to answer the complaints. When he arrived, Cerbonius woke the pope at dawn for Mass; the two heard the singing of angels, Vigilius gave him permission to say Mass whenever he thought proper, and sent him home.
For hiding Roman soldiers who were fleeing invading Ostrogoths, Cerbonius was ordered to be executed by being thrown to a bear. The bear was terrified of Cerbonius, fell to the ground and began licking the bishop‘s feet. Cerbonius was exiled to the island of Elba, Italy instead, where he spent the rest of his life as a prayerful hermit.
- 575 in Elba, Italy
- buried at his request in Populonia, Italy
- at Populonia there is a fountain and chapel dedicated to Saint Cerbonius; local lore says that “Whoever does not drink from the fountain of Saint Cerbonius is a thief or a rascal.”
- relics re-located to the Saint Cerbonius cathedral in Massa Marittima, Italy
- with Pope Vigilius
- bishop with a bear licking his feet
- bishop healing three men dying of fever
- geese (on the trip to Rome to answer the summons of Pope Vigilius, he turned a flock of geese into pets by making the Sign of the Cross over them; when they reached Saint Peter’s Basilica, he made the Sign again and freed the birds)
- priest or bishop celebrating Mass at dawn
- pastoral staff
- “Saint Cerbonius of Populonia“. CatholicSaints.Info. 9 May 2010. Web. 31 March 2015. <>