The story of ancient Roman lady Claudia Quinta starts with Scipio Nasica (cousin of the better known Scipio Maior), who was ordered to bring a black meteorite statue of Magna Mater Cybele to Rome. The huge problems he encountered on his travel were solved by a woman called Claudia Quinta. Scipio Nasica was accompanied by several high class women, among which Claudia Quinta who had had a dubious reputation until then.
Roman historians Livius, Ovidius (Fasti), Silius Italicus, Seneca (Matrimonio) and Propertius have written about Claudia Quinta and her story. It goes as follows.
The ship that took the statue from Asia Minor to Italy, ran aground on a sandbank in the Tiber river near Ostia. Claudia Quinta prayed to the goddess Cybele herself for assistance by doing an appeal on her virginity. Cybele acknowledged and rewarded Claudia's chastity: with the provided chastity belt, Claudia managed to refloat the vessel all by herself.
Claudia Quinta was deified for her deed and worshipped as such in Cybele's temple at the Palatine under the name of Navisalvia (Saviour of Ships). In late antique literature, Claudia is depicted as one of the Vestal Virgins.
In the 15th century, dominican priest Franz von Retz makes use of Claudia's example in Defensorium inviolatae virginitatis beatae Mariae, which defends the fact that the virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ. Claudia is referred to as an example of what a virgin can do with the help of the true God. Von Retz' Defensorium and Boccaccio's De mulieribus claris (1370) caused the landwrecked ship to be a repeating theme in late Medieval and early Renaissance art. Together with Vestal virgin Tuccia, Claudia may be considered as the pagan counterpart of Mary in the Middle Ages.