medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (2. September) is the feast day of:
1) Antoninus of Apamea (d. 4th cent., supposedly). The later eighth-century Weissenburg codex, actually at Wolfenbüttel, of the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology records for 3. September a martyr A. who suffered at territory of Apamea in Syria under Constantius (i.e. Constantius II, 337-61). A Greek synaxary notice fills out details, presumably from a lost Passio. This account makes him a young stonemason who violently reproached pagans of a nearby town for their idolatry, who later went back there and smashed their idols, who was asked by the bishop of Apamea to build a church dedicated to the Trinity. and who in the course of this labor was slain by some of the aforementioned pagans (who were very angry). Syrian and Armenian sources tell us of a memorial basilica to A. at Apamea; Theodoret bears witness to A.'s feast there. This church is thought to have been destroyed when the city was under Persian rule in the seventh century.
The (ps.-)HM records A. under today's date as well, noting his translation to Gaul. Today is also his feast in the Mozarabic Calendar. By the ninth century the monastery in today's Tarn-et-Garonne later known as Saint-Antonin-du-Rouergue claimed to have A.'s head and other of his skeletal remains. By the later Middle Ages A. had also acquired a legendary Inventio of relics at Palencia and a town in the county of Foix that had once been Fredelas was calling itself Appamia or Pamia (from _Apamia_, a medieval Latin spelling of Apamea) and claiming to be the place where its own native saint A. has been martyred. Pamia is now Pamiers (Ariège) and its A. has a rich legendary history of evangelizing in southern France and in Spain.
Palencia's fourteenth- to early sixteenth-century is dedicated to A. (San Antolín). Numerous exterior and interior views are here:
The cathedral is built over an eleventh-century crypt, called that of St. A. Some views:
A bit of the crypt seems even older:
Pamiers' cathedral of St. A. was dedicated medievally to Sts. John the Baptist and the Evangelist and, later, to the BVM. Massively rebuilt in the seventeenth century, it retains a fourteenth-century belltower:
and a portal partly of the twelfth century and partly of the fourteenth:
2) Justus of Lyon (d. late 4th cent.). J. (in French, Just) has two Vitae, of which the longer (BHL 4600) seems to have been written shortly before 850 while the often very similar shorter one (BHL 4599), though undated, could be an abbreviation of that text. According to both accounts, J. had been deacon of Vienne before becoming a beloved bishop of Lyon, had after a period of civil unrest given up his episcopacy, and had, together with a young lector of Lyon named Viator, become an hermit in Egypt, where ultimately both died and whence his body was later translated to Lyon for burial. The longer account places J.'s abdication after his participation in a council in Italy (thought to have been that of Aquileia in 381).
Some have thought that the unusual nature of a translation over so great a distance in the late fourth century makes it more probable that the wilderness to which J. retired after his abdication was a lot closer to Lyon than Egypt. But the example of the also late fourth-century Paulinus of Trier (31. August) shows that such a long-distance translation was at this time by no means impossible for a large Gallic town. Today is the date given by the Weissenburg codex of the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology as that of J.'s laying to rest at Lyon and of the (seemingly early seventh-century) dedication of his basilica. Ado, followed by Usuard, notes that Viator's remains were translated to Lyon along with those of J.
Expandable views of J. as depicted in a late fifteenth-century breviary for the Use of Langres are here (Chaumont, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 33, fol. 326v:
3) Nonnosus (d. ca. 565). Gregory the Great tells us at third hand (_Dial_. 1. 7) that N. was prior of a monastery located at the top of Mount Soracte near Rome who bore with equanimity the harshness of his abbot and whose gentle nature often softened through humility said abbot's wrath. He also tells us that N. was a thaumaturge. When the brothers needed space on the mountain for a vegetable garden, N. by his prayers displaced from the chosen site a rock so large that fifty teams of oxen could not move it.
Still according to Gregory, on another occasion N. dropped a glass lamp that he had been washing, causing it to shatte. Fearful of abbatial ire, he placed all the fragments before the altar and withdrew in prayer; upon returning, he found the lamp to be whole again. On yet another occasion, when the monastery had run out of oil, N. had the brothers collect what little oil could be pressed from the at this time not very rich or numerous fruit of monastery's olive trees and place that in a small vessel before the altar. Everyone withdrew. N. prayed, called the brothers back, and instructed them to pour a tiny bit of the oil into each of many vessels, all of which on the next day were found to be full.
And that's what is known about Nonnosus, the mid-sixth-century prior on Mount Soracte, whose virtues and doings are commemorated in the MR for today and who has often been referred to as an abbot, though there is nothing in Gregory to confirm this. Gregory observes that the miracles of the rock and of the lamp have parallels operated by earlier Fathers, Gregory (the Thaumaturge) and Donatus (perhaps D. of Arezzo, if the later ascription to him of a parallel miracle is not merely inferred from the present passage). He does not add (because it is so obvious?) that the miracle of the oil is paralleled in its manner of multiplication by Jesus' miracle of the loaves and the fishes.
N. entered the roster of the saints not from Italy but rather from the German-speaking world, where he appears in the later twelfth-century _Magnum Legendarium Austriacum_ and in various later sources listing him for this day. By way of contrast, the _Catalogus Sanctorum_ (ca. 1375) of the Italian Petrus de Natalibus lists N. under saints whose feast day is not known. He is especially venerated at Freising, where he is a patron saint and where a twelfth-century Invention of his relics was grounded in a tale of a translation, about a century earlier, from the monastery to which the friend of N. who informed Gregory's informant is said to have belonged.
A more plausible origin for this transalpine cult came to light in 1987 with the discovery in the Pfarrkirche St. Tiburtius in Molzbichl (Kärnten) in Austria of a late antique inscription identifying the burial site of a deacon Nonnosus who had died at an extremely advanced age on 2. September 533. This development in turn clarified an eleventh-century (ca. 1055) addition to the festal calendar of the monastery of St. Emmeram in Regensburg listing under this day a feast of Nonnosus, deacon and confessor. Together these data permit the view that the details of Gregory's Nonnosus (whose day of death is unknown) were at some time grafted on to the cult of his Vita-less synonym from Carinthia (whose _dies natalis_ is today).
The inscription at Molzbichl is shown here:
A closer but only partial view is here:
For further information see Karl Amon, Karl Heinz Frankl, and Peter G. Tropper, eds., _Der heilige Nonnosus von Molzbichl_ (Klagenfurt: Verlag des Kärntner Landesarchivs, 2001; = _Das Kärntner Landesarchiv_, no. 27).
This view of N.'s tomb in the cathedral of Freising:
shows a space underneath through which devotees seeking assistance have crawled since the late Middle Ages in a ritual called the _reptatio per cryptam_.
The monastery on top of Mount Soracte has been dedicated to pope St. Sylvester since at least the early eighth century. These views of the site (showing a medieval church that's still in use) may provide some visual context for aspects of Gregory's narration:
Elsewhere on the mountain hikers can view a formation called the Sasso di San Nonnoso ('St. Nonnosus' Rock'):
If you wish to believe it, this could be the very rock that once impeded the creation of the brothers' vegetable garden.
4) Albert of Pontida (Albert of Prezzate; d. 1095 or 1099) and Guy of Pontida (Guido or Vito of Pontida; d. later 11th cent.). Albert was a soldier who after being seriously wounded undertook a pilgrimage to Compostela and who in 1079 together with his companion Guy founded a Cluniac house at what today is Pontida (BG) in Lombardy. Guy became its first prior; upon his death he was succeeded by Albert. Both were interred in the priory church and remained there until after the latter's destruction by fire in 1373, when their remains were taken to Bergamo. They were returned to Pontida (now operating as a Benedictine monastery) in 1911.
Fragments of Albert's sarcophagus have been set into the altar of the modern basilica at Pontida:
They are also shown in this engraving:
An expandable image of the relief with the equestrian figure is here:
(Nonnosus and Albert and Guy of Pontida revised from earlier posts)
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