medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (17. April) is the feast day of:
1) Innocent of Tortona (d. ca. 350, perhaps). I. is a legendary early bishop of Tortona (AL) in Piedmont. According to his brief Vita BHL 4281 (not later than the eleventh century), he was a young man not present in town when its legendary bishop St. Marcian and most of the other leading Christians were martyred under Diocletian and Maximian. Escaping, he went to Rome while the legendary deacon Maliodorus became bishop at Tortona. When Maliodorus died pope St. Sylvester sent I. back to succeed him as bishop. I. sought for the body of St. Marcian, which had been concealed after his martyrdom. When its location had been divinely revealed, he conducted a formal Inventio of the relics, provided a tomb for M. with an appropriate inscription, and in the course of one year erected on the site a basilica which he had consecrated at the time of the Inventio.
Still according to this Vita, I. led his church in destroying both a Jewish synagogue and the town's chief pagan temple and in erecting churches in their place; the Jews, not wishing to convert to Christianity, were scattered through various provinces. I. restored the town's public water system and built an aqueduct for the use of a monastery he had founded for his sister. He performed many miracles and died on this day. Moving on to what's verifiable, I.'s feast today is recorded in late medieval liturgical books from Tortona and from Milan as well as in various late medieval expanded versions of Usuard's Martyrology.
I. is presumably the St. Innocent who is the patron of Sezzadio (AL) and the dedicatee of various churches of Sant'Innocenzo in southern Piedmont. One of these, a cemetery church at Castelletto d'Orba (AL), has a fifteenth-century triptych of I. and is considered noteworthy for its construction technique. Here's the only view I have been able to find:
2) Donnan and companions (d. 617 or 618). D. was an Irishman who established a monastery on Eigg in the Inner Hebrides. He and his fellow monks were murdered in a raid on Easter day or Easter vigil, just after Mass. According to one account, this had been arranged by the queen to whom Eigg belonged and who wished to convert their settlement to the more profitable sheep pasture it had been before their arrival. Their feast on this day is recorded in the Martyrology of Tallaght and in other Irish and Scottish martyrologies.
3) Wando (d. prob. 756). W. was a monk of the abbey of Fontenelle (later St-Wandrille) in Normandy. In the late seventh century he assisted St. Wulfram in the evangelization of Frisia. Early in the following century (before 716) he became abbot. W. was on the wrong side politically during the accession to power of Charles Martel, who removed him from office and sent him to the monastery of St. Servatius in Maastricht. After twenty-eight years there he was recalled by Pepin the Short. Though nominally abbot, the aged W. left administration to his prior and devoted his efforts to enriching both the abbey's library and its liturgical apparatus. He was around ninety and blind when he died on this day in 754. Although W. is listed in late manuscripts of the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology, his cult seems to have been limited to the abbey and to its dependencies. Commemorated in the Benedictine Martyrology, he appears to be absent from the RM.
W.'s Fontenelle was destroyed by Northmen ca. 858. The abbey was re-established about a century later. Its medieval buildings were badly damaged in the sixteenth-century wars of religion. Herewith some views of the remaining structures:
Refectory (three expandable views):
Abbey church of St-Pierre:
The abbey's own site is here:
4) Elias, Paul, and Isidore (d. 856). According to St. Eulogius of Córdoba, the elderly priest Elias, who was of Lusitanian origin, and the two young monks Paul and Isidore, were for their faith martyred in Córdoba on this day. Their bodies were left on a gibbet for several days before being thrown into the Guadalquivir. Usuard, who had visited Córdoba in 858, entered them in his martyrology.
Here's a view of a monument that in some state will have been familiar to E., P., and I.: the originally first-century (CE) Roman Bridge at Córdoba:
The large church in the background is the cathedral of the Assumption, built into Córdoba's Great Mosque. An English-language page on the latter and two image sets, all from ArchNet, are here:
The Sacred Destinations general page on the Great Mosque and the accompanying image gallery for this site are here:
5) Robert of La Chaise-Dieu (d. prob. 1067). The Auvergnat R. was a canon of St-Julien at Brioude (Haute-Loire). After founding a hospice for the poor he entered Cluny, where he was a monk under St. Odilo. Returning to Brioude, he founded in 1043 on a relatively nearby elevation the Benedictine abbey of La Chaise-Dieu (Casa Dei; God's House) and became its first abbot. During his remaining lifetime R. is said to have attracted numerous postulants and to have enriched his foundation with many dependencies. He was canonized in 1351 by Clement VI (a local canonization is also reported from 1095), who prior to rising in the Church had been a monk of La Chaise-Dieu and who in the 1340s built the present abbey church (also the site of his tomb).
Two views of the abbey:
The abbey's own virtual tour is here:
6) Robert of Molesme (d. 1111). We know about R., the founder of Cîteaux, chiefly from early accounts of the rise of the Cistercian Order. Said to have been a noble from Champagne, he entered religion at Moutier-la-Celle in the diocese of Troyes. After an unhappy experience as abbot of the monastery of St. Michael at today's Tonnerre (Yonne) in Bourgogne R. returned to Moutier-la-Celle, was later prior of its dependency of St-Ayoul at today's Provins (Seine-et-Marne) in Île-de-France, and then assumed direction of a group of hermits whom he formed into a Benedictine community and settled in 1075 at Molesme (Côte-d'Or), also in Bourgogne. In 1098, dissatisfied with the behavior of his community, he gathered a few followers (including Sts. Alberic of Cîteaux and Stephen Harding), left Molesme without permission of his bishop, and founded a new monastery in the diocese of Chalon-sur-Saône that soon was named Cistercium (Cîteaux).
Ordered back to Molesme, R. spent the remainder of his long life at that house. Today is his _dies natalis. Honorius III confirmed R.'s local cult in 1221 and in the following year extended it to the entire church. When the abbey of Molesme was closed in the French Revolution R.'s relics were moved to the town's originally later thirteenth-century parish church of Ste-Croix. An illustrated, French-language page on that church is here:
The abbey of St-Michel at Tonnerre is now an hotel. A few views of it are here:
Some views, etc. of the twelfth- to sixteenth-century église St-Ayoul at Provins:
7) Clare of Pisa (Bl.; d. 1420). C. belonged to the prosperous and politically powerful mercantile family of Gambacorta. She was married at the age of twelve but her husband passed away only three years later. By that time she had met St. Catherine of Siena. Though an early attempt to become a Poor Clare was frustrated by her family, she later became a Dominican sister, taking the name of Clare (Chiara; it's not certain what her baptismal name had been). In time she became abbess, patronized the arts, and made her house a center of Observant reform. Considered a saint while she was yet alive, C. received a cult after her death. She was beatified in 1830.
(last year's post lightly revised and with the addition of Robert of Molesme)
To join the list, send the message: join medieval-religion YOUR NAME
to: [log in to unmask]
To send a message to the list, address it to:
[log in to unmask]
To leave the list, send the message: leave medieval-religion
to: [log in to unmask]
In order to report problems or to contact the list's owners, write to:
[log in to unmask]
For further information, visit our web site: