medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (8. November) is the feast day of:
1) Sempronian, Claudius, Nicostratus, Castorius, and Simplicius (?). These are the names now given in the RM for the saints whose feast had been known traditionally as that of the Four Crowned Martyrs. Medievally, at least two groups were celebrated under that rubric: this one, whose saints were said to have been martyrs of Sirmium, and another with saints said to have been martyrs of the Roman cemetery _Ad duas lauros_ and named Severus, Severian, Carpophorus, and Victorinus. The cult is ancient but all accounts of the martyrs themselves are plainly legendary.
These saints' church on the Caelian in Rome -- today's Santi Quattro Coronati -- is built over the remains of a basilica of fourth or fifth century. The latter was presumably the _titulus Aemilianae_ known from this vicinity from at least the year 499; excavations in its apse in 1882 yielded two fragments of an inscription in Philocalian letters (used in the fourth century under pope St. Damasus) referring to the suffering of martyrdom by a person or persons whose identity has not been preserved. Reference to the church as the _titulus sanctorum quattuor coronatum_ is first attested from 595. It was rebuilt in the ninth century, was badly damaged in the eleventh during Guiscard's sack of Rome, was constructed anew in twelfth, and received significant modifications in the thirteenth and the fifteenth.
An English-language account of the present church and monastery:
Italian-language accounts (the last is near the foot of its page):
Views (cosmatesque floor; cloister; chapel of San Silvestro):
The four (at right; five other martyrs at left) in an earlier fourteenth-century French-language collection of saint's lives (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 185, fol. 270v):
Nanni di Banco's niche of the Quattro Santi Coronati (ca. 1410; modern reproduction) on Florence's church of Orsanmichele (the original sculpture is inside in Orsanmichele's museum):
Two other views are here:
2) Clarus of Tours (d. 396?). We know about C. (also Clair, his usual name in French) from Sulpicius Severus' Vita of St. Martin of Tours as well as from S.'s correspondence and some of the writings of St. Paulinus of Nola. A well-born native of Auvergne, he became M.'s disciple, was ordained priest, and served at the abbey near Tours later known as Marmoutier, where he held a position similar of that of novice master. S. relates an incident in which the prudent C. refused to be menaced by, and subsequently through prayer secured the healing of, a diabolically possessed monk who pretended to possess divinely granted special powers. S., who not long after C.'s death experienced a vision of C. in glory, had the saint's body interred beneath the altar of the church of his own monastery of Primuliacum and obtained from Paulinus of Nola three epitaphs in verse commemorating him.
3) Adeodatus I, pope (d. 618). 'Adeodatus' is the name form now used in the RM for this saint, also known as Deusdedit and so identified in the RM prior to the latter's revision of 2001. The little that we know about him comes from the epitaph in eight elegiac distichs written for his tomb in the pontificate of Honorius I (625-38) and from a brief notice in the _Liber pontificalis_. Said to have been a native of Rome and the son of a subdeacon, A. was an elderly priest who after his election in 615 led a pro-clerical reaction to the monastic preferences of popes Sts. Gregory I and Boniface IV. The authenticity of the few decretals transmitted under his name is suspect.
4) Willehad (d. 789). Most of what is known about this Anglo-Saxon missionary in Frisian and Saxon lands comes from his probably ninth-century Vita (BHL 8898). This makes him a Northumbrian who went with the permission of his king (Alhred I) to the northern Netherlands, who commenced his work at Dokkum, the site of St. Boniface's martyrdom, who made many converts and destroyed pagan temples, and who miraculously escaped being murdered by an irate pagan. The Vita goes on to say that Charlemagne then sent W. into Saxony, where he worked in the area of Wigmodia along the lower Weser until Widukind's revolt caused him to withdraw to Frisia. After a pilgrimage to Rome W. went to Echternach, where he ministered to Christians who had fled Wigmodia and where he also spent some of his time in copying Paul's Epistles.
Still according to the Vita, W. returned to Saxony; after Widukind's submission and baptism he was made bishop of a diocese based on Wigmodia. He then is said to have established his see at Bremen, where he built the church in which he was buried (after having died at Blexen) and from which he was later translated to a new church serving the town. In fact, the diocese of Bremen was established only in 804/05, well after W.'s death. The translation referred to in the Vita will have been that effected in 860 by archbishop St. Ansgar of Hamburg-Bremen into a predecessor of Bremen's originally eleventh-century cathedral of St. Peter. Since the central Middle Ages W. has been venerated in the northern Netherlands (where he's considered the apostle of Drenthe), northern Germany, and southern Denmark.
An illustrated, German-language page on the originally late twelfth- or early thirteenth-century Willehadi-Kirche in Wremen (Lkr. Cuxhaven) in Niedersachsen:
An illustrated, German-language page on the originally thirteenth-century St.Willehad-Kirche in Groß Grönau (Lkr. Herzogtum Lauenburg) in Schleswig-Holstein:
W. as represented on one of the surviving bench ends of the Bremer Ratsgestühl (City Council pews) of ca. 1410, now in Bremen's Focke-Museum:
In this mural painting in the city hall of Bremen, Charlemagne and W. flank the cathedral as it appeared ca. 1532:
5) Godfrey of Amiens (d. 1115). We know about G. (in French, Geoffroy, etc.; in Latin, Godefridus) from the autobiography of Guibert of Nogent (d. 1124) and from a late medieval Vita by one Nicholas of Soissons (BHL 3573, 3574). Said to have been a younger son of a nobleman from the terriotory of Soissons, he was educated for the church and was ordained priest at the age of twenty-five and became abbot of Nogent-sous-Coucy. In 1104 G. became bishop of Amiens and was succeeded as abbot by Guibert. As bishop G. so consistently espoused a life of Christian poverty and service to the poor that he alienated many unwilling to make comparable sacrifices. Believing that his effectiveness was over, he retired to the Grande Chartreuse but was soon recalled to continue his episcopacy in a climate of civil unrest. G. died while on pilgrimage at the abbey of Sts. Crispin and Crispinian at Soissons, was buried there, and became one of its saints.
6) All the saints of the diocese of Bologna (various dates). Okay, so this is not a medieval feast (it was introduced into the Bolognese diocesan calendar in 1964). But it does provide an opportunity for a few words about Bologna's cathedral of San Pietro. Now a seventeenth-century building with a late sixteenth-century crypt and an eighteenth-century facade, it had late antique, tenth-, and twelfth-century predecessors. Of these, the last at least was very richly decorated and featured an ornamental porch added in 1220. The cathedral is flanked by an early thirteenth-century rectangular belltower built around and over an originally tenth-century circular predecessor. Two views:
And here are two formerly stylophore lions from the aforementioned porch, now doing duty as bearers of holy water fonts:
From 13. December 2003 through 12. April 2004 Bologna's Museo Civico Medievale mounted an exhibition focusing on sculpture surviving both from the cathedral that burned in 1141 and from its replacement that was consecrated in 1184. Entitled "La cattedrale scolpita. Il romanico in San Pietro a Bologna", this was the subject of an extensive catalogue of the same name edited by Massimo Medica and Silvia Battistini and published in Ferrara by Edisai in 2003. Here are two visuals from announcements of the exhibition:
Some of the most striking pieces are carved stones that were re-used in the interior construction of the present belltower, where they were discovered during restoration work in 1999. But the exhibition included other treasures, such as the two wooden statues (of the BVM and of St. John) that flank the cathedral's wooden crucifix shown here:
In the exhibition these figures had a somewhat different appearance:
7) John Duns Scotus, OFM (Bl.; d. 1308). The theologian later known as the Subtle Doctor was ordained priest at Northampton in 1291. Trained at Oxford, he lectured at Paris and, from 1307, at Köln. His cult was confirmed in 1993 at the level of Beatus. J. now reposes in a modern sarcophagus in Köln's thirteenth-century Minoritenkirche Mariae Empfängnis (i.e. Franciscan Church of the Immaculate Conception), formerly a church for foreign teachers and students. A couple of views of that structure:
And here's a link to J.'s entry in the _Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy_:
Two manuscript illuminations of J. teaching:
a) In an early fourteenth-century copy, of East Anglian origin, of J.'s commentary on the _Sentences_ of Peter Lombard (Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 3061, fol. 1r):
b) In a fourteenth- or fifteenth-century ms. of a work identified by the Scuola di paleografia e diplomatica of the Regione Autonoma Valle d'Aosta only as "Le 'Quaestiones' di Giovanni Scoto" (as though there were only one work of J.'s with this generic title!) and cited without indication of the manuscript's location and shelf mark:
J.'s portrait (ca. 1476) by Joos van Gent (Justus of Ghent, etc., etc.) in the Galleria nazionale delle Marche in Urbino:
TAN (mostly modern):
a) J.'s sarcophagus (1957) in Köln's Minoritenkirche Mariae Empfängnis:
b) An English-language account of J.'s burial arrangements from 1643 on, with texts of J.'s epitaph (the latter clearly modeled on Vergil's [_Mantua me genuit_...]):
c) An arm reliquary of J. in the very modern Mariendom in Neviges, a Stadtteil of Velbert (Lkr. Mettmann) in Nordrhein-Westfalen:
(last year's post lightly revised and with the addition of Clarus of Tours)
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