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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  February 2005

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION February 2005

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Subject:

Re: saints of the day 3. February (2 of 2)

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 7 Feb 2005 17:44:31 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

As previously noted, in addition to his veneration at Maratea (PZ) in
the territories of the former Regno Blaise is also particularly
associated with Ostuni (BR).

Ostuni is a small city perched on a steep hill near the southern edge
of the Murge, the range of hills that forms a central spine runnning
roughly northwest-southeast through much of Puglia.  Seized by Lombards
in the seventh century, the town reverted in the ninth to the political
control of the empire of the Romans.  Its diocese seems to have
remained Latin-rite throughout Ostuni's period of Byzantine rule (which
ended with the Norman occupation of 1071).

Ostuni's abandoned rupestrian settlement of San Biagio in Rialbo, now
called the sanctuary of San Biagio and last attested as active in 1229,
was founded in 1148 (with a church dedicated to B.) by a grant of the
bishop of Ostuni to a monk named Johannes; in 1191 there were only
three monks here.  Attempts to place initial monastic use of the site
back as far as the seventh century are purely conjectural.  There are
remains of frescos in Byzantine style but, as the latter continued to
be used in subterranean churches in the region right into the
fourteenth century, this hardly bespeaks an early date.  Of the
monastery only the church remains.  Though hard to get to -- one has to
walk about a kilometer up paths on the steep slope of Ostuni's hill --,
it is said to be the focus of an annual procession on 3. February.  A
drawing from a photograph showing its facade (doorway appears to have
been reworked) is here:
http://www.provincia.brindisi.it/turismo/images/tur0023.jpg
And a photograph of the 12th-century upper portion of the facade is
here:
http://www.rassegnaitalia.com/chiese/immchiese/santuario.JPG

A little further to the southeast, out on the plain of Brindisi, is San
Vito dei Normanni, home of a now closed (or largely closed) U.S. Air
Force station.  Between it and Brindisi itself is a rupestrian chapel
dedicated to B. and containing a fresco cycle dated to 1196 whose
inscriptions are almost entirely in Greek.  One saint (Nicholas) is
named both in Greek and in Latin and the hegumen of the associated
monastic community has a Latin name (Beneditus) treated as a loan-word
(i.e., not declined) in the inscription in which he appears.  Specimens
of the frescos are here:
http://www.lagazzettadelmezzogiorno.it/comuni_oggi/categorie/BR/images/s
anvitocripta.jpg
TinyURL for this: http://tinyurl.com/6rkl3
and here:
http://www.provincia.brindisi.it/turismo/images/tur0020.jpg
In case you're wondering what a "rupestrian settlement" might be doing
on a plain, here's a shot of the place from the outside, courtesy of a
bicycle tour:
http://www.cicloamici.it/percorso_rupestre/san_biagio.jpg

These two settlements represent late phases of an originally Byzantine
Greek-rite monasticism now operating in an overwhelmingly Latin
environment.  They are also the earliest of the very few monastic
dedications to B. in medieval Puglia.  It is probably from their
culture that Ostuni early acquired B. as a patron saint, appearing, for
example, over one of the flanking portals on the main facade of
Ostuni's fifteenth-century cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, an Italian
national monument since 1902.  Here are several views of the facade (I
_think_ B. is over the right-hand doorway):
http://sicilyweb.com/foto/2/2-10-06-16-2932.jpg
http://www.flyyy.com/flyweb/cards/16593.jpg
http://www.villen-apulien.de/cattedrale.jpg

And a few details:
http://sicilyweb.com/foto/2/2-10-12-57-9942.jpg
http://sicilyweb.com/foto/2/2-10-17-33-8931.jpg
http://sicilyweb.com/foto/2/2-10-11-46-5306.jpg

And here  are two distance views of the cathedral rising above the town:
http://sicilyweb.com/foto/2/2-09-50-12-7600.jpg
http://www.villen-apulien.de/ostuni_cattedrale2.jpg

Notice all the whitewash.  Ostuni's nickname is Ostuni bianca ("white
Ostuni").  Here are some more views:
http://sicilyweb.com/foto/2/2-09-49-32-3789.jpg
http://www.primitaly.it/puglia/brindisi/images/ost_pan.jpg
And a site with some expandable .jpgs:
http://www.foto-sicilia.it/categorie2.cfm?citta=Ostuni&idcategoria=8

For those who prefer a bit more color, here's B. in a fifteenth-century
fresco from Umbria:
http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/Europe/Italy/Umbr
ia/Perugia/Spello/Spello/churches/S.Biagio/Madonna_and_Child.html
TinyURL for this: TinyURL for this: http://tinyurl.com/4oklg

Best,
John Dillon

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