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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  August 2005

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION August 2005

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Subject:

saints of the day 20. August

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Sat, 20 Aug 2005 11:42:20 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (82 lines)

medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (20. August) is also the feast day of:

Herbert of Conza (Herbert of Middlesex; d. 1181, probably).  Today's
less well known saint from the Regno is thought, on the basis of a
confused notice in the _Ymagines historiarum_ of Ralph of Diceto (a.k.a.
Ralph of Diss), to have been an Englishman who moved to the kingdom of
Sicily and was appointed archbishop of Conza by William II.  Ralph
actually says that H. was made archbishop of Cosenza in Calabria and
that he perished in a great earthquake there (the one of 1184).  But H.
is documented in the see of Conza from 1169 through 1179 (when he took
part in Lateran III) and his death date was inscribed, presumably from
local records, on a pilaster in the old cathedral of Conza (the one
destroyed by the earthquakes of 1694 and 1732, as opposed to its
replacement that collapsed in the great Conza earthquake of 1980) as 20
August 1118 (presumably a mistake for 1181).  He was interred beneath a
side altar there and moved to the high altar in 1684 in connection with
a canonical recognition of his relics.  A sarcophagus said to be H.'s
was housed until recently in the Museo Provinciale Irpino at Avellino
but is now back at Conza.  H. has no surviving Life and no medieval
Office.  Get a Life, Herb!

Another later twelfth-century bishop-saint of the Regno, Richard of
Andria (9. June), is also said to have been an Englishman.  But the
evidence for this is late and questionable. 

Conza (today's Conza della Campania [AV]) is a good example of a now
obscure place that medievally was rather more significant.  A hill town
in southern Irpinia, it overlooks the upper valley of the Ofanto not far
below the Conza Saddle.  The latter is a rare low point (700 meters
above sea level) in the southern Appennines permitting relatively easy
travel across the peninsula from the Sele valley in the west to the
Ofanto valley in the east.  Already militarily significant in Roman
times, Conza was the seat of an important gastaldate (later, county) in
the  duchy/principality of Benevento and the latter's successors in this
region, the principality of Salerno and the kingdom of Sicily.  It is
first recorded as a diocese in Lombard times (743).  Always centrally
isolated, it has a population today of ca. 1500 and now forms part of
the archdiocese of S. Angelo dei Lombardi, Conza, Nusco, e Bisaccia (the
others all having been, as far as we can tell, dioceses newly created in
the eleventh century).  In consequence of an earthquake said to have
demolished Conza in 990, Conza's bishops are thought to have re-located
their residence to today's Sant'Andrea di Conza (population now just
under 2000), some fifteen kilometers away.  Though the latter is not
actually documented until 1161, it does seem that Herbert will have
lived here rather than in Conza proper.

Seismic events of the sort indicated in the preceding paragraphs have
pretty well eliminated any monumental remains of Conza's medieval past
(though the Episcopio at Sant'Andrea di Conza is a former baronial
fortress of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries).  A
recent photograph of the ruined eighteenth-century cathedral is here:
http://www.corriereirpinia.it/domenicale/cu_03_07_12_2003.php
Adjacent to this is Conza's archeological park (Parco Archeologico
dell'antica Compsa), with pre-Roman and Roman antiquities on display:
http://www.archemail.it/1sconza.htm

Some idea of the local terrain may be gleaned from the photograph of
Conza della Campania on this page:
http://www.goleto.it/itinerari/conza.htm
and from the view from the castle of Cairano (across the Ofanto valley
from Conza) here:
http://www.avellinonet.it/comuni/cairano/davisitare.htm
and from the view here of Sant'Andrea di Conza with the mountains behind it:
http://www.cmaltairpinia.it/altra_irpinia/comuni/santandrea/itinerario_00.htm

Best,
John Dillon
(last year's post, lightly revised)

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