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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  February 2006

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION February 2006

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Subject:

saints of the day 27. February

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Mon, 27 Feb 2006 15:38:35 -0600

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (27. February) is also the feast day of:

Luke of Messina (d. 1149).  Today's less well known saint from the 
Regno was a monk at what in the fist decades of the twelfth century was 
the leading Greek-rite house in Roger II's domains, Bartholomew of 
Simeri's Nea Hodegetria outside of Rossano in Calabria.  At some time 
before B.'s death in 1130 (after which his monastery would become known 
in his honor as Agia Theotokos tou Patir (or, more simply, the 
Patirion), Roger asked B. to direct the monastery he had since 1122 
been building near the tip of the Lingua Phari ('Lighthouse Tongue'), 
the curving spit of land that forms one side of Messina's harbor and 
that suggested to ancient Greeks one of the city's earlier names, 
Zankle ('Sickle').  B., who was getting on in years, declined but 
proposed Luke instead.  Roger seems to have accepted, for shortly 
before 1130 L. crossed the Strait of Messina with a dozen other monks 
and the material items (vessels, service books, etc.) required for 
establishing a functioning monastery.  They found no monks to greet 
them at the still unfinished complex but settled in and began work at 
what under L.'s direction and Roger's command would, from 1131 on, be 
the mother house ('mandra') of many Greek monasteries in Sicily and of 
a number in Calabria as well.  There was already a small church here, 
vowed by Roger I in gratitude for his conquest of Messina and dedicated 
to the Holy Savior.  The monastery took its name, and as San(tissimo) 
Salvatore in/de Lingua Phari (or, latinizing the latter's Greek 
equivalent, _in acroterio_), it became the island's leading exponent of 
Greek-language religious culture.

L.'s founder's typikon for the monasteries under his jurisdiction gives 
in its preface a brief but highly interesting account of the 
establishment of San(tissimo) Salvatore in Lingua Phari.  An annotated 
English-language translation of this document is here:
http://tinyurl.com/o6shl
L.'s disciplinary typikon survives in a sixteenth-century Calabrian 
translation written in the Greek alphabet at the monastery of San 
Bartolomeo di Trigona outside of today's Sant'Eufemia d'Aspromonte 
(RC).  It is edited in Katherine Douramani, ed., _Il typikon del 
monastero di S. Bartolomeo di Trigona_ (Roma: Pontificio Istituto 
Orientale, 2003; Orientalia Christiana Analecta, no. 269), pp. 316-20.  
San(tissmo) Salvatore in Lingua Phari's liturgical typikon was edited 
in 1969 by Miguel Arranz, who thought its manuscript to be in L.'s own 
hand (a view since questioned by others).  See Arranz, ed., _Le typicon 
du monastere du Saint-Sauveur a Messine, Codex Messinensis GR 115, A. 
D. 1131_ (Roma: Pontificio Istituto Orientale, 1969; Orientalia 
Christiana Analecta 185).

L.'s monastery on the Lingua Phari (now the Punta San Ranieri) was 
confiscated in 1546 by Charles V, who converted it into a fort.  An 
explosion and fire in 1549 destroyed most of monastic structures; what 
remained was removed or built over in what even today is a restricted-
access military site.  A distance view of the harbor, with the Punta 
San Ranieri to the right of center, is here:
http://www.cinoricci.it/girovela2004/percorso/messina/foto03g.jpg
Some closer views of the site itself:
http://www.ipaesaggi.it/Castelli/SSalvatore/SSalvatore3.htm
http://www.secapl.com/Italy/1005-Messina/DCP_1017s1280.jpg
http://www.ipaesaggi.it/Castelli/SSalvatore/SSalvatore1.htm
The inscription partly visible in those last views reads in full: VOS 
ET IPSAM CIVITATEM BENEDICIMUS
According to Messinese legend, this is how in the year 42 the BVM ended 
her letter to the faithful of the city already largely converted by St. 
Paul.  Not every port can display such an august paleochristian 
endorsement.

When Charles V took over the monastery, the monks moved to new quarters 
elsewhere in the city.  This, presumably, is how the surviving 
sculptural monuments of L.'s tenure as archimandrite escaped the 
conflagration at the old site.  These include both a baptismal font 
bearing two inscriptions that together date the piece to 1135 and name 
the sculptor, one Gandulphus, and L.'s sarcophagus (a re-used piece of 
Roman-period manufacture) bearing a sixteen-verse funerary 
inscription.  Both are housed today in Messina's Museo Nazionale.  I 
couldn't quickly find Web-based views of either, but the inscriptions 
are edited and translated in Andre Guillou, _Recueil des inscriptions 
grecques medievales d'Italie_ (Rome: Ecole Francaise de Rome, 1996; 
Collection de l'Ecole Francaise de Rome, no. 222), pp. 201-05 (nos. 
189, 191) and photographically documented at G.'s plates 178 and 179.  
 
Best,
John Dillon

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