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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  March 2006

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION March 2006

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Subject:

saints of the day 1. March

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Tue, 28 Feb 2006 22:27:34 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (1. March) is also the feast day of:

Leo Luke of Corleone (d. late 9th/very early 10th century?).  Today's
less well known saint from the Regno is a Sicilian Greek with a Latin
life (BHL 4842; no witnesses earlier than the sixteenth century and no
surviving Greek Life) and a cult that seems to have begun in Calabria
and to have spread to his homeland perhaps no earlier than the fifteenth
century.  Leo, so the story goes, was born to a family that raised
cattle and sheep at Corleone in Sicily about the time that the island
first became troubled by "Vandal" raids, i.e. by attacks from North
African Muslims.  His parents dying while he was still young, he entered
religion at the famous monastery of St. Philip at Agira.  Further Muslim
incursions caused him to leave Sicily for Calabria.  Here he joined a
monastic community in the mountains of northern Calabria, was given the
name Luke, travelled with the community's abbot first to the
monastically settled wilds of the Merkourion (today usually located
along the headwaters of the river Lao) and then to a place called Vena,
where in time he succeded to the abbacy of a re-established community.
After a lifetime of signal piety and the performance of various
miracles, he died at Vena and was buried in the community's church of
the Theotokos.

Though it has many points of contact with other Lives of Italo-Greek
monastic saints, this Life rings true as that of the local saint of a
particular monastic community in Calabria: most of the geographic
referents are from northern and central Calabria and no mention is made
of any of the other monastic communities that we know from the Lives of
other saints (e.g., Fantinus the Younger, Nilus of Rossano) existed in
the Merkourion at about this time.  At some point L.'s cult became
associated with Monteleone, the town that succeeded early medieval
Vibona -- said to have been destroyed in a Muslim raid in 983 -- and is
now Vibo Valentia (VV).  Although proof is lacking, it seems reasonable
to suppose that Vena was part of the territory that became Monteleone
and that its monastic church was a predecessor of today's collegiate
church of Our Lady of the Assumption and Leo Luke of Corleone at Vibo
Valentia.  The area in question is not far from Mileto, Roger I's late
eleventh- and early twelfth-century capital of his newly conquered
Calabrian and Sicilian domains, and it may have been about this time
that the Life acquired its Sicilian particulars of Corleone and of the
monastery at Agira.  When the original Greek was translated into Latin
is unknown.  But it is a very good guess that this also occurred in the
twelfth century: the body of the Life does not mention Monteleone by
name (that designation is first attested in the year 1239) and a
sentence noting a translation of L.'s remains _from_ Vena _to_
Monteleone, not present in all witnesses, seems pretty clearly a later
addition.  By the mid-sixteenth century, when both Calabria and Sicily
were under Spanish rule, L.'s cult had spread to Sicily.  In 1575 L.
was proclaimed protector and patron of Corleone.   Not surprisingly, he
is also the patron saint of Vibo Valentia.

Corleone (PA)'s present church of San Leoluca dates only from 1624.
Medieval remains here include this archway on the via Cammarata, said to
have been the entrance to a mosque later converted to a Christian
church:
http://www.icvasicorleone.it/La%20storia/exmoschea.htm
http://www.icvasicorleone.it/La%20storia/immagini%20nuove/arabi.JPG
the Torre Saracena ("Saracen Tower"):
http://tinyurl.com/5tp7h
the originally fifteenth-century ex-hospital of the Cistercians (three
photos here):
http://www.icvasicorleone.it/La%20storia/exosp.htm
and the cathedral of St. Martin, built in 1382, cupola added in 1663,
facade from the early eighteenth century when the building got an
extensive makeover inside and out:
http://www.icvasicorleone.it/La%20storia/matriceretro.htm
http://www.icvasicorleone.it/La%20storia/MatriceVS.htm
http://www.icvasicorleone.it/La%20storia/matriceinterno.htm

Vibo Valentia's one surviving medieval church, the Chiesa del Rosario,
was built for a Franciscan convent in 1280.  Heavily redone to baroque
taste in the eighteenth century, it retains an Angevin-period "gothic"
family chapel, the Cappella De Sirica, with the sarcophagus of its
founder (1343).  A line drawing (from a photograph) of the church's
exterior is here:
http://www.sbvibonese.it/comuni/foto/vibo/chiese/rosario.jpg
and a tiny color photograph of about the same view is here:
http://www.confartvibovalentia.it/rosario.jpg

Immediately outside Vibo Valentia, in the town of San Gregorio
d'Ippona, is the once medieval Greek church of Santa Ruba.  Orginally
the church of a small 11th-to-13th-century Greek-rite monastery (some
of whose remains are to be seen in the surrounding park) that later
became a Carmelite convent, it was re-worked in the early seventeenth
century and has a baroque interior.  But a good part of the Norman-
period exterior remains, including the cupola, whose construction has
parallels with those of other Greek churches of Byzantine Calabria.
A line drawing:
http://www.sbvibonese.it/comuni/foto/vibo/chiese/sruba.jpg
Other views (photographs):
http://www.sbvibonese.it/percorsi/foto/s_ruba.jpg
http://www.madeincalabria.com/chiese/vibo2.jpg
http://tinyurl.com/3zk9y
Santa Ruba is reached by Strada statale 182, the same poorly maintained
road that takes one from Vibo to Serra San Bruno and its nearby
Carthusian monastery.

For those who like military architecture, Vibo has a castle whose
medieval origins are not entirely obscured by later rebuilding.  An
illustrated, Italian-language account (concentrating on the medieval
aspects) is here:
http://www.sbvibonese.it/comuni/vibo2.htm

This is as good a time as any to say something about Mileto (VV), the
commanding but quite out-of-the way hilltown that Roger I chose for his
capital and that his widow, the regent Adelaide (Adelasia), promptly
abandoned for the more centrally located port city of Messina (Palermo
was later still).  Roger and his second wife Eremburga were laid to
rest in re-used ancient sarcophagi in the cathedral he established
here (IIRC, Roger's is now in the Museo Nazionale Archeologico in
Naples).  Both that building and the adjacent Benedictine abbey of the
Most Holy Trinity (also a Rogerian foundation) have now perished, but
fragments from those structures (including some very interesting bits of
stained glass from the abbey church) and also Eremburga's sarcophagus
and a late medieval censer and other objects in silver are displayed in
the Museo Statale (Museo di Mileto) in Mileto's Palazzo Vescovile:
http://www.museionline.it/museicalabria/eng/cerca/museo.asp?id=1742
and especially:
http://www.omceovv.it/storia_normanni/museo.htm
http://www.sbvibonese.it/normanni/Normanni/museo_mileto.htm
A few larger photos here:
http://www.abramo.it/service/ARTE/MUSEI/museo_mileto/musmil.htm

Italian-language accounts (with reconstructed floor plans) of the
cathedral and of the abbey church are here:
http://www.sbvibonese.it/normanni/Normanni/cattedr_mil.htm
http://www.sbvibonese.it/normanni/Normanni/abbazia_mil.htm

During the fascist period Mileto's 19th-century cathedral was replaced
by the present one of St. Nicholas, built in styles thought suitable
for the capital of a national hero from the Middle Ages:
Exterior:
http://www.sbvibonese.it/percorsi/foto/cattedr_mileto.jpg
http://www.mileto.it/C5.htm
Interior:
http://www.sbvibonese.it/percorsi/foto/int_mileto.jpg
http://www.mileto.it/C6.htm

That's right: Lombard Romanesque (and Neoclassical within)!!
It's an attractive building -- but Mileto is neither Pavia nor Rome
(and never was).

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

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