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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  July 2006

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION July 2006

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Subject:

saints of the day 24. July

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Mon, 24 Jul 2006 23:17:43 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (24. July) is the feast day of two martyrs celebrated separately 
at locations along different Roman roads in Italy at some distance from
the Eternal City.  These are:

1) Christina of Bolsena (d. ca. 305??).   C. is a martyr of the Via
Cassia venerated at today's Bolsena (VT) in the Tuscia section of Lazio
in what was once southern Etruria; anciently, her town was called
Vulsinii.  Her cult here is attested archeologically from the fourth
century onward and a saint of her name appears among the Italian martyrs
in the mosaics of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo at Ravenna (6th cent.).  She has
similar Passiones both in Greek and in Latin (BHG 301, 302; BHL
1749-59).  The Greek ones, whose oldest known representative is a
papyrus fragment of the fifth or early sixth century, make her a martyr
of Tyre in Phoenicia -- as does also her entry in the (pseudo-)
Hieronymian Martyrology.  But apart from these texts there's no ancient
indication of her having had a cult there, and in both the Latin and the
Greek churches she has been celebrated on this day since late antiquity,
thus leading one to suppose that C. is a single saint with a bilingual
hagiographic tradition.  Her Latin Lives, none of which seems earlier
than the ninth century, and also Ado's Martyrology start off by making
her a martyr of Tyre who at one point is thrown into the sea (she
survives); over time these change by specifying an Italian locale and by
having C. thrown into the Lake of Bolsena.  Perhaps the least difficult
solution to all this is to suppose that C. was an Italian in whose early
Passio a word for 'Etruscan' (e.g. 'Tyrrhenos') got converted somehow
into a similar word for 'Tyrian' (e.g. 'Tyrios') and whose Latin dossier
as we now have it derives in turn from some version of the Greek.   

The narrative core of C.'s obviously legendary acta, thought to be an
expansion of Eusebius of Caesarea' account of the Theodosia of his
_De martyribus Palaestinae_, makes our saint a young virgin of Christian
faith who refuses to sacrifice to idols set before her by her pagan
father (a high public official) and who then undergoes a series of
ineffective tortures before being killed by decapitation.  What was
believed to be her burial place at Bolsena developed from a late antique
martyrium in a subterranean Christian necropolis into the tenth-century
hypogean basilica shown here:
http://www.basilicasantacristina.it/images/piccole/ipogeo.jpg
Early medieval pilgrim itineraries and historical notices attest to the
fame of this spot.  Although in the eleventh and twelfth centuries
relics said to be hers were translated to various places in Christendom,
it is also claimed that her remains still reside at Bolsena in this
tenth(?)-century container:
http://www.basilicasantacristina.it/images/piccole/tomba_2.jpg
Further views of the underground area and of the eleventh-century church
above it are here:
http://www.basilicasantacristina.it/html/monumento.htm
And here's a view of the adjacent catacomb:
http://tinyurl.com/fau2s

Two ground-level views, showing the church's
thirteenth-/fourteenth-century belltower and late fifteenth-century facade:
http://tinyurl.com/l3xsy
http://www.romeartlover.it/Franci22.jpg 

At Bolsena C.'s Passio is re-enacted annually (with hunky male
torturers; in the developed legend she's said to have been possessed of
great physical beauty).  Views of one such pageant are at the foot of
this page:
http://www.basilicasantacristina.it/html/culto.htm
And here are others:
http://www.eventiesagre.it/?id=1266
http://www.canino.info/inserti/tuscia/feste/santa_cristina/index.htm
A noteworthy literary version of the Passio is that by the
eleventh-century Alfanus of Salerno (BHL 1759).  Aldhelm has a much
briefer version in his _De laudibus virginitatis_.


2)  Victorinus of Amiternum (d. late 1st cent., supposedly).   V. is a
martyr of the Via Salaria venerated at today's San Vittorino (AQ; in
today's Abruzzo), the successor to ancient Amiternum.  The (pseudo-)
Hieronymian Martyrology, which lists A. for today (until quite recently
the RM remembered him on 5. September), says that this was the place of
his burial.  A church dedicated to A. is attested here from 763 onward;
in the eleventh century it (or its successor) had been rededicated to
St. Michael the Archangel but in the twelfth it was back to being called
after V. (hence the name of the town).  Today it is again San Michele,
with a late twelfth-century fabric reworked in the early sixteenth
century.  Various expandable views are here:
http://tinyurl.com/ekqru
Underneath the church is an ancient catacomb:
http://www.ilcapoluogo.it/content.php?article.716
In the tenth century V.'s supposed relics were translated to Metz.    

According to the legendary acta of Sts. Nereus and Achilleus (BHL
6063-6066; fifth-century??), V. was martyred further to the west in what
is now the Sabina district of Lazio by being suspended in the hot
sulphurous waters of the Roman spa at Aquae Cotiliae (or Cutiliae),
situated at today's Caporio near Cittaducale (RI).  Some views of the
ruins of that complex are here:
http://www.provinciarieti.it/foto/cotilia_resti_archeologici.jpg
http://www.provinciarieti.it/foto/cotilia_terme_rovine.jpg
There is now a modern spa in the vicinity called Terme di Cotilia.  I
have not noticed any reference to V. in its advertising.

Best,
John Dillon

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