medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (2. March) is the feast day of:
1) Quintus the Thaumaturge (d. ca. 283). Born in Phrygia of Christian parents, Q. (also Q. of Phrygia) migrated to Aeolis and there devoted himself to serving the poor. At (Aeolic) Cyme the Roman governor tried to make him sacrifice to the idols but stopped, either because Q. through his prayers had cured him of demonic possession or because an earthquake destroyed the temple and its statues. Not long afterward, another magistrate had Q. arrested and tortured. He too gave up when Q. was instantly healed of his injuries. Thus enabled to continue his ministry, Q. died in peace a few years later.
Byzantine synaxaries record Q. today and on 2. July. In the menaea his feast occurs in early May.
2) Ceadda (d. 672?). C. (Chad) was a disciple of St. Aidan at Lindisfarne. After studying in Ireland he returned to his native Northumbria, where he assisted his brother St. Cedd in the latter's foundation of the monastery of Lastingham (in today's North Yorkshire) and succeeded him as abbot in 664. In the same year C. was consecrated bishop of Northumbria in place of the absent St. Wilfrid. Two of the bishops who consecrated him were not in communion with Rome. When in 669 St. Theodore of Tarsus and of Canterbury arrived from Rome, he ordered C. to resign. C. did so but soon was appointed bishop of the Mercians, establishing himself at Lichfield.
C. was noted for his humility and his piety. When in about 700 Lichfield's cathedral of St. Peter was first built, C.'s remains were brought to it. There they stayed, with translations as the church was rebuilt in the late eleventh and twelfth centuries and again in the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries, until the reign of Henry VIII, when C.'s shrine was destroyed and his relics were dispersed. Four bones more recently alleged to be C.'s have been placed in Birmingham's Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to C. After testing in 1995, it was announced that at least three belonged to someone who had lived in the seventh century.
In 2003, excavations beneath Lichfield Cathedral revealed remains of its early eighth-century predecessor, including a sunken chamber thought to have been the site of C.'s first shrine. Recovered were three fragments of a carved limestone panel depicting an angel, some of whose red polychromy was still visible. According to Rosemary Cramp, the panel had been part of a casket:
Announcements in 2006 trumpeted the relief as having belonged to the original shrine:
To judge from the last item here (early 2007)
someone is having second thoughts: "or possibly early C9th" doesn't accord awfully well with Lichfield Cathedral's own dating of the Anglo-Saxon cathedral to 700:
Here's a page (with an expandable view of St. Luke's portrait) on the Lichfield Gospels, which latter the Diocese of Lichfield flatly asserts was "commissioned in the eighth century to adorn [C.'s] shrine":
It would be interesting to learn how the Diocese of Lichfield knows this to be true.
3) Luke Casalius (Luca Casali; d. early 12th cent. ?). Hard on the heels of yesterday's Leo Luke of Corleone and not long after Luke of Messina (27. February) comes yet another Luke venerated in Sicily, this time at two towns in today's Enna province, Nicosia and Agira. This Luke has a Vita (BHL 4979) redacted from now lost manuscripts at Nicosia by Ottavio Gaetani SJ (d. 1620). This account tells us that L. was born at Nicosia and was educated in early childhood by the _praefectus_ (head) of the monastery of St. Philip at Agira who was then staying in a Nicosia suburb. When L. was ten, this person brought him to the monastery, where he became a monk and later was made priest.
Having exhibited all sorts of exemplary behavior, L. in time was elected _praefectus_ but declined, only to relent when his monks got the pope to persuade him to accept. His conduct in office was praiseworthy, though he went blind while administering his charge.
L.'s blindness led to a miracle. On the way back to Agira from a visit to his family in Nicosia the monks who were his companions convinced him that a crowd of townspeople was following in the hope of hearing a sermon. L. obligingly preached to a landscape devoid of people (other than the saint and his companions), whereupon the rocks that lay about the place responded with a chorus of 'Amen', thus proving his sanctity to the astonished tricksters. L. died at the monastery in Agira and was buried there; upon the urging of the people of Agira, the pope entered him in the number of the saints. The people of Nicosia, wishing to honor one of their own, dedicated a church to him on the spot where the rocks had responded to his preaching. Thus far L.'s Vita.
L.'s cult blossomed in 1575, when he liberated Nicosia from a plague; that town made him its patron and celebrated his feast at public expense. Towards the end of that century, his presumed remains, along with those of Philip of Agira and other saints, were discovered in a hidden resting place in the abbey. With the exception of a relic granted to Nicosia, they remain there today. Agira's originally twelfth-century church of the Most Holy Savior (Santissimo Salvatore) houses a mitre and the head of a pastoral staff traditionally believed to have been L.'s. Shown in the last illustration on this page:
http://digilander.libero.it/agira1/s_s_salvatore.htm, they are probably those of a fourteenth-century abbot. In what seems to have been L.'s time this house was a priory of St. Mary of the Latins (Santa Maria Latina) in Jerusalem. In the later twelfth century it became the center of that abbey's operations and from that time forward its heads were styled abbot.
Agira's SS. Salvatore also preserves a torah ark (aron) from the 1450s, rescued from a ruinous former synagogue in the same town:
Two views of the abbey church at Agira are here:
4) Agnes of Bohemia (d. 1282). A. was a daughter of king Ottokar I of Bohemia. A very devout person, educated in Cistercian and Premonstratensian monasteries, she devoted herself to prayers and good works while waiting through a series of betrothals that never got as far as an actual marriage. In 1231, with the assistance of pope Gregory IX, A. extricated herself from the last of these unwelcome arrangements of state. She soon founded a Franciscan hospital and a friary at Prague and in 1234 she established in that city a convent of Poor Clares, entering it along with five other religious sent by St. Clare of Assisi, with whom she remained in correspondence. In time she herself became abbess.
A. was beatified in 1874 and canonized in 1989. Her _dies natalis_ is 6. March.
(Luca Casali lightly revised from last year's post)
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