medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (16. March) is the feast day of:
1) Valentine and Damian of Terracina, venerated at San Valentino in Abruzzo Citeriore (d. ca. 362, supposedly). Today's less well known saints of the Regno are a bishop of Terracina (LT) in Lazio, V., and his adoptive son D., whom he educated from boyhood and elevated to the diaconate. Unknown to early martyrologies or to other early ecclesiastical history, they are documented by a fabulous and in places entertaining account of their lives, martyrdom, invention, and translation to today's San Valentino in Abruzzo Citeriore (PE) in Abruzzo. These Acta (or this Passio, as it is sometimes called; BHL 8467) are known from a mid-sixteenth-century Office from that town.
This account seems originally to have been written in the twelfth century, as it aligns the town with its new Norman lords (to the first of whom the saints' translation is ascribed) rather than with its former owner, the great Benedictine abbey of San Clemente a Casauria. It draws upon the originally fifth-century legend of Constantine's persecution of pope St. Sylvester I, ascribes the martyrdom of V. and D. to persecution under Julian the Apostate (for western martyrs, this is usually an evidence of fiction), locates their execution at Civitas Zappina (thought to have been an early medieval successor to Roman-period Ceio, a bath and market town in the vicinity), and places their inventio in the "time of the Lombards" when all Italy was finally Christian.
When at this time their bodies were discovered --- along with an inscription proclaiming them those of the holy martyrs V. and D. -- the fact that these were indeed the remains of saints was confirmed by the sudden resurrection of a dead man whose corpse had just been brought to the burial church where V. and D. were found.
The eighteenth-century church of saints Valentine and Damian dominates the skyline of San Valentino in Abruzzo Citeriore. It is attributed to the distinguished Neapolitan architect Luigi Vanvitelli (but the present facade is an early twentieth-century reconstruction after an earthquake). Views of it, and one of a medieval church in the vicinity, may be found at this English-language website:
2) Heribert of of Köln (d. 1021). H. was educated first at Worms and then at the monastery of Gorze. After a brief stint back in Worms he entered imperial service and in 994 became Otto III's chancellor for Italy. In 995 he was ordained priest and in 998 he was made Otto's chancellor for Germany. In the following year he was elected archbishop of Köln and was present in Aachen for Otto's opening of Charlemagne's tomb. H. returned to Italy with his short-lived imperial sponsor, whose body and insignia he brought back to Germany in 1002. Leaving the chancery, he founded the abbey of Deutz, across the Rhine from Köln as the latter was then. H. accompanied Henry II to Rome in 1004 but spent most of his remaining time in his diocese, where he was especially remembered for his charity to the poor.
H. was buried at the recently consecrated (1020) abbey church at Deutz. He has a brief Vita (BHL 3827-28) by Lambert of Deutz and an expanded one (BHL 3830) by the theologian and abbot Rupert of Deutz (d. 1129). Scenes from his life adorn his later twelfth-century shrine, formerly in the abbey church and now in the neo-romanesque church of Neu Sankt Heribert in Köln-Deutz. Some views of it are here:
detail (H. enthroned):
The abbey church was destroyed in 1376 and rebuilt in 1382-1387. A woodcut of 1530 depicting it is here:
That church was largely destroyed and then rebuilt in the seventeenth century.
The abbey itself, which like its church came to be known as that of H. (the original dedication was to the BVM), was dissolved in the Naoleonic period.
Since 1994 H.'s rebuilt church has served Köln's Greek Orthodox community. Here's a recent view, showing chancel towers and new roofs added in the nineteenth century:
3) Torello of Poppi (Blessed; d. 1282, perh. 1232). T. has a very engaging Life, which exists in very similar Latin and Italian versions and whose core is thought to be from the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century. This tells us that T. was a young man of Poppi in Tuscany's rugged Casentino region who became a local hermit, who lived a very austere life blessed by various miracles, and who after his death at age eighty continued to produce many more for the benefit of his fellow townspeople. Perhaps that doesn't sound so engaging, but the rooster who flew onto the young T.'s arm and crowed three times to recall him from the sinful life into which he had fallen, the wolf who upon T.'s command obligingly released from its jaws the young boy it had been carrying away, and many other details lift this Life above the ordinary.
T. has been claimed both by the Vallombrosans, whose monastery at very nearby Strumi is evidently the one at Poppi where in the Life T. is said to have made his confession before going off to be a hermit, and by the Franciscans, with whom he has no known connection but whose very early members practiced a lifestyle similar to that recorded for him. The monastery of La Verna, where St. Francis received his stigmata, is also in the Casentino and is in fact mentioned in the Life. The Vallombrosans of Strumi got T.'s body after his death and his remains are still kept in the crypt of their abbey church of San Fedele. An illustrated, Italian-language account of this church is here:
An exterior view is here:
And an interior one is here:
An illustrated guide to La Verna is here:
T. is the patron "saint" of Poppi (AR) in Tuscany. Read the postmortem miracles (especially those about protecting people of Poppi from wolves) and you can see why. He is said to have been beatified by Benedict XIV. The year of this act is apparently not recorded. The Latin Life (_Hystoria beati Torelli de Puppio_; BHL 8305) and its Italian-language counterpart (_Vita di Torello da Poppi_) are edited by Luigi G. G. Ricci, _Le "Vite" di Torello da Poppi_ (Tavarnuzze: SISMEL Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2002) with a lengthy historical introduction by Marco Bicchierai.
(Valentine and Damian and Torello of Poppi lightly revised from previous posts)
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