medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (15. March) is the feast day of:
1) Menignus (d. 250, supposedly). The megalomartyr M. is said in the Synaxary of Constantinople and in the "Imperial" Menologium of Michael the Paphlagonian to have been a fuller by trade at the ancient Hellespontine port of Parion in Mysia (near Kemer in today's Çanakkale province in northwestern Turkey). According to these sources, he removed and tore up a publicly posted notice of Decius' edict for the suppression of Christianity. For this he was tried and sentenced first to have all his digits cut off and then to be beheaded. The sentence was carried out in the presence of his wife and others, who saw M.'s soul emerge from his mouth in the form of a dove.
In the early 1950s the Byzantinist Henri Grégoire attempted unsuccessfully to show that the Passio of St. Benignus of Dijon had been adapted from a Passio of M. whose content was very similar to that of the relatively late accounts cited above. In the course his argument Grégoire proposed that M. too had actually been named Benignus and that his name was altered to its present form through a confusion the Greek letters beta and mu, whose forms in ninth- and tenth-century minuscule are so similar that substitutions of this sort do occur, especially in case of unfamiliar words. It is possible that on this particular point Grégoire was right. Since Latin-speaking veterans had been settled in Parion in both the first and second centuries CE, the name Benignus could have been part of the local onomastic repertoire in M.'s time. We have no published testimonia to M. whose present forms antedate the eleventh century.
2) Zachary, pope (d. 752). John XVI having been an antipope (though allowed to retain his ordinal number as a pope of this name), Z. was the last Greek pope. A Calabrian, he is said to have been born in Siberena, today's Santa Severina (KR). A distance view of this town is here:
The oldest medieval structure in Santa Severina (and the oldest to survive from Byzantine Calabria) is the present baptistery of the cathedral. Thought to have been built as a separate oratory, it dates either from the eighth century or from the late ninth, when Santa Severina, from 840 to 886 a Muslim emirate, had been reconquered for the empire and its church was raised to archdiocesan status. Herewith two views (the exterior one showing a later medieval addition):
When Z. was elected to succeed Gregory III it was not thought necessary to seek permission from the exarch in Ravenna. Like his two immediate predecessors, Z. had repeated dealings with the Lombard kings, who at this point were vigorously expanding their realm at the empire's expense. When after some temporary successes with kings Liutprand and Ratchis his policy of remonstration and partial recovery failed utterly with king Aistulf, Z. cooperated with Pepin the Short in his accession to the kingship in Frankia in return for Frankish protection of the papal territories.
Z. encouraged the work of St. Boniface and other Insular missionaries on the continent. His translation into Greek of St. Gregory the Great's _Dialogues_ contributed enormously to G.'s stature as a figure of the universal church. In Rome Z. built the first church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, later replaced by the late thirteenth-/fourteenth-century structure whose interior is shown here:
Z. also brought from Cappadocia the the head of St. George and installed it in the basilica now known as San Giorgio al Velabro:
3) Leocritia of Córdoba (d. 859). We know about L. from Paul Albar's Vita of St. Eulogius of Córdoba (BHL 2704). The daughter of Muslim parents, L. secretly converted to Christianity with the aid of friends. When her parents began to suspect that her frequent visits elsewhere were not entirely social, she fled their home and sought safety among the Christian community, where she was moved from house to house in order to conceal her whereabouts. Ultimately she was caught (along with Eulogius, who had been instructing her in the faith). Condemned to death for her apostasy, L. was executed by decapitation. Today is her _dies natalis_. She is sometimes listed as Lucretia.
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