medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (20. March) is the feast day of:
1) Martin of Braga (d. ca. 579). Like his namesake, St. Martin of Tours, this M. was a Pannonian who went west. But first he travelled east to Palestine, where he made a lengthy pilgrimage, learned Greek, studied theology, and became a monk. Having thus prepared himself, he went into the uttermost west, ending up in what is now northern Portugal. M. founded a monastery, of which he was head, at Dumio near Bracara Augusta (modern Braga), the capital of Gallaecia, a former Roman province that early in the preceding century had become the kingdom of the Sueves.
In 569 M. became archbishop of Bracara. He succeeded in converting the Suevian kings from Arianism to Catholicism and was zealous in suppressing rural "pagan" cults and in converting their adherents to Christianity. Venantius Fortunatus, in a poem addressed to M. (5. 2), twice calls him in effect the apostle of Gallaecia. M.'s surviving work includes a translation, from the Greek, of a collection of the sayings of the (Egyptian) Desert Fathers, a number of moral treatises drawing on Seneca or on John Cassian or on both, a treatise on baptism, and the pastoral _De correctione rusticorum_, rich in mentions of non-Christian rural cults and practices.
Here's M. as depicted in the later tenth-century (976) Codex Albeldensis (El Escorial, Ms. d I 2):
Much later than M., but certainly worth a look while we're here, is Braga's cathedral:
Illustrated, English-language page:
Portugues-language page with different views:
2) Cuthbert (d. 687). C., seems to have sprung from Anglo-Saxon nobility living in in the more northerly parts of the kingdom of Northumbria; as he trained at Melrose Abbey, quite possibly his family was in Lothian. After serving as guest master at a newly founded daughter house at Ripon he returned to Melrose as prior, moved on to Lindisfarne where he was also prior, and then became a hermit on Inner Farne. In 685 he was consecrated bishop of Lindisfarne (for which he exchanged Hexham, to which he has just been elected). At the very end of 686 or early in 687 C. returned to Inner Farne and died there, probably in his early fifties. His body was taken back to Lindisfarne and interred next to the altar of St. Peter's church. Eleven years later, C. underwent a formal elevation, at which time his body was declared to be incorrupt.
The focus of what became a signficant cult cult, C. received an anonymous early Vita (BHL 2019) from a monk of Lindisfarne and two Vitae by St. Bede, the first in verse and the second an expanded one in prose (BHL 2020, 2021). When the Vikings sacked Lindisfarne in 793 the monks began a lengthy peregrination with C.'s body and other treasures (not least the head of St. Oswald), settling in 883 or 885 at Chester-le-Street in today's County Durham. By this time Northumbrian missionaries had carried C.'s veneration to the Continent and C. was listed in the major Carolingian martyrologies. In 995 his remains were brought from Chester-le-Street to Durham, where they now repose in the cathedral.
Here's a Quicktime virtual tour of C.'s shrine in Durham Cathedral:
and a view of a twelfth-century wall painting, thought to be of C., in the cathedral's Galilee Chapel:
Other views of Durham Cathedral:
In 1104, when C.'s tomb was opened prior to his translation to his present shrine it was found to contain a small copy of the Gospel of John, made at Monkwearmouth or Jarrow during the abbacy of St. Ceolfrith. Later known, from a former place of safekeeping, as the Stonyhurst Gospel and now referred to as the St Cuthbert Gospel of St John, it is on permanent loan to the British Library. Views of its goatskin binding (said to be the oldest western binding now in Europe) are here:
and a view of one page (f. 27r):
Herewith some views, etc. of other medieval dedications to C. With the likely exception of the church at Wells, these are all at places said in one or another source to have been one of C.'s resting places before he reached Durham. What they really are (other than Chester-le-Street) are former extralimital possessions of the see of Durham and thus once part of its Patrimony of St. Cuthbert.
Originally twelfth-century St Cuthbert's Church, Aldingham (Lancashire):
Originally thirteenth-century Church of St Mary and St Cuthbert, Chester-le-Street (Durham):
History, with plans:
Late fourteenth- or early fifteenth-century St Cuthbert's Church at Elsdon, Northumberland:
Brief description with expandable view (slow loader):
Several exterior views on this page:
Narrow aisle (this church has very thick exterior walls):
Mostly thirteenth-/ fifteenth-century St Cuthbert's Church, Wells (Somerset):
Mostly fifteenth-century St Cuthbert's Church, Crayke (North Yorkshire):
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