medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (24. March) is the feast day of:
1) Hildelith (fl. ca. 700). H. (Hildelid, Hildelitha) was the second abbess of the double monastery at Barking in Essex, founded in the seventh century by St. Erkenwald (Earconwald). St. Aldhelm's prose _De virginitate_ is dedicated to her and to the sisters there. It is possible to infer from Aldhelm's work that not a few members of the community were wealthy noblewomen who had divorced their husbands in order to become brides of Christ. That description may also fit H.; certainly she was well educated. H. knew St. Boniface well enough to have communicated to him details of a vision of heaven and hell seen by a monk of Much Wenlock.
John of Tynemouth's _Sanctilogium_ has a Vita of H. drawn chiefly from Bede's matter on Barking at _Historia Ecclesiastica_ 4. 6-11 but also including now unprovable assertions that H. was venerated in the tenth century. Post-Conquest Barking commemorated her deposition on this date. Goscelin of Canterbury (d. in or after 1107) wrote lections (BHL 3942) for her Office at Barking, where in the early fifteenth century she was celebrated both today and on the octave. For a text, see Marvin L. Colker, ed., "Texts of Jocelyn of Canterbury Which Relate to the History of Barking Abbey", _Studia Monastica_ 7 (1965) 383-460, at pp.455-58. According to Bede, H. was an energetic abbess who ruled for many years and who maintained strict discipline.
2) Aldemar of Bucchianico (fl. ca. 1000). Today's less well known saint of the Regno was head of the nobly founded monastery of San Lorenzo at Capua, where he performed miracles. Later he founded a monastery, dedicated to the BVM, at Bucchianico (CH) in Abruzzo. Within a generation after his death this house and others in today's Chieti province became dependencies of Montecassino; the latter perpetuated the view that A. had founded them as the abbey's emissary. A. has a brief, probably late eleventh-century Vita (BHL 251) transcribed by the Cassinese historian and forger Peter the Deacon at the end of his _Ortus et vita iustorum cenobii Casinensis_ (ca. 1136) and reworked by him (BHL 252) in his part of the _Chronicon cassinense_. The latter account erroneously has A. die in around 1080.
Remains said to be those of A. are kept at Bucchianico's chiesa di Sant'Urbano (pope St. Urban I), a later eighteenth-century replacement for one of the same dedication attested from 1243.
3) Catherine of Sweden (d. 1381). C. (Katarina av Vadstena) was the daughter of Ulf Gudmarsson, lord of Ulvåsa and of his wife Birgitta Birgersdotter of Finsta (better known today as St. Bridget of Sweden). At the age of thirteen she was married to a young nobleman; their union was never consummated (later it was said that both had taken a vow of chastity). When after a few years he died C. was in Rome with her mother, whose work she supported and whose ascetic lifestyle she imitated. C. remained with B. until the latter's death in 1373. In 1374 she brought B.'s body to the latter's foundation at Vadstena, where B. was interred and C. became abbess. She spent the remainder of her life there and at Rome, working for her mother's canonization and directing the nascent Order of the Most Holy Savior (the Bridgettines). Her own cult was confirmed in 1484 with a feast day of 22. March. The Bridgettines now celebrate her today.
C.'s relics are kept along with those of her mother in the latter's shrine at Vadstena:
Here are B. (aft left) and C. in an altar painting (ca. 1500) from Högsby kyrka in Småland:
An illustrated, Swedish-language page on C.:
Two sixteenth-century statues of C. said to be by the sculptor Håkan Gulleson:
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