medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (11. March) is the feast day of:
1) Pionius (d. ca. 250). P. was a priest of Smyrna martyred during the Decian persecution. According to Eusebius (_Historia Ecclesiastica_ 4. 15. 47), he was vigorous in defending his faith and his community. Officialdom responded, as often, by being especially hard on the ringleaders, er, on prominent figures of the opposition. S. had nails driven through him and then -- like St. Polycarp of Smyrna in the previous century --was burned alive. The surviving Acta (BHG 1546) on which Eusebius probably based his account include other parallels between the two martyrs. E. blunders in making P. one of Polycarp's own companions in martyrdom.
In the fourth century a fictional Bios of St. Polycarp (BHG 1561) appeared with P. as its pretended author. This became very popular and added to P.'s posthumous renown. P. appears in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology under several dates, one being today. On the basis of a misreading of another entry in the (ps.-)HM, Florus of Lyon placed P. on 1. February. That is where he remained until the latest version (2001) of the RM, whose choice of today for P.'s commemoration reflects the early ninth-century use of Naples as indicated by its Marble Calendar.
2) Sophronius of Jerusalem (d. 637 or 638). S. (also S. of Damascus, S. the Sophist) seems to have been of Damascene origin. After a brief time as as a teacher of rhetoric he became a monk in Palestine, first at the New Lavra and then at the Theodosius Monastery at Bethlehem. It was as a monk of the latter that S. accompanied his friend John Moschus (the author of the _Spirtual Meadow_) on his travels among the monks of Egypt and later at Rome and at Constantinople. S., who became patriarch of Jerusalem in 634, wrote sermons, hagiographical texts, and religious verse as well as theological attacks on monothelitism. Not all of the writings that have come down under his name are genuinely his.
In 637 S. led a spirited but hopeless defence of Jerusalem against a major Muslim siege and after several months arranged a surrender that is said to have given some protection to the Christian churches and to have guaranteed the city's Christians (at this point Jews were forbidden to reside in Jerusalem) what seems to have been essentially the same dhimmitude that Muslims were allowing to monotheists elsewhere during this conquest. Opinions vary as to whether S. survived to die a refugee in Alexandria in the following year or instead were martyred in Palestine not long after the surrender.
3) Eulogius of Córdoba (also E. of Toledo; d. 859) and other martyrs of Cordoba (ca. 822-864). A priest in Muslim-ruled Córdoba, E. along with other Christians publicly proclaimed the superiority of Christianity and thus brought upon themselves capital punishment for denigrating the Prophet. E. was also the chief chronicler of this movement, writing several accounts of the martyrs. His own life was sketched in a Vita by his friend, the layman Paul Albar (BHL 2704). Some of the martyrs' remains were translated to Paris in the early 860s.
Kenneth Wolf's study of these deaths, _Christian Martyrs in Muslim Spain_ (Cambridge University Press, 1988), is available on-line here (the links in the "Contents" section are broken but all else is serviceable):
In 848 E. visited the abbey of San Salvador at Leyre in Navarra. A Spanish-language virtual tour, with expandable views, of the eleventh- to fourteenth-century monastery buildings is here:
4) Oengus the Culdee (d. early 9th cent.). O. was a monk of Clonenagh (Laois) who later became a disciple of St. Maelruain at the abbey at Tallaght (Dublin). He is the author of the Irish martyrology that bears his name.
Some views of early Christian grave markers (cross slabs) at Clonenagh are here:
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