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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  August 2007

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION August 2007

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Subject:

saints of the day 1. August

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 1 Aug 2007 23:25:56 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (121 lines)

medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (1. August) is the feast day of:

1)  St. Peter in Chains.  A translation from the Italian 'San Pietro in
Vincoli', this feast celebrates the dedication of the Roman church of
that name, founded in the first half of the fifth century to house the
chains with which St. Peter had been secured when he was imprisoned in
Jerusalem (Acts 12: 6-7).  At first called the _titulus Eudoxiae_
(perh. after Eudoxia, the wide of Valentinian III, thought by some to
have helped pay for it), it was dedicated by Sixtus III both to Peter
and to Paul and for centuries was also known as the _titulus
Apostolorum_.  Its present designation (also late antique in origin)
when expressed in Latin usually occurs as _(Ecclesia) Sancti Petri ad
vincula_; hence also the customary Latin name of the feast, _Sancti
Petri ad vincula_.  The poet Arator gave a public reading of his _De
actibus Apostolorum_ here on four consecutive days in 544.

The church was restored by Adrian I (772-95) and rebuilt under Sixtus
IV (1471-84) and Julius II (1503).  At some point the chains thought to
have held Peter when he was imprisoned at Rome prior to his execution
were brought from the so-called Mamertine Prison (not attested as an
ancient designation) and were added to those said to be from
Jerusalem.  According to legend, they fused of their own accord.  They
are now on display in the confessio before the high altar:
http://www.dkimages.com/discover/previews/749/293013.JPG
By the later Middle Ages St. Peter in Chains had become today's
principal feast in the Roman church.  It was removed from the general
Roman Calendar in 1969.

Rome's church of San Pietro in Vincoli houses a funerary monument well
known to some on this list:
http://www.comitatinazionali.it/upload/immagini/BREGNO_02.jpg
Oh, were you perhaps expecting this one?:
http://tinyurl.com/2gbljy
The first is of the philosopher and ecclesiastical administrator
Nicholas of Cusa (d. 1464), appointed cardinal priest of this church by
Nicholas V.  The second is of course the tomb intended for Julius II with
its statue of Moses by Michelangelo:
http://www.wga.hu/art/m/michelan/1sculptu/giulio_2/moses.jpg

There are other dedications in Italy to St. Peter in Chains.  Here are
some views of Pisa's late eleventh-/early twelfth-century church of San
Pietro in Vinculis (a.k.a. San Pierino):
http://tinyurl.com/jp72o
http://www.stilepisano.it/immagini8/index1.htm
and of the church of San Pietro in Vincoli (1363; later modifications)
at Limone Piemonte (CN) in Piedmont:
http://tinyurl.com/he2pj
http://www.hulsen.net/images/Piemonte-Limone001.JPG
Peter in Chains is Piemonte Limone's patron saint.

2)  The Seven Holy Maccabees (and their Mother).  One of the oldest
feasts of the Roman sanctoral calendar, this celebration was once
subsumed into that of St. Peter in Chains and in the Roman church 
is now trumped by that of a modern saint of the Regno, Alphonso
Liguori (1696-1787).  It honors the seven brothers (and their mother)
of 2 Macc. 7, gruesomely put to death in the second century BC by
Antiochus IV Epiphanes and widely revered in the early church as
martyrs for Judeo-Christian faith and thus as Christians before the
letter.  The feast appears in eastern and in western calendars from the
fifth century onward.  Their chief early cult center was at Antioch,
the presumed venue of their martyrdom.  In the sixth century remains
said to be theirs were translated to Rome and housed in the church of
St. Peter in Chains, which had been dedicated on their day.  Their
present location is in a crypt behind and below the shrine containing
Peter's chains (on which, see above).

The feast's popularity in the West in the early Middle Ages is attested
to by its listings in the Gelasian Sacramentary and in the Marble
Calendar of Naples.  In the latter (which does not mention Peter in
Chains) it occurs as that of the Passion of the Maccabees and of St.
Felicity, thus giving the mother a name (taken, it would seem, from the
Felicity of 23. November, also the mother of seven sainted sons).
 A translation of a letter from Bernard of Clairvaux explaining why this
feast should be kept is here:
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/bernard/letters.xlvii.html

Medievally, the Maccabees were considered types of Christian warriors
defending the faith against infidels (e.g., in the tenth century,
Hungarians; in the eleventh through thirteenth centuries, Muslims in
the Holy Land).  Here they are in the remains of the probably 
mid-twelfth-century mosaic floor of the Basilica di San Colombano at
Bobbio:
http://www.sankt-andreas.de/kirchenfuehrer/english.php/1
An Italian-language account of the mosaic is here:
http://www.studiogiove.org/Mosaico_di_Bobbio.html
And here are two thirteenth-century manuscript
illuminations illustrating 1. and 2. Macc. with military figures:
http://www.library.ucla.edu/libraries/special/scweb/rouse/italy2.htm

A women's monastery dedicated to the Seven Holy Maccabees was founded
at Cologne (Köln) in the twelfth century.  See:
http://tinyurl.com/h8btc
Its relics of the Maccabees were translated in 1808 to the same city's
Dominican church of Sankt Andreas, where they remain today in a reliquary
made for them in 1520s.  A detailed German-language account of this work
of art is here:
http://www.sankt-andreas.de/kirche/machabaerschrein.php/1
Brief, not very well illustrated accounts in the same tongue occur here:
http://www.sankt-andreas.de/kirchenfuehrer/deutsch.php/1
http://www.sankt-andreas.de/kirche/machabaeerfenster.php/1
A brief account in English (no illustrations) is no. 20 here:
http://www.sankt-andreas.de/kirchenfuehrer/english.php/1

Best,
John Dillon
(last year's post revised and newly illustrated)

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