medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (5. October) is the feast day of:
1) Placidus, Eutychius, and companions (?). P., E., et socc. are martyrs of Sicily, recorded for this day in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology. No other information is known about them.
2) Placidus, disciple of St. Benedict (d. 6th cent.). This P. appears twice in St. Gregory the Great's _Dialogues_, once when as a little boy he is said to have accompanied B. when the latter by prayer obtained sources of water for three of his monasteries that had been built in a very rocky part of Subiaco and once when, in a fairly well known story, he is rescued from drowning by St. Maurus (15. January), who walks across the lake to save him. There is no indication in Gregory's text that B. is himself a saint.
Starting in the ninth century P. begins to appear in Cassinese liturgies as a confessor along with Maurus. Abbot Desiderius II (as pope, Bl. Victor III; d. 1087) in his epitaph at Montecassino for the tomb of that abbey's St. Apollinaris (one of whose miracles was that he went by foot across the river Liri in flood without so much as getting his sandals wet) seems to treat P. and Maurus as interchangeable when, addressing A., he says, _Petrum, Placidum quoque sic imitatus_ ("Having thus imitated Peter and Placidus too").
At the end of the eleventh century or the beginning of the twelfth, the abbey's chronicler Leo Marsicanus (later Leo of Ostia) recorded the existence of an opinion according to which St. Benedict had sent P. to Sicily where he was martyred. In the earlier twelfth century the Cassinese historian and forger Peter the Deacon wrote no fewer than three separate Vitae of P. (none under his own name and two with invented authors) elaborating this opinion into a detailed biographical account whereby P. was martyred at Syracuse. This exercise in flummery, generally understood as an attempt to match on behalf of the abbey Odo of Glanfeuil's very legendary Vita of St. Maurus, became the standard treatment of M. for the rest of the Middle Ages and well beyond. From at least the later twelfth century onward P. was celebrated on this day first at Montecassino and later more widely.
In this not awfully good view of a fresco in the Sacro Speco at Subiaco St. Benedict is at left and Maurus and P. are at center and at the right, respectively:
Detail (better quality):
Here's a view of Filippo Lippi's portrait (ca. 1440-45) of Maurus at St. Benedict's bidding saving P. from drowning:
3) Raymond of Capua (Bl.; d. 1399). Today's less well known not-yet-saint from the Regno was born around 1330 at Capua. A member of the noble family of the delle Vigne, he entered the Dominican order while a student of canon law at Bologna; after a lengthy _cursus honorum_ he became its Master in 1380, vigorously supporting the Roman obedience as against that of Avignon. R. was Catherine of Siena's confessor from 1374 to 1380 and her hagiographer from 1385 to 1395, when he completed his _Legenda sancte Catherine Senensis_ (BHL 1702).
Much earlier, in 1365-66, R. wrote the Legend of another Dominican, Bl. Agnes of Montepulciano (BHL 155); this has been edited by Silvia Nocentini as Raimondo da Capua, _Legenda beate Agnetis de Monte Policiano_ (Firenze: SISMEL, Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2001). Nocentini has also attempted to ascribe to R. the authorship of the sequence _Vernans rosa_ (“Una sequenza inedita di Raimondo da Capua,” _Medioevo e Rinascimento_ 12 [= n.s., 9] , 205-21). But this founders on the likely earlier date of a mutilated Turin manuscript (Bobbiese F. I. 4; not discussed by Nocentini) containing the piece's initial lines.
R. was beatified by Leo XIII in 1899.
(Raymond of Capua lightly revised from last year's post)
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