medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
The day before yesterday (2. October) was also the feast day of:
Thomas of Hereford (d. 1282). Thomas de Cantilupe was the grandson and son of barons who had served as steward to a king of England (John and Henry III, respectively). An uncle, Walter de Cantilupe, became archdeacon of Gloucester. Educated in theology at Paris and in law at Orléans and Oxford, he inherited his family's administrative skills and put them to the service of the Church. He was made chancellor of the University of Oxford in 1261 and in 1265, during the ascendancy of Simon de Montfort, he was briefly chancellor of England. After a period abroad, where he lectured at Paris, T. returned to Oxford in about 1272, where he again served as chancellor. In 1275 T. became bishop of Hereford.
As bishop T. was careful to maintain episcopal authority in his diocese. Though this led him into disputes with neighboring bishops and with secular nobles, his eminence was such that he also managed to serve as a member of Edward I's Privy Council in at least 1276. His resistance to what he considered unjustified encroachments upon his rights by John Pecham, archbishop of Canterbury from 1279 to 1292, led to dissension between the two and to T.'s withdrawal to the Continent in 1280 and 1281. A return late in the latter year was followed Pecham's declaring T. excommunicate in February of 1282. T. appealed to the pope (Martin IV), whom he met with personally at Orvieto in June of that year. The pope moved shortly afterwards to Montefiascone on the Via Cassia; T. followed, taking up lodgings at nearby Ferento. He fell ill there and died on the night of 25. August, while his appeal was still under review.
On the Sunday following his death T. was accorded a solemn funeral, attended by several cardinals (one of whom later became pope Nicholas IV), at the monastery of St. Severus outside of Orvieto. His heart and his bones were brought back to England, where his successor at Hereford Richard Swinfield (d. 1317) opened a campaign to have him canonized as a saint. In 1307 papal commissioners held hearings in this matter both in Hereford and London; their report treats T.'s excommunication as invalid and records an impressive number of miracles credited to T. in the years following his death. T. was canonized in 1320.
Whereas the abbey of San Severo near Orvieto is sometimes said to go back to the eighth century, in the form in which it exists today it really begins in the late eleventh century, when it was a project of that great patron of the Church, Matilda of Tuscany (1046-1115). A wealthy institution in the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, it was Benedictine until 1221, Premonstratensian from 1226 to 1423, and Olivetan for a while after that, though it never really rebounded from military destruction suffered in the early fifteenth century. Its present owners have restored parts of it and now run it as an hotel. Two distance views of the abbey are here:
A somewhat closer view:
Some black-and-white detail views follow (from the Courtauld, which uses "thirteenth century" as the master date for all views of structures in this complex). The abbey's eleventh-century church was reoriented in the fourteenth century. In the first of these views its absidiole may be seen above a later pronaos on the building's west side:
Exterior view, porch and monastic building:
Tower (said to have been begun in the eleventh century and to have been completed in 1103):
And a few in color:
The abbey's belltower may seem familiar to those who have been in the medieval upper city of Orvieto. There's a very similar one of the same vintage next to Sant'Andrea (thanks to a restoration in 1926, this looks much healthier than the one at the abbey in the countryside down below):
PS: From 1283 until 1538 T.'s bones reposed in Hereford Cathedral. Herewith some views of that pile:
T.'s table tomb in the north transept (his [partial] resting place from 1287 to 1349).
Another view of the font (there's also one in Various Views, above):
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