medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (6. October) is the feast day of:
1) Renatus of Sorrento (?). The cult of today's less well known saint of the Regno is first attested from the seventh century, when the coastal Campanian town of Sorrento is recorded as having had a burial church dedicated to him. In the eighth-century sermons devoted to him (BHL 7179-7181) he is not yet a bishop. But he is so identified in his iconography (whose earliest representative is a fresco dated to the late tenth or eleventh century) and in his later medieval Office from Sorrento. An extramural Benedictine abbey dedicated to R. and affiliated to Montecassino existed at Sorrento from at least the late eighth century through the Middle Ages and beyond; its church, which was said to have been built over R.'s own oratory, was also the town's cathedral until 1602.
The monastery of course spread R.'s cult locally. The Grotta di San Biagio at today's Castellammare di Stabia (NA), where R.'s early fresco portrait is located, was one of its properties. The Angevin conquest of the kingdom in 1266 led to R.'s equation with the even more shadowy Renatus (Réné) of Angers, to considerably heightened prominence in Campania, and to a translation of R.'s relics from Sorrento by duke (king, if you take the Angevin view of the succession to Giovanna II) Réné in the earlier fifteenth century. Churches and chapels dedicated to R. are attested from Naples in the thirteenth century and from Vico Equense, Nola, Sarno, and Capua in the fourteenth.
Here's a distance view of R.'s portrait (at right, with St. Benedict of Nursia and of Montecassino at left) in the aforementioned Grotta di San Biagio:
An illustrated, Italian-language account of this site is here:
And here's a view of the Grotta's enthroned Madonna and Child:
2) Bruno the Carthusian (d. 1101). Today's well known saint of the Regno was born at Köln, where he became a cathedral canon. From there he went on to Rheims, where he taught theology and was made chancellor. Seeking a simpler life, B. and some companions founded in the Alps near Grenoble a hermitage that became the Grande Chartreuse, the mother house of the Carthusian Order. In 1090, he was summoned to Rome, didn't like the life there either, and in 1091 together with a few companions established a new hermitage deep in the woods of southern Calabria at a place called La Torre that had been given him by Roger I, count of Sicily.
This second foundation, dedicated to the Virgin and located 800 metres above sea level on the site of the present Santa Maria del Bosco near today's Serra San Bruno (VV), soon generated a third, the nearby Santo Stefano del Bosco (founded sometime during the period 1097-1099). B. remained at Santa Maria della Torre until his death in 1101. He was succeeded by Bl. Lanuin, one of the original companions in this settlement, who is said to be named together with B. in all the Norman charters and papal documents concerning their establishment. The entirety of this early legal documentation is of controversial authenticity.
In 1291 Santa Maria della Torre was abandoned in favor of Santo Stefano. The latter was handed over in the following year to the Cistercians and remained their property until 1513, when the Carthusians took possession of it. It still exists (though its primitive buildings are all gone), occupying its original site outside of Serra San Bruno. A
recent view of the complex is here:
The abandoned building at left center is what remains of the structure rebuilt by the Carthusians in 1513 and destroyed by an earthquake in 1783 (the building's facade and the wall around the complex date from the seventeenth century). Bruno and Lanuin are said to have been buried here; presently they repose in the abbey church. Like the great Carthusian foundation of San Lorenzo at Padula (SA) in southernmost Campania, Santo Stefano was suppressed in the early nineteenth century. It was re-opened after Italian unification and largely rebuilt in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Most of what one sees in this view is thus quite recent.
A virtual exhibit of portraits of B. is here:
(Bruno the Carthusian lightly revised from last year's post)
To join the list, send the message: join medieval-religion YOUR NAME
to: [log in to unmask]
To send a message to the list, address it to:
[log in to unmask]
To leave the list, send the message: leave medieval-religion
to: [log in to unmask]
In order to report problems or to contact the list's owners, write to:
[log in to unmask]
For further information, visit our web site: