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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  October 2007

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION October 2007

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Subject:

saints of the day 25. October

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 23:12:36 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (105 lines)

medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (25. October) is the feast day of:

Minias (ca. 250, supposedly).  Saint Minias or, as he is better known, 
San Miniato is first recorded in a charter from Charlemagne of 786
making mention of a "basilica of Minias, martyr of Christ, situated at
Florence, where his venerable body reposes."  Usuard's Martyrology gives
us our first mention of M.'s feast day (today).  According to his not
entirely confidence-inspiring Passio (BHL 5965-5970; multiple versions,
none earlier than the ninth century), M. was a soldier -- in some later
accounts, also the son of an Armenian king -- whose martyrdom at
Florence during the Decian persecution culminated in death by
decapitation.  In one development of the legend, M.'s execution took
place by the Arno, whereupon the saint picked up his severed head, swam
across the river with it, and (doughty cephalophore that he was) carried
it uphill to a spot that became his final resting place.

That spot, of course, is the site of Florence's Basilica of San Miniato al
Monte, an early eleventh-century structure with notable decor from the
twelfth century onward.  A brief, English-language account of it is here:
http://www.san-miniato-al-monte.com/
and its accompanying photo gallery (expandable views) is here:
http://www.san-miniato-al-monte.com/san_miniato_photo_gallery.htm
Another English-language guide:
http://www.mega.it/eng/egui/monu/sminiat.htm

Views of the west facade:
http://tinyurl.com/3bfng5
http://tinyurl.com/39q3xx
This facade has a thirteenth-century mosaic showing (left to right)
the BVM, Christ, and M.  Five expandable views are here:
http://tinyurl.com/9y93b
And one large one:
http://tinyurl.com/3b8dpd

Interior views:
San Miniato himself (attrib. to Jacopo del Casentino, 14th cent.):
a -- on display in the church:
http://tinyurl.com/8qbmu
b -- view with English-language discussion:
http://www.vivahotels.com/uk/sanminiato_casentino_uk.htm
Tabernacle, ambo, etc.:
http://tinyurl.com/bouam
Apse mosaic (again with M.):
http://tinyurl.com/ap32p
Mosaic floor in nave (eleventh-century), various views:
http://tinyurl.com/2g5z9n
details:
http://tinyurl.com/2fgm4e
http://tinyurl.com/2xyyod
http://tinyurl.com/2c68b2

Frescoes in the sacristy (Spinello Aretino, ca. 1387, restored in 1840; 
Italian-language account with two expandable views):
http://www.coopfirenze.it/info/art_2821.htm
More frescoes (still in the sacristy):
http://www.encyclopedie-universelle.com/images/Image164.jpg
Vault frescoes in the crypt (Taddeo Gaddi, 1342):
http://www.san-miniato-al-monte.com/images/crypt_vault.jpg

Various:
http://tinyurl.com/cwzw3
http://tinyurl.com/ynvh5s

An altar in the crypt
http://www.san-miniato-al-monte.com/images/crypt.jpg
http://www.mega.it/min/duo/eb.jpg
contains M.'s putative remains, relics which from at least the eighth
century onward have been thought to be those of a local martyr.  That is
certainly possible, but the oddness of M.'s name and its Greek-seeming
termination have provoked the reasonable counter-hypothesis that these
are really relics of the famous St. Mennas of Egypt deposited here in a
late antique oratory.  Over time, and in the absence of any early Life
of Mennas, the cult here will on this view have been transformed into
that of a local saint.    

M.'s cult has been widespread in Tuscany since at least the central
Middle Ages, a well known instance being the town of San Miniato (PI),
which, however, no longer has a medieval church dedicated to M.  One
surviving example of such a dedication is San Miniato a Rubbiana at San
Polo in Chianti (FI):
http://www.san-polo.com/
Another is the probably twelfth-century church of San Miniato at
Calamecca (PT); renovated in the eighteenth century, it is shown here:
http://www.lamontagnapistoiese.it/images/piteglio-im/pi-calam_chiesa.jpg
and described (in Italian) here:
http://www.fondazionecrpt.it/interventi/calamecca.html

Best,
John Dillon
(last year's post lightly revised)

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