medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (7. September) is the feast day of:
1) Paragorius and companions (?). Paragorius, Parthaeus, Parthenopaeus, and Severinus are said to have been Roman soldiers martyred for their faith on Corsica. Absent from the pages of the RM, all four have been honored at Noli (SV) in the Riviera del Ponente since at least the eleventh century, when construction began on its present ex-cathedral dedicated to Paragorius.
The early modern hagiographer Filippo Ferrari (d. 1626) says that "some years ago" (_ante aliquot annos_) there existed at Noli a very old parchment containing an antiphon in their honor with the words _Passi sunt in insula Corsicae_ ("They were martyred on the island of Corsica"). This has apparently not survived even in later transcription. In a Passio of St. Restituta of Corsica (BHL 6466e; preserved in the twelfth-century main portion of Vat. lat. 6933), P., P. and P. are said to have been martyred -- separately from Restituta -- at Ulmia in northern Corsica under the emperor Macrinus (217/218). Excavations beneath R.'s chapel at Calenzana (Haute-Corse)) in 1951 revealed a late antique or early medieval martyrium with an ancient sarcophagus containing twelve human femurs, two of which were determined medically to have belonged to a woman. Six of the remainder may have been putative remains of P., P., and P.
Also lost is a painting still visible in the church at Noli in Ferrari's day that showed Paragorius seated on a horse and his companions on foot; interpreted by Ferrari to indicate that Paragorius was noble and the others were his servitors, this tableau is doubtless related to the (not medievally attested) local tradition that Paragorius was a senior officer and the others were his subalterns.
But if we know virtually nothing about Paragorius et socc., we still have their wonderful very early eleventh-century church (with later modifications) of San Paragorio, an extramural foundation sited next to a Roman necropolis and replacing a paleochristian predecessor remains of whose baptistery were found during excavations in the 1970s. When Noli (which achieved autonomy from the Del Carretto marquisate of Savona in 1192 with an act executed in this church) was elevated to diocesan status in 1239 the church was selected as its cathedral, serving in that capacity until 1572 when it was replaced by the more centrally located San Pietro. It was restored in the nineteenth century by the Portuguese architect Alfredo d'Andrade. The Italia nell'Arte Medievale page on this church is here:
Another exterior view:
2) Festus and Desiderius (d. ca. 305, supposedly). According to the usual story (which is really all we have), these less well known saints of the Regno were, respectively, deacon and lector of the church of Benevento who journeyed with their bishop Januarius to Pozzuoli during the Great Persecution and who together with him were martyred near the Solfatara in the Phlegraean Fields. Januarius and various companions including F. and D. appear in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology for today. By the ninth century their collective feast had been regularized as falling on 19. September (so Ado and Usuard) but in Naples, where 19. September is J.'s big day, the companions had feasts of their own, either singly or in groups according to the towns they are said to have come from. And in this festal economy F. and D. continued to be celebrated today (so the Marble Calendar of Naples) as they also are in the new RM (2001).
Like the other companions, F. and D. appear in the mural portraits of the Neapolitan catacombs. D. has a very nice one in the catacombs of San Gennaro, where he is the left-hand figure in a panel whose other figure represents St. Acutius of Pozzuoli. There's an awful view of it at the foot of this page:
and an excellent one at plate IX (facing p. 128) in Umberto M. Fasola, _Le catacombe di S. Gennaro a Capodimonte_ (Roma: Editalia, 1975).
Naples' eighth-century bishop Stephen II is credited with having founded that city's monastery of F. and D. (a community of Benedictine nuns) on the height now known as the Monterone, overlooking the coastal strip below. The monastery, first documented from 916, came to be known popularly simply as that of St. Festus. In the sixteenth century period it was conjoined with the adjacent male foundation of Sts. Marcellinus and Peter and both were given a splendid baroque makeover. Though SS. Marcellino e Festo is still around (it belongs to the university), there's nothing medieval to show from it.
One might think that F. and D.'s presumed relics would have lain in that monastery's church. But the historical martyrologies from Bede onward say that people of Benevento brought these saints' bodies back to their town. A Beneventan translation of F. and D. (BHL 4126) narrates the pagan senator Cyphius' translation of these relics from Pozzuoli to a place outside the city wall of Benevento. Though the earliest witness to that text is of the thirteenth century, the story itself is apparently at least as old as the ninth, when it is referred to in the seemingly nearly contemporary account of prince Sico's translation of St. Januarius from the extramural catacombs of Naples to within the city of Benevento (BHL 4140). Though F. and D. are said to now repose at abbey of Montevergine near Mercogliano (AV), also in Campania, they are still honored at Benevento and probably more so there than anywhere else on earth.
3) Evurtius (d. later 4th cent.). E. (also Evortius, Euvert; in French, usually Euverte) is the traditional fourth bishop of Orléans. He subscribed to the acts of the Council of Valence in 374. Nothing is known about his early cult. E. is entered under today in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology. In the ninth century, when Orléans had received a fragment of the True Cross, he received a legendary Vita (BHL 2799) in which he finds a treasure and uses that, along with many gifts from the emperor Constantine, to build a cathedral which is dedicated to the Holy Cross and endowed with many other relics. The extramural abbey dedicated to him probably also dates from the ninth century, though later legend placed its founding in the sixth. In the twelfth century an Inventio produced the corporeal relics of E. that thereafter were displayed in the abbey church of St.-Euverte; these are already mentioned in a twelfth-century guide for pilgrims to Compostela.
The abbey buildings were demolished in 1358 and again in 1428 to prevent them from being used against the city by the English. The present church is largely of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries with substantial further work done in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. A minimally illustrated page on it is here:
and an old-postcard view is here:
It would be unfair to end this notice of the legendary founder of Orléans' cathedral without at least a look at its present mostly late thirteenth- to very early seventeenth-century Cathédrale Sainte-Croix:
Two pages of views begin here:
4) Pamphilus of Capua (d. 409?). This less well known saint of the Regno appears both in the later medieval Capuan calendars edited by Michele Monaco in the early seventeenth century and in the Capuan breviary of 1489 as a bishop and confessor. Dedications to a saint of this name are attested medievally for this diocese. As there are no grounds for believing that this P. was either the sainted bishop of Sulmona or any of the Eastern saints of this name, the assumption is that he is local and that his cult, given the meagreness of the evidence, is probably fairly early in origin. The current tradition in the diocese is that P. was bishop from 385-409, that he took part in the Synod of Capua of 391 presided over by St. Ambrose of Milan, and that his relics were translated to Benevento in 767 by duke Arechis II for his newly built church of Santa Sofia, where they remain today.
P. was dropped from the RM in its revision of 2001.
The Italia nell'Arte Medievale page on Benevento's Santa Sofia (completed, 762):
(Paragorius and companions and Festus and Desiderius revised from older posts)
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