medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (19. September) is the feast day of:
1) Peleus, Nilus, Elias, Patermuthius, and companions (d. 310). We know about these saints chiefly from their mentions in Eusebius' _On the Martyrs of Palestine_, 13. Pe. and N. were bishops from Egypt who together with an unnamed presbyter and with the layman Patermuthius had been condemned as slave laborers in Palestine during the persecution of Galerius (305-311). During a repression of leaders of this community late in that persecution they and an unnamed presbyter were singled out by the provincial military commander and given an opportunity to apostasize. When they declined to do so they were condemned to death by fire. Martyred in the same purge were many others (the companions), some of whom, including E., are named in Greek versions of this commemoration.
2) Januarius, venerated especially at Naples (d. 305, supposedly). Neapolitan veneration of today's well known saint of the Regno is at least as old as the fifth century. A letter of ca. 432 narrating the death of St. Paulinus of Nola has two saints appear to him on his deathbed: Martin and J., the latter described as a martyr bishop who illumines the church of Naples. Here's J. (in an apparent visual instance of the trope of the martyr as Christ) in a fifth-century wall painting in what are now that city's Catacombs of San Gennaro:
Here he is again in a sixth-century wall painting from the same catacombs:
A J. not further identified geographically is listed for today in the early sixth-century Calendar of Carthage as well as in numerous liturgical sources from the seventh century onward, including the early ninth-century Marble Calendar of Naples. The (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology has an entry under this day for a Neapolitan J. as follows: _et Neapoli sanctorum Ianuari et Angi._ ('and at Naples, of saints Januarius and Angi.'). Who or what 'Angi.' may have denoted is unknown.
By the time of J.'s Acta Bononiensia (BHL 4132, now dated to before the eighth century) this J. was identified with the J. of Benevento listed for 7. September in the (ps.-)HM along with Sts. Festus, Acutius, and Desiderius, all of whom are among his companions in martyrdom in the legend that makes him a bishop of Benevento put to death at the Solfatara in the Phlegraean Fields near Pozzuoli during the Great Persecution. By this time, too, a martyr's church had been erected at what in the legend is said to have been their place of execution. An altar thought to have come from that church is preserved in its modern successor, the Chiesa di San Gennaro alla Solfatara at today's Pozzuoli (NA) in Campania.
In the historical martyrologies from Bede onward and, in somewhat greater detail, in a translation account (BHL 4116) whose earliest witness is of the ninth century, the remains of various of J.'s companions are said to have been removed at some unspecified time(s) to their home towns while those of J. are said to have been brought by Neapolitans to Naples. According to the also ninth-century early portion of Naples' episcopal chronicle, this translation of J. to Naples was the work of that city's bishop St. John I (d. 432), who had J. laid to rest in the extramural catacombs since known as those of St. Januarius. Herewith two views of the upper level of those catacombs:
In the early ninth century a Lombard raid on Naples under prince Sico (d. 832) resulted in the translation to Benevento of the Januarian relics that had been in the catacomb church now known as San Gennaro extra moenia. Thus "repatriated" to the city of his legendary episcopacy, J. spent the early Middle Ages at Benevento and most of the later Middle Ages at the also Campanian abbey of Montevergine near today's Mercogliano (AV), whither he is said to been translated in 1154 at the behest of king William I. In 1480 remains identified through an inscription on the clay vessel containing them as those of J. and of his Beneventan companions Festus and Desiderius were discovered at Montevergine under the main altar of the abbey church. Those said to be J.'s were translated in 1497 to Naples, where they were deposited in a splendid chapel built for them in the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.
By then the church of Naples possessed other relics of J. that supposedly had remained in the city all along: a portion of skull housed in a silver gilt head reliquary from the early fourteenth century and two tiny glass ampules containing a brownish-red substance that many believe to be some of J.'s blood preserved from the scene of his martyrdom and whose famous liquefaction (now usually occurring today and again in early May) is first recorded from 1389 in a chronicle entry for 17. August.
A view of the head reliquary (the base is from 1609):
In formal attire:
NON-MEDIEVAL ASIDE: Two of J.'s adornments in that view (where he rather resembles the actor Richard Widmark) are his collar of 1679 and his bejwelled mitre of 1713. Better views of these are here, thanks to press coverage of a recent exhibition of highlights from the Tesoro di San Gennaro:
An Italian-language account of these pieces:
An Italian-language page on J.'s head reliquary, a specimen of French goldsmith's work:
A few views of the processional display reliquary for the ampules (the central portion dates from the fourteenth century):
And a view of the ampules themselves:
Note that in that view the housing for the ampules has been set into a different base. These views should provide some idea of the housing's size and thus of that of the ampules as well:
A scientifically informed English-language critique of the marvel of J.'s supposed blood:
The bones (really, bone fragments) translated from Montevergine in 1497 are displayed in the container shown here:
In 1322 Lello da Orvieto executed this mosaic (with J. at left and St. Restituta at right) for the Cappella di Santa Maria del Principio in the Santa Restituta portion of Naples' cathedral:
Pozzuoli's church of San Gennaro alla Solfatara possesses an early fourteenth-century marble bust of J. with a base depicting in inlay the two ampules of J.'s supposed blood. There's a discussion of it, with a good color photograph (Opere, 2), in Elio de Rosa, ed., _San Gennaro tra Fede, Arte e Mito. Napoli, Santa Maria di Donnaregina Nuova, Dicembre '97 - Aprile '98_ (Pozzuoli: EdR, 1997), at pp. 98-99. Here's a view:
As this J. (there are of course others) is sometimes thought of as essentially a regional saint, it may be useful to close with these views of his eleventh-to-thirteenth-century church in Capannori, outside of Lucca (the early medieval capital of Tuscany):
The latter page has an English-language version:
3) Theodore of Tarsus (d. 690). We know about T. (also T. of Canterbury) chiefly from Bede and, to a lesser but important extent, from his own few surviving writings and from those of his students. A learned Greek monk from Cilicia who appears to have been educated at Antioch on the Orontes and at Constantinople, he was plucked from a monastery at Rome by pope St. Vitalian (acting on the recommendation of St. Hadrian of Nisida) and elevated in 668 to the vacant archiepiscopal see of Canterbury. T. arrived in England in May of 669. He was a vigorous and principled ecclesiastical administrator and a successful educator of exceptional scholarly attainments that bore fruit in his students' extensive glosses on the Bible. Today is his _dies natalis_.
4) Cyriac of Buonvicino (d. 11th cent., supposedly). During the tenth- and eleventh-century expansion of Greek monasticism in northern Calabria a monastery dedicated to the Theotokos appears to have arisen on a mountain spur overlooking the valley of the Corvino. By 1327 the monastery was known as the abbey of St. C., its name presumably honoring that of its founder, and its town was called Bonovicino, today's Buonvicino (CS).
The abbey survived into the early modern period (when it was latinized is not clear), bringing with it a tradition that C., today's less well known saint of the Regno, was a native of the area who once lived as a hermit in a nearby grotto and who later entered an also nearby Greek monastery (both of which are described as being in the historic territory of Buonvicino), in time becoming its abbot. His fame caused him to be called to Constantinople, where he cured the emperor's daughter of demonic possession (a narrative element probably lifted from the legendary Acta of the Cyriac of 8. August, where however the emperor is Diocletian) and whence he returned laden with imperial grants of various lands and churches.
C., whose _dies natalis_ is today, is said to have been buried in abbey's church, which after the abbey's closing continued to be called Santa Maria del Padre (the Padre being of course C.; compare Santa Maria del Patir at Rossano). His putative relics, discovered there in the seventeenth century, now reside in Santa Maria del Padre's successor, San Ciriaco Abate. C. is also venerated at his sanctuary at the grotto in the Corvino valley identified as the one in which he once lived. Whereas the present _chiesetta_ is a twentieth-century building, it incorporates columns and carvings from a sixteenth-century predecessor. A view of the approach to the grotto is here:
Another view of the place (but not of the _chiesetta_):
(Januarius venerated esp. at Naples and Cyriac of Buonvicino lightly revised from older posts)
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