medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (13. September) is the feast day of:
1) Senator, Viator, Cassiodorus, and Dominata (d. ca. 155 or 178,supposedly). These less well known saints of the Regno, known collectively as the martyrs of San Marco Argentano, are the principal actors in a romance-like Greek Passio (BHG 1622) from either Sicily or, more probably, mainland southern Italy. This text gave rise to two metaphrastic versions surviving in witnesses of the twelfth and early fourteenth centuries, respetively (BHG 1623, 1623c).
The Passio is certainly earlier than the pontificate of Bl. Victor III (1086-87), when a Latin translation of it was dedicated to him by a monk of the abbey of St. Benedict at Montecassino (of which V. was abbot when he was elected pope and where he also spent most of the following year before returning to Rome to be consecrated). And it is a virtual certainty that it is older than 1048, the year in which Robert Guiscard permanently removed from the (East) Roman empire these saints' principal known cult locus in southern Italy, today's San Marco Argentano (CS) in Calabria. Since the Passio's locales suggest no connection with San Marco Argentano, one has also to allow time for it to have gotten there in the first place. Delehaye dated it to somewhere from the eighth to the eleventh century.
According to the Passio, S., V., and C. were the adult sons of Cassian, the pagan chief general of the king of Sardinia, and of Dominata, a Christian mother from a noble family of Rome. After Cassian died in a war with the Gauls, Dominata persuaded her sons to return with her to Rome and to be baptized there. But a tempest blew them instead to Caesarea (the one in Mauretania?), where the sons were baptized. War broke out between Caesarea and Carthage, whereupon Senator took command of the Caesarean troops, attacked Carthage, took it, and converted most of its inhabitants to Christianity. But there was at this time (said to be the reign of an emperor Antoninus) a great persecution of Christians and S. and his brothers were accused of not worshiping a deity named Geabis (outré onomastics are a feature of this Passio).
They and Dominata were arrested and were sent to sea in a vessel under the command of an official instructed to throw them overboard. But a storm came up and took the ship to Lipari in the Aeolian Islands. From there the official brought the prisoners to coastal Calabria, where they were martyred near some hot springs (Lamezia Terme?) in the vicinity of today's Vibo Valentia (VV). A Christian servant survived to bring the news to Taormina in Sicily, whose bishop returned to the hot springs, erected a church in the martyrs' memory, and brought their remains back to Taormina for burial. It would seem from this that the Passio was written for a cult at or near Vibo that did not possess these martyrs' relics.
Delehaye. whose treatment of this matter is a classic ("Saint Cassiodore", in _Melanges Paul Fabre_ [Paris: Picard, 1902], pp. 40-50), thought the cult arose from a misunderstood inscription naming Cassiodorus Senator (either the founder of Vivarium or a relative) and Flavius Viator, consul of the year in 495, 496, and 497. In his view, Dominata derived from a misread or damaged name in the same inscription. Other explanations are possible. S., V., C., and D. have yet to grace the pages of the RM.
These saints occur in Italo-Greek synaxaries on 15. or 16. July or on 10. September. They are also listed for 15. July in a late eleventh- or very early twelfth-century Latin martyrology from the monastery of Santo Stefano del Bosco (heir to Bruno the Carthusian's Santa Maria delle Torre), not all that far from Vibo. In the early modern period San Marco Argentano, which claimed to have some of their remains, celebrated them on 14. September, the day under which they are treated in the _Acta Sanctorum_. It now celebrates them today (liturgically) and every day (through a very recent painting prominently placed in the cathedral). A seventeenth- or eighteenth-century church
built, it is said, on the site of one known from a document of 1088 to have been dedicated to S. et socc. was in 2002 elevated to the status of a diocesan sanctuary and is dedicated to the Santi Martiri Argentanesi. Delehaye, who thought the cult to have been founded on a misapprehension and who considered the Passio to be "among the most absurd romances dishonoring hagiographic literature" (tr. mine), would not have been pleased.
Herewith some views of the fairly recently restored eleventh-century crypt of San Marco Argentano's mostly early modern and modern cathedral:
2) John Chrysostom (d. 407). We know about J. chiefly from his own writings, from his funerary oration by pseudo-Martyrius (BHG 871), from Palladius' immediately posthumous _Dialogue_ on his life (BHG 870), and from references in several historians of the next generation. A native of Antioch on the Orontes, he had had a rhetorical education under Libanius and seemed to be aiming for a career in the imperial service, he underwent a religious conversion at about the age of eighteen, withdrew into ascetic isolation and, probably in the following year, was baptized. After several years of training both under his bishop and at a school for ascetics, J. was appointed lector but soon become a monk and a few years later, after declining to be ordained, a solitary. When poor health caused him to give that up, he returned to Antioch, was ordained deacon and later priest, and had a brilliant career as a preacher and writer.
In the fall of 397 J. was selected by the imperial court to fill the increasingly prestigious position of bishop of Constantinople; either very late in that year or early the next he was consecrated bishop. But he had enemies, including the patriarch of Alexandria (then the senior ecclesiastical position in the East), and he made more. He was deposed and briefly exiled in 403, was quickly recalled, and was exiled again in 404. After spending most of his exile in Armenia, he was further relegated in 407 to the outpost of Pityus on the Black Sea in today's Abkhazia. J. died _en route_ of illness and exhaustion (he had been force-marched across Anatolia and Pontus) on 14. September at what is now Bizeri in Turkey's Tokat province. Orthodox churches, which observe J.'s feast on 13. November, consider him a martyr.
In 438 Theodosius II brought J.'s relics with great pomp to Constantinople, where they were interred in the church of the Holy Apostles. Taken from New Rome after the latter's change of management in 1204, they and those of St. Gregory of Nazianzus wound up in old Rome at St. Peter's on the Vatican, whence they were returned in 2004. Here's a view of their present resting place (J. at right) in the church of Hagios Georgios at the ecumenical patriarchate in Istanbul:
J. has a distinctive portrait tradition (large head, hollow cheeks, wispy beard) deriving from a medieval description in the menaia that could well preserve historical truth. Some medieval portraits of J.:
a) late ninth- or tenth-century mosaic, north tympanon, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul:
b) eleventh-century image in soapstone, now in the Louvre:
c) thirteenth-century ms. illumination (Moscow, Historical Museum, Ms. 604):
d) early fourteenth-century fresco (betw. 1315 and 1321), J. third from right, in the Chora Church (Kariye Camii), Istanbul (view expands):
e) early fourteenth-century portable mosaic icon (ca. 1325) from Constantinople, now at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC:
e) early fifteenth-century icon (at right) from an iconostasis (ca. 1408), by Daniil Chernyi and Andrei Rublev and now in the State Tret'iakov Gallery, Moscow:
3) Bernard the pilgrim (d. early 12th cent. ?). According to his perhaps thirteenth-century _Acta et Miracula_ (BHL 1202; Bernardus conf. in Latio), this less well known saint of the Regno was a widely travelled pilgrim who on a return voyage (from somewhere in the East, it would seem) came through Apulia to today's Arpino (FR) in southern Lazio. Already worn out from his travels, B. fell seriously ill and died there a few days later. The people of Arpino, unaware of B.'s sanctity and treating him as an ordinary foreigner, buried him in a roadside chapel between Arpino and today's Rocca d'Arce (FR). After many days had passed B. appeared twice in dreams to a man of Rocca d'Arce, identified himself by name, revealed his burial location (which was still within the territory of Arpino), and requested a translation to Rocca d'Arce.
Persuaded by their archpriest, the people of Rocca d'Arce removed B.'s body from the aforementioned chapel, brought it to their church of the BVM, and buried him there, raising an altar over his new resting place. While the theft was taking the place all the bells of Arpino sounded on their own, waking up the inhabitants who learned from an aged informant what was the nature of their loss. So the people of Arpino built a church in B.'s honor, while at Rocca d'Arce a variety of healing miracles proclaimed the presence of that town's saint. Thus far B.'s Acta.
A note following the copy of B.'s Acta provided to the early Bollandists by the diocese of Sora added that B. was an Englishman. Few outside of Frosinone province accept this claim. In what seems to be early modern legend, B.'s cult has been associated with those of three other Vita-less saints of the region who are now also said to have been Englishmen and his companions on pilgrimage.
B., who has yet to grace the pages of the RM, now reposes in an early modern church dedicated to him. There was a solemn recognition of his remains in 1901. For a very long time his principal feast fell on 14. October, believed to have been the anniversary of his translation to Rocca d'Arce; this is where he will be found in the _Acta Sanctorum_. Rocca d'Arce now celebrates his feast today. Views of his church and of the festivities in 2001 celebrating the centenary of the recognition are here:
Included in these views are two of B.'s remains as exhibited in 2001.
(Senator, Viator, Cassiodorus, and Dominata and Bernard the Pilgrim 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: