medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
On Monday, September 15, 2008, at 10:27 pm, I wrote:
> 1) Cornelius, pope (d. 253) and Cyprian of Carthage (d. 258)...
> a) CORNELIUS. Pope St. Fabian died in January 250 at the outset of
> the Decian persecution. For the next fifteen months the Roman church
> was governed by a collective of presbyters and deacons...
Rather, for the next _fourteen_ months.
> As far as we know, that never happened. Even Novatian, whom as
> Cyprian notes should have suffered as well (as head of a Christian
> church), remained free.
Er, "... who as Cyprian notes ..."
Today (16. September) is also the feast day of:
3) Priscus of Nocera (d. 3d or 4th cent.). This less well known saint of the Regno is an early bishop (legendarily, the first bishop) of Nuceria Alfaterna, the Campanian town whose medieval successor was Nocera (later Nocera de' Pagani) and whose modern successors are Nocera Superiore (SA) and Nocera Inferiore (SA). Paulinus of Nola (_Carm._ 18. 515-18.) tells us that P., though bishop of another city, was also venerated at Nola. P.'s entry for today in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology places his death at Nuceria in Campania. Otherwise we know virtually nothing about him. His Acta (BHL 6931) are so late and unreliable that Papebroch elected not to have them printed in the _Acta Sanctorum_.
P. will have been buried in the necropolis of Nuceria. Much later, a Benedictine abbey arose on the site and in the later 1380s its originally tenth-century(?) church of St. Mark became Nocera's cathedral. In the last century P.'s presumed remains were found there behind his altar; in 1964 these were subjected to scientific evaluation and were pronounced to be those of an elderly man who had lived in the third or fourth century.
After various earthquake-induced restorations there isn't much medieval left in Nocera's cathedral (located in Nocera Inferiore and still dedicated to St. Mark the Evangelist, though it's now usually called by the name of the cathedral parish, San Prisco). Nearby, though, is the early Christian baptistery of Santa Maria Maggiore, located in Nocera Superiore. This structure served as the cathedral until 1260, when the diocese was suppressed (as it would be until 1386). Its rotunda incorporating ancient spolia and adorned with fourteenth-century frescoes is absolutely stunning. Illustrated, Italian-language introductions to this monument are here (the last two, dealing with the architecture and with the Marian art, have slightly expandable views):
Another set of expandable views:
4) Abundius of Rome and companions (d. ca. 304, supposedly). A. is the chief of a group of martyrs who used to be entered in the RM as Abundius, Abundantius, Marcian, and John. They have a legendary Passio whose earliest witness is of the later twelfth or earlier thirteenth century (BHL 16b) that makes A. a Roman presbyter and Abundantius a Roman deacon who during tthe Great Persecution are arrested at Rome, tortured, condemned to death, and then brought to a place on the Via Flaminia nine Roman miles north of the city. There they encounter Marcian, a Roman senator, and John, his dead son. A. and A. restore J. to life and convert M. and J. to Christianity, whereupon all four are executed at the fourteenth milestone from Rome on the same Roman road. A Christian lady named Theodora gives them burial on her property on the slopes of Mt. Soracte at the twenty-eighth milestone on the same road..
These saints' reported resting now lies in Rignano Flaminio (RM) in northern Lazio. A fourh- and fifth-century catacomb in the vicinity (actually located at what would have been the twenty-sixth milestone) is called the Catacombe di Santa Teodora. A late antique burial slab found there and now in the Lateran Museum records a martyr Abundius and gives a date of deposition of VII Id. Dec. (i.e. 7. December). Presumably, he is our A.. The discrepancy in dates has been explained variously. A multi-page site on this cemetery (including both a virtual visit and a text and an Italian translation of what is probably BHL 17, an epitome of these saints' Passio) is here:
Also in the vicinity is a church in two parts of undetermined date (conjectures range from the ninth and tenth centuries to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries) dedicated to A. and A. An Italian-language discussion, with views of the church and of its central medieval frescoes is here:
And, in view of all those mentions of the ancient Via Flaminia, herewith a view of it in Rignano Flaminio:
5) Romulus of Abellinum (d. early 6th cent.), venerated at Atripalda (AV) in Campania. Abellinum was the Roman predecessor of today's provincial capital of Avellino, which kept the name when it changed location in the early Middle Ages. Outside late antique Abellinum was a necropolis, some of whose Christian burials were honored in a hypogeum called "the martyrs' grotto" (_specus martyrum_; the veneration of saints at this locale is first attested from the year 357). A fourth-century basilican church was built on the site and around this there grew the settlement that became medieval and modern Atripalda (first attested from 1086). Located in the grotto, now incorporated in the crypt under Atripalda's collegiate church of St. Hypolistus (Sant'Ippolisto), are the graves of Sabinus, bishop of Abellinum, and of his associate, the deacon Romulus, who outlived him.
We know nothing about either of these saints of Regno beyond what their late antique funerary inscriptions tell us. These allow a rough dating of both men (neither of whom has ever graced the pages of the RM) by noting that Sabinus followed a bishop Timotheus (documented as being still in office in 499). Both inscriptions (Sabinus: _CIL_ X. 1194; Romulus: _ibid._, X. 1195) include verse epitaphs in elegiac distichs. The inscription for Sabinus provides his _dies natalis_ (9. February). But we have no such information for R., who now is commemorated on the anniversary of a translation in 1612.
Atripalda's twelfth-century chiesa di Sant'Ippolisto was rebuilt in Renaissance neoclassical style in the years 1585 and following. The crypt was radically altered in 1629. Though at this time it lost most of its medieval decor (about which we know something from an early thirteenth-century description), some medieval frescoing and some sculptural fragments survive there. Bits of medieval sculpture also exist elsewhere in the church. Two column fragments can be seen in the chapel shown here (the Cappella del Tesoro):
6) Victor III, pope (Bl.; d. 1087). This holy person of the Regno came from the family of the Lombard princes of Benevento and bore the Lombard name Daufer until he entered religion at the monastery of Santa Sophia in the city of Benevento, whereupon he became Desiderius (perhaps not coincidentally, the name of the last king of the Lombards in Italy). After moving about Italy for some years he entered the abbey of St. Benedict at Montecassino in 1055. In 1058 he was elected abbot and it is as abbot Desiderius II or, more commonly, simply abbot Desiderius that he is best known today, thanks to his great improvements at the abbey (which he rebuilt) and at some of its dependencies, e.g. Sant'Angelo in Formis outside of Capua.
In 1059 D. (as he yet was) was made cardinal priest as well as papal vicar for the monasteries (presumably just the exempt ones) of southern Italy. A supporter of Gregory VII, he was at G.'s deathbed in Salerno in 1085 and in 1086 was elected to succeed him. Rioting in Rome caused D. to return to Montecassino and it was not until March of 1087 that he was persuaded to return. On 9. May, after D.'s Norman allies had evicted the imperially backed antipope Clement III from the Leonine City, he was consecrated bishop of Rome and took the name Victor. V. died in September of the same year; a cult ensued. V. was beatified in 1887.
Here's a contemporary depiction of Desiderius enriching the abbey with buildings, books, and dependencies (that's St. Benedict on the right):
A reconstruction of the abbey of St. Benedict at Montecassino in its eleventh-century form:
Some views, etc. of Sant'Angelo in Formis:
(Priscus of Nocera and Romulus of Abellinum lightly revised from last year's post)
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