medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (20. September) is the feast day of:
1) Eustachius, Theopista, Theopistus, and Agapius (d. ca. 118, supposedly). Unknown to early martyrologies and with no known really ancient cult, these saints are the the subject of an extraordinarily popular romance-like Passio whose original version was thought by Delehaye to have been that of BHG 641 but that exists in many languages other than Greek. According to this tale, in the reign of Trajan the Roman general Placidus, one of nature's noblemen, was out hunting one day when he saw a stag of surpassing beauty earing between its horns a luminous cross with the figure of Jesus Christ. This marvelous beast announced its identity to P. as Jesus Christ, asked why it/He was being pursued, and invited P. and P.'s family to accept baptism. Which they did, P. taking the name Eustachius (or Eustathius), his wife Theopista, and his sons Theopistus and Agapius (all significant names but Eustachius does NOT signify 'Good Stag').
Still according to the legend, E. was treated as a new Job, undergoing all sorts of privations, as did also his immediate family. One of these that was important for their construction in the later Middle Ages was that they lost all their slaves and their horses and cattle to a plague; as they themselves survived, they became plague-saints. At the end of all these adventures, during which E. had been separated at different times from T., T., and A., they were reunited to take part in celebrating a military victory that E. had won for Trajan. This of course required ritual sacrifice, E. refused, he and his family were condemned, and all four, after exposure to wild beasts had proved ineffectual, found quick death in a bronze bull made red-hot by a fire beneath it. Their miraculously unburnt bodies were buried by fellow Christians; when Constantine had ended the persecutions an oratory was built over their grave.
The earliest known dedication to E. is that of a diaconal church in Rome attested from the time of pope St. Gregory II (715-731), a predecessor of today's Sant'Eustachio in Campo Marzio. That's been rebuilt since the Middle Ages. But its belltower has not:
The feast of E., T., T., and A. was removed from the general Roman Calendar in the latter's revision of 1969. T., T., and A. were dropped from the RM in its revision of 2001 (in Orthodox churches they are still celebrated today along with E.); E. was retained as the saint of the aforementioned diaconal church. E. is a patron saint of (among others) Madrid, Matera (MT) in Basilicata, Acquaviva delle Fonti (TA) in Apulia, and Campo di Giove (AQ) in Abruzzo.
Herewith a few images of E., T., T., and A.:
a) E. (at right) on the Harbaville Triptych (tenth-century), now in the Musée du Louvre, Paris:
b) E. and the Stag in a wall painting (twelfth-century?) in the rupestrian cripta di Sant' Eustachio at Matera (MT) in Basilicata:
Another view of this former church:
c) Head reliquary of E. (late twelfth-century), formerly in the cathedral treasury at Basel and now in the British Museum, London:
d) The St. Eustace window (ca. 1210), Notre-Dame de Chartres:
e) Illumination of E. and the Stag in a thirteenth-century psalter of English origin (Venice, Biblioteca Marciana, ms. lat. I, 77 , fol. 6v):
f) Panels from the now dismembered late fourteenth-century (ca. 1380) altarpiece of E. reported stolen in 1902 from his church in Campo di Giove (AQ) in Abruzzo:
Illustrated,English-language accounts (the second is a video, with detail views starting at about 2:11):
Illustrated (just not awfully well), Italian-language account:
g) Pisanello, E. and the Stag ("Vistion of St. E."; ca. 1440), now in the National Gallery, London:
h) Master of the Benedict Passion, E. and the Stag (ca. 1465), now in the National Museum, Kraków:
i) Wall painting (ca. 1480) of scenes from E.'s legend, Canterbury cathedral:
Detail (E. and the Stag):
j) Albrecht Dürer, E. on a panel of the Paumgärtner Altarpiece (ca. 1498-1504), now in the Alte Pinakothek, München:
k) Albrecht Dürer, print from an engraving (ca. 1501) of E. and the Stag:
l) E. (center) on the tomb of the Kurfürstin Anna (1512), church of the former monastery of Heilsbronn (Kr. Ansbach) in Bayern:
a) Remains of eleventh-century church dedicated to E. at Matera (MT) in Basilicata, over which its present, originally thirteenth-century cathedral of the BVM was built:
For comparison, the originally eleventh-century Ognissanti of Valenzano (BA):
That church's vaulting:
Also for comparison (for the shape of domes) the originally eleventh-century former church of Sant'Eustachio ('San Staso') in the rural territory of Giovinazzo (BA) in Apulia:
b) The ruins (recently restored) of the originally later twelfth-century basilica di Sant'Eustachio at Pontone di Scala (SA) on the Amalfi Coast in Campania:
A distance view:
c) The ruins of the originally early twelfth-century abbazia di Sant'Eustachio at Nervesa della Battaglia (TV) in the Veneto:
d) The originally thirteenth- and fourteenth-century église St.-Eustache at Mosles (Calvados) in Normandy:
e) the église St.-Eustache in Paris (built, 1532-1637):
2) Adelpretus (Albert) of Trent (Bl.; d. 1172). A. was bishop of Trent, now the capital of Italy's Trentino-Alto Adige region and from early in the eleventh century until its Napoleonic conquest in 1801 the administrative center of a sizeable imperial territory governed by bishops who in time came to be styled formally as prince-bishops. A., who was zealous in the maintenance of episcopal rights -- and thus income -- within this territory, is said to have used that income generously on behalf of children and of the poor. He was assassinated by a local noble with whom he had been at odds and with whose family the prince-bishops of Trent remained in conflict until 1273.
A.'s veneration as a martyr seems to have begun almost immediately. Though one could not tell this from the website of the Archdiocese of Trent, where a discreet silence masks the never papally canonized A.'s very existence, the main altar of Trent's cathedral was dedicated jointly to the early bishop St. Vigilius (26. June) and to A.
From at least the sixteenth century until the early twentieth, when the archdiocese of Trent dropped him from its calendar, A. was celebrated liturgically on 27. March. That is also where he was in the RM until its revision of 2001, when his commemoration was moved to today to accord with the information provided by our one detailed source for this event, the thirteenth-century hagiographer Bartholomew of Trent.
Bartholomew's Passio and Miracula of A. are available in Emore Paoli's modern critical edition: Bartolomeo da Trento, _Liber epilogorum in gesta sanctorum_ (Florence: SISMEL; Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2001). The text is at pp. 379-85; there's important contextual matter in the Introduzione at pp. xxvi-vii.
Work on Trent's present cathedral of St. Vigilius began in 1212 and went on for over a century. Here are a few exterior views:
and two of the interior:
A.'s sarcophagus in the cathedral was once covered with this plaque showing him being run through by a lance wielded by a figure identified in a nimbus-like defined space as one Aldrigitus, i.e. Aldrighetto da Castelbarco, the nobleman said to have committed the murder:
(Bl. Adelpretus lightly revised from last year's post)
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