medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (22. September) is the feast day of:
1) Linus, pope (d. 1st cent.). According to most early sources for him L. was Peter's successor and the first bishop of Rome. Irenaeus (_Adv. haer._ 3. 3. 13) identifies him with the L. of 2 Tim 4:21. The Liberian Catalogue dates his pontificate to the years 56-67; Jerome places in the years 67-78. L. is named in the Roman and the Ambrosian Canons of the Mass. He was venerated medievally as a martyr (traditional Catholics still think of him as one).
Here's L. officiating at the sepultures of Sts. Peter and Paul in panels of an early fourteenth-century fresco in the basilica of San Piero a Grado (San Petro ad Gradus Arnenses) in the Pisan _frazione_ of that name:
More views of this originally tenth- and eleventh-century church and of its important series of depictions of early popes:
L.'s Vita in the Liber Pontificalis says that he was Tuscan. The late fourteenth- and early fifteenth-century papal official and polymath Piero Maffei asserted in his _Commentariorum rerum urbanarum_ (finished, 1506) that L. came from Volterra. In 1519 (remember, folks, in this list we go up to the year 1550) Leo X granted Volterra an Office of L. accepting as traditional L.'s Volterran origin. Volterra's church of San Lino was built for Maffei (d. 1522) on a site purported to have been where L.'s family once dwelt. Herewith two views of the terracotta bust of L. attributed either to Giovanni della Robbia (d. 1529) or to Benedetto di Buglione (d. 1521), now in Volterra's diocesan museum:
2) Thecla of Iconium (d. late 1st cent., supposedly). We know about T. from the romance-like, late second-century apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla (BHG 1710-22; BHL 8020-25; BHO 1152-56). This makes T. a nobly born young woman of Iconium (today's Konya in Turkey) whose determination to remain virginal arouses the hostility of parents and lovers, who is converted to Christianity by St. Paul, who is condemned to death by the Roman state, survives two attempted executions, converts her mother, lives as a recluse, miraculously avoids being raped by brigands, and finally dies a natural death. Her many sufferings make her a martyr. Widely venerated in medieval and modern Christianity, T. was dropped from the RM in 2001. Her feast today remains on local calendars (e.g., at Tarragona, which has her putative relics said to have been translated from Armenia and where she is the patron saint). Orthodox churches celebrate T. on 24. September.
T. on the remains of a pilgrim flask from one of her Eastern cult sites, now in the Yale Art Gallery, New Haven (CT):
Here's T., again between two beasts, on a sixth-century flask depicting both her and St. Men(n)as of Egypt. now in the Musée du Louvre, Paris:
Two views of the entrance to the cave at Ma'aloula in Syria traditionally said to have been T.'s resting place:
In this view of the late twelfth-century ciborium in the basilica di Sant'Ambrogio in Milan T. is the center figure in the group at the left:
A smaller but clearer view:
Here's T. with St. Sebastian in the central panel of the Retable of Sts. Thecla and Sebastian (late fifteenth-century; attributed to Jaume Huguet) in the cathedral of Barcelona:
3) Sossus (Sossius, Sosius; d. 305, supposedly). Today's less well known saint of the Regno is the early Christian martyr of Misenum (now Miseno [NA]) in coastal Campania. S. is mentioned by the fifth-century exile in Campania Quodvultdeus of Carthage, was depicted in the now lost mosaics of the late fifth- or very early sixth-century church of St. Priscus at old Capua, is listed for today in the early sixth-century calendar of Carthage, appears in a non-Januarian sixth-century fresco in the catacombs of St. Gaudiosus at Naples, and is the subject of a verse epigram placed by pope St. Symmachus (498-514) over a relic niche in his chapel of St. Andrew next to old St. Peter's on the Vatican. The latter calls S. a _minister_ (a term often designating a deacon) who attempted to save his bishop's life and who suffered martyrdom along with him.
A text of that epigram (PONTIFICIS VENERANDA SEQUENS... ) together with an Italian translation can be read about halfway down the page here:
In the late sixth- or seventh-century _Acta Bononiensia_ of the St. Januarius venerated especially at Naples (BHL 4132) and in subsequent versions of this account, S. was a deacon of Misenum who was already in prison when J., who was _not_ his bishop, became involved the tribunals that led to his own martyrdom, along with that of S. and others, at the Solfatara in the Phlegraean Fields outside of Pozzuoli. S. was one of the saints of coastal Campania whose cult came early to England (probably with abbot St. Hadrian of Nisida) and traveled thence to the Low Countries, as evidenced by the Calendar of St. Willibrord, written between 702 and 706 and now Paris lat. 10837.
According to a translation account (BHL 4116) of Januarius and some of his companions whose earliest witness is of the ninth century as well as to the historical martyrologies from Bede onward, S.'s remains were soon removed from their resting place at the Solfatara to a church at Misenum where they were venerated. In John the Deacon's account (BHL 4135) of S.'s early tenth-century translation to Naples S.'s tomb in this church, which is said to have become ruinous, was recognized only because it still bore a few letters of his name. Be that as it may, remains said to have been those of S. from Misenum were then deposited in a newly built Benedictine monastery in Naples that had recently acquired the relics of St. Severinus of Noricum and that shortly became known as the monastery of saints Severinus and Sossius (in the earliest sources, S.'s name appears as 'Sossus' but by this time the form with palatalizing 'i' was already standard).
From there S.'s cult spread medievally to such other Benedictine monastery towns as Falvaterra (FR) in southern Lazio and San Sossio Baronia (AV) in Campania. In 1806 the monastery was secularized and in 1807 the remains or putative remains of Severinus and Sossius were formally translated to Fratta (now Frattamaggiore [NA]), just north of Naples, where they remain today in the originally twelfth- or thirteenth-century church of San Sossio, shown here with its baroque facade and sixteenth-century belltower:
This building, an Italian national monument sometimes said to go back in part to the tenth century and since last year a papal basilica, was gutted by fire in November 1945:
and has been restored in the interior to a "romanesque" look:
Italian-language accounts of the church are here:
Also in Campania, S. is reported to be among the saints depicted in a twelfth-century Januarian portrait cycle at the church of St. Agnellus (S. Aniello) at Quindici (AV). See the Italian-language discussion here:
Here he is as depicted in the fifteenth-century Polyptych of Saints Severinus and Sossius (whose central figure is Severinus) now in Naples' Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte:
4) Constantius of Ancona (d. 6th cent.). We know about C. (in Italian, Costanzo) from pope St. Gregory the Great, _Dialogues_, 1. 5, where we are told that he lived for many years in monastic garb at Ancona, that he was mansionary there of the church of St. Stephen, that he was short of stature and unprepossessing to look at, and that he had a great reputation as a holy person, and that his holiness was attested by a miracle in which lamps that he had filled with water blazed just as though they contained oil. Gregory then recounts an exemplary tale in which the humble and charitable C. embraces a rustic who had come to Ancona to see the great man of whom he has heard much but who on having C. pointed out to him refuses, thanks to C.'s appearance and the rustic's prejudices, to credit the identification.
The fourteenth-century hagiographers Pietro Calò and Petrus de Natalibus report that at some unspecified time C.'s relics were translated from Ancona to Venice and placed there on a 12. July in the church of St. Basil. They also give today as C.'s _dies natalis_. When Venice's parish of San Basilio vescovo was merged in 1808/09 into that of Santi Gervaio e Protasio its putative relics of C. as they were then -- a fragment of bone had been given to the diocese of Ancona in 1760 -- were transferred to the latter's church (a.k.a. San Trovaso). They are said to remain there today.
(Soss[i]us lightly revised from last year's post)
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