medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (25. September) is the feast day of:
1) Cleophas (d. 1st cent.). C. (also Clopas) is the named disciple traveling to Emmaus to whom the newly resurrected Jesus reveals Himself in Lk 24:13-31. If he is also the C. who at John 19:25 is the husband of Mary the sister of the BVM (Mary of Cleophas), then he is probably the father of Jesus' "brothers" James the Less et al. In St. Jerome's day C.'s house had been transformed into a church. Here's C. with his spouse and Jesus' "brothers" in the Throne of Mercy window (1470) in Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate, York:
2) Firmin I of Amiens (d. later 3d cent., supposedly). Amiens has two sainted bishops named F. (in Latin, Firminus; in French and in Spanish, Firmin or Fermin). Today's F. is a legendary martyr with a Vita that's thought to be of the fifth or sixth century and that exists, apart from several briefer versions characterized as epitomes, in two versions (BHL 3002 and 3003), of which the latter is first attested from the tenth century and the former is first attested from the twelfth. According to these accounts, F. was born at Pamplona of noble, pagan parents who later became Christian thanks to the missionary work of St. Saturninus (Sernin, Cernin) of Toulouse. F. was instructed in the faith by a priest named Honestus who baptized him. Afterwards he entered the clergy of Toulouse, where he was ordained priest and later consecrated bishop.
Still according to these accounts, F.'s episcopal activity took place first in Pamplona and later as an evangelist in Aquitaine, Auvergne, and Anjou. He came to the attention of a Roman governor, who had him beaten with rods and then released. Thereafter F. settled at Amiens, where he made many converts and after many years was caught up in a persecution, refused to apostasize, and was executed by decapitation on this day. An also somewhat legendary Inventio of his remains is said to have occurred in the seventh century (BHL 3008; first witness is of the tenth century). The oldest datable witnesses to the cult F. the martyr are the later ninth-century Usuard and Wandelbert of Prüm.
By the tenth century today's F. and his also rather legendary successor Firmin II (a confessor; said in _his_ Vita to have been descended from one of the converts of Firmin I) had clearly differentiated cults at Amiens, each with a principal feast and a translation feast). Today's F. had an altar in Amiens' cathedral in 1217 and an Office several times revised in diocesan breviaries of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Not altogether surprisingly, today's F. also has a major cult at Pamplona, first attested from 1186 when Pamplona's then bishop received relics of F. from his counterpart of Amiens. At Pamplona F.'s cult is associated with the Running of the Bulls: in local tradition he was martyred in the same fashion as Saturninus had been: dragged to death by an enraged bull.
Here's a view of the three portals of the West front of Amiens' originally thirteenth-century cathedral of Notre-Dame:
The portal on the left (North portal, West front) is called that of F. (presumably today's F., as he's the major of the two homonyms). Here's a better view of him on its trumeau:
In the cathedral the early sixteenth-century tomb of Adrien de Hénencourt in the choir has wooden carvings (before 1527) of scenes from F.'s Vita and F.'s Inventio. See the eight expandable views towards the bottom of this page:
A St. F. venerated anciently in England may be today's saint. Herewith a couple of post-Conquest churches at older sites:
a) The seemingly originally twelfth- and thirteenth-century St Firmin's Church, Thurlby (Lincs):
b) The originally thirteenth- and fourteenth-century church of St Firmin at North Crawley (Bucks):
3) Aurelia and Neomisia (Neomasia, Noemisia), virgins (d. 9th cent. ?). According to their Passion and Translation to Anagni (BHL 817m), today's less well known saints of the Regno were sisters from somewhere in Asia Minor who made a pilgrimage first to the holy places in Palestine and then to major shrines in the West. Traveling south from Rome on the Via Latina, they were captured by Muslims who had besieged Capua and were beaten with rods to within an inch of their lives. A providential thunderstorm allowing them to escape, they made their way to what seems to have been today's Macerata (CE) in Campania, where they settled down and died in peace on 25. September of some unknown year. Venerated by inhabitants of the area, A. and N. were interred in a local oratory. During the papacy of St. Leo IX (1049-54) they were translated to the cathedral of Anagni (FR) in southern Lazio. Thus far the Passio.
BHK 817m is an obviously legendary document from which the Bollandists elected to print in the _Acta Sanctorum_ only brief extracts. It survives in a single early fourteenth-century manuscript (BAV, Chigianus C. VIII. 235) and forms the basis for these saints' Office at Anagni. Though in 841 there _was_ a destructive Muslim assault on old Capua (today's Santa Maria Capua Vetere), the Bollandists (BHL Suppl. 2 , p. 106) hesitantly date A. and N. to "saec. XI (?)". The eleventh century seems to be the time when their cult first comes to light in our surviving records. When Anagni's present cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta was first built in the late eleventh and very early twelfth centuries, relics of A. and N. were placed alongside those of St. Secundina under an altar dedicated to her in the crypt of St. Magnus.
The cult of A. and N. was confirmed papally in 1903. In 2001 they were dropped from the RM. I don't know whether they're still celebrated at Anagni. Some Orthodox churches have adopted their cult and celebrate them today.
In these views of a fresco in the aforementioned crypt, female saints often identified as A. and N. are shown flanking the cathedral's builder, bishop St. Peter of Anagni (also P. of Salerno and, with doubtful accuracy, P. de principibus; d. 1105):
Here's N. in another fresco in the crypt:
That's from an article on proportions in medieval portraiture (hence the superimposed grid).
An Italian-language introduction to the Cattedrale di San Magno, with exterior views:
Many more views (incl. a couple of the statue of Boniface VIII) are here:
continued on p. 2 with shots of the belltower and of the redesigned "Gothic" nave:
Further views (expandable):
The cathedral's twelfth-century episcopal chair:
The cosmatesque floor in the nave:
The crypt itself is a major monument, thanks to its cosmatesque pavement (1231, by Cosma Cosmati) and especially to its extensively preserved medieval frescoes. Various views of these frescoes are here:
and here, also including a different view of that episcopal chair (the three thumbnails at right are expandable):
Plus these older black-and-whites from the Courtauld Institute of Art (where, shades of Dan Quayle, the singular of "frescoes" is "frescoe"):
(Aurelia and Neomisia revised from last year's post)
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