medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (26. September) is the feast day of:
1) Senator of Albano Laziale (?). S. is documented by an entry for today in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology that places him at a not further specified Albanum. A seventh-century pilgrim itinerary listing churches outside the city of Rome gives instructions for arriving at this church that make it clear that the Albanum to which it refers is today's Albano Laziale (RM) in south-central Lazio. This guide to holy sites adds that St. Perpetua and many (other) saints repose in S.'s church and that great miracles occur there. S. enters the historical martyrologies with Usuard.
Some views of the Catacombe di San Senatore at today's Albano Laziale (RM) in Lazio. An English-language page on that complex is here:
and a multi-page, illustrated, Italian-language site on the complex begins here:
2) Cosmas and Damian (d. early 4th cent., supposedly). These at least largely legendary physician-saints are said to have been brothers from somewhere in the East (their region of origin is variously reported) who operated marvelous cures and who for refusing to accept compensation for their services are ranked by Orthodox churches among the Holy Unmercenaries. That they perished in the Great Persecution seems, like most details of the the medieval accounts of their activities, to be either invention or conjecture.
Herewith a few visuals pertaining to C. and D.
The originally sixth-century stational church of Santi Cosma e Damiano on Rome's Via dei Fori Imperiali. Created for pope St. Felix IV (III) in the temple of Romulus (Maxentius' son, not the legendary founder and brother of Remus) and in an adjacent structure belonging to the Forum Pacis, it is particularly noteworthy for its sixth-century apse mosaic. An English-language page on it:
Satellite view of the church (center), with the round Roman temple on the south side. The major road to the north is Via dei Fori Imperiali and the large structure to the right (east) is the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine:
The apse mosaic:
Expandable view of St. Felix holding a model of the church; St. Paul introducing Cosmas or Damian:
The originally tenth-century entrance to the monastery of San Cosimato at Rome:
C. and D. in the so-called Menologium of Basil II (Vatican City, BAV, cod. Vat. Gr. 1613; late tenth- or early eleventh-century):
The eleventh-century book cover of the Gospels of Theophanu of Essen (1029-ca. 1058), showing C. and D. (the patron saints of the monastery she founded there) beneath Sts. Peter and Paul:
Later C. and D. became patrons of the city of Essen as well.
Views of the originally eleventh-century church of Santi Cosma e Damiano at Genoa:
The twelfth-century crypt of Sts. Cosmas and Damian in the church of St. Wenceslas (Vaclav) at Stará Boleslav (German: Altbunzlau) in the Czech Republic:
In 922, St. Wenceslas (Václav) was murdered before the door of an oratory on this site dedicated to C. and D.
The orginally twelfth-/thirteenth-century church of Santi Cosma e Damiano at San Damiano d'Asti (AT) in Piedmont:
facade and belltower:
Even the more obviously medieval portions here seem to have been worked over in later centuries.
C. and D.'s shrine (ca. 1400) in Munich's Michaelskirche:
Expandable views of three paintings by Fra Angelico having to do with C. and D. will be found on this page (a little more than halfway down):
3) Stephen of Rossano (Bl.; d. ca. 1001). We know about this less well known holy person the Regno chiefly from the Bios of his monastic mentor St. Nilus of Rossano (no. 4 below). He was born at Rossano, an important town in then majority Greek-speaking eastern Calabria -- it's now Rossano Calabro (CS), lost his father early, and became a monk of Nilus' community in the Mercurion, where he distinguished himself by his energy and by patiently bearing the aspersions of Nilus (who found him rash). S. followed N. when the latter returned to the vicinity of Rossano and founded on his property there a monastery dedicated to St. Hadrian. Thereafter he was N.'s chosen favorite and confidant. S. died at Serperi in the duchy of Gaeta (now Sčrapo [LT] in Lazio) a few years before the community moved to Grottaferrata. He shares his feast day with N. (who had intended that they would be buried alongside each other.
4) Nilus of Rossano (Nilus the Younger; d. 1004). This less well known saint of the Regno was born to an aristocratic family in Rossano. He received a good religious education and was orphaned early. At the age of thirty he abandoned the world for the ascetic life, traveled to the mountainous border region of the Mercurion, and there came under the influence of various holy fathers. To evade a gubernatorial ban on his becoming a monk, he took the habit at a Greek monastery in the Lombard principality of Salerno. N. then returned to Fantinus’ lavra. Living first there and then in a nearby cave, he learned and later taught calligraphy. During this time he also traveled to Rome. Muslim raids caused N. to retreat in the late 940s to one of his properties near Rossano, where together with some of his students he founded a monastery of his own, dedicated to St. Hadrian.
N. resided there as a penitent for the next quarter-century, achieving considerable repute as a holy man and miracle worker. He is said to have declined being named bishop of Rossano and to have obtained from the emir of Palermo the liberation of three of his monks who had been captured and enslaved. Around 980, fleeing further Muslim incursions and his growing fame, N. and his comrades left the eastern empire for good and were welcomed in the Latin West by the prince of Capua, Pandulf Ironhead. At the behest of Pandulf’s successor Landulf IV, abbot Aligern of Montecassino installed them in 981 at the abbey’s daughter house at what is now Valleluce (FR) in southern Lazio. From there they participated to a limited extent in the life of the neighboring Benedictine community. There too N. composed an Office for St. Benedict and probably some of his other poetry.
After Aligern’s death relations soured between the two groups and in 994 or 995 N. founded a new monastery at tiny Serperi in the duchy of Gaeta (now Sčrapo [LT] in Lazio). He made journeys to Rome, where he failed to persuade his fellow Rossanese, John Philagathus, to renounce the papacy he had assumed in 997 (as John XVI) after the ouster from the city of the imperially selected incumbent, Gregory V, and where too, after John had been deposed and later blinded, he unsuccessfully attempted in an interview with the emperor Otto III to have the former antipope released to his custody. In 1004 the aged N. left Serperi and, staying at a small Greek monastery in the Alban Hills not far from Rome, obtained land for a new foundation from Gregory I, count of Tusculum. He died shortly after his monks had arrived at the nearby site and had begun work on what would become the famous Greek abbey of Grottaferrata.
N.’s surviving verse production, all in his native Greek, is not large. Specimens of his scribal work and of that of his students also survive. He is the subject of an extremely impressive Bios (BHG 1370), written about a generation after his death but while some who knew him well were still alive.
N.'s monastery of Sant'Adriano at today's San Demetrio Corone (CS) in Calabria was dissolved in 1794. A fairly recent article on its history and its artwork is Caterina Martino, "Kloster und Kirche S. Adriano in S. Demetrio Corone bei Rossano (10.-18. Jahrhundert)," _Römische Quartalschrift für christliche Altertumskunde und Kirchengeschichte_ 93 (1998), 251-66. A page of expandable views of its late eleventh-century church, with twelfth-century frescoes and thirteenth-century mosaics, is:
A brief English-language history of the Abbey of Santa Maria di Grottaferrata:
and a better Italian-language one:
together with pages on the abbey's museum:
and on its architecture:
and on its decor:
The abbey's church has recently been restored on the outside to an approximation of its original appearance; similarly for its late twelfth-century belltower. A restoration of the interior is under way.
Two front views of the church are here:
The wooden panels of this portal are said to be of the eleventh century:
Grottaferrata was built in and over what had originally been the cryptoporticus of a Roman villa. Two views showing this adaptation:
(The visuals for Senator of Albano Laziale and for Cosmas and Damian lightly revised from older posts; Nilus of Rossano lightly revised from last year's post)
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