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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  September 2008

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION September 2008

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Subject:

saints of the day 30. September

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 30 Sep 2008 12:34:19 -0500

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (30. September) is the feast day of:

1)  Antoninus of Piacenza (d. ca. 303, supposedly).  A.'s cult is attested to as early as the late fourth century, when St. Ambrose of Milan sent relics of him to St. Victricius of Rouen.  Reliable information about him is lacking.  In about 570 a group of pilgrims traveling under his protection made a tour from Constantinople to the holy places (and other tourist destinations) in Palestine and Egypt; the surviving account, an engaging piece of lowbrow travel literature not dissimilar in some respects from what a blogger of today might write and post, is known as the _Itinerarium Antonini_ (though its author is better referred to as the Pilgrim of Piacenza).  A. is entered for today in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology. 

According to his legendary, perhaps late ninth- or tenth-century Vita, A. was a member of the Theban Legion (a well traveled bunch!) who found martyrdom near today's Travo (PC) in Emilia.  Travo has a church dedicated to him that goes back to the eleventh century, though that would be hard to guess from this view:
http://www.piacenza-pc.it/comuni/travo/travo.htm
An Italian-language discussion of the building history of this church will be found at the end of this notice of Travo:
http://www.comune.travo.pc.it/

A.'s major medieval monument lies some 27 kilometers away in the city of Piacenza (in Roman times, Placentia).  This is said to go back to the early fifth century and in an earlier form was Piacenza's cathedral until the later ninth century.  In its present appearance it is an eleventh-century church with later modifications.  The latter include the twelfth-century main portal, the octagonal upper portion of the belltower (thirteenth-century, on an eleventh-century base), and the enormous enclosed porch or atrium erected on one of the transepts in 1450.  An illustrated, English-language account of this church is here:
http://www.piacenzamusei.com/s.php?i=0044
and the Italia nell'Arte Medievale page on it is here:
http://tinyurl.com/3zpczt
Some other exterior views:
http://www.pbase.com/klaudio/image/28993142
http://www.pbase.com/klaudio/image/28993141
http://tinyurl.com/8bbpn

A. in a full-page illumination in an early fifteenth-century _Golden Legend_ now in the Special Collections Department of Glasgow University Library (Hunterian MS Gen 1111):
http://tinyurl.com/bfvwl
Executed in Flanders, this book is thought (from the fact that A.'s illumination is larger than any of the 101 others) likely to have been commissioned by a religious house in Piacenza.
Piacenza's Museo Capitolare Sant'Antonino has this fifteenth-century panel painting of the same subject:
http://www.piacenzamusei.com/images/imageg05/110.jpg
and this earlier fifteenth-century altar frontal (ca. 1430) with scenes from A.'s Vita:
http://www.piacenzamusei.com/images/imageg01/110.jpg


2)  Gregory the Illuminator (d. betw. 328 and 335).  According to fifth-century Armenian accounts of a partly legendary nature, G. (also G. the Enlightener; in Armenian, Grigor Lusarovich) was the son of a Parthian nobleman executed for having killed his king, a Persian.  A child at the time, he was spirited away by well-wishers to Caesarea in Cappadocia, where he was raised as a Christian.  As an adult G. moved to (in some accounts: returned to) Armenia, married, had children, proselytized, was imprisoned underground for years after a persecution of Christians, was released, and converted king Tiridates III to Christianity.  After T. had made Armenia officially Christian G., consecrated by Cappadocian bishops, became its metropolitan and established his church along Greek and Syriac lines.  He is said to have become a solitary near the end of his life and to have died in a mountain cave.

In the earlier ninth-century Marble Calendar of Naples today is shared by Jerome (no. 3, below) and by G.  The latter's cult seems to have been brought there not much earlier, along with putative relics of him, by Eastern-rite monks who founded what is still the city's monastery of San Gregorio Armeno (Benedictine since the later eleventh century).  In 2000 pope John Paul II gave to the Catholicos Kamekin II at Etchmiadzin in Armenia relics of G. from the monastery in Naples; in the following year he made a similar gift to the Armenian Catholicos of Cilicia.  Still in the Regno, G. has been patron of Narḍ on Apulia's Salentine Peninsula since, it is said, the ninth century and is now also patron the the diocese of Narḍ-Gallipoli.

Views of the church of St. Gregory of Tigran Honents (the name of the merchant who commissioned it), completed in 1215, at Ani in today's province of Kars in Turkey:
http://flickr.com/photos/efendi/1745101/in/set-44391/
http://flickr.com/photos/efendi/1745088/in/set-44391/
http://tinyurl.com/4p7984
More views here, incl. two of the interior (NB: this is the "church of St. Gregory" whose thumbnails occur _above_ those of the Cathedral):
http://tinyurl.com/4snhqn

G. in mosaic (fourteenth-century) in a cupola of the museum of the former church of the Pammakaristos (Fetiye camii) in Istanbul:
http://tinyurl.com/3jn9s7


3)  Jerome (d. 420).  The doctissimi of this list require no introduction to this Doctor of the Church.


4)  Honorius of Canterbury (d. 653).  Just about all that is known definitely about this fifth archbishop of Canterbury comes from St. Bede's _Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum_.  One of the Roman monks sent as missionaries to England by pope St. Gregory I, he succeeded archbishop St. Justus at some point between 628 and 631 and was consecrated by his fellow missionary St. Paulinus, bishop of York.  H. collaborated with Paulinus and with king Eadwine in Northumbria in persuading pope Honorius I to grant metropolitan status to York as well (which the pope did in June 634, sending pallia both to H. and to P.).  When the northern mission collapsed after a hostile regime change in Northumbria H. translated P. to the see of Rochester.  Today is H.'s _dies natalis_.  He was buried at Canterbury in the west porch of the monastery church of Sts. Peter and Paul.     


5)  Amatus of Nusco (d. 1093).  Less is known about today's less well known saint of the Regno than was true when the Bollandists first published Augusti tomus VI. of the _Acta Sanctorum_ and proclaimed 31. August 1193 as the _dies natalis_ of this first bishop of the Campanian town of Nusco (AV), the "balcony of Irpinia" (so called because of its elevated position on the watershed between the valleys of the Ofanto and the Calore).  This is because the Bollandists' guide in this matter, Felice Renda's sixteenth-century Vita of A., has since been shown to be a piece of fiction falsely claiming him for Montevergine (of which Renda was at the time prior) and making him a disciple of the latter's founder, St. William of Vercelli.  A.'s will of September 1093, which has survived in the cathedral archives of Nusco and which also was long a subject of controversy, was proven authentic in 1881 by the distinguished Neapolitan archivist Bartolomeo Capasso.  Here's a view of it:
http://tinyurl.com/4xlnru
Archdiocesan records at Salerno show that Nusco was one of the latter's suffragan dioceses created during the time of archbishop Alfanus I (d. 1085).  The ordinary assumption is that A. was consecrated by this famous Campanian churchman.

Both Renda's Vita and its fifteenth-century predecessor by Francesco de Ponte (BHL 359) are now considered largely legendary, though how legendary remains a matter of dispute.  Errico Cuozzo's unpersuasive attempt to identify A. with the historian Amatus of Montecassino remains valuable as a useful summary of the pertinent documentation and hagiographic traditions: "Amato di Montecassino e Amato di Nusco: una stessa persona?", _Benedictina_ 26 (1979), 323-48.  Three Sapphic hymns from A.'s Office at Nusco have survived and are certainly medieval but have been little studied.  Nusco's cathedral of Santo Stefano, now a co-cathedral of the diocese of Sant’Angelo dei Lombardi - Conza - Nusco - Bisaccia, has been largely rebuilt in early modern times.  A.'s remains are preserved in the crypt (perhaps thirteenth-century but redecorated much later):
http://tinyurl.com/4xyaj7

Also in the crypt are these recently uncovered fourteenth- or fifteenth-century Nativity scenes in fresco:
http://tinyurl.com/5xsfz7

Best,
John Dillon
(Antoninus of Piacenza and Amatus of Nusco lightly revised from older posts)

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