medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (6. September) is the feast day of:
1) Zachary (6th cent. BCE). The Z. commemorated by Usuard under this date (Florus and Ado have a Z. here also but with specification) is the associate of Haggai from the first part of the book of Zechariah.
2) Onesiphorus (d. 1st cent.). The O. commemorated by Ado under this date (Usuard omits him) is the Ephesian disciple of Paul from 2 Tim. 1:16-18 and 4:19. Medieval Greek synaxary notices of him often incorporate matter from the Passio of Onesiphorus and Paul of Iconium (BHG 2325), thus making this O. a martyr.
3) Eleutherius of Spoleto and of Rome (d. ca. 590). What we know about E. comes from the _Dialogues_ of St. Gregory the Great and especially from _Dial._ 3. 33, in which G. recounts three of E.'s miracles. After serving as abbot of St. Mark the Evangelist at Spoleto, E. entered G.'s monastery of St. Andrew at Rome, where he lived for many years until his death. By the power of his prayer E. miraculously obtained for G. the cure of a persistent and severe ailment of the digestive tract. This experience caused G. to give credence to reports of other miracles operated by E. at which G. was not present. G. cites two of these: bringing a dead person back to life and, with the prayerful aid of his monastic brethren, permanently curing a demonically possessed boy whom E. in his pride had previously but incorrectly proclaimed already healed.
E.'s _dies natalis_ is unknown. His commemoration today in the RM would seem to derive from a mistaken identification (in Baronio's time or earlier?) with a bishop Eleutherius recorded for today in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology with a grave or memorial on the Via Salaria. The archdiocese of Spoleto - Norcia celebrates him on 5. October.
G. tells us that the E.'s monastery at Spoleto was sited _in ... urbis pomoeriis_, i.e. adjacent to the city wall. Its deconsecrated and now decayed church of San Marco in pomeriis (whose crypt is said to go back to the sixth century) and the ruins of other abbatial buildings are still to be seen in Spoleto's borgo di Monterone. In this view, a little bit of it is visible on the left:
A brief look at some of Spoleto's many better preserved medieval churches is here:
4) Donatian, Praesidius, Mansuetus, Germanus, Fusculus, and Laetus (d. ca. 484). We know about D., P., M., G., F. and L. from Victor of Vita's propagandistic _Historia persecutionis Africanae provinciae_, in which they are all bishops who under Huneric are evicted from their sees and slain. L. is reported to have suffered a lengthy imprisonment followed by an execution by fire.
5) Bega (d. late 7th cent., supposedly). B. is the fairly legendary eponym of St Bees Priory in Cumberland, founded in the 1120s from St Mary's Abbey in York. She has an untrustworthy, probably early thirteenth-century Vita (BHL 1082) that makes her an Irish royal who fled to preserve her virginity and who lived as a solitary at the site of St Bees before moving on to Northumbria in time of St. Oswald and St. Hild/Hilda, where in matter calqued on incidents in Bede's _Historia Ecclesiastica_ having to do with nuns named Begu and Heiu, she is said to have founded a community, to have seen in a vision St. Hild's death, and to have died at the monastery of Hackness. Central to B.'s cult at St.Bees was her holy arm-ring, which the Vita says she left there when she departed for Northumbria and which (possibly in a succession of actual objects) the priory maintained as a relic until the Dissolution.
B.'s cult existed at St Bees before the priory's foundation; thirteenth-century records of toponyms elsewhere in Cumbria and in Peeblesshire to the north indicate a regional distribution of some antiquity. Sceptics, observing that in Old English an arm-ring would be called _beag_, have considered B. a purely imaginary construct deriving from the presence of such a relic. The medievally attested name of St. Bees' own town was largely Scandinavian (Kirkeby Becok); Scandinavian settlement in the area being relatively late (tenth-century), this isn't very helpful in determining the linguistic identity of underlying stratum that gives us Becok. But since some of the region's Bega-toponyms appear to be Celtic in origin, the cult may well have have preceded the use locally of Old English. In which case the choice of a relic would have come from the name of the saint rather than vice-versa.
Herewith some views, etc. of today's Priory Church of St Mary and St Bega (largely reworked in the nineteenth century):
6) Magnus of Füssen (d. later 8th cent.). M. (also Maginold; auf Allgäuerisch, Mang) is the fairly legendary founder of the Abtei St. Magnus (St. Mang) in today's Füssen im Allgäu (Kr. Ostallgäu) in Bavaria. He first comes to light in surviving documentation when at some point between 864 and 887 his feast on this day was first entered in the martyrology of Reichenau. He has an untrustworthy Vita (BHL 5162) from around 895 that, borrowing heavily from the Vitae of St. Columban and of St. Gaul, makes him an Irishman who becomes Gall's disciple and who together with some comrades leaves the monastery after G.'s death and evangelizes along the Via Claudia Augusta in southern Bavaria. His evangelizing is presented not only literally but also symbolically in the form of slaying a dragon, a feat M. twice accomplishes in the course of this narration.
At the behest of Augsburg's bishop St. Wicterp M. then founds a settlement on the Lech at a place called _ad fauces_ (today's Füssen; if you've ever wondered why the latter is not spelled with an Esszett now you know that its etymology has nought to do with Fuß). With the aid of clerics sent from Augsburg, he makes this his center of missionary operations. One of his comrades from Sankt Gallen succeeds Wicterp as bishop of Augsburg; later in the same year, on 6. September, M. passes away. Rather later, bishop Lanto of Agusburg (r. 838-47) performs an Elevatio of F. at the monastery's church at Füssen. Thus far M.'s Vita.
In 897 relics said to be of M. were translated to Lorsch; before 898 others had come to Sankt Gallen. M.'s cult is attested for Köln in the tenth century; in the central Middle Ages M.'s cult spread widely across German-speaking areas from Saxony to the Tirol.
An illustrated, German-language account of what is now the Stadtpfarrkirche St. Mang at Füssen is here.
In its discussion of the crypt note image of the late tenth-century fresco of Sts. M. and Gall, another view of which is here:
In both view, M. appears to be of the same height as G. and the latter's left thumb is of ordinary length vis-a-vis the other fingers of that hand. Now look at the image here of the same fresco:
In this view M. (appropriately, given his name) is taller than G. and G.'s left thumb is longer than the next two fingers of his left hand. Whereas there is some distortion from the protective (plexiglass?) shielding visible in front of the painting in this view, that would not seem to explain either of these discrepancies. Has the painting been restored recently?
7) Liberato of Loro Piceno (Bl.; d. ca. 1260, perhaps). A very poorly documented Franciscan holy person of Macerata province in the Marche, L. is the dedicatee of an originally early fifteenth-century church at the convent of San Liberato in San Ginesio (MC). The convent itself is said to be a later thirteenth-century foundation by Franciscans who had abandoned their previous abode at Soffiano in today's Sarnano (MC) and who had brought with them the remains of their brothers who had been buried there. The convent came to be named for one of these whom the brothers at some time began to honor as a saint and who may well have been the blessed L. of Loro Piceno recorded by the early Franciscan historian Mariano da Firenze (d. 1523).
L.'s cult was approved _ab immemorabili_ in 1713. A canonization trial in the later eighteenth century failed when a local historian who had been assisting the order confessed on his deathbed that documents he had provided in support of L.'s cause were of his own invention. By this time, though, the tradition had grown up that L. and the anonymous holy person of Soffiano recorded in chapter 48 of the _Fioretti_ of St. Francis were one and the same. This view was officially accepted by Pius IX, who in 1868 granted the diocese of Fermo a Mass and Office for L.
The site at Soffiano is recorded as a hermitage from the early twelfth century and became one again after the Franciscans had left it. Views of the place as it appears now will be found on this page:
The convent church of San Liberato was restored from 1972 to 1982 to a state approximating that recorded in a visitation of 1703. A view of its interior will be found here:
(Eleutherius of Spoleto and of Rome and Liberatus of Loro Piceno lightly revised from last year's post)
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