medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (9. September) is the feast day of:
1) Gorgonius of Rome (?). G. is listed, under this date, in the _Depositio martyrum_ of the Chronographer of 354 as a martyr of the Via Labicana. We know nothing about him. Neither, apparently, did pope St. Damasus I (d. 384), whose epitaph for G. (Ferrua no. 32) is altogether uninformative. G.'s grave near the church of St. Helen is routinely cited in the early medieval pilgrim itineraries for Rome. The (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology specifies that he was buried at the cemetery _ad duas lauros_ and, uniquely in our surviving testimony, that this was called the _cimiterium sancti Gorgoni_. G.'s feast is entered for today in the Gelasian Sacramentary and in the historical martyrologies from Bede onward.
In about 763 the enterprising St. Chrodegang of Metz had G.'s relics translated to the abbey he had founded at today's Gorze (Moselle) in the Lorraine. In an able review for H-France
of M. A. Claussen's _The Reform of the Frankish Church: Chrodegang of Metz and the Regula canonicorum in the Eighth Century_ (Cambridge University Press, 2004), Abigail Firey refers to C.'s translations of "the obscure saints Gorgonius, Nabor, and Nazarius". Presumably she is speaking of their _present-day_ obscurity, which latter we should be hesitant to impute to the eighth century. Nabor and Nazarius are in the Gelasian Sacramentary's canon of the Mass and G.'s resting place, as we have seen, was a fixture in the itineraries for pilgrims at Rome. The _Itinerarium Salisburgense_ goes so far as to single it out for special mention among the many graves in today's Catacombe dei Santi Marcellino e Pietro.
In the ninth century G. received a personality when Ado, under today's date, identified him with the Gorgonius of 12. March, a martyr of Nicomedia under Diocletian, and averred that it was the latter's remains that had been placed in the cemetery on the Via Labicana. Ado's fairly circumstantial account (repeated in summary form by Usuard) follows Eusebius in making this Gorgonius a member of Diocletian's imperial household. Later G. came to be viewed in the West as a soldier-saint. He is so depicted, for example, on medieval seals of the cathedral at Minden on the Weser (in today's Nordrhein-Westfalen), whither his relics are said to have been translated from Gorze in the tenth century. A panegyric from Minden for G.'s feast there was edited by FranÁois Dolbeau in _Analecta Bollandiana_ 103 (1985), 35-59. G. is still the patron of what is now the Catholic parish church there (still called a 'Dom') of Sts. Peter and Gorgonius.
Some views of the Dompfarrkirche St. Peter und St. Gorgonius at Minden:
The latter's Treasury has this early fifteenth-century arm reliquary of G.:
and this mid-fifteenth-century statuette of him (sword lacking), seemingly from a shrine:
And here are St. Peter and G. on the seal of the cathedral prior Wedekind vom Berge (1350-1369):
The figures are reversed (naturally) on this stamp from 1230 for the town seal of Minden:
Relics held to be those of G. were translated from Gorze to places other than Minden. One such was Metz, whose newly rebuilt abbey church of St. Arnold received some in 1049. Pope St. Leo IX, who consecrated the church, composed one of his versified Offices, _Christiana devotio_, for this translation. Here's an eleventh-century depiction of Leo consecrating the church:
Dedications to G. in the Lorraine include the originally twelfth-century Eglise Saint-Gorgon at WoŽl (Meuse):
and the originally thirteenth-century fortified Eglise Saint-Gorgon at Lessy (Moselle):
Whereas the abbey at Gorze was frequently called that of G., its full name in the central and later Middle Ages was that of St. Peter, St. Stephen, and St. Gorgonius. The abbey's surviving twelfth-/thirteenth-century church (with later additions) is dedicated to St. Stephen. Herewith some views of this St.-Etienne, restored in the nineteenth century:
2) Hyacinth of the Sabina (?). The (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology enters under today the following notice: _in Sabinis miliario XXX Jacinti, Alexandri, Tiburti_; in various forms, this entry is repeated in historical martyrologies of the Carolingian period. The presence here of not otherwise attested Alexander and Tiburt(i)us has been considered erroneous. They were dropped from the RM in its revision of 2001. H. was retained, presumably thanks to his martyrial basilica recorded by the _Liber Pontificalis_ in its notice of St. Leo III (795-816). This reported resting place makes him seemingly distinct from the H. of 11. September's Protus and Hyacinth, martyrs of the Via Salaria vetus. A legendary Passio of yet another H. who is said to have been cast into the sea and to have survived only to be decapitated (BHL 4053; Hyacinthus in Portu Romano) was used by Rabanus Maurus in his notice of today's H.
3) CiarŠn of Clonmacnoise (d. 549?) The Irish monastic founder C. (also Kiaran, Kieran, etc.; in Latin, Kiaranus, Queranus, etc.), sometimes called . the Younger to differentiate him from C. of Saighir) is known from several Latin Vitae (BHL 4654-4656) and Irish Lives as well as from references and anecdotes in the Vitae and vernacular Lives of other Irish saints. He is said to have studied under St. Finnian at Clonard and under St. Enda on Aran. Whereas some may think this as legendary as just about everything else that's said of him, if we can trust the statement in Finnian's Office that he had three thousand students there seems little reason to suppose C. might not have been one of them. C. was remembered as a holy man of exemplary qualities and as the man who established the monastery of Clonmacnoise on the river Shannon in today's County Offaly close to the geographic center of Ireland.
C.'s monastery flourished between the Norse raids of the eighth century and the English conquest of Ireland in the later twelfth, after which it went into a period of decline that lasted until the Dissolution in the sixteenth century. Here are a couple of aerial views:
The now seemingly slightly isolated structure near the center of the enclosure is called Temple Ciaran and is reputed to have been built over the site of C.'s grave. The present structure, which is thought to have succeeded a wooden one at the same spot, is originally of the tenth century, though much of its present fabric is later. Here's a closer view:
Also from the tenth century is the monastery's Cross of the Scriptures, now kept in the Visitors Centre (with a copy exposed to the elements where the original once stood). It's carved on all four sides. Here's a view:
and here's a view of the outdoor copy. showing the other side:
The two figures in the lowest panel at right in this image are thought to represent C. and the Irish high king Diarmait mac Cerbaill planting the first stake in the erection of the monastery. Here's a closer view of the panel on the original:
(Gorgonius lightly revised from last year's post)
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