medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (16. September) is the feast day of:
1) Cornelius, pope (d. 253) and Cyprian of Carthage (d. 258). From at least the sixth century (and quite likely from some time in the earlier fourth century; see under CYPRIAN, below, ad fin.) until the beginning of the fifteenth century (and perhaps later in some places that didn't get the memo) this joint feast was celebrated on 14. September. C. and C. are named together in the Roman and the Ambrosian canons of the Mass.
a) CORNELIUS. Pope St. Fabian died in January 250 at the outset of the Decian persecution. For the next fifteen months the Roman church was governed by a collective of presbyters and deacons whose spokesman was the learned presbyter Novatian. In March 251 a new bishop of Rome was elected and the choice fell not to Novatian but rather to the presbyter C. Novatian's supporters refused to accept this and instead had him consecrated by three south Italian bishops. Opinions differ as to whether there were at this time any difference between the two on the treatment of apostates who now wished to return to the Church. But the schism, if had not turned on this point from the outset, soon came to be defined in this light, with the Novatianists refusing re-admittance, and C. and his supporters, who in time came to include bishops St. Cyprian of Carthage and Dionysius of Alexandria, opting for re-admittance after penance.
In 252, under Trebonianus Gallus and Volusian (who otherwise are not known to have persecuted), C. was arrested and relegated as a prisoner to Centumcellae (today's Civitavecchia [RM]). Cyprian of Carthage's letter to C. after the latter's arrest makes it plain that C. alone had been singled out for repression and observes that he leads the way to glory (_Epist._ 60: _dum praecedis ad gloriam_). The catalogue of Rome's bishops from Peter onward provided by the Chronographer of 354 (the so-called Librarian Catalogue) says that he passed away at Centumcellae with glory (_ibi cum gloria dormitionem accepit_); the phrasing does not suggest a death by execution. Though C. was not named in the less than exhaustive _Depositio martyrum_ of the Chronographer of 354, he was considered a martyr by Jerome in his version of Eusebius' _Chronicle_ (ca. 380). Jerome also (_De viris illustribus_, 66) gives today as C.'s _dies natalis_.
Until its revision of 2001 the RM included in its elogium of C. an assertion that he perished under Decius, having been beaten with leaded or leaden objects and then decapitated along with twenty-one others, two of whom were Sts. Cerealis and Sallustia, husband and wife, whom he had instructed in the faith. The ultimate source for this is the latter's legendary Passio (BHL 1964), whose gist was echoed in the _Liber Pontificalis_ and in the historical martyrologies from Bede onward and which may have been inspired in part by phrasing in the aforementioned letter of St. Cyprian expressing the conviction that C. will have many companions in glory (_multos gloriae comites_). As far as we know, that never happened. Even Novatian, whom as Cyprian notes should have suffered as well (as head of a Christian church), remained free.
C. was buried in the crypt of Lucina in the cemetery of Callistus; he is the earliest pope known to have had a Latin-language inscription on his resting place. His relics are now in Santa Maria in Trastevere, where he is depicted to the left of St. Peter in the twelfth-century apse mosaic (image expandable):
b) CYPRIAN. We know about C. chiefly from his own writings, supplemented by a closely posthumous Vita by his deacon Pontius (BHL 2041) and by the so-called _Acta proconsularia_ of his trial in 258 (many versions: BHL 2037-2038q, 2038t-2040). Rhetorically well educated and wealthy, he was in 248, two years after his conversion to Christianity, elected bishop of Carthage, the paramount Christian diocese in Latin-speaking Africa. C. distributed his wealth to the poor, continued his theological study, administered his church, and wrote treatises and letters outlining theological positions. During the Decian persecution he went underground and continued to write; in its aftermath his was a major voice for the readmission of apostates after penance and against recognition of sacraments performed by _lapsi_ and others not in communion with the Church.
In August of 257, during the Valerianic persecution, C. was exiled to the coastal city of Curubis (a proparoxytone). A year later he was returned for trial in consequence of a new edict calling for the execution of bishops, presbyters, and deacons who would not sacrifice to the gods of the Roman state. He was convicted on 14. September and executed forthwith. The _Depositio martyrum_ of the Chronographer of 354 gives today as his feast day and the cemetery of Callistus as its place of celebration at Rome. As that cemetery is where Cornelius had been laid to rest after his translation from Centumcellae, the possibility exists that their joint feast already existed at the time of the _Depositio martyrum_'s composition but that for some reason it was not so recorded in this list.
Some views, etc. of the originally tenth-century iglesia de San Cipriano at San Cebrián de Mazote (Valladolid), Castilla y León:
Some views of the originally later eleventh-century iglesia de San Cipriano in Zamora, Castilla y León:
Some views, etc. of the originally late twelfth-century iglesia de San Cornelio y San Cipriano at Revilla de Santullán (Palencia), Castilla y León:
Some very good high-resolution views are accessible from here:
2) Euphemia (d. 303 or 304). E. is said to have been a virgin martyr of Chalcedon in Bithynia (today's Kadiköy in Turkey) during the Great Persecution. In his _Sermon 11_ (_Ecphrasis on the Holy Martyr Euphemia_), the late fourth-/early fifth-century Asterius of Amasea describes a set of wall paintings of her martyrdom in the narthex of what must have been her martyr's church at Chalcedon. According to this account, after undergoing torture in prison E. was burned alive. Later accounts, starting with her mid-fifth-century Passio (BHG 619), add further tortures (being broken on a wheel; exposure to lions) that were to furnish some of E.'s better known iconographic attributes.
The Council of Chalcedon (451) by being held in the aforementioned church gave E.'s cult considerable prominence in both East and West. Her church on the Appian Way outside of Rome, restored by pope Donus (676-78), was probably an early expression of this heightened profile. Another would be her listing for this day in the early sixth-century calendar of Carthage. E. leads the procession of virgin martyrs in the nave mosaics (ca. 550) of Ravenna's Sant'Apollinare Nuovo:
E. is also to be found among the female saints of the sixth-century apse mosaic of the Basilica Eufrasiana at Poreč (Italian: Parenzo) in Croatia:
Still in the upper Adriatic, the patriarchal basilica of Sant'Eufemia at today's Grado (GO) in Friuli - Venezia Giulia was dedicated to E. in 579. Herewith some views of this monument:
More views (the Italia nell'Arte Medievale page):
Views of the basilica's mosaic floor:
In the year 680 E.'s remains were removed from Chalcedon to Constantinople, where they were housed in a martyr's church (martyrion) dedicated to her in the Palace of Antiochus near the Hippodrome. The iconoclast emperor Constantine V (Copronymus to his enemies) is said to have removed E.'s relics (supposedly an incorrupt body) from this church and to have flung them into the sea, whence they were alleged to have been recovered by fishermen and taken to the island of Lemnos. In 796, to mark a change in imperial policy, the empress Irene returned the relics (now dry bones) to E.'s martyrion at Constantinople, which latter she also restored. Frescoes from this church depicting E.'s life and martyrdom were discovered at the site in 1939. In 1942 further excavation there revealed a fragment of a thirteenth- or fourteenth-century icon of E. now in the Istanbul Archeological Museum:
But were those bones brought back by Irene really those of the megalomartyr E.? Her marble sarcophagus was also said to have been miraculously transported across the sea and to have arrived on 13. August 800 at today's Rovinj (Italian: Rovigno) in Croatia, where E. has been especially venerated ever since. Herewith two views of E.'s tomb (incorporating a late antique sarcophagus whose stone is thought to have come from Aquileia) in Rovinj's imposing eighteenth-century church dedicated to her:
Next to the church's side door is a fourteenth-century relief of E. holding a predecessor church:
In 1379 a Genoese fleet sacked Rovinj (then a possession of Venice) and took E.'s relics home with it. They were returned in 1401. E. is now housed in an effigy reliquary in her tomb (the missing arm is said to have been eaten by lions):
Note the 'Femi' in that last URL: this is a short form for 'Eufemia' in several languages, including Italian, where 'Santa Femi' parallels 'Santa Rini' (St. Irene; this aphesis is probably better known in the modern name for the island of Thera, 'Santorini' of volcanic fame). One such 'Santa Femi' must have been the original dedicatee of the church around which grew up the medieval town of the same name in Abruzzo's Pescara province, now Sant'Eufemia (PE). Herewith a few other witnesses to E.'s cult in medieval Italy and elsewhere:
The orginally late ninth- or early tenth-century church of Santa Eufemia at Specchia (LE) on Apulia's Salentine Peninsula was a ruin before it was rebuilt in the 1970s and very early 1980s. Some expandable before-and-after views (in this instance, after-and-before):
An exterior view of the restored polygonal apse:
Moving back to the upper Adriatic, at Aquileia E. was re-imagined as a local virgin martyr under Nero along with the other originally Eastern saints Dorothy, Thecla, and Erasma and was so commemorated in a Passio no older than the ninth century (later, Trieste too would claim E. and Thecla, now said to be martyrs under Valerian, as part of _its_ paleochristian past). In this context E. appears, third from the left, with other local saints flanking the mandorla in the apse mosaic of the patriarchal basilica at Aquileia (consecrated in 1031):
Venice's parish church of Sante Eufemia, Dorotea, Tecla ed Erasma (commonly known as Sant'Eufemia, as in the name of its vaporetto stop) is in origin an eleventh-century structure replacing an earlier church dedicated to E. and variously said to have been founded in 856 or in 952. A lapidary inscription near the principal entrance records a (re-)consecration in 1371 to E. and to her companions in the Aquileian tradition. Here are a view of the exterior, showing an altered facade whose outlines are said to be those of the original:
and two of the interior, showing some medieval brickwork:
Some views of the eleventh-century church of Sant'Eufemia at Erba (CO) in Lombardy:
Some views of the twelfth-century church of Santa Eufemia at Spoleto (PG), sometimes said to have the only "women's galleries" (in Italian, _matronei_) in Umbria:
Views (some expandable) of the twelfth-century church of Santa Eufemia de Cozuelos (Cozollos)at Olmos de Ojeda (Palencia), Castilla y León:
E. in the fourteenth-century frescoes of the monastery church of the Theotokos at Gračanica in, depending on one's view of the matter, Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija or the Republic of Kosovo:
Views of the twelfth- to fifteenth-century Chiesa di Sant'Eufemia at Verona (VN) in the Veneto:
(Euphemia lightly revised from last year's post)
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