medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (8. December) is the feast day of:
1) Macharius of Alexandria (d. 250 or 251). This M. (not to be confused with either of his two fourth-century homonyms) was a Libyan who, spurning a magistrate's lengthy exhortation to sacrifice to the gods of the Roman state, was burned alive at Alexandria of Egypt under Decius. We know about him from St. Dionysius of Alexandria's report on the martyrs of his city as quoted by Eusebius (_H. E._ 6. 41-42; M. at 6. 41. 17). M. entered the historical martyrologies with Florus of Lyon, who gave all the Alexandrian martyrs of this persecution a single, lengthy entry under 20. February. Ado of Vienne broke that elogium up, entering individuals and small groups under different days. It is down to Ado that M. is commemorated today.
2) Eutychian(us), pope (d. 283?). According to the not always accurate fourth-century Liberian Catalogue, E. succeeded pope St. Felix I and was bishop of Rome from 275 until 283, dying on 7. December. The _Depositio Episcoporum_ preserved by the Chronographer of 354 says that E. was laid to rest on 8. December in the cemetery of Callistus, a datum repeated in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology. E.'s sepulchral inscription in Greek is still there, in the Crypt of the Popes: EYTICHIANOS + EPIS (Delehaye, at p. 639 of his ed. of the [ps.-]HM, reports another cross at the end, not visible to me in the photograph printed in the _Bibliotheca Sanctorum_, vol. 5, cols. 317-18). The very similar sepulchral inscription of pope St. Fabian(us) from the same part of this catacomb is reproduced on this page:
The _Liber Pontificalis_ adds that E. was a Tuscan and that he or his father came from Luna (today's Luni [SP] in southern Liguria). The factuality of this report is called into question by the LP's equally unconfirmed but considerably less plausible assertions that with his own hands E. buried three hundred and forty-two martyrs at different places and that he himself received the crown of martyrdom. In their elogia of E. (under today) Ado and Usuard omit his reported Tuscan origin but repeat these other details.
Here's a black-and-white view of E.'s full-length portrait in the frescoes of the popes (1480-81) in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican:
In the seventeenth century E.'s relics wound up in the thirteenth- to fifteenth-century cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta at Sarzana (SP) in Liguria, not all that far from Luni. Herewith an illustrated, Italian-language account of that building:
Other exterior views:
The cathedral of Sarzana is home to an important painted crucifix from the year 1138:
and to this altar sculpted by Leonardo Riccomanni in 1432:
3) Eucharius of Trier (d. late 3d cent.). E. is by tradition the first bishop of Trier. A series of late antique and medieval churches, culminating on the one now generally known as St. Matthias, preserved his memory. In the first of these Trier's fifth-century bishop Cyril erected an altar to him. Gregory of Tours records E.'s veneration at Trier as its protector in time of plague. E.'s first appearance in the martyrologies comes in that of Rabanus Maurus (d. 856). The legendary Vita of Trier's first three bishops (E., Valerius, and Maternus of Köln; BHL 2655, etc.), first documented from the tenth century, makes him one of the seventy-two disciples and has him sent to Gaul by St. Peter. This Vita went through later revisions. Two initials and some text from a version of it in a twelfth-century codex from Austria (now Wien, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 444) are shown here:
Starting in 978 archbishop Egbert reformed an extramural abbey dedicated to E. and rebuilt its church. The abbey prospered and the present church was already in existence when in 1127 relics announced as those of the apostle Matthias were "re-discovered" in it (it was claimed that a prior discovery had taken place in the previous century). This church has since been much rebuilt. In its crypt are sarcophagi that once contained the putative remains of E. and of his successor St. Valerius:
Also from the twelfth century are Trier's earliest known city seal, showing St. Peter (the city's patron) and E. flanking Christ (this is also said to be Germany's oldest city seal):
and two liturgical compositions in E.'s honor by Hildegard of Bingen. Barbara Newman's English-language version of the sequence _O Euchari in leta via_ is here:
Snippets from both of these pieces may be heard here (nos. 7 and 8 on Disc 2):
Along with Matthias, E. is one of the two patron saints of the Archdiocese of Trier. Today is his traditional _dies natalis_ and his day of commemoration in the RM. In churches that actually celebrate his feast the latter now falls on 9. December (thanks to today's solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the BVM).
4) Romaric (d. 653?). We know about R. from his originally seventh-century Vita (BHL 7322, 7323) and from the Vitae of two of his associates, St. Arnulf of Metz (BHL 692) and St. Amatus of Habend (or of Remiremont; BHL 358). An influential Austrasian courtier under Theudebert II and Chlotar II, he is said to have been influenced by Amatus to forsake the world, to sell off most of his property, and to enter religion at Luxeuil. But he retained ownership of Mt. Habend in the Vosges and in about 620 he founded there a monastery for nuns that soon became a double monastery, with Amatus as its first abbot. R. succeeded Amatus upon the latter's death and after his own death was venerated as the monastery's principal saint. The place came to be known in Latin as _Romarici Mons_; in modern French it's Remiremont.
The double monastery at today's Remiremont (Vosges) in Lorraine flourished in the central and later Middle Ages. Here's a link to Paul Pascal's text -- originally published in 1993 in the series Bryn Mawr Latin Commentaries -- of the witty twelfth-century poem _Concilium Romarici Montis_ in which some of its nuns engage in a debate as to whose love is better: that of a knight or that of a cleric:
And here are some views of Remiremont's mostly later thirteenth-century église abbatiale Saint-Pierre (eleventh-century crypt; facade and belltower are from the eighteenth century):
5) Theobald of Marly (d. 1247). T. (also T. of Vaux-de-Cernay; in French, Thibaut, Thibault, Thiébaut) was a pious nephew of Louis VII. After service in the court of Philip Augustus he entered the Cistercian abbey at today's Vaux-de-Cernay (Yvelines) in Île-de-France in 1226, became its prior in 1230, and succeeded as abbot in 1235. T.'s reputation for asceticism and holiness was such that St. Louis IX brought him back to the court in 1239/40 and for the remainder of his life obligations were imposed upon him that had little or nothing to do with the administration of his abbey. A cult arose shortly after his death and in 1261 his body was moved from its initial resting place in the abbey's chapter house to the publicly accessible chapel of its infirmary. After his canonization in 1270 he was given a raised tomb in the abbey church.
What remains of the abbey of Vaux-en-Cernay is now a luxury hotel. Herewith some views, starting with the ruins of the abbey church (at left in the first view):
The chapter house:
(Eutychian and Eucharius lightly revised from last year's post)
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