medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (5. December) is the feast day of:
1) Crispina (d. 304). We know about this martyr of Numidia both from her Passio (BHL 1989), which offers a seemingly redacted abstract of her final hearing before a Roman magistrate, and from matter in the following writings of St. Augustine of Hippo: _Enarrationes in Psalmos_ 120 and 137; _ Sermones_, 286. 2 and 354. 5). She was a matron from a wealthy family of Thagura (today's Taoura in Algeria) who was tried at Theveste (today's Tebessa in Algeria) and who was executed along with a number of named companions whom the RM has elected not to commemorate along with her. C. and unnamed companions are entered for today, along with another group of martyrs, in the early sixth-century Calendar of Carthage.
Annexed to the late antique Christian basilica at Tebessa (variously dated from the late fourth to the early seventh century) and reached from its right aisle by a flight of descending steps is an earlier structure thought to have been C.'s martyrium and reported to contain eleven mosaic inscriptions dated to about the year 351 that name various of C.'s companions. In this aerial view of the ruins, the presumed martyrium is to the left of basilica:
2) Pelinus (d. 4th cent., supposedly). This less well known saint of the Regno (and co-patron of this honourable list) is said in his probably eleventh-century Vita (or Passio; BHL 6620) to have been a Greek-speaking monk from Dyrrachium (today's Durres in Albania; in Italian, Durazzo) who together with his Syrian companions Gorgonius and Sebastius and his disciple Cyprius crossed the Adriatic in flight from Julianic persecution and arrived at Brundisium (today's Brindisi in Apulia). There he is said to have been welcomed by bishop Aproculus, who made him archdeacon of the cathedral and whom he succeeded as bishop some years later, the now elderly Aproculus having accompanied P. to Rome to insure his consecration by pope Liberius.
P. then returned to Brundisium and took up his office. When ordered by civil authorities to sacrifice at the temple of Jupiter he had only to set foot on the lintel and an earthquake brought down the whole structure (not injuring P., apparently). At Julian's command the evil tribune Maximus had P. and his companions arrested and brought to Rome where they were paraded prior to being executed. P. was handed over to the judge Cornicularius who brought him to Corfinium, the city of the Paeligni, and there had him killed on a 5. December variously estimated as being either in 361 or 362. Gorgonius and Sebastius were executed on the following day but Cyprius was spared on account of his youth. Returning to Brundisium, he succeeded P. as its bishop. Thus far the Vita (or Passio).
Apart from Julian (reigned 361-63) and Liberius, none of these people is otherwise attested, not even the saintly Aproculus. Indeed, although Pelinus and Cyprius now figure in Brindisi's _series episcoporum_, their names are strikingly absent from the indices of the _Codice diplomatico Brindisino_; other medieval evidence for P.'s having had a cult there is apparently also lacking. The archdiocesan view in Brindisi-Ostuni is that these events really transpired in the reign of Constans II (641-68) and that P.'s Vita -- which survives in an eleventh- or very early twelfth-century passionary/legendary (Vat. lat. 1197) seemingly of south central Italian origin -- is based on an account by a seventh-century contemporary. See its account here:
That account indicates that P. continues to be celebrated at Brindisi on 5. December (he was dropped from the RM in its revision of 2001). The archdiocese's homepage
is silent today about any celebration of P., noting as the saint of the day only Bl. Filippo Rinaldi.
To others (including the great historian of the early dioceses of Italy, Francesco Lanzoni), the story of P. et al. is a fiction from beginning to end, created in the diocese of Valva in the eleventh century in connection with P.'s cult at Corfinium, today's Corfinio (AQ) in Abruzzo. A concatenation of suspicious elements, it is devoid of any verifiable early connection with Brindisi and may even (depending on its real date) have been written in connection with abbot-bishop Transmundus' erection, starting in 1075, of the cathedral complex of St. Pelinus. It would certainly have been an extraordinary coincidence for a bishop of far-away Brundisium to have borne this unusual name so suggestive of that of the people inhabiting the area of P.'s known cult, the P(a)eligni.
Consecrated in 1124 as one of the cathedrals of Valva (the other is San Panfilo at Sulmona) and still a co-cathedral of the modern diocese of Sulmona-Valva, San Pelino with its adjacent mausoleum of pope St. Alexander is a major architectural monument in the Paelignian basin. An English-language account is here:
One in French is here:
And a more detailed and better illustrated one in Italian is here:
Further insight (also in Italian) is available here:
A facade view of this church (also known as the Basilica Valvense) is at the end of the top row here:
Other views of the facade and of its portal:
Views of the rear of the mausoleum and of adjacent parts of the cathedral:
A page of expandable exterior views:
Further exterior details are here:
A view of the nave, looking towards the choir:
Two views of the later twelfth-century ambo:
Other views of the ambo and of its carvings are here:
This relief of the Madonna with Child, found during restoration of the cathedral, is affixed to the wall of the left transept:
Fresco with P. on one side and the Virgin and Child on the other:
The main portal of Sulmona's cathedral (the latter also a project of abbot-bishop Transmundus) bears statuary niches housing images of St. Pamphilus (Panfilo; its dedicatee) and of P.:
3) Sabas of Jerusalem (d. 532). We know about S. from his Bios written in the next generation by Cyril of Scythopolis (BHG 1608). A native of Cappadocia, he entered religious life at the age of eighteen, trained among the solitaries of Jerusalem, founded the Great Lavra near Jerusalem that bears his name as well as several other monasteries, was ordained priest when over fifty, preached against the monophysite heresy, and died not long after a trip to Constantinople in which he obtained from the emperor Justinian tax relief for his monasteries and the promise of a fortress for the monks' protection against marauders.
S.'s relics were taken to Venice in the thirteenth century and were returned to the monastery of Mar Saba by Paul VI in 1965. Here's a view of them:
4) Lucidus of Aquara (d. in the years from 1038 to 1055). The meagre sources for this less well known saint of the Regno (also Liutius and Lucius) are the chroniclers of Montecassino. A native of today's Aquara (SA) in the Cilento, he entered religion at the nearby monastery of San Pietro, a dependency of Montecassino, and later moved to the abbey's daughter house of Santa Maria dell'Albaneta (founded in 1011). In the sixteenth century a skull believed to be L.'s was translated from San Pietro to a church at Aquara. With the exception of a brief period in 1895 when the reliquary bust of silver housing the skull was taken by thieves and later recovered, it remained in Aquara until 1975, when the reliquary bust was again stolen (it has not been returned). L.'s cult was confirmed papally in 1880 at the level of Saint; he was granted an Office in 1890. He is Aquara's patron saint.
(Pelinus lightly revised from last year's post)
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