medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (7. December) is the feast day of:
1) Savinus of Spoleto (d. ca. 304, supposedly). S. (the name is a late antique spelling of Sabinus and is often normalized to the latter form) is a saint of the Via Flaminia whose cult had spread widely in central Italy by the later Middle Ages. His veneration is first recorded from Spoleto, where a basilica housing his remains is mentioned in the sixth century by Procopius and by pope St. Gregory the Great and in the eighth century by Paul the Deacon. Gregory also mentions dedications to an S. in the vicinity of Fermo and in the diocese of Ascoli Piceno, both in the more southerly portion of today's Marche; the former evolved into a Benedictine house of the same name (home in the thirteenth century of Bl. Adam of Fermo). The undoubted later presence of our S.'s cult in the central Marche has reinforced the assumption that these two early dedications were also to him and not to some other saint bearing this rather common name.
By the early ninth century S. had received a legendary Passio (BHL 7451-7454) that makes him a martyr bishop arrested at Assisi along with the deacons Exuperantius and Marcellus (or Marcellinus). When these three refuse to sacrifice to the gods of the Roman state the local magistrate Venustianus has S.'s hands cut off and has the deacons tortured to death. A miraculous cure attributed to S.'s severed hands causes V. to convert along with his family. The emperor Maximian sends to Assisi his minion the tribune Lucius, who has V. and the latter's family put to death and S. transported to Spoleto, where he is whipped severely and then executed on this day. Ado, followed by Usuard and by the RM until 2001, entered S. and his companions under 30. December. The "new" RM dispenses with the companions and commemorates S. today (also his feast day in the archdiocese of Spoleto - Norcia).
Inventions and Translations of relics of S. are reported from the late tenth century onward to many places, perhaps most notably in 956 to Ivrea (TO) in Piedmont, where S. is still co-patron (celebrated on 7. July), an Invention in 1266 in Ravenna's Sant'Apollinare Nuovo (where S. is the final saint in the sixth-century procession of male martyrs in the mosaics of the nave), and, perhaps in the early fourteenth century and certainly by 1367, a translation to Fusignano (RA) in the diocese of Faenza, not far up the Via Aemilia from Ravenna. From Faenza we have a late medieval revised Passio of S. that makes him a native of Sulmona (and thus a putative saint of the Regno) who before his arrest at Assisi and death and burial at Spoleto is a hermit near Fusignano and whose body is later translated back to Fusignano at the behest of an angel. S.'s feast day in the diocese of Faenza is 6. December.
Today's chiesa di San Savino at Fusignano (a successor to its later medieval one) houses this fifth- or sixth-century sarcophagus that once contained S.'s putative remains:
At some time from 1438 to 1441 those relics were translated from Fusignano to Faenza, whose originally later fifteenth-century cathedral houses them in a tomb sculpted during the years 1474-1476 by Benedetto da Maiano. A not very good black-and-white view of this early work by a famous Renaissance master is here:
There are better views in the _Bibliotheca Sanctorum_, vol. 11, cols. 707-08 and 711-12.
2) Urban of Teano (d. later 4th cent., supposedly). Today's less well known saint of the Regno is one of the at least semi-legendary early bishops of today's Teano (CE) in northern Campania, following St. Paris (5. August) and St. Amasius (23. January). According to Paris' Vita (BHL 6466), U. was his deacon and became the third bishop. According to one of Amasius' rather untrustworthy Vitae (BHL 355), U. would have been Paris' immediate successor but declined then out of humility. He is said to have been laid to rest in the lower part of the city.
Along with Paris, Amasius, and other local saints, U. was figured on the fourteenth-century funerary monument from which panels showing them were in the seventeenth century used to replace the fire-damaged parapet of the cosmatesque ambo in Teano's cattedrale di San Clemente:
3) Ambrose of Milan (d. 397). Not to be confused with the Blessed Ambrose of Milan (Franciscan; d. 1525), this A. is a Saint and a Doctor of the Church. A member of the imperial aristocracy, he was governor of Milan when he was elected bishop of that city in 374. A. became an extraordinarily influential preacher, theologian, and ecclesiastical administrator. Along with St. Augustine of Hippo (whom he baptized) and St. Jerome he is one of the great western Christian churchmen of the fourth century. His _dies natalis_ is 4. April (his feast day in Ado and in Usuard) but today, the anniversary of his consecration as bishop, has been his feast day in some places since at least the ninth century, though what it represented was not always perfectly understood (the Marble Calendar of Naples describes it as the day of his laying to rest). This was A.'s principal feast in the late medieval breviary of the Roman curia and has remained so in the RM.
Herewith a few views, etc. of the basilica named for A. in Milan (originally late fourth- or very early fifth-century; rebuilt in the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries).
The basilica's home page:
Here's A. in the crypt, dressed in white and lying between the martyrs Gervase and Protase (whose bodies he discovered) :
Some images of A.:
His restored fifth-century mosaic portrait in the basilica di Sant'Ambrogio's sacello di San Vittore:
A. on the west front of Sant'Ambrogio:
A. in a twelfth-century relief on Milan's Porta Romana:
A. flanked by Sts. Gervase and Protase (fourteenth-century) on Milan's Pusterla di Sant'Ambrogio (another gate):
Augustine listening to A. (on Augustine's later fourteenth-century tomb in Pavia's basilica di San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro):
A. in the lower right-hand corner of Pietro di Puccio's mosaics (1388; restored) on the facade of the cathedral of Orvieto (TR) in Umbria:
Jerome and A. with donors (mid-fifteenth-century), St Thomas, Foxley (Norfolk):
A. and Augustine by Giovanni Masone (Genoa, 1491):
4) John the Silent (d. 559). We know about J. (also John the Silentiary, though he's not known to have held such an office) from his Bios by his disciple Cyril of Scythopolis (BHG 897, 898). Born at Nicopolis in Amenia into a family in imperial service, he was early orphaned and while still young founded a monastery there. Elected bishop of nearby Colonia against his will, J. continued to live ascetically. In the tenth year of his episcopate his sister's husband became governor of Armenia and began to insert himself in ecclesiastical affairs. When appeals to higher authority were unavailing, J. left his diocese for Jerusalem, where he served elderly poor in a hospital. Prompted by a nocturnal vision of a star in the form of a cross and by a voice telling him to follow it, he then entered the Great Lavra and lived there under the guidance of St. Sabas of Jerusalem.
Sabas, impressed by J.'s humility and devotion, wished to ordain him priest. When J. revealed his true ecclesiastical rank to the patriarch of Jerusalem, the latter required him to live in silence. As did Sabas, once he had learned J.'s secret. After four years of solitude in his cell J. became a desert hermit but returned at Sabas' bidding after about another nine years. In time it was revealed to all that J. was a bishop. He spent the remainder of his very long life at the Great Lavra, mostly in silence but also offering instruction to those who sought him out.
A distance view of the Great Lavra (now Mar Saba) in the gorge of the Kidron:
An illustrated, English-language account of this monastery:
5) Fare (d. ca. 645). What little is known about F. (now perhaps better known by her Latin name forms Fara and Burgundofara) comes from sections of Jonas of Bobbio's contemporary _Vita sancti Columbani abbatis discipulorumque eius libri duo_ (BHL 1898). A member of the Frankish nobility and a protégée of St. Eustasius of Luxeuil, she had been dedicated to God by St. Columban. Her father arranged a marriage for her nonetheless. In response, F. came down with a severe fever; she also injured her eyes through much weeping. When her father finally agreed to let her remain a virgin she was healed. He founded for F. a double monastery at a place called Evoriacum. She was its first abbess and was venerated there after her death (today is her _dies natalis_). The abbey's town came to be named for F.; it is now Faremoutiers (Seine-et-Marne).
Expandable views of the originally twelfth- to fifteenth-century église Sainte-Fare at Achères-la-Forêt (Seine-et-Marne) and of some of its furnishings are here:
(Urban of Teano and Ambrose of Milan lightly revised from last year's post)
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