medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (1. December) is the feast day of:
1) Ansanus (d. 303 or 304, supposedly). A. (Amsanus, Ampsanus, Anisanus; in Italian: Ansano, Sano) is one of Siena's patron saints. According to his legendary early Passio (BHL 515; thought to be of the seventh century), he was the son of a pagan Roman senator who belonged to the prominent family of the Anicii. Without his parents' knowledge, let alone their consent, he was educated in the Christian faith by an angelically inspired Roman priest who baptized him at the age of twelve. When his godmother then cured a blind person, both she and A. were imprisoned (in a much later version, this happened at the urging of A.'s father). She was tortured to death but A. managed to escape to Siena, where he he preached, baptized, and performed healing miracles.
When the Great Persecution broke out A., who was now nineteen, was arrested at Siena. He miraculously survived an attempted execution by boiling in oil and other substances and was then executed by decapitation on the road between Siena and Arezzo. Thus far the Passio. By ca. 550 there was a church dedicated to A. at his reputed site of execution and burial at Dofana in today's Castelnuovo Berardenga (SI), His cult is documented from shortly afterward in other places in what are now southern Tuscany and northern Lazio. In 867 A. had a church on the Pizza del Campo in Siena and in 1107 his relics were translated from Dofana to the cathedral of Siena. A.'s second Passio (BHL 516; a revision and expansion of its predecessor) is also from the twelfth century.
In Duccio di Buoninsegna's recently restored great window from 1287-88 for Siena's cathedral (now in the Museo dell'Opera della Metropolitana), A. is the second of the patron saints flanking the central panel (the order here is Bartholomew, Ansanus, Crescentius, Savinus). In the same artist's great Maestà for the same cathedral (1308-11), he is the first (the order here is Ansanus, Savinus, Crescentius, Victor).
Views of Duccio's window:
Detail (portrait of A.):
An illustrated, Italian-language discussion of the window:
A view of Duccio's Maestà del Duomo di Siena:
An expandable detail view, with A. in the front row at left, is here:
In Simone Martini's Maestà (1315) in Siena's Palazzo Pubblico the order of the four patron saints is the same (Ansanus, Savinus, Crescentius, Victor) and they are again in the front row. Here's an expandable view:
Detail view of A.'s portrait:
A. is again at the left in this Annunciation by Simone Martini and Filippo di Memmo (Lippo Memmi) from 1333, executed for A.'s chapel in Siena's cathedral and now in the Uffizi in Florence:
A later fourteenth-century polychromed wooden statue of Ansanus from Siena in that city's collection of the Monte dei Paschi di Siena
(last image on right):
Paolo Uccello's predella panel of Sts. John and Ansanus from the Quarate altarpiece (1435-40) now in the Museo Arcivescovile in Florence:
A predella panel from the 1440s by Giovanni di Paolo, now in the Christian Museum at Esztergom and showing A. baptizing:
The same artist's depiction of A.'s martyrdom, now in the Bargello in Florence, is from the same altarpiece:
In 1143 a church in Spoleto that had been built over the remains of an ancient temple and adjacent space in what had been the city's Roman-period forum was dedicated to A. and to St. Isaac of Spoleto. Its crypt (now called that of Saint Isaac), whose floor consists of paving stones from the forum, seems to be of eleventh-century origin. It survived when the original church was reworked in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and replaced by the present Sant'Ansano at the end of the eighteenth.
A view of Sant'Ansano's Cripta di Sant'Isacco is here:
A different view will be found on this page, which also lists the subjects (insofar as these are identifiable) of the recently restored late eleventh- and/or early twelfth-century frescoes which adorn the crypt:
Two views of the originally twelfth-century chiesa di Santi Ansano e Tommaso at Castelvecchio in Pescia (PT) in Tuscany:
A small church dedicated to A. at Brento in today's Monzuno (BO) in the Appennine portion of Emilia-Romagna is securely recorded from the thirteenth century onward. It was rebuilt in 1487 and destroyed along with most of the village by an Allied aerial bombardment in 1944. Expandable earlier twentieth-century views of it are here:
2) Florence of Poitiers (d. ca. 366?). We know about F. (also F. of Comblé) from the seventh-century Vita of St. Hilary of Poitiers by one Fortunatus (BHL 3885). This tells us (1. 9) that when H. was in exile in Phrygia and was on his way to a council at Seleucia in Isauria he came to an unnamed town and, it being Sunday, entered a church. Whereupon a young woman named Florentia broke through the crowd, announced in a loud voice that a man of God was present, and threw herself at his feet, begging all the while that he baptize her. Which H. did, baptizing as well her father Florentius and her entire family. F. then left her parents and, calling him her father, attached herself to H., accompanied him on his travels, and returned with him to Poitiers. Thus far this Vita.
The tradition of Poitiers makes F. become a recluse who predeceased H. and whom he buried on a property of his at today's Comblé near Celle-Lévescault (Vienne). Whether this tradition existed before F.'s Inventio at an episcopally owned estate at Comblé by Poitiers' earlier eleventh-century bishop Isembert I is unclear. Isembert translated F.'s putative remains from the property at Comblé to Poitiers' cathedral. Some of these (the display relics in their shrine) were destroyed by Huguenots in 1562 but others were re-discovered in the cathedral in 1698.
3) Eligius (d. 659/660). E. (Eloi, Aloy, Aloisio, Loise, etc., etc.) was a pious goldsmith of Gallo-Roman origin who served as master of the mint at Marseille under the Frankish kings Chlotar II and Dagobert I. One of the latter's _familiares_, he distinguished himself both by founding monasteries at Solignac in his native Limousin and at Paris and by ransoming prisoners of war. Shortly after Dagobert's death in 639 E. took holy orders. In 641 he was elected bishop of Noyon-Tournai. He founded monasteries in his diocese and undertook missionary work in Flanders. A Carolingian-period collection of sermons circulated under his name (now it's known as the Pseudo-Eligius).
E.'s Vita by his friend Audoenus (Ouen, Dado) of Rouen survives in a later reworking (BHL 2474). Jo Ann McNamara's English-language translation may be read here:
That Vita's morality tale of the greedy bishop and the late E.'s horse combined with the characterization of E. as a smith to generate a story, popular in the later Middle Ages, of the saint's removing a lower leg (or just a hoof) of a horse that needed to be shod, shoeing the hoof, and then re-attaching to the unharmed beast the member in question.
E., who is also a patron of goldsmiths and of jewelers, thus became a patron of blacksmiths and farriers and is often represented with a hammer or with the horse's lower leg. Or with both, as in this view of a now lost panel from the rood screen of St Andrew, Hempstead (Norfolk):
Or on this boss in the St. Laurentius-Kirche in Bremm (Kr. Cochem-Zell) in Rheinland-Pfalz:
Here's Nanni di Banco's early fifteenth-century version of the miraculous shoeing at the base of the niche of the Farriers' guild in Florence's church of Orsanmichele:
Another view, showing a modern copy of Nanni's statue of E. (the original is now inside, in the Museo di Orsanmichele):
And here's another fifteenth-century version in the collégiale Sainte-Croix in Liège:
The story as depicted in the Smiths' window ('Schmiedefenster') in the city church of Freiburg im Breisgau in Baden-Württemberg (also known as the Freiburger Münster):
Some late medieval instances from English parish churches:
St Andrew, Freckenham (Suffolk):
Holy Cross, Slapton (Northants):
Holy Trinity, Wensley (N. Yorks):
E. as blacksmith and locksmith at St Lawrence, Broughton (Bucks):
Some other representations of E. (or, in one instance, often thought to be so):
Fifteenth-century miniature from Hungary:
Various (top of page; more near bottom; all expandable):
Petrus Christus' portrait of a goldsmith in his shop, often said to be of E. (1149; expandable):
A few views of monuments connected with E.'s cult:
The late thirteenth-century chiesa di Sant'Eligio Maggiore at Naples:
(in this last, ignore "three noblemen": the founders were three French merchants)
For discussion (and better views) see Caroline Bruzelius, _The Stones of Naples: Church Building in Angevin Italy, 1266-1343_ (Yale Univ. Pr., 2004), pp. 13-24 with notes on pp. 221-22.
The early fifteenth-century église Saint-Eloi at Liergues (Rhône-Alpes), notable for its wall paintings:
(views are expandable)
The late fifteenth-/early sixteenth-century St. Eligius Kapelle in Krewinkel (Gemeinde Büllingen) in Belgium:
German-language page on this church (with another view):
Some interior views here:
The early sixteenth-century now protestant Temple Saint Eloi in Rouen:
(Ansanus and Eligius lightly revised from last year's posts)
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