medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (22. December) is the feast day of:
1) Chaeremon and many other martyrs (d. 250). This entry in the RM collectively honors Egyptian victims of the Decian persecution. Chaeremon was bishop of Nilopolis who at a great old age fled with his also greatly aged wife into Arabian mountains and was not seen again by members of the church in Egypt. They are representative of many who are said to have perished in this persecution by being forced to flee into mountainous wasteland, there to die of cold, of thirst, of starvation, or of injuries sustained from attacks by robbers or by wild beasts, and who are so commemorated in St. Dionysius of Alexandria's report on the martyrs of his city and elsewhere in Egypt as quoted by Eusebius (_H. E._ 6. 41-42; these at 6. 42. 2-3). They entered Western martyrologies through Ado and Usuard, who had read about them in Rufinus' Latin-language translation of Eusebius.
2) Ischyrion (d. 250). Another Egyptian whose Latin veneration was mediated through the same set of sources (starting with Eusebius, _H. E._ 6. 42. 1), I. was a subordinate official in some Egyptian city (traditionally, Alexandria) whose refusal to sacrifice to pagan divinities led to his death by impalement.
3) Thirty Martyrs of Rome (?). Victims of an unspecified persecution, they are said to have been executed together. According to the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology, they were buried in the cemetery _ad Duas Lauros_, whose underground portion later became known by its now standard designation as that of Marcellinus and Peter.
4) Hunger of Utrecht (d. 866). The eleventh bishop of Utrecht, H. is first documented in office in 854, when he successfully sought at Frankfurt confirmation from Louis the German of Utrecht's royal protection and immunity. In 857 U. was forced by the pressure of the Northmen to leave Utrecht; on 2. January 858 he received St. Odilienberg (near Roermond) from Lothar II of Lotharingia, whose divorce he would later refuse to sanction. Where he was after that is not clear: his immediate successor ruled from Deventer and his place of death seems later to have been unknown to diocesan sources. It is often said that he died at the abbey of Prüm in the Eifel. The RM (which H. appears to have entered only in 2001) has him die at Utrecht. His feast day in the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Utrecht is 8. November.
5) Jutta of Sponheim (Bl.; d. 1136). J. (also J. of Diessenberg) was a well-connected noblewoman who became an anchorite at the Benedictine abbey of the Disibodenberg (Mount Disibod, named after the monastery's reputed founder, St. Disibod). Here she had charge of a few female child oblates, one of whom was her famous pupil St. Hildegard of Bingen. At the time of J'.s death these oblates had become a small community who elected Hildegard to succeed her as their leader. Postmortem miracles were reported and a cult -- not limited to inhabitants of the Disibodenberg -- quickly developed. The distraction of dealing with noisy visitors to J.'s shrine is said to have been part of Hildegard's motivation in moving her community to the Rupertsberg then near Bingen (now it's _in_ Bingen, which latter has grown somewhat).
Everything we know about J. comes through the writings of Hildegard and her associates. J.'s Vita (BHL 4613b) is thought to have been written by Hildegard's longtime confidant and amanuensis, prior Volmar. For an introduction to their affective portrait of her, see Anna Silvas, tr., _ Jutta and Hildegard: The Biographical Sources_ (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999). J. was dropped from the RM in its revision of 2001.
Remains of the monastery on the Disibodenberg can still be viewed near Odernheim (Kreis Bad Kreuznach) in Rheinland-Pfalz. Herewith some views:
There's a nice fifteenth-century painting in the Rheinisches Landesmuseum at Bonn showing a fully nimbate J. presenting two oblates (Hiltrud and Hildegard) to St. Bernard. But I couldn't quickly find a view of that on the free Web. So here are two portraits of the creators of J.'s memory, Hildegard and Volmar:
(_Liber Scivias_; Hessische Landesbibliothek, Wiesbaden, Hs. 2 [the so-called Riesencodex], c. 1180).
(_Liber divinorum operum_; Lucca, Biblioteca statale, cod. lat. 1942; early thirteenth century).
(Chaeremon _et al._, Ischyrion, Thirty Martyrs of Rome, and Jutta of Sponheim lightly revised from last year's post)
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