medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (10. December) is the feast day of:
1) Maurus of Rome (?). A Roman saint of the cemetery of Thraso on the Via Salaria Nova, the young M. has a verse memorial by pope St. Damasus I (_Epigrammata Damasiana_, ed. Ferrua, no. 44). Legend made him a son of Chrysanthus and Daria (25. October in today's RM; medievally, 29. November or 1. December) and gave him a brother named Jason. Prior to its revision of 2001, the RM commemorated M. and Jason on 3. December as the martyred sons of the tribune Claudius and his wife Hilaria.
2) Eulalia of Mérida (d. 304, supposedly). According to Prudentius, whose very stylized and probably largely fictional hymn celebrating her (_Peristephanon_, 3) is our earliest documentation of her cult, E. was a girl of twelve whose savage martyrdom culminated in her being burned to death. The late ninth-century _Cantilène de sainte Eulalie_ has her burned and then decapitated, with her soul flying to heaven in the form of a dove.
A text of Prudentius' poem is here:
and an English-language translation is here:
In the heavily restored sixth-century procession of the virgins in Ravenna's Basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, E. follows St. Agnes:
A text of the _Cantilène de sainte Eulalie_ ("Buona pulcella fut Eulalia"), with a facsimile of the original manuscript text (Bibliothèque de Valenciennes, ms. 150, fol.141v) and a translation into modern French, is here:
Another text, accompanied by notes on grammar and vocabulary:
Some views of E.'s church at Mérida in Spain's Badajoz province (1230, with remains of fifth- and ninth-century predecessors and built over part of a fourth-century necropolis):
The fourteenth-century Eulalia altarpiece belonging to the cathedral of Palma de Mallorca:
3) Gemellus (d. 362, supposedly). G. is a martyr of Galatia whose cult there is attested from the fifth century thanks to a reference in the Bios of St. Theodore the Sykeote (BHG 1748) to a church dedicated to him in Thedore's native village of Sykeos. Synaxary notices deriving from a now lost and seemingly rather legendary Martyrion of G. have him arrested at Ancyra (today's Ankara) under Julian the Apostate, taken in the emperor's traveling party to Edessa (today's Þanlýurfa in the homonymous province of Turkey), variously tortured _en route_, and crucified before the latter city. For those with access to a facsimile of the so-called Menologion of Basil II (BAV, Vat. gr. 1613), there's an illumination of G.'s suffering at fol. 235r.
4) Gregory III, pope (d. 741). A Roman priest of Syrian origin, G. acceded to the papacy by acclaim in 731 following the death of Gregory II. According to the _Liber Pontificalis_, he was adequately educated in Holy Writ, was well instructed in Latin and in Greek, and had memorized the Psalms and was skilled in their explication. G. was the last pope to seek confirmation of his election from the exarch in Ravenna. His intense opposition to the imperially promoted policy prohibiting the display of icons led to the transfer from papal jurisdiction to that of the patriarch of Constantinople of the official church in imperially controlled southern Italy, Sicily, and Illyricum and to the papacy's loss of its estates in these territories.
With very mixed results, G. devoted much of his pontificate to the defense of the duchy of Rome against Lombard aggression. He was of material assistance in the recovery of Ravenna for the exarchate after its capture by king Liutprand in 733, he strengthened the walls of Rome and of the port of Civitavecchia, he allied Rome with the southern Lombard duchies of Spoleto and Benevento (then seeking to maintain autonomy vis-a-vis Pavia) and suffered the loss of several fortresses when Liutprand asserted his authority in Spoleto, and he unsuccessfully sought from Charles Martel the sort of Frankish intervention that was later provided by Pepin the Short and by Charlemagne.
G. actively supported St. Boniface's mission in Germany. In Rome he restored and/or beautified numerous churches, one being Santa Maria ad Martyres (a.k.a. the Pantheon), whose roof he shielded with lead tiles replacing the copper ones removed by Constans II in 663. G. was buried in an oratory he had constructed in St. Peter's on the Vatican. Our first evidence of his receiving a cult comes from his inclusion in the ninth-century martyrology of St. Ado of Vienne.
Another of the churches renewed by G. was the _titulus Chrysogoni_, now San Crisogono in Trastevere. Rebuilt in the twelfth century and again in the seventeenth, it preserves in its lower church (the old church, abandoned and filled in with rubble for the twelfth-century rebuilding) fragmentary frescoes dating from the sixth century to the eleventh. Some from the eighth century may very well be survivors of those referred to by the _Liber Pontificalis_ in its account of G.'s benefactions to this church. Marjorie Greene has some views of frescoes in the lower church here:
While we're here, a few views of San Crisogono's splendid cosmatesque floor (thirteenth-century, slightly restored):
5) Luke of Melicuccà (d. 1114). L. (also L. of Isola [di] Capo Rizzuto) was born around the middle of the eleventh century at today's Melicuccà (RC) in Calabria, when that region, then largely populated by people of Greek language and culture, had just ceased to be part of the (Eastern) Roman Empire. He became a monk, was raised to the priesthood for his merits, and by 1092 was bishop of what's now Isola [di] Capo Rizzuto (KR). His Bios (BHG 2237), thought to have been written shortly after his death, makes him out to have been a peripatetic preacher of note among the Greek communities of eastern and southern Calabria. Charter evidence puts him in Sicily as well, preaching and ordaining Greek-rite priests.
L. founded a monastery dedicated to St. Nicholas at Viotorito near Rossano (CS) in northeastern Calabria, retired there toward the end of his life, and died surrounded by his region's bishops and abbots and by other monks and priests. Miracles both lifetime and immediately posthumous soon led to his acclamation as a saint and he has been so considered by the Greek-rite church in Italy ever since. In the latter he is also sometimes known as Luke the Grammarian. The Roman-rite church in the dioceses of Oppido-Palmi and Crotone-Santa Severina considers 9. December to be his _dies natalis_ and celebrates him on that day.
L.'s Bios -- also an interesting document for what it says about the uneasy relations between the Greek church in southern Italy and its new Frankish overlords ("Frankish" in the Byzantine sense, of course) -- survives thanks to its inclusion in the great menologion written for Santissimo Salvatore at Messina in the early fourteenth century. It has been edited, annotated, and translated into Italian by Giuseppe Schirò as _Vita di s. Luca, vescovo di Isola Capo Rizzuto_ (Palermo: Istituto siciliano di studi bizantini e neogreci, 1954). Another annotated Italian translation will be found on the Web at:
L.'s Melicuccà (not to be confused with coastal Melicuccà di Dinami in the province of Vibo Valentia) has a few very late medieval survivals. The only medieval visual I could quickly find of it is this view of the upper town showing the remains of the originally tenth-century Byzantine castle below the modern clocktower:
(Maurus of Rome, Eulalia of Mérida, and Luke of Melicuccà lightly revised from last year's post)
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