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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  December 2008

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION December 2008

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Subject:

saints of the day 13. December

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 13 Dec 2008 17:48:13 -0600

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text/plain

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (13. December) is the feast day of:

1)  Antiochus of the Sulcis (d. early 2d cent., supposedly).  A. was originally the local saint of the late Roman city of Sulci, now the town of Sant'Antioco on the homonymous island in the southwestern Sardinian district of the Sulcis.  He has a legendary Passio (BHL 566d), not older than the eleventh century and probably of the twelfth or early thirteenth, that makes him a physician active in Galatia and Cappadocia who converted many to Christianity, was arrested and tortured by Roman authorities, and defended the faith in a lengthy colloquy with the emperor Hadrian.  According to that account (which up to this point is adapted from a Passio of St. Antiochus of Sebaste), A. was exiled to the island of Sulci, where he became a hermit and continued to practice Christianity.  Denounced to the pagan rulers of Calaris (today's Cagliari), he was granted a peaceful entry into heaven after soldiers sent to seize him arrived at the cave in which was dwelling.

The cave in the Passio is the latter's interpretation of the early state of the chamber beneath the church at Sant'Antioco in which A. has been venerated since late antiquity.  This chamber, formed within a cluster of hypogea going back to Sulci's pre-Roman and Roman Punic past and later expanded and rebuilt with stones from Sulci's Roman city wall, contains a late antique sarcophagus that in 1615 held remains said to be A.'s.  At that time the sarcophagus bore a marble slab (now in the cathedral of Iglesias on the Sardinian mainland) with a Latin inscription, seemingly carved in the sixth or very early seventh century and thought from its versification to be a copy of a fifth-century text.  This identified the spot as the resting place of A., characterized as a saint but not as a martyr.

In the early Middle Ages Sulci dwindled to a small community with a church in the form of a Greek cross surmounting A.'s burial chamber.  From at least the late tenth century this was an Eigenkirche of the house of Lacon-Gunale; in the late eleventh century it belonged to that branch of the family who ruled the judicate of Cagliari.  By 1089 judge Constantinus Salusius II had given land next to the church to the Victorines of Marseille for a monastery dedicated to A.  When the church was reconsecrated in 1102 it had been rebuilt on a Latin-cross plan and the area beneath may have already become the two-apsed complex known today as the Catacombe di Sant'Antioco.  In 1124, when judge Marianus Torchitorius II and others in his immediate family gave the income of the entire island of Sant'Antioco to the monastery, they could still refer to the church as their hereditary property.

Members of the same house were in the eleventh and twelfth centuries judges of Arborea and of Torres; they may have been responsible for the extension of A.'s cult into those judicates.  A.'s Passio and the hexameter verse celebrating his martyrdom that accompanies it in his Office were probably written by the Victorines, perhaps at Cagliari rather than at Sant'Antioco itself.  The Office is still read on 13. November, A.'s feast day within the ecclesiastical region of Sardinia.   A. is a patron saint of all Sardinia.

An Italian-language introduction to A.'s much rebuilt cathedral church at Sant'Antioco (CI) is here:
http://www.sardegnacultura.it/j/v/253?s=18134&v=2&c=2659&c1=2630&t=1
To the bibliography add now Pier Giorgio Spanu, _Martyria Sardiniae.  I santuari dei martiri sardi_ (Oristano: S'Alvure, 2000), pp. 83-95 and (text of the Office) 177-85.

An Italian-language introduction to A.'s much rebuilt cathedral church at Sant'Antioco (CI):
http://tinyurl.com/5cm4me
To the bibliography add now Pier Giorgio Spanu, _Martyria Sardiniae.  I santuari dei martiri sardi_ (Oristano: S'Alvure, 2000), pp. 83-95 and (text of the Office) 177-85.
Some views (facade; interior views):
http://tinyurl.com/2an2lj
http://tinyurl.com/5zzulj
http://flickr.com/photos/puntomaupunto/253572096/
http://www.sardegnacultura.it/immagini/7_70_20060308130424.gif
http://www.mondimedievali.net/Edifici/Sardegna/images/santioc03.jpg
http://flickr.com/photos/puntomaupunto/253572264/
So-called catacombs beneath the church (view of the entrance; illustrated, Italian-language page; other views):
http://www.mondimedievali.net/Edifici/Sardegna/images/santioc05.jpg
http://tinyurl.com/5qknt8
http://www.ss126.it/gallery/contenuti/grandi/1-108.jpg

Thanks largely to his supposed medical prowess, A. has been popular in various parts of Sardinia from the central Middle Ages onward.  Two other Sardinian churches dedicated to A.:
a)  The originally eleventh- and twelfth-century chiesa di Sant'Antioco di Bisarcio, an ex-cathedral at Ozieri (SS), formerly in the judicate of Torres:
http://www.mondimedievali.net/Edifici/Sardegna/bisarcio.htm
http://tinyurl.com/5d89zq
http://tinyurl.com/37854z
http://tinyurl.com/338klm
b)  The originally fifteenth-century chiesa di Sant'Antioco at Atzara (NU), formerly in the judicate of Arborea:
http://tinyurl.com/5jgqve
http://tinyurl.com/2hau8a
http://tinyurl.com/2x39cj
http://tinyurl.com/2ej2hn


2)  Lucy (d. 304, supposedly).   This L. (usually referred to with geographic specification, the others all having their own identifiers) is an early martyr of Syracuse.  Her cult is first attested from the late fourth- or early fifth-century epitaph of Euskia, a woman of about twenty-five years of age who was laid to rest at Syracuse in the Christian cemetery now known as that of San Giovanni and who, in the words of her husband, _anepauseto te heorte tes kyrias mou Loukias_ ('died on the feast of my lady Lucy').  Here's a view of the epitaph:
http://www.kairos-web.com/images/iscrizione.jpg
A reproduction of the inscription with the letters made more distinct  (and with an Italian-language translation) is here:
http://www.carasantalucia.it/documenti/euschia.htm
The inscription is no. 20 in Santi Luigi Agnello, _Silloge di iscrizioni paleocristiane della Sicilia_ (Roma: "L'Erma" di Bretschneider, 1953), with the edited text on p. 23 (and in preceding Tavola I) and commentary on pp. 65-66.

Seemingly from the fifth century is the oldest known version of L.'s Passio (BHG 995).  This makes her an affianced young woman of Syracuse who has vowed secretly to remain virginal and who makes a pilgrimage with her mother to the tomb of St. Agatha at Catania.  At L.'s suggestion the mother, who suffers from an incurable flux, touches the tomb and is healed.  Agatha appears to L. in a vision and reveals that it was really L.'s faith that operated her mother's cure.  L. then reveals to her mother her desire to remain virginal and begins to live in poverty as well.  This displeases L.'s fiancÚ, who reports her to the authorities as a Christian (this is during Diocletian's persecution).  L. is arrested, refuses to sacrifice to the gods of the state, predicts the downfall of Diocletian and Maximian, is sentenced to serve in a brothel, undergoes torture, and is decapitated.  A church is built over her grave.

In the sixth century L.'s cult is first documented from peninsular Italy, where she appears along with St. Agatha in the procession of the virgin martyrs in Ravenna's basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo (mosaics dated to ca. 561) and in the _Nobis quoque_ of the Roman canon of the Mass (first documented from the seventh century in a form that has undergone revision; according to St. Aldhelm, Agatha and Lucy were added by pope St. Gregory the Great).  By the end of that century there were monasteries dedicated to L. in Syracuse and in Rome.  A Mass for her first appears in the early seventh-century Gregorian Sacramentary and by the end of that century a Latin version of her originally Greek Passio had come into being (BHL 4992; adapted by Aldhelm in his _De virginitate_).

BHL 4992, which became standard in the medieval Latin West, is usually faithful to its Greek predecessor but changes L.'s manner of death to a sword blow that allows her to live long enough to receive the Eucharist before expiring.  In the ninth century L. was the subject of a kanon (hymn) by St. Methodius I, a native of Syracuse and Sicily's only patriarch of Constantinople, and in the same century her Greek Passio was revised and expanded at Syracuse in a form (BHG 995d) that seems generally not to have supplanted its predecessor.

Only in the fourteenth century does the story appear whereby L. blinds herself in order to deter a persistent suitor (to whom she then sends her eyes).  To judge from early references, some version was already in existence before then.  L. occurs three times in Dante's _Commedia_ (_Inferno_ 2. 94-117; _Purgatorio_ 9. 52-63; _Paradiso_ 32. 136-38); in the first two instances L.'s eyes are singled out for attention.  The Latin noun _lux_, _lucis_ denotes 'light' but has extended meanings of 'insight' and 'eyesight'; all of these were associated with L., either spiritually or metaphorically or in connection with problems with one's eyes.  A similar progression is observable in the case of the Greek St. Photeine ('Luminous', 'Enlightened'), who like L. became a patron of those with disorders of the eye.

In the year 970 relics alleged to be L.'s were translated to Metz.  According to Siegebert of Gembloux (writing over two centuries later), these were brought over the Alps by bishop Dietrich I of Metz, who had obtained them at ruined Corfinium in what is now Abruzzo (if this report is true, either St. Pelinus' putative remains were not then in Corfinium or else they weren't thought worth taking).  Siegebert's contemporary the Cassinese historian Leo Marsicanus reports that in 1039 the Byzantine general George Maniakes during his evanescent conquest of eastern Sicily had L.'s remains removed from her tomb at Syracuse and sent to Constantinople.

What is believed to be the same set of remains translated in 1039 was brought at some time in the twelfth or thirteenth century to Venice (the report that doge Enrico Dandolo had them sent there after the conquest of Constantinople in 1204 is late and problematic), where they still are.  Here are some views of the putative L. reposing in Venice's Santi Geremia e Lucia (the silver mask was added in 1955 by the then patriarch of Venice, Angelo Roncalli, the future pope John XXIII):
http://tinyurl.com/yq5hp3
http://tinyurl.com/yuje58
http://www.kathpedia.com/images/a/a8/SantaLucia.jpg
These views are from when L. was on loan to the Archdiocese of Syracuse in December 2004:
http://tinyurl.com/2cm243
http://tinyurl.com/376j55

In the early twelfth century, with Syracuse in Latin Christian hands, her extramural, sixth-century martyrial basilica was built anew incorporating portions of its predecessor.  Now called Santa Lucia al Sepolcro (or S. L. Extra Moenia) and shown here:
http://tinyurl.com/2ul6lt
, it is a three-aisled, three-apsed basilica that underwent substantial reconstruction in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries and again seventeenth century (when the portico so prominent in the photographs was added).
Some interior views are here (starting in eighth row down):
http://tinyurl.com/2wa7py
Against the pilaster on the right in this view is a pillar against which L. is said to have been tortured:
http://tinyurl.com/2qyrnu
Another view of this object of piety:
http://tinyurl.com/yuyva4

A side view shows in the foreground the octagonal, seventeenth century Tempietto del Sepolcro designed to house bodily relics of L. that never arrived:
http://tinyurl.com/bn6qb
Closer views, from other directions:
http://tinyurl.com/369fnl
http://tinyurl.com/2c2w8l
This structure is built over what was traditionally thought to have been the site of L.'s ancient tomb and displays what is said to have been her loculus:
http://tinyurl.com/d88rl

Best,
John Dillon
(matter from last year's posts, lightly revised)

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