medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (17. December) is the feast day of:
1) Judicaël (d. 7th cent.). We know about J. (in French, also Gicquel) from his own eleventh(?)-century Vita (BHL 4503) as well as from the Vitae of his younger brother, St. Judoc (13. December; BHL 4505-4511), and of his mentor, St. Méen (21. June; BHL 5944). The center of his cult was the abbey of Saint-Méen-le-Grand at today's Gaël/Gwazel (Ille-et-Villaine) in Brittany, where he was remembered as a Breton king who entered that monastery after having been forced to abdicate in a coup by another of his brothers, who lived very piously once some years later he was able to resume the throne, and who ultimately abdicated again (this time voluntarily) and rejoined the monastery, where he lived humbly for another twenty years.
Other houses honoring J. included Saint-Serge at Angers, his brother's Saint-Josse-sur-Mer, and the abbey of Paimpont near Rennes, the successor of a priory said to have been founded by J. in about the year 645. Herewith some pages with expandable views of the originally thirteenth-century abbatiale Notre-Dame at Paimpont (Ille-et-Vilaine), where J. is still celebrated today:
2) Begga (d. 694 or 695). B. (also Begge, Beggue) is variously referred to as B. of Andenne, B. of Landen, and B. of Austrasia. The daughter of Pippin of Landen, she married a son of St. Arnulf of Metz (18. July). Their son was Pippin of Héristal. And we all know what that led to (in one account I've seen, B. is referred to rather grandly as 'the progenetrix of the Carolingians'). If she were a book hand, one might call her Pre-Caroline Majuscule.
In the 690s, after her husband's death, B. founded a religious community for women at today's Andenne (prov. de Namur), Belgium. Nothing is left of its initial seven chapels. The collégiale dedicated to her there is an eighteenth-century structure above an eleventh-century crypt; I have not found on the Web a view of the latter (i.e. the medieval crypt). But the originally eleventh-century collégiale at Nivelles (prov. de Brabant Wallon) dedicated to her sister, St. Gertude of Nivelles (17. March), now rebuilt after extensive bombing damage sustained early in World War II, is certainly worth a look:
As is the église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption at Mont-devant-Sassey (Meuse) in Lorraine, founded by the canonesses of Andenne in the eleventh century and rebuilt by them in the two centuries following. A distance view:
This church's page at Art-Roman.net:
The originals of the church's polychromed wooden statues are now in the Musée de la Princerie at Verdun. They include this seated Virgin from the twelfth-century:
For B.'s role in the formation of her dynasty, see Ian Wood, "Genealogy Defined by Women: The Case of the Pippinids", in Leslie Brubaker and Julia M. H. Smith, eds., _Gender in the Early Medieval World: East and West, 300-900_ (Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 234-56. For a brief overview of B.'s later medieval cult in today's Belgium and The Netherlands, especially among women, see Judith Oliver, "'Gothic' Women and Merovingian Desert Mothers", _Gesta_ 32 (1993), 124-34, esp. pp. 126-27. Though B. has certainly been venerated in some of these communities, she did not begin the Beguines. The very thought beggas the imagination.
3) Sturmius (d. 779). The Bavarian S. (in German, Sturm and Sturmi) was a disciple of St. Boniface and the first abbot of Fulda. According to his probably late eighth-century Vita by Eigil, the fourth abbot (BHL 7924), he was of noble birth, had been entrusted to B. as an infant, and had been educated at the monastery at today's Fritzlar (Schwalm-Eder-Kreis) in northern Hessen. After his ordination to the priesthood he engaged for about three years in pastoral and missionary work and then with two companions became a hermit somewhat further to the southeast in today's Bad Hersfeld. At Boniface's behest, S. began to search the area for a site at which to found a new monastery.
That site turned out to be in a forest in what is now Fulda, south of Hersfeld in the same river valley. In 744 king Carloman granted the land and S. began work on what would become one of the leading monasteries in eastern Francia and later in Germany. In 747/48 S. was in Rome and then at Montecassino in order to become familiar with that abbey's routines. Boniface was responsible for the first of the next two actions that secured the abbey's immediate future: a successful appeal in 751 to pope St. Zachary to make it an abbey _nullius_. The second action was S.'s doing: insuring that Boniface (d. 754) would be buried at Fulda and not in Mainz.
S. worked well with Charlemagne, from whom he received confirmation of the abbey's possessions and of its freedom to choose its own abbot. He was one of the planners of missionary campaigns in Saxony in conjunction with Charlemagne's campaigns there. S. died at Fulda and was buried in his basilica (replaced between 791 to 819 by the so-called Ratgar-Basilika). He was canonized in 1139 at Lateran II.
4) Christopher of Collesano (d. 10th cent.). Our principal sources for today's less well known saint of the Regno are Orestes of Jerusalem's joint Bios of C. and of his son St. Macarius of Collesano (16. December; BHG 312) and the same author's Bios of C.'s other son St. Sabas the Younger (5. February; BHG 1611). All three saints, as well Christopher's wife Kale, came from today's Collesano (PA) south-southwest of Cefalù in Sicily's Madonie range. In the early twelfth century C. entered religion at the famous abbey of St. Philip of Agira at today's Agira (EN) in north central Sicily. Later he received permission to live as a hermit at a place that Orestes says was named Ktisma ("Foundation"; perhaps this was the family's later name for a place that previously had had none), where he erected an oratory dedicated to St. Michael.
Macarius and Sabas joined C. there as monks, while Kale (whose disyllabic name, BTW, is an oxytone) took the veil and founded a small monastery for women nearby. In 940/41 a famine caused the entire family and others from the vicinity to move to Calabria, where they established a new monastery dedicated to Michael in the mountainous area of the Merkourion, already a favored place of settlement for Italo-Greek monks and hermits. Pressure from Muslim raiders caused them in time to move further inland to the similarly rugged Latinion, now in the Parco Nazionale del Pollino in today's Basilicata. C. died there after having made a pilgrimage to Rome to visit the tombs of the Apostles; his cult was immediate.
The abbot in the Merkourion to whom St. Leo Luke of Corleone is said in his Vita (BHL 4842) to have attached himself when he first arrived there was named Christopher. In the view of some, he was today's C.
(Begga lightly revised from last year's post)
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