medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (23. December) is the feast day of:
1) Servulus of Rome (d. ca. 591). Our sole source for S. is pope St. Gregory the Great (_Hom._ 1. 15; _Dial._ 4. 15). S. was a poor paralytic who begged for alms in the portico of the church of St. Clement and who, being tended by his brother and his mother, regularly gave away to other poor what he himself had received. An illiterate, he knew the Bible practically by heart, thanks to his practice of buying manuscripts (Gregory's word is _codices_) of the Bible and of having people read these to him. Despite his sufferings, S. spent his days and nights singing the Psalms and praising God. Singing for the last time as he was dying, he could hear the sound of the celestial choir.
Gregory adds that S. at his burial emitted a pleasing odor of sanctity. Ado read some somewhere, or perhaps merely inferred, that S. had been buried in the church before which he begged. In the later middle ages there was on the grounds of Rome's basilica di San Clemente a separate oratory dedicated to S. This structure was demolished under Sixtus V (1585-90). For what's known about it, see Joan E. Barclay Lloyd, "The Building History of the Medieval Church of S. Clemente in Rome", _The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians_ 45 (1986), 197-223, esp. pp. 218-20 and (marked as 'D') fig. 8 on p. 208. S.'s presumed relics are now said to repose in San Clemente proper.
The late antique basilica dedicated to St. Clement did not outlast the eleventh century. Parts of it were excavated during rebuilding work on its successor in the mid-nineteenth century. One part of the Tour at this site:
has a plan of the fourth-century basilica underneath the twelfth-century church, as well as pop-up views of structures (incl. nineteenth-century piers and vaults) and frescoes here. Three better views of early medieval frescoes on this level are Frescoes no. 10-12 on this page:
An English-language discussion, with other views of frescoes, is here:
For those not afraid of Danish, there's a detailed discussion (and a plan showing the locations of all the frescoes) here:
2) Ivo of Chartres (d. 1115). The origins and early years of the canonist I. (also Yvo, Yves) are obscure. He did some study at Bec. His appointment to the see of Chartres was confirmed in 1090; before that he had been a canon regular and, from 1078, provost/abbot of the then newly founded canonry of Saint-Quentin at Beauvais. In 1192 I. was briefly imprisoned for his unwillingness to accede to Philip I's intended divorce and remarriage. In addition to sermons and to his formal writings on canon law he left a very large correspondence on whose manuscript tradition Christof Rolker (Historisches Seminar, Universität Konstanz) is now working. One of I.'s letters, to Adela of Blois, is given here in English translation and in a Latin that one may doubt is entirely his (e.g. 'ecclasire' for 'ecclesiae'; 'consi1io' for 'consilio' [an obvious scanno]):
Some expandable views of illuminated manuscript pages of I.'s writings are here:
as are also views of pages from a commentary on the Psalms by a slightly later magister Ivo Carnotensis (on whom see Beryl Smalley, "Master Ivo of Chartres", _English Historical Review_ 50 , 680-86).
Today is I.'s _dies natalis_. His cult is said to have been nearly immediate. The date of his canonization is unknown.
3) Hartmann of Brixen/Bressanone (Bl.; d. 1164). The Passau-born canon regular H. (in Italian, Artmanno and Arimanno) was educated at Passau's canonry of St. Nicholas. In 1122 the archbishop of Salzburg introduced canons regular into his cathedral chapter, with H. as their dean. In 1128 when the canons of Herren-Chiemsee became canons regular he was made their provost; in 1133 margrave St. Leopold III entrusted him with the same task at Klosterneuburg. One wonders whether Leopold's gift to Klosterneuburg in 1136 of a three-volume Bible and of a Missal had been personally requested by H.: both books came from St. Nicholas at Passau.
In 1140 H. was elected bishop of Brixen/Bressanone in the South Tirol. He devoted himself to the reform of his clergy. In 1142 he founded the abbey of canons regular of Neustift/Novacella in what is now the commune of Varna in Trentino - Alto Adige, adding to it shortly thereafter a hospice for pilgrims. In the conflict between the emperor Frederick I Barbarossa and pope Alexander III H. was a staunch defender of papal rights. Today is his _dies natalis_. Considered saintly in his lifetime, H. enjoyed a cult after his death. His tomb at Neustift/Novacella became a pilgrimage destination; he was invoked especially in difficult pregnancies. H.'s cult was confirmed papally in 1784.
Some views of the originally twelfth-century fortified chapel of St. Michael (a.k.a., in German, _die Engelsburg_) at the entrance to Neustift/Novacella:
The abbey church is now a baroque structure, but the adjoining tower and cloister have late medieval elements:
In H.'s day the cathedral of Brixen/Bressanone was dedicated to Sts. Cassian and Ingenuinus. Now a baroque structure dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption and to St. Cassian, it too preserves an originally medieval cloister (in this case, thirteenth- to later fourteenth-century). Herewith some views, most showing some of the cloister's famous late fourteenth- to late fifteenth-century frescoes, starting with pages of multiple views:
H.'s portrait in the frescoes:
4) Thorlac (d. 1193). T. (Thorlak; Ţorlákur Ţórhallsson) is Iceland's patron saint. Prior to his consecration as bishop of Skálholt in 1178 he had been abbot of the Augustinian canons at Thykkvibaer. He opposed simony and lay patronage, was celibate when many Icelandic clerics were not, and left an interesting Penitential discussed here:
Numerous postmortem miracles were ascribed to T. In 1198 the Althing declared him a saint and his relics were enshrined in his cathedral. The shrine was destroyed during the Reformation. T. was canonized papally in 1984.
5) John Stone (d. 1539). J. was an Augustinian friar at Canterbury who is thought to have been the member of his house who in 1538 at the Dissolution both refused to subscribe the deed handing it over to the king (who under English law was now the sole head of the church in England) and reproached the royal visitor (Richard Ingworth, the bishop of Dover) for his compliance. In 1539 he was tried and convicted under the Treasons Act of 1534 and in late December of that year he was executed at Canterbury in a manner befitting a traitor (hanged, drawn, and quartered). J. was beatified in 1886 and canonized in 1970.
(Servulus of Rome, Ivo of Chartres, and Thorlac lightly revised from last year's post)
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