medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (26. December) is also the feast day of:
1) Dionysius, pope (d. 268). D., who is thought to have been of Greek origin, was a Roman presbyter elected bishop of Rome in July 260 after news of the death of the persecuting emperor Valerian had reached the Eternal City and a few months before the emperor Gallienus issued his edict of toleration for Christians. After several years of sustained persecution a revitalization of ecclesiastical leadership will have been in order. The _Liber Pontificalis_ is probably correct in ascribing to D. reorganization of both the suburbicarian sees and the parochial structure within Rome proper.
Controversies over Christ's physical nature led to D.'s affirming Roman Trinitarian doctrine, to a correspondence between the pope and St. Dionysius of Alexandria, who had been accused of taking what one might call proto-Arian positions in this regard, and to D.'s support of synods in Antioch that condemned and deposed for his adoptionist views. Dionysius of Alexandria spoke highly of D.'s wisdom and learning; a century later, St. Basil the Great recalled in a letter (_Ep._ 70) D.'s generosity in providing financial aid to the church of Cappadocia as well as funds for the ransom of captive Christians. D. was buried in the crypt of the popes in the cemetery of Callistus. His inclusion in the _Depositio episcoporum_, and his absence from the _Depositio martyrum_, of the Chronographer of 354 renders implausible his characterization as a martyr by the _Liber Pontificalis_.
2) Zeno of Maiuma (d. betw. ca. 400 and 431). We know about Z. from Sozomen's _Historia Ecclesiastica_, 5. 9 and especially 7. 28. Early in life he had become a monk; when Maiuma's small Christian community chose him to be its bishop he was in hiding to avoid the Julianic persecution (361-63). Christians appear not to have been popular in fourth-century Gaza and vicinity and it was only during the reign of Theodosius I (379-95) that Z. began publicly to exercise his episcopate. He retained from his monastic past a predilection for manual labor and as bishop occupied himself as a linen weaver. According to Sozomen, who met him at one point, Z. was then one hundred years old. Z., who erected outside of Gaza a martyrial church honoring his relatives Sts. Eusebius, Nestabo, Zeno (of Gaza), and Nestor, appears not to have been venerated anciently or medievally. Cardinal Baronio entered him in the RM, choosing today for reasons that are now unknown.
3) Zosimus, pope (d. 418). The presbyter Z. succeeded Innocent I in March 417. According to the _Liber Pontificalis_, he was of Greek origin and the son of a presbyter whose name was Abraham (so possibly he was of Jewish ancestry). St. John Chrysostom had recommended him to Innocent. He continued Innocent's policy of strenuously promoting papal authority within the church, with rather mixed results. His appointment of the bishop of Arles as metropolitan in parts of southern Gaul with legatine rights caused resentment in the other sees and led to protests that were ineffective during Z.'s brief pontificate. But the church of Africa, working in co-operation with the government of emperor Honorius, forced him to reverse his approval of Pelagius' teachings. Z. did succeed, if only temporarily, in getting that church to permit appeals to Rome.
Again according to the _Liber Pontificalis_, Z. was interested in liturgical matters and in clerical discipline. His cult is first attested by his inclusion in the ninth-century martyrology of St. Ado of Vienne.
4) Richlindis (Bl.; d. 1150). R. (also Richlinde) was the wife of Bl. Erkenbert (24. December), the founder in 1119 of the house of canons regular at today's Frankenthal (Rheinland-Pfalz). About the time that E. separated from her to become provost at Frankenthal she founded a house of Augustinian canonesses at Klein-Frankenthal in nearby Ormsheim, today's Ormsheimer Hof, and moved in as abbess once the first buildings had been erected. That will probably have been in 1125, the year in which the first stone was laid for her monastery's church of St. Stephen.
R.'s monastery of Klein-Frankenthal lasted until 1431. Its church remained in use well after that but was a ruin in 1956, when a Gymnasium (a secondary school preparing one for university) was founded on the site, and was later demolished to permit the school's expansion. The second photograph on this page shows the ruined church as it appeared in 1956:
Neither R. nor her husband has ever graced the pages of the RM.
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