medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (13. February) is the feast day of:
1) Archelaus, venerated in the diocese of Oristano (d. 100, supposedly). A. is the patron saint of the diocese of Oristano in Sardinia, celebrated today in the cathedral as well in the city of Oristano (of which he is also the patron saint and where today is an official holiday). Unattested in any surviving ancient or medieval sources, he is a product of the early seventeenth-century "corpi santi" episode in Sardinia, when early Christian gravesites were excavated for human remains associated with an inscription conducing to the identification of a saint. In 1615 A. turned up in the archbishop of Oristano's search for the remains of the attested St. Luxurius (Lussorius, etc.) in the crypt the latter's church at today's Fordongianus (OR), anciently Forum Traiani. A.'s sepulchral inscription (CIL X. 1120*) read as follows:
Hic iacet b.m. Archelaus presbiter obit
quarto Kal. septembres
to which some idiot added "an. 100", causing the entire inscription to be stigmatized as a probable forgery when it was edited early in the last century for the _Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum_ (hence the asterisk in its CIL number). As was customary during this episode, the "b.m." of the inscription was interpreted not as _bonae memoriae_ but rather as _beatus martyr_.
Within a few days of their discovery A.'s remains were taken to the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta at Oristano, where today they are housed in the chapel shown here:
Much rebuilt, Oristano's cathedral retains a little early twelfth-century (1130) original construction at the base of the fifteenth-century belltower (with eighteenth-century cupola):
Here are views of the Cappella del Rimedio in the fourteenth-century transept and of a window in the same part of the building:
The cathedral owns the fifteenth-century monstrance shown here:
A.'s translation to the cathedral of Oristano is thought to have taken place on 11. February. Why his feast now occurs on 13. February is not clear. At Fordongianus, where A. is the co-titular of the modern church of Santi Pietro e Archelao, he is celebrated on 29. August (his date of death as recorded in the inscription).
OK, so that wasn't very medieval. By way of compensation, herewith an Italian-language account (with good photographs) of the originally late twelfth- or early thirteenth-century church of San Lussorio in which A.'s remains were found:
Exterior views of the church and views of the crypt and its restored frescos are here:
(for the second page, click on the arrow at lower right). The last three photographs on this page
are expandable views of the crypt showing more detail.
2) Fusca and Maura, martyrs (?). According to their Passio (BHL 3222, 3222c, 3223), F. was the fifteen-year-old daughter of a pagan family in Ravenna who together with her nurse M. was baptized in the Christian faith. She could not be persuaded by her father to apostasize. After she refused to sacrifice to pagan idols, she was tortured on the orders of the governor Quintianus. Finally killed with a sword-thrust, F. as she was dying asked that the same mercy be shown to M. (who was being tortured with her). Her request was granted and M. met her end in the same way.
Identifying the Quintianus of this story with the official of the same name who in her Latin acta is said to have ordered the execution of St. Agatha, early modern martyrologists ascribed the events in question to the Decian persecution. But no version of this Passio that has reached print is so specific. Moreover, this seems to be a very late Passio, in origin perhaps no earlier than the eleventh century. Its earliest witnesses are said to be late eleventh- or early twelfth-century (an unpublished text in a passionary at Bologna) and twelfth-century (a fragmentary passionary from Rimini; BHL 3222c), respectively. The Passio documents a cult of Fusca initially localized in formerly Byzantine parts of northern Italy and later extended throughout the Veneto, Friuli - Venzia Giulia, and Istria. The cult's oldest recorded attestation is from the ninth-century Veneto. Our early sources from Ravenna itself are silent about it.
Most versions of their Passio end with a translation story in which the bodies of F. and M. arrived, miraculously or by the action of pirates, at Sabratha in Tripolitania (in today's Libya) and were there buried; centuries later they were brought back to Christendom, either to Ravenna (BHL 3233; thirteenth-century) or to Torcello in the northern part of the Venetian lagoon (BHL 3222; sixteenth-century), and a church was built to house their remains. As there is no evidence for the dedication of any church to F. _and M._, it could be that both Maura ("Moor") and the African locale from which their relics are said to have been returned are hagiographic inventions inspired by the name Fusca ("Darkish One"). M. could also be the Maura venerated since at least the later Middle Ages in the Ionian Islands of western Greece, where she's now identified as the M. of Timothy and Maura, martyrs celebrated on 3. May.
Though neither F. nor M. is now entered in the RM, each is venerated separately in the Veneto. The oldest surviving church dedicated to F. is Santa Fosca at Torcello, an originally late eleventh-/early twelfth-century structure connected by a colonnade to Torcello's much older ex-cathedral of the Blessed Virgin (the former cathedral of the diocese of Altino in exile).
Marjorie Greene's views, in Medrelart:
The chiesa [di] Santa Fosca in the _frazione_ of Santa Fosca in Selva di Cadore (BL) in the Dolomites is an early fifteenth-century rebuilding (consecrated, 1438) of an earlier church of the same dedication. Here's an illustrated, Italian-language site on it (click on "Notizie storiche", expand the box that comes up, and use its drop-down menu):
Here's a brief video with views of the interior:
3) Castor of Karden (or of Koblenz; d. 4th cent., supposedly). In 836 archbishop Hetto of Trier translated C. from a place that's now Karden in Treis-Karden (Lkr. Cochem-Zell) in Rheinland-Pfalz into a church he had built for him at Koblenz. According to C.'s rather later Vita (BHL 1642; oldest witness is thirteenth-century), C. thus became the patron saint of Koblenz, which latter had not had one previously. The same Vita provides a legendary back story for C. in which he is trained up in the church at Trier under bishop St. Maximinus (who ordains C. deacon and then priest) and then becomes at hermit at Karden, where he attracts disciples, dies on this day, and is buried in a local church. Much later, in the time of bishop Weomad (r., 762-91), when C. is already being honored with a cult, his remains are miraculously revealed and he is given a formal elevatio in the the church of St. Paulinus at Karden.
Thus far the Vita, which also recounts a miracle whereby the crew of a cargo vessel laden with salt denies some to C. and is promptly sunk in the Mosel by a violent storm. When the floundering crew repents, C. makes a sign of the cross and the vessel arises unharmed from underneath the water.
C.'s church at Koblenz was rebuilt in the twelfth century and was restored late in the nineteenth. Here's a plan of the Basilika St. Castor:
An originally medieval church dedicated to C. also exists at Treis-Karden:
That page's assertion that C. came from Aquitaine relies on a dubious inference from the Vita. The canonry to which this church belonged was from the late ninth century until its dissolution in 1802 the seat of an administrative district of the archdiocese of Trier. For its history, see Ferdinand Pauly, _Das Stift St. Kastor in Karden an der Mosel_ (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1986; = Germania Sacra, N. F., Bd. 19, Tl. 3).
4) Peter I of Vercelli (d. 997). The first of two sainted bishops of the Piedmontese city of Vercelli to be named Petrus, our P. commenced his episcopate in 978. Although nothing of his earlier life is known, his apparently faithful adherence to the Ottonian cause in Italy has led many to suppose that he may have been German.
In 997 P. was put to death at the order of Arduin of Ivrea, not yet proclaimed king of Italy but already a thorn in the imperial side. His body, laid to rest in his cathedral, became the focal point of a cult unfavorable to Arduin, who retaliated by having the building set on fire. A purely local saint, P. is celebrated liturgically only in the Archdiocese of Vercelli. Unlike Adelpretus II (Albert) of Trent, another bishop seemingly slain for political reasons, he is not listed in the new version (2001) of the RM.
Vercelli's present cathedral is largely neoclassical. But its belltower is not:
And the cathedral does have this lovely thirteenth(?)-century silver crucifix:
Some of the Archdiocese's early medieval treasures are shown here (incl., for students of Old English, a page from the Vercelli Book):
More medieval in appearance than the cathedral is Vercelli's formerly abbatial church of Sant'Andrea:
Two entire pages on this monument are here (most views expandable):
5) Jordan of Saxony (Bl.; d. 1237). The Westphalian-born J., then a recent Master of Arts at Paris, met St. Dominic of Caleruega in 1219 and was urged by him to join the Order of Preachers. In the following year, when he had become both a deacon and Bachelor of Theology, J. did exactly that. He rose quickly in the order, succeeding Dominic as Master General in 1222. J. traveled widely, preached well, and received other persons of talent into the order, among them St. Albertus Magnus. The first Dominican writer of note, he is known for his little history of the order's beginnings, the _Libellus de principiis Ordinis Praedicatorum_, for his letters, and for various academic writings. J.'s sermons have been edited recently by Paul-Bernard Hodel: _Beati Iordanis de Saxonia Sermones_ (Roma: Institutum Historicum Ordinis Fratrum Praedicatorum, 2005).
J. perished in a shipwreck off Pamphylia while returning to Europe from a visit to the order's Province of the Holy Land. His body was brought to Ptolemais/Acre/Akko and buried in the Dominican church there. J. has been venerated within the Order of Preachers since at least shortly after his death. His cult was confirmed in 1826. Here's J.'s portrait by Beato Angelico among the Dominican worthies in the chapter house of San Marco in Florence:
Context of this roundel:
(last year's posts combined and revised)
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