medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (7. February) is the feast day of:
1) Maximus of Nola (d. later 3d cent.). This less well known saint of the Regno was already venerated at the Campanian town of Nola in the martyrion of St. Felix of Nola when pope St. Damasus I (366-384) prayed at his tomb there. When his prayer was answered Damasus wrote a poem of gratitude to M. (_Epigrammata Damasiana_, ed. Ferrua, no. 59) and had it displayed in mosaic in the martyrion. At the end of that century St. Paulinus of Nola replaced that structure with a basilica on the same site in Nola's Christian cemetery, today's Cimitile (NA). Though the shrine's primary honoree remained St. Felix (he of 14. January), the early tombs of both saints lay within the precinct -- as indeed they still do -- and M. was included in F.'s cult.
According to Paulinus (whose poems and letters mentioning him underly St. Gregory of Tours' account of this saint in the _In gloria martyrum_, St. Bede the Venerable's Vita of M., and the matter on him in priest Marcellus' Vita of St. Felix of Nola), the elderly M. was bishop of Nola when the Decian persecution broke out. M. went into a very uncomfortable period of hiding in the mountains but was finally succored by his priest St. Felix, whom an angel had liberated from prison for this very purpose. M.'s privation was such that when Felix found him he was near death from cold and hunger. When in the following year the persecution ended M. resumed his episcopal duties.
Along with the St. Felix of Nola of 15. November (legendarily Nola's first bishop) and with Paulinus of Nola (traditionally the third bishop), M. was figured in the tenth-century frescoes of the left apse of the original church of Santa Maria Assunta at Pernosano di Pago Vallo Lauro (AV), also in Campania. Though M.'s portrait hasn't survived (all that's left are a bit of his halo and part of his vestment), portraits of the other two are here:
The town of San Massimo (CB) in Molise, first attested from 1113, is thought to have taken its name from a now vanished church dedicated to today's M. (now and perhaps always its patron saint).
2) Juliana of Florence (d. very late 4th or early 5th cent.). In 393 St. Ambrose of Milan gave a sermon at Florence that's traditionally known as the _Exhortatio virginitatis_. In this text (2. 9-27) he praises a pious local widow named Juliana, to whom he has given the first relics to be distributed of the recently discovered Bolognese saints Vitalis and Agricola, and puts words in her mouth praising virginity to her one son and three daughters. The information that this sermon's venue was Florence comes only from Paulinus of Milan's Vita of St. Ambrose; in Bologna, the standard medieval assumption seems to have been that that city was the sermon's venue.
A legendary ninth- or early tenth-century Bolognese account of the Invention of Vitalis and Agricola (BHL 8690) makes J. one of its actors. In the twelfth century she received a Vita of her own (BHL 4519) building upon details in the _Exhortatio virginitatis_, identifying J. as well with her homonym of St. Augustine's _De bono viduitatis_, and having her die on this day with burial following in a church she had constructed in Bologna. J.'s cult at Bologna is attested from the same century in the long, prosimetric Vita of St. Petronius (BHL 6641) but is absent from the city's twelfth- to fourteenth-century statutes where these speak of the local saints. Prior to its revision of 2001 the RM placed J. at Bologna.
3) Lawrence of Siponto (d. ca. 550, supposedly). This less well known saint of the Regno first comes to light in three seemingly eleventh-century Vitae, two in prose and one in verse from an Office for him. All of these make him out to be the unnamed sixth-century bishop of Siponto in northern Apulia who in the late eighth- or ninth-century _Liber de apparitione sancti Michaelis in monte Gargano_ (BHL 5948; the principal foundation account of the nearby sanctuary of St. Michael the Archangel on the Gargano peninsula), is chosen by Michael to be present at the dedication of the sanctuary, which latter the archangel himself had miraculously brought into existence.
These texts and their later reworkings, though differing in their details, all celebrate a figure of legend and reaffirm through him, in different political contexts, the diocese of Siponto's traditional supervision of this famous sanctuary and pilgrimage destination. Independent evidence has not been found either for the existence of a late antique or early medieval bishop of Siponto named Lawrence or for that of a bishop of Siponto who in the sixth century did any of the things that are ascribed to L. Antonio Papagna's careful _Il Cristianesimo in Puglia fino all'avvento dei Normanni (1071)_ (Bari: Levante, 1993) hesitates to grant L. any historical standing.
In 1099 relics said to be L.'s were discovered during excavations in a chapel in Siponto. In 1117 these were translated to that city's newish cathedral of Santa Maria and reinterred there under the high altar. Views and Italian-language descriptions of this building are here:
An illustrated, English-language account of the church is here:
A whole page of expandable views is here:
Three pages of expandable views (black-and-white) from the archeological campaign of 1953, including details not otherwise shown, are here:
And an illustrated Italian-language account of the crypt is here:
with a plan thereof:
In the later thirteenth century, when subsidence had made an already earthquake-damaged Siponto increasingly swampy and malaria-ridden, L.'s putative remains were transferred to the cathedral of Manfredonia, the nearby port founded by king Manfred in 1256 as a replacement. They were lost in 1620 when a raiding party of Turks destroyed the building. Its successor, the present cathedral, is dedicated to L. For discussions of L'.s Vitae see Tiziana Catallo, "Sulla datazione delle 'Vitae' di Lorenzo vescovo di Siponto", _Studi Medievali_, 3. serie, 32 (1991), 129-57, and Ada Campione, "Lorenzo di Siponto: un vescovo del VI secolo tra agiografia e storia", _Vetera Christianorum_ 41 (2004), 61-82.
4) Richard of England (d. early 720s). Richard is the name implausibly given to the Anglo-Saxon father of Sts. Wynnebald, Willibald, and Walburg(a). According Huneberc of Heidenheim's late eighth-century Vita of Willibald (BHL 8931; commonly known as her _Hodoeporicon of W.), their father accompanied Wynnebald and Willibald from England on their pilgrimage to the Holy Land, died at Lucca, and was laid to rest there in the church of St. Frigidian (now, in a structure mostly of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, San Frediano). Reginald of Eichstätt in the eleventh century is said to be the earliest writer known to have called him Richard. R.'s cult is attested from at least the twelfth century onward both at Eichstätt (where Willibald was the first bishop) and in Lucca (where remains said to be his are among San Frediano's relics).
A distance view of Lucca's basilica di San Frediano:
Facade views (the facade and the restored mosaic it supports are both of the thirteenth century):
This altarpiece (1419-22) by Jacopo della Quercia in San Frediano's Cappella Trenta has a predella panel depicting one of R.'s miracles:
The late antique sarcophagus underneath the altar table once housed R.'s putative relics.
The same church's Capella del Soccorso has a later thirteenth-century fresco, in a lunette, of the BVM and the Christ Child between St. Zita (who also reposes in this church) on one side and R. on the other. A detail view of its St. Zita is towards the bottom here:
Does anyone have a view of its R. or of the whole fresco to share with the list?
5) Luke the Younger (L. of Stiris, L. the Wonderworker; d. 953). According to his later tenth-century Bios (BHG 994), L. while still in his early teens left his home near Delphi and entered a monastery in Athens. Released on the request of his mother, he soon withdrew to a nearby mountain where, with the exception of perhaps a decade spent near Corinth in the company of a stylite, he lived as a hermit for many years. In the early 940s, prompted in part by Hungarian raids, he moved several times but in 946 he settled down on a mountainside in Phokis and attracted followers. Miracles occurred at his grave. Within a century of L.'s death the oratory that he built there had been transformed into the art-historically significant monastery named for him, Hosios Loukas. L.'s tomb is in the crypt of its katholikon. Here he is, overlooking an entrance to the complex:
A few illustrated, English-language pages on Hosios Loukas:
The two churches (the mid-eleventh-century katholikon on the left, the earlier Panagia church on the right):
Views of the katholikon:
(Maximus of Nola, Lawrence of Siponto, and Luke the Younger lightly revised from last year's post)
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