medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (10. February) is the feast day of:
1) Zoticus of Rome, Amantius of Rome (?). Z. and A. are martyrs of the tenth milestone on the Via Labicana, uncertainly thought to have perished in the Diocletianic persecution. They appear together without companions in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology. From the ninth-century historical martyrologies onward they were coupled with martyrs now thought not to have been buried with them, Irenaeus and Hyacinthus, as they were also in the RM until its revision of 2001. According to the _Liber Pontificalis_ pope St. Leo III (795-816) restored their cemetery (which at this point was named for Z.); his immediate successor St. Paschal I (817-24)
brought the martyrs' remains from there to Rome's church of Santa Prassede. An early medieval basilica at the cemetery belonged in the twelfth century to the Greek monastery at Grottaferrata, which latter probably acquired it from the see of Labicum (whose first bishop, attested from 313, was a Z.).
Z. and companions have a legendary Passio of the eleventh century (BHL 9027t) in which they are martyrs under Decius. Z.'s cemetery was rediscovered in 1715. It has been the subject of intermittent excavation, including some very recent work. Italian-language introductions to it are here:
another is here (scroll down to 'Catacombe San Zotico'):
and a plan is here:
2) Charalampes of Magnesia, Baptus, and Porphyrius (d. 202, supposedly). C. (also Charalampus; in ancient Greek, also Charalampios; in transliterated modern Greek, Charalambos, Charalampos, Haralampos) is said both in his legendary Passiones (BHG 298-298e) and in the Synaxary of Constantinople to have been a very elderly priest at Magnesia martyred under an emperor Severus. The latter has to be Septimius Severus, whose persecution began in 202. But which Magnesia? Modern potted accounts of C. divide with equal assurance between the Magnesia in Thessaly and Magnesia on the Maeander in Asia Minor. The latter was in the province of Asia, one of the places where the Severan persecution is reported to have been oppressive. And the apparently lesser known Magnesia on Sipylus (today's Manisa in Turkey), situated in the same province, seems at least as good a candidate as its homonym on the Maeander.
This uncertainty, which goes hand in hand with the absence both of any identified late antique cult locale for C. and of any witness to the existence of his story prior to the tenth century, makes him pretty much a figure of legend. In the Passiones he is tortured several times, works miracles, and by his example converts others to Christianity; at different points in the story C.'s oppressors are themselves punished only to be forgiven by him. In the end, he receives the grace to die just before he is to be decapitated (so the Passiones; in the Synaxary of Constantinople he is executed). Baptus (also called Dauktos) and Porphyrius are Roman soldiers who at an early torture session convert and are then executed. The RM includes them in its commemoration of C. An English-language account of C. et socc. covering the highlights is here:
C. became popular only in the Early Modern period, when he was viewed as a protector against plague. Though there are purported relics of him all over today's Greece (what is said to be his head is at St. Stephen's monastery at Meteora), medieval visuals pertaining to his cult are extremely hard to find. So, even though this is slightly past the list's upper limit of 1550 (and though the portion of this building dedicated to C. is even more recent), herewith some views of the church of Sts. George and C. at Theris(s)os on Crete, said to be from 1555:
3) Scholastica (d. ca. 547). According to Gregory the Great (_Dial._ 2. 33-34), S. was St. Benedict of Nursia/Montecassino's sister. Dedicated from infancy to God, she visited her brother at Montecassino annually. They would meet in a building belonging to his monastery but outside its perimeter. On the last occasion that this occurred, when S. and B. were at table after dinner she entreated him to stay the night in that building so that their conversation could be prolonged until the following morning. B. demurred, saying that he must spend the night within the monastery. Whereupon S. prayed that he would be detained nonetheless. As soon as she raised her head from prayer a tempest broke out and B., without violating any rule, was thus enabled to remain. A few days later S., who had returned to her community, was dead; B. beheld her soul's ascent to heaven. He had her body brought to his monastery and buried in the grave he later shared with her.
S.'s feast today is first recorded from the eighth century, when B.'s popularity had begun to spread. She has had several reported inventions and translations, both in Italy and in France. Today's monastery of St. Scholastica at Subiaco (RM) in Lazio goes back at least as far as the ninth century (though its denomination as that of S. alone, as opposed to of B. and S. jointly, is later medieval). A set of Italian-language pages on it from the Benedictine Monasteries of Subiaco begins here:
Another illustrated, multi-page, Italian language site on this monastery begins here:
And some illustrations of specifically medieval remains in this much rebuilt monastery are here:
Segments of cloister columns:
S. in a twelfth-century portrait in the Cappella di Sant'Anna at the Abbey of St. Benedict, Montecassino:
S. in a late thirteenth-century fresco in the lower church of the Monastery of St. Benedict (the Sacro Speco) at Subiaco:
S. as depicted by Andrea Mantegna in the St. Luke Altarpiece (commissioned, 1453) now in the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan:
B. and S. at table during their final visit, as depicted by a fifteenth-century Umbrian master working in the upper church of the same monastery:
Another view of that scene, in an illuminated initial (ca. 1460-1470) in a corale now at La Spezia:
B.'s vision of S.'s soul ascending to heaven; S.'s body being carried to Montecassino (both in the upper church of the Monastery of St. Benedict at Subiaco):
4) William of Malavalle (d. 1157). The spiritual father of the Williamites (or Wilhelmites; an order later folded into the Augustinian Hermits), W. is largely a figure of legend. After pilgrimages to Compostella, Rome, and Jerusalem, he is said to have settled down in about the year 1155 in a cave in the Malavalle near today's Castiglione della Pescaia (GR) in Tuscany, driving off in the process a large Satanic serpent (_draco_). In the following year he attracted a disciple, Albert, who wrote a Vita (BHL 8922) inspiring the eremitical Rule of the Wilhelmites (approved by Innocent III in 1211). An interpolated version by one Theobald (Thibaut; BHL 8923) added material from the Vita of the monastic founder St. William of Gellone (BHL 8916) and so made today's W. a military hero turned hermit.
W.'s cult, which spread quickly from southern Tuscany across parts of the papal state and then into much of western Europe, was approved by Alexander III at the level of _beatus_. Opinions differ as to whether W. was equivalently canonized by Innocent III in 1202. He is pretty universally referred to as 'Saint' and, indeed, is so designated in the latest version (2001) of the RM.
The monastery that replaced W.'s hermitage was abandoned in the later eighteenth century. Here's an illustrated, Italian-language page on it, with views of what's left (the church is from 1597 and was restored in 1758):
In addition to the bibliography there cited, see Margherita Eichberg, ed., _L'Eremo di San Guglielmo di Malavalle a Castiglione della Pescaia. La storia, lo scavo, il restauro_ (Roma: Edizioni Kappa, 2004).
Other views of the site:
The originally early thirteenth-century pieve di Santa Maria Assunta at Buriano (AZ) in Tuscany
possesses a relic of W, preserved in the reliquary shown at right here:
The seventeenth-century chiesa di Sant'Andrea Apostolo at Tirli (GR) in Tuscany (an expansion of an earlier chapel) posses a skull fragment and other pieces of bone said to be relics of W.:
A thirteenth-century portrait of W. by the Master of St. Augustine, now in the Pinacoteca "Bruno Molajoli" at Fabriano (AN) in the Marche:
Two views of the originally early fourteenth-century (1301-1307), now Protestant église Saint-Guillaume in Strasbourg, the sole remainder of a Williamite convent founded in 1298:
Here's a view of Hans Memling's portrait (ca. 1470) of a young man with W. (in the panel painting at right; at left are a donor and St. Anne) now in the Pierpont Morgan Library and Museum in New York:
(last year's post lightly revised)
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