medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (14. February) is the feast day of:
1) Valentine of Rome (?). As early as the fourth century Rome had a church on the Via Flaminia in the vicinity of today's Porta del Popolo that was called the _basilica Valentini_ ('Valentine's basilica'). It's now widely thought that the V. of this church was its donor and that, as with other early churches in Rome, over time the donor metamorphosed in common understanding into a saint. The St. Valentine of this basilica 1) seems already to have been celebrated liturgically in the late sixth or early seventh century and 2) got incorporated into the legendary Passio of Marius and Martha (BHL 5543). In the latter he is beheaded on the Via Flaminia under an emperor Claudius (presumably C. Gothicus). The church itself is a fixture in the seventh-century guidebooks for pilgrims to Rome.
Further out on the Via Flaminia, at the Interamna that's today's Terni (TR) in Umbria, a martyr named V. is recorded for today in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology. Delehaye's view, now widely accepted, was that this was the saint of the Roman basilica whose cult had spread to other towns along this major Roman road. Carolingian martyrologies combined the V. of the aforementioned Passio with the (ps.-)HM's V. of today's date. Subsequent development of the Passio kept V. at Rome but made him bishop of Interamna. This was the V. most widely celebrated throughout the rest of the Middle Ages and beyond; of the other saints of this name only V. of Raetia (7. January) has enjoyed a more than purely local cult.
V. lost his place on the general Roman Calendar in the wake of Vatican II but as a martyr of Rome he is still celebrated in the diocese of Rome and in the Irish Province of the Carmelite Order (which latter has relics said to be his) and is listed for today in the latest version (2001) of the RM. Other putative relics of V. are kept in a display reliquary in the crypt of his early seventeenth-century church at Terni:
Here's a look at the originally twelfth-century church of San Valentino at Bitonto (BA) in Apulia:
Bitonto's recently restored late twelfth- and thirteenth-century cathedral
is dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta and to San Valentino. A brief, Italian-language account is here:
Illustrated, Italian-language account of the previous church's mosaic floor:
Frescoes, in the crypt, of Sts. John the Forerunner and V.:
The much rebuilt chiesa di San Valentino at Sadali (CA) in southern Sardinia, an originally thirteenth-century expansion of what had been a ninth-/tenth-century church of unknown dedication, preserves a very worn late medieval portal and rose window. Some views:
2) Modestinus, Florentinus, and Flavianus (d. early fourth century, supposedly). These three saints of the Regno are the patrons of Avellino, the capital of the Campanian province of the same name. Their cult is at least as old the eleventh century, the date both of the earliest version of their Passio (BHL 5981b) and of a notice of a church near Avellino dedicated to M. The Passio (BHL 5980-81), which also exists in later, expanded versions, is calqued on that of the Campanian saint Erasmus of Formia and, later, Gaeta (BHL 2578-82), with M. substituting for E. as a former hermit who initially evaded the Diocletianic persecution but who was ultimately tortured almost unto death at Antioch, came with angelic assistance (and with two companions; here F. and F.) to southern Italy, and died soon afterward.
According to a narrative account by Avellino's thirteenth-century bishop Roger (1215-42; also the author of the longest version of M.'s Passio and of three brief hymns in honor of these saints), his not quite immediate predecessor William (1166-1206) while hunting for spolia to adorn his cathedral found these saints buried near an ancient column some two miles away and, after obtaining consent of both clergy and people, had them translated thither. It has been customary to associate these events with William's enlargement of the cathedral's main portal in 1167 (in some datings, 1166).
For the locations of versions of M.'s Passio (which, in view of its highly derivative nature, the Bollandists found unworthy to print in the _Acta Sanctorum_), see Amalia Galdi, _Santi, territori, potere e uomini nella Campania medievale (secc. XI-XII)_ (Salerno: Laveglia, 2004), pp. 213-29. M., F., and F. are absent from the RM.
3) Nostrianus (d. 454). Traditionally the fifteenth bishop of Naples, this saint of the Regno erected a set of public baths in the city. Today's touristically famous Via San Gregorio Armeno (home to Naples' sellers of _presepi_, i.e. crèche displays)
was formerly known as the _platea Nostriana_. Perhaps that is where N.'s baths were.
N. is thought to have been bishop when St. Gaudiosus of Abitina arrived as a fugitive from Vandal persecution in Africa. Consequently, the arcosolium nearest G.'s in the Catacombs of San Gaudioso is sometimes said to have been his original resting place. Bishop St. John IV (lo Scriba; 842-49) had N.'s remains translated to the Stefania, one of the predecessors of today's cathedral. The early ninth-century Marble Calendar of Naples, incised perhaps fifty years before the earliest of our sources for N., does not include a feast for him (its saint of 14. February is Valentine).
Some views of the catacombe di San Gaudioso are here:
4) Antoninus of Sorrento (d. ca. 830). This saint of the Regno is the patron of Sorrento (NA) in Campania. His ninth- or tenth-century Vita is one of the few surviving monuments of the early medieval duchy of Sorrento. According to this account (BHL 582), A. was a monk who was forced to abandon his monastery during a period of Lombard raids and who attached himself to St. Catellus, bishop of Stabiae (today's Castellammare di Stabia). In time Catellus turned over his diocese to A. and took up a hermit's existence on the height between Castellamare di Stabia and Sorrento already known at the time of the Vita as Monte Sant'Angelo. A. joined him not long thereafter and together the two saints, inspired by the appearance of St. Michael in a vision vouchsafed to both of them, established there an oratory dedicated to the Archangel. The Vita (whose local boosterism is one of its charms) informs us that this later became a successful pilgrimage destination.
After a while, we are told, A. moved on to Sorrento and entered a monastery near it dedicated to St. Agrippinus, where he later became abbot and where he manifested exemplary kindness and zeal for work. Upon his death A. was claimed both by the monks and by the citizens of Sorrento proper and, so as not to be buried either outside or inside the city, was interred within the city wall. His post-mortem miracles (protecting Sorrento from both a Muslim raid and an attack by the Lombards; curing the demonically possessed daughter of the duke) quickly confirmed his patronal status. A.'s two best known miracles, though, are assigned to his lifetime: planting at the monastery a vine whose grapes produced exceptionally fine wine and rescuing at sea a boy who had been swallowed by a whale (the first of these is in the Vita; the second is not and probably comes from one of his sixteenth-century Lives).
Here's a view of the three peaks of Monte Sant'Angelo, part of today's Monte Faito in the Monti Lattari (in the large photograph Sorrento can be seen at the lower right):
A.'s present tomb is in Sorrento's early modern basilica di Sant'Antonino (traditionally said to occupy the site of A.'s former monastery):
(Note the reference to the two cetacean ribs; an offering related to the miracle?)
5) Constantine (Cyril) and Methodius (d. 869, d. 885). The brothers C. and M., the apostles of the Slavs, were among the seven sons of a Greek military officer at Thessaloniki and of a mother who is thought to have been Slavic-speaking. C. (who did not take the name Cyril until 868/69, when in his last months he became a monk) was the youngest: he received an advanced education in Constantinople, was ordained priest, and after service as chartophylax of Hagia Sophia taught philosophy at the school of the Magnaura. M. was a civil administrator in a Slavic-speaking area of Macedonia who in about 850 left his wife for a life of religion on Mount Olympus in Bithynia, where he eventually became hegumen of a monastery. In 861 C. was sent by the imperial government to the court of the Khazar khagan to represent Christianity in a debate that also included representatives of Judaism and of Islam; in preparation for this mission he studied Hebrew.
In 863 the emperor Michael III sent both brothers as missionaries to Great Moravia at the request of its ruler, Rastislav. In preparation for this endeavor C. developed the Glagolitic script for Slavonic tongue and translated Greek liturgical texts, the Psalter, and the New Testament into what is now known as Old Church Slavonic. With the help of these and other vernacular materials, the brothers, who were accompanied by several South Slavs including Sts. Clement of Ohrid and Naum of Preslav (or of Ohrid), organized a Moravian church. In 867 they were called to Rome to answer Frankish objections to their use of the vernacular. On this occasion C. brought with him the purported relics of pope St. Clement I (he is said to have obtained these in the Crimea while he was studying there in preparation for his mission to the Khazar court). C. died in Rome and was buried in the basilica of San Clemente.
Having obtained papal approval of his linguistic practices and been consecrated bishop by Hadrian II in 869, M. returned to Great Moravia in 870 and resumed his work, only to be imprisoned for a few years by Frankish authorities after a change of local rulers. Pope John VIII got him freed but the price for this was the abandonment of his ecclesiastical use of Slavonic in Frankish-dominated lands. In 1980 pope John Paul II declared C. and M. patron saints of Europe. Here's a view of his late Holiness praying before C.'s modern portrait in mosaic located in the old basilica of San Clemente at about the spot where C. is believed to have been buried:
A closer view of the portrait:
(last year's post lightly revised)
To join the list, send the message: join medieval-religion YOUR NAME
to: [log in to unmask]
To send a message to the list, address it to:
[log in to unmask]
To leave the list, send the message: leave medieval-religion
to: [log in to unmask]
In order to report problems or to contact the list's owners, write to:
[log in to unmask]
For further information, visit our web site: