medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (15. February) is the feast day of:
1) Faustinus and Jovita (d. early 1st cent., supposedly). These two patron saints of the city of Brescia in Lombardy have a cult that's attested to in a reference by St. Gregory the Great (_Dial._ 4. 54) to a church at Brescia dedicated to F. as well as in a garbled entry for tomorrow in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology. In the first half of the eighth century St. Petronax, the second founder of Montecassino, brought from his native Brescia an arm relic of F. and deposited this in his newly built abbey church. F. and J. have a seemingly early ninth-century Passio (BHL 2836; several later versions) that makes them brothers (F. a priest and J. a deacon) who were arrested at Brescia, tortured in various ways at various places, and finally decapitated in Brescia on this day in some year in the principate of Hadrian (117-38). Usuard, who lists them for today, seems not to know their story and, seemingly thinking him female, characterizes as J. a virgin.
Also in the early ninth century relics of both saints (referred to jointly) were distributed to other north Italian episcopal cities (Verona, Aquileia). In later medieval Brescia F. and J. were represented as knights; images of them in this role were placed on city gates. But they continued to be thought of as priest and deacon and are so represented in the city's coinage of the later thirteenth century as well as on the tomb of bishop Berardo Maggi (d. 1308) in the Duomo Vecchio.
Here's F. in a thirteenth-century relief first documented from 1254, when it was used in the reconstruction of Brescia's Porta Pile:
Sculptures of F. and J. (1349) from the Duomo Vecchio, now in the Museo di Santa Giulia:
Some views of the Duomo Vecchio itself:
Vincenzo Foppa's very late fifteenth-century Madonna and Child between the Saints Faustino and Giovita:
Two dedications to F. and J. outside of Brescia are:
a) Their parish church at Rubiera (RE) in Emilia, first recorded from the tenth century as a chapel dedicated to F. The present structure (rebuilt, 1853-1870: distance view: http://tinyurl.com/ywr97s\) seems at least a century later.
Its thirteenth-century fresco of the Madonna and Child:
b) The rebuilt church, dedicated to F. and J., at the Santuario della Madonna delle Grazie at Milan:
The present building is from 1519. It had predecessors going back at least as far as 1190.
2) Severus of Interocrium (or of Antrodoco; d. 4th or 5th cent.?). According to pope St. Gregory the Great (_Dial._ 1. 12. 1-3), this less well known saint of the Regno was priest of the church of Mary the Mother of God at Interocrium (or Interocrea), today's Antrodoco (RI) in Lazio.
Gregory tells us that S. (whom we are led to believe lived rather well before G.'s own time) was pruning his vines when a dying sinner's messengers arrived and asked him to hasten to confess the man before he died. Preferring to finish the job at hand (which was near completion), S. sent the messengers ahead, saying that he would follow shortly. He did, but when he caught up with the messengers they informed him that the man was now dead. The anguished S. rushed to the man's bedside, sobbing and blaming himself for allowing him to die unconfessed. Whereupon the man returned to life and said that he had been on his way to Hell when the Lord ordered his return because S. was crying. S. then helped him make his confession and perform penance for seven days, after which the man died in peace.
Gregory's story of S. is recast in the legend of Severus of Orvieto (BHL 7683-7685) but it is not clear whether our S. was venerated as a saint in the Middle Ages. Baronius entered him in the RM for this date, claiming (incorrectly) that he had already appeared in the Martyrology of Ado. Herewith an illustrated, Italian-language account of the originally eleventh- or twelfth-century church of Santa Maria extra moenia outside of Antrodoco, a possible successor to S.'s church:
That fourteenth-century portal was added in a mid-twentieth-century restoration; its provenance is unknown. An earlier portal from this church was transferred to Antrodoco's Santa Maria Assunta when the latter was rebuilt after the earthquake of 1703.
A relief on the church's exterior:
The Italia nell'Arte Medievale page on this site:
3) Quinidius (d. ca. 579). Q. (in French, Quenin, Quinide, Quiniz) was archdeacon of Vaison when he was sent by his bishop St. Theodosius to a synod at Arles in 552. He was bishop of Vaison when he subscribed the acts of the synod of Paris of 573. The ninth-century Ado and Usuard enter Q. under today in their martyrologies. The late medieval tradition of his diocese was that Q. previously had been a monk at Lérins.
Q.'s undated but seemingly very late and stylishly written Vita (BHL 6996) knows nothing about his having been a monk. This text tells us that Q. was born to a prominent family of Vaison, that a pre-natal miracle occurring while his mother was at Arles for the feast of St. Genesius caused her to recognize his sanctity while he was still in the womb and to give him to the Church at an early age, that Q. later became Theodosius' coadjutor before succeeding him as bishop, that his multiple virtues brought him renown not only in the Cottian Alps but indeed all the way to Rome and to Reims and indeed in Iberia and Germany, that he performed miracles and died on this day, and that further miracles followed.
Vaison is now Vaison-la-Romaine (Vaucluse), famous for its Roman and early medieval architectural remains. Its diocese was suppressed in 1801. The town's ex-cathédrale Notre-Dame de Nazareth is primarily an eleventh-century building (with a Merovingian-period apse and apsidal chapels). Herewith a page of views:
Vaison-la-Romaine's much rebuilt chapelle Saint-Quenin is said to go back in part to the seventh century. A page of views:
4) Decorosus of Capua (d. 689?). In the perhaps not altogether reliable reckoning of the diocese of Capua, this less well known saint of the Regno was its twenty-third bishop. He has a brief, undated Vita from a Capuan breviary (BHL 2117; reprinted in the _Acta Sanctorum_ from Michele Monaco's _Sanctuarium Capuanum_ of 1630) that ascribes to him all sorts of wonderful virtues:
"Beatus igitur Decorosus Capuanae urbis indigena, qui non tantum fuit nomine Decorosus, sed opere et sermone. Fuit quippe caritatis observator invictae, cultor fidei, [virtutibus ornatus,] spei sectator, pietatis alumnus, zelator iustitiae, prudentiae norma, temperantiae forma, et verae titulo fortitudinis insignitus: largus pauperibus, hospitibus gratus, orphanorum ac pupillorum et certa protectio viduarum." ("Now the holy Decorosus, a native of Capua, was decorous not only in name but also in deed and in speech. Unconquered in his charity, a cultivator of the faith, a seeker after hope, a fosterer of piety, a zealot for justice, a standard of prudence, and the image of temperance, he was honored with the label of true courage. He was generous to the poor, accommodating to guests, and a reliable protector of orphans and little children and of widows.")
The same Vita associates D. with one miracle in which he places a recently dead baby next to the burial site of the early fifth-century bishop St. Rufinus at the altar of the Protomartyr Stephen and on the following morning is able to return the infant alive and well to its formerly grieving mother.
5) Sigfrid, bp. in Sweden (d. 11th cent.). The missionary bishop S. (S. of Växjö [Wexlow]) is probably the bishop Sigafridus mentioned by Adam of Bremen (_Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum_ 2. 57) as having visited Bremen in ca. 1030 before returning to Sweden, where he was active in Västergötland. It is thought that it was he who baptized king Olof Skötkonung in about 1008. A very popular saint in later medieval Scandinavia, S. has a legendary Vita (BHL 7705z, 7706, etc.) that makes him an Englishman and bishop of Växjö; this exists in different versions as lections in his originally thirteenth-century Office.
S.'s legend gives him three nephews (Winaman, Unaman, and Sunaman) who assisted him and who at a time when he was away were martyred by pagans. The murderers attempted to conceal the identity of their victims (whose bodies they threw into a swamp) by cutting off their heads, putting these in a container, and sinking that in the same swamp. S. persuaded king Olof to spare the murderers' lives and even refused blood money. Later, when S. was one night mourning his nephews near the swamp, the container with their three heads rose divinely illuminated from the water and approached him. The bishop leaped into the water, opened the container, saw the heads, and cried out for God's vengeance. Whereupon the heads spoke, one saying that vengeance would come, the next asking when, and the the third saying that it would befall the children of the murderers' children.
Here's S. with the three heads in the fifteenth-century vault paintings of Överselö church in Strängnäs township (Södermanlands län):
And here they all are in the seemingly later fifteenth-century sanctoral portraits in Stockholm's Spånga church:
In at least one version of his legend S.'s baptism of king Olof occurred at a spring at Husaby in today's township of Götene in Västergötland. Herewith an illustrated, English-language of its originally twelfth-century church (the base of the tower could be a little older, having been added to a previous stave church; the wall paintings are of the fifteenth century):
(Faustinus and Jovita, Severus of Interocrium, Decorosus of Capua, and Sigfrid, bp. in Sweden lightly revised from last year's post)
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