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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  February 2009

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION February 2009

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Subject:

saints of the day 18. February

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 18 Feb 2009 17:29:16 -0600

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (18. February) is the feast day of:

1)  Helladius of Toledo (d. 633?).  According to St. Ildefonsus of Toledo, whose _De viris illustribus_ (cap. 7) is practically our sole source for him (his _dies natalis_ is recorded in an early catalogue of Toledo's bishops), H. was a high official of the Visigothic court who in his private life conducted a virtually monastic existence, who then became an actual monk, and who in his old age and already infirm was elected bishop of Toledo, exhibiting in the eighteen years in which he served in that capacity even greater specimens of virtue than those he had shown as a monk and being particularly noteworthy for his generosity in almsgiving.


2)  Tarasius, patriarch of Constantinople (d. 806).  T. belonged to a prominent family of Constantinople.  His father had been city prefect and he himself is attested as imperial protoasecretis in 780.  He was not in Holy Orders when in December 784 he was elected patriarch.  The empress Irene's chief instrument in the restoration of the icons, T. secured pope Hadrian I's acceptance of his uncanonical elevation and proceeded to manage the Second Council of Niceaa (787), at which iconoclasm was condemned.

For the remainder of his pontificate T. attempted to avoid domination both by rigorists at the Stoudios monastery and by the emperor Constantine VI, whose bigamous second marriage T. declined to solemnize but nonetheless managed to countenance.  His Bios by his secretary Ignatius (BHG 1698) makes him out to have been holy and much put upon.  Personally ascetic, he was venerated as a saint after his death.

Medieval images certainly of this T. seem not to exist on the free Web.  So, for context, here's a portrait of the empress Irene (deposed, 802):
http://tinyurl.com/2yp5hm
and a solidus with portraits of Constantine VI (deposed, 797) and Irene:
http://www.dirtyoldcoins.com/gandinga/id/c6/c6003.jpg
and a plan and a series of views of the remains of the originally fifth-century church of St. John the Forerunner in the Stoudios are at no. 15 here:
http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/fineart/html/Byzantine/index.htm


3)  Angilbert of Centula (d. 814).  A. was a Frank of noble parentage who was educated at the royal court, where his tutors included Peter of Pisa and Paulinus not-yet-of Aquileia.  He was a lifelong friend of the slightly older Charlemagne.  An early appointment was as _primicerius palatiae_ for Charlemagne's son Pepin, king of Italy.  Later A. was head of the place school at Aachen and, along with Alcuin of York and Theodulf of Orléans, a leading court poet.  He was especially close with Charlemagne's unmarried daughter Bertha, by whom he had two childen (one being the historian Nithard).  In about 789 Charlemagne made A. abbot of the great monastery at Centula, later St.-Riquier and now St.-Riquier-sur-Somme (Somme) in Picardy.  A. endowed this house with buildings and with books.  He also continued to serve Charles as a diplomatic emissary in ecclesiastical matters, making four trips to Rome on behalf of his monarch.

A. was buried in the abbey church.  In 842 he was given what appears to have been an elevatio, at which time, according to his son Nithard (who was also a monk of this house and who later became its abbot), his body was found to be incorrupt.  A. has a brief Vita by the abbey's late eleventh-century chronicler, Hariulf (BHL 469) and an expanded one (BHL 470) by its abbot Anscher (r., 1096-1136).  He was canonized by Paschal II in 1100.

A.'s abbey church of St. Richarius (the monastery's seventh-century founder) no longer exists.  Known piecemeal from verbal descriptions, from drawings based upon a now lost eleventh-century miniature, and from excavations at the site, it occupies an important place in the history of Carolingian ecclesiastical architecture.  This French-language page offers an expandable view of it as depicted in an early seventeenth-century engraving of one of the aforementioned drawings:
http://tinyurl.com/35o8or
An English-language page on the church's early sixteenth-century successor (after a couple of intermediate rebuildings):
http://tinyurl.com/36slej
Some views of that church:
http://tinyurl.com/3yml93
http://tinyurl.com/3cwyaz
http://motobalade62.free.fr/Artois/Saint_Riquier%20032.jpg
http://tinyurl.com/agmnkh
http://motobalade62.free.fr/Artois/Saint_Riquier%20012.jpg


4)  Theotonius (d. 1162 or 1166).  Our primary source for T. is a closely posthumous Vita (BHL 8127).  Born to a family of Galicia just north of what would become the northern boundary of the kingdom of Portugal, T. was a nephew of the abbot of a Benedictine monastery at nearby Tuy and was educated by him there and later at Coimbra, where by April 1092 the uncle was now bishop.  Probably on the latter's death T. went on to Viseu, where another uncle was prior of the cathedral chapter.  There T. was made priest and there, in 1112, he became prior of the cathedral church of Santa Maria, then under the direct jurisdiction of the bishop of Coimbra.  In his more than thirty years at Viseu (with time off for two pilgrimages to the Holy Land) T. gained a reputation both as a contemplative and as a gifted preacher and had repeated interactions with count Henriques of Portugal, who used the title of king, and with his queen, Teresa.

In the early 1130s T. was one of the founders of the monastery of Santa Cruz at Coimbra, a house of canons regular of which T. was soon made prior and that in his time followed the practices of the Augustinian house of St. Ruf at Avignon.  T. was remembered for being punctilious in observing at the proper times the prayers of the Divine Office.  His reputation for sanctity extended beyond the walls of his monastery, which he seldom left, and impressed his younger contemporary Afonso Henriques, the first king of independent Portugal.  T. resigned his priorship for reasons of health about ten years before his death, which latter according to his Vita occurred on Friday, 18. February, of what seems to have been 1162.  But in that year 18. February fell on a Sunday.  Those who think that the Vita errs in the day of the week accept 1162 as the year of T.'s death; those who think the error lies rather in the indication of the year prefer 1166.  

T. was canonized by a provincial council held at Coimbra on the first anniversary of his death.  Pope Alexander III is said to have confirmed this canonization orally.  T.'s cult was immediate in Portugal; later chroniclers of the early years of the kingdom added legendary exploits to their accounts of this national saint.  His cult was confirmed for all churches of the Latin Rite by Bendict XIV.

Here's a view of a fifteenth-century portrait of T., sometimes attributed to Nuño Gonçalves, in Lisbon's Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga:
http://tinyurl.com/anj3e7     


5)  John of Fiesole (Bl.; d. 1455).  J., whose early name in the world was Guido di Piero (a Tuscan equivalent of Guy son of Peter), was born at today's Vicchio (FI) in the Mugello.  He entered the Order of Preachers at Fiesole while yet a boy and completed his novitiate at Cortona.  In his early twenties G. (as he then was) made his monastic profession at Florence, taking the name John.  Trained as a painter, he worked at Fiesole, Florence, and Rome.  Despite his being favored with papal patronage he is said to have been personally very humble.  J. died at the Dominican convent in Rome and was buried there in his order's church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva.  He is known popularly as Fra Angelico or, after his beatification in 1982, as Beato Angelico.

Here are two views of J.'s sepulchral monument in Santa Maria sopra Minerva:
http://tinyurl.com/358tut
http://santiebeati.it/immagini/Original/41575/41575E.JPG

Best,
John Dillon
(Tarasius of Constantinople, Angilbert of Centula, and John of Fiesole lightly revised from last year's post)

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