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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  February 2009

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION February 2009

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Subject:

saints of the day 24. February

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Tue, 24 Feb 2009 16:28:46 -0600

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text/plain

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (24. February) is the feast day of:

1)  Evetius (d. 303).  The fourth-century Syriac Martyrology and the sixth- or seventh-century (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology record for today a martyr of Nicomedia called Euhetis in the Syriac text and Evetius in the Latin one.  The correspondence of the day with that of the execution in Nicomedia of the unnamed Christian high official said by Eusebius and by Lactantius to have suffered for defacing there a public copy of Diocletian's initial edict at the outbreak of the Great Persecution makes it likely E. was the person in question.

For reasons that are not clear, St. Ado of Vienne entered into versions of his martyrology (including the so-called _Parvum Romanum_, until 1984 widely thought to be a text of late antique origin) an elogium of this saint under 7. September and under the name  Iohannes.  Usuard adopted "John of Nicomedia" from Ado and the Roman Martyrology adopted him from Usuard, always keeping the September date until the RM's revision of 2001, when E. was restored to the date and to the Latin form of the name recorded in the earlier martyrologies.   


2)  Sergius "of Caesarea in Cappadocia" (d. ca. 306, supposedly).  The (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology has an entry under today's date (VI. Kal. Mart.) for a saint whose name appears in the genitive either as _Syrgi_ or, in some witnesses as _Georgi_.  Delehaye thought, probably rightly, that this entry erroneously duplicated the (ps.-)HM's entry under 2. March (VI. Non. Mart.) for St. George of Caesarea of Cappadocia, whose own entry on this date D. showed to be a transcriptional error for the St. Gordius of Caesarea in Cappadocia attested in the fourth-century Syriac Martyrology.

At some time prior to the ninth century a fictional Passio (BHL 7598) of S. of Caesarea of Cappadocia, martyred on this day, was written for a cult of a St. Sergius at Úbeda (anciently, Betula) in Andalucia.  This made S. (who is unknown to late antique and medieval Greek hagiography) a former magistrate of Caesarea who during the persecution of Diocletian and Maximian pointed out to the town that the superiority of the Christian religion explained the sudden extinguishing of sacrificial fires at which the local Christians had been assembled in order to make heathen sacrifice or suffer the consequences of refusal.  The local governor, no slouch when it came to spotting dangerous troublemakers, gave S. a summary hearing and had him executed forthwith.  His remains were later translated to Úbeda.

S. of Caesarea in Cappadocia entered the the RM via entries for him under this day in Florus, Ado, and Usuard.  He left it with the revision of 2001 but is still entered for today in the _santoral_ of the archdiocese of Tarragona (which in common with many Spanish-language saints-of-the-day lists calls him simply San Sergio de Capadocia).  He is absent from the website of the diocese of Jaén, which includes Úbeda.  Some Orthodox churches commemorate S. today.


3)  Modestus of Trier (d. late 5th cent.).  M. was a bishop of Trier who seems to have been in office when that city was incorporated into the Frankish kingdom.  His cult, first attested from the twelfth century, is associated with Trier's Benedictine abbey of Sts. Eucharius and Matthias, whence it got into a late medieval expanded Usuard used by cardinal Baronio for the RM.

The abbey of Sts. Eucharius and Matthias at Trier was secularized in 1802 and reopened in 1922 as the Abtei St. Matthias (the Apostle M., who putative relics were found here in 1127).  An exterior view of its originally twelfth-century church (1127-60; consecrated, 1148) is here:
http://tinyurl.com/2lbkc6
and an interior one is here:
http://tinyurl.com/37qhns


4)  Ethelbert of Kent (d. 616).  We know about E. (Æthelberht) chiefly from Bede's _Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum_ and from two mentions by St. Gregory of Tours.  He was the king of Kent when Christian missionaries led by St. Augustine not-yet-of Canterbury arrived in 597.  Married to a practicing Christian (Bertha, a daughter of the Frankish king Charibert), E. received this party graciously, gave Augustine a place to live in the decayed Roman town of Canterbury, and probably within the year was himself baptized.  He provided the land at Canterbury on which the monastery of Sts. Peter and Paul (later St Augustine's Abbey) was built, intending the latter's church as his family's future burial site.  E. used his influence in the kingdom of the East Saxons to provide a site for bishop St. Mellitus' church of St Paul's in London and was helpful in promoting conversions there as well as in his own realm.

E.'s name appears in liturgical calendars starting in the thirteenth century but usually under 25. or 26. February (24. February being medievally -- as it still is Germany -- the feast of St. Matthias the Apostle).

E. promulgated the first written law code in England.  This is in English rather than in Latin and presumably reflects the missionaries' creation of a written form of the vernacular.  Here's a view of a twelfth-century copy:
http://gallery.nen.gov.uk/image73492-segfl.html


5)  Costanzo of Fabriano (Bl.; d. 1481 or 1482).  C. (Costanzo Servoli, Costanzo di Meo; also Constantius, Costante) was born in today's Fabriano (AN) in the Marche towards the beginning of the fifteenth century.  At the age of fifteen he entered the Order of Preachers; among his teachers were St. Antoninus of Florence and Bl. Corradino of Brescia.  C. was prior at Dominican houses at Fabriano, Perugia, and Ascoli Piceno.  A noted public preacher with a reputation for austerity and holiness, he helped calm civil dissent at Fabriano in 1469 (with Bl. Pietro da Mogliano, a Franciscan) and at Ascoli Piceno in 1470/71 (with St. James of the March, another Franciscan).  Exceptionally devoted to prayer, C. made a point of daily recitation of the Office for the Dead.

C. died on this day at Ascoli Piceno, where he was laid to rest in his order's church of St. Peter Martyr and where he was locally venerated.  In 1496 a fellow Dominican stole C.'s head and brought it to Fabriano, where by 1503 it was in the convent of San Sebastiano (it's now said to be in the cathedral).  C.'s cult was papally confirmed in 1821 with a Mass and Office.

Ascoli Piceno's chiesa di San Pietro Martire was begun in 1280 and completed in the fifteenth century.  A facade view (showing the later seventeenth-century main portal) is here:
http://www.erap.it/images/DSCF0004.JPG
Chevet:
http://tinyurl.com/yobxgj
An illustrated, Italian-language page on this church is here:
http://www.erap.it/sanpietromartire/sanpietro_m.htm
The headless C. reposes under the altar in the left-hand apse.
The convent's other buildings are now used by a school.  Here's a view of the cloister, said to have been built under C. in 1471:
http://www.ascolicentro.it/pernoi/chisiamo/foto_sdomenico/foto1.jpg

In this late fifteenth-century painting by Lorenzo d'Alessandro da Sanseverino of the Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine of Siena, now in London's National Gallery, the Dominican _beatus_ at front right is thought to be C.:
http://tinyurl.com/36mugq
A greatly expandable view is here, a little less than halfway down the page:
http://tinyurl.com/3bx5z2
That painting is part of a now dismembered altarpiece whose top is in the Uffizi in Florence:
http://tinyurl.com/2dk4xw

Best,
John Dillon
(Sergius "of Caesarea in Cappadocia", Modestus of Trier, Ethelbert of Kent, and Costanzo of Fabriano revised from last year's post)

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