medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (27. February) is the feast day of:
1) Julian and Besas (d. 259). J. and B. are martyrs of the anti-Christian riots in Alexandria in the year preceding the Decian persecution. According to Eusebius (_H. E._ 6. 41) or, more precisely, to an account by St. Dionysius of Alexandria from which Eusebius quotes, J. and one of his slaves (Eunus; no longer commemorated in the RM) were bound to camels and whipped through the city, after which they were killed by having quicklime poured over them. B. was a soldier who tried to protect them; he was decapitated.
Günther Zuntz has a brief, lucid, and methodologically instructive article on the text of Eusebius' description of the manner of J.'s death, "A Textual Note on Eusebius, _Hist. Eccl._ VI. 41. 15", _Vigiliae Christianae_ 5 (1951), 50-54.
2) Honorina (?). H. is a poorly documented saint of the lower Seine, honored in the dioceses of Bayeux and Rouen. She has an undated legendary Passio (BHL 3981; not later than the twelfth century) modeled on that of St. Dorothea of Caesarea in Cappadocia as well as a twelfth-century translation account (BHL 3983) describing the ninth-century removal, under the threat of raids by Northmen, of her relics from a monastery at Gerardivilla to the _castrum_ at Confluentinum, today's Conflans-Sainte-Honorine at the confluence of the Seine and the Oise. In the 1080s a church dedicated to H. was erected at Conflans, where in 1250 her relics were accorded a formal recognition.
H.'s relics survived the Revolution. In 1801 they were deposited ceremoniously in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine's originally late eleventh-century church of Saint-Maclou. Views of this edifice are here:
The monastery whence these relics came will have been a predecessor of the twelfth-century and later Augustinian priory dedicated to H. at modern Graville, now part of Le Havre (Seine-Maritime), whose surviving church is said to be originally of the late eleventh or very early twelfth century. An English-language account of the latter is here:
Nine expandable views:
Some very good older photos are here (nos. B000378-B000385):
Visitors may see a sarcophagus said to have been H.'s (discovered in this church in 1867):
Another dedication to H. is the originally eleventh-century église Saint-Clair et Sainte-Honorine at Mutrécy (Calvados):
Its fact sheet from Patrimoine de France:
At Conflans-Sainte-Honorine H. is celebrated liturgically on the last Sunday in February. She is the patron saint of Conflans and a patron of boatmen.
3) Gregory of Narek (d. early 11th cent.). The Armenian G. (in Armenian, Grigor Narekatsi; often simply Narek) was born ca. 950. The son of a bishop, he was educated by an older male relative who was the head of a monastery at the village of Narek on the shore of Lake Van in what is now southeastern Turkey. G. spent most of his life at Narek, where he wrote a mystical commentary on the Armenian version of the Song of Songs and a great deal of religious poetry that has become classical in Armenian culture, most notably his _Book of Prayers_ or _Book of Lamentations_ (often referred to simply as "the Narek").
G. as depicted in illuminations in a later twelfth-century (1173) manuscript from Cilicia of the _Book of Prayers_ (Yerevan, Matenadaran MS 1568):
The introduction to Thomas J. Samuelian's translation of G.'s _Book of Prayers_ is here:
And the translation itself is here (use the menu at left for the individual poems):
4) Luke of Messina (d. 1149). Today's less well known saint of the Regno was a monk at what in the first decades of the twelfth century was the leading Greek-rite house in Roger II's domains, St. Bartholomew of Simeri's Nea Hodegetria outside of Rossano in southern Calabria. At some time before Bartholomew's death in 1130 (after which his monastery would become known in his honor as Agia Theotokos tou Patir (or, more simply, the Patirion), Roger asked him to direct the monastery he had been building since 1122 near the tip of the Lingua Phari ('Lighthouse Tongue'), the curving spit of land that forms one side of Messina's harbor and that suggested to ancient Greeks one of the city's earlier names, Zankle ('Sickle'). Bartholomew, who was getting on in years, declined but proposed L. instead.
Roger seems to have accepted, for shortly before 1130 L. crossed the Strait of Messina with a dozen other monks and the material items (vessels, service books, etc.) required for establishing a functioning monastery. They found no monks to greet them at the still unfinished complex but settled in and began work at what under L.'s direction and Roger's command would, from 1131 on, be the mother house ('mandra') of many Greek monasteries in Sicily and of a number in Calabria as well. There was already a small church on the site, vowed by Roger I in gratitude for his conquest of Messina and dedicated to the Holy Savior. The monastery took the church's name and as San(tissimo) Salvatore in/de Lingua Phari (or, latinizing the latter's Greek equivalent, _in acroterio_) it became the island's leading exponent of Greek-language religious culture.
L.'s founder's typikon for the monasteries under his jurisdiction gives in its preface a brief but highly interesting account of the establishment of San(tissimo) Salvatore in Lingua Phari. Timothy Miller's annotated English-language translation of this document is no. 26 here:
L.'s disciplinary typikon survives in a sixteenth-century Calabrian translation written in the Greek alphabet at the monastery of San Bartolomeo di Trigona outside of today's Sant'Eufemia d'Aspromonte (RC) in Calabria. It is edited in Katherine Douramani, ed., _Il typikon del monastero di S. Bartolomeo di Trigona_ (Roma: Pontificio Istituto Orientale, 2003; Orientalia Christiana Analecta, no. 269), pp. 316-20. San(tissmo) Salvatore in Lingua Phari's liturgical typikon was edited in 1969 by Miguel Arranz, who thought its manuscript to be in L.'s own hand (a view since questioned by others). See Arranz, ed., _Le typicon du monastère du Saint-Sauveur a Messine, Codex Messinensis GR 115, A. D. 1131_ (Roma: Pontificio Istituto Orientale, 1969; Orientalia Christiana Analecta, no. 185).
L.'s monastery on the Lingua Phari (now the Punta San Ranieri) was confiscated in 1546 by Charles V, who converted it into a fort. An explosion and fire in 1549 destroyed most of the monastic structures; what remained was removed or built over in what even today is a restricted-access military site. A distance view of the harbor, with the Punta San Ranieri to the right of center, is here:
Some closer views of the site itself:
The inscription partly visible in those last views reads in full: VOS ET IPSAM CIVITATEM BENEDICIMUS
According to Messinese legend, this is how in the year 42 the BVM ended her letter to the faithful of the city, already largely converted by St. Paul. Not every port can display such august paleochristian recognition.
(Julian and Besas, Honorina, and Luke of Messina revised from last year's post)
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