medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (12. March) is the feast day of:
1) Innocent I, pope (d. 417). According the _Liber Pontificalis_, I. was the son of a man named from Albano named Innocentius. I.'s contemporary Jerome (_Ep._ 130. 16) called him the son and successor of St. Anastasius I; opinions differ not only on the advisability of taking literally _filius_ in that utterance but also on the advisability of even informing one's readership that there's a question here. Cf. e.g. both the [old] _Catholic Encyclopedia_, s.v. "Pope Innocent I", and J. N. D. Kelly, _The Oxford Dictionary of Popes_, with New Material by Michael Walsh (Oxford, 2005), s.v. "Innocent I, St", neither of which is forthcoming about contrary evidence or contrary views in this matter.
I., who succeeded Anastasius as bishop of Rome in late December 401, was exceptionally active in exercising influence throughout the Catholic oikumene and in promoting therein the primacy of Rome. He supported St. John Chrysostom when the latter was ejected from the see of Constantinople and exiled, he supported St. Jerome when his monasteries at Bethlehem were violated by unruly miscreants, and he supported the African church against Pelagius, whose views on grace he publicly condemned. I. had the good fortune to be absent from Rome during Alaric's sack in 410. He died on this day and was buried in the cemetery of Pontian on the Via Portuensis.
2) Paul Aurelian (d. 6th cent.). P. (in French, Paul Aurélien, Paul de Léon; also forms with Pol; Aurelian is a by-name suggestive of Roman culture) is one of the largely legendary founding saints of Brittany. According to his late ninth-century Vita (BHL 6585) by Wrmonoc, a monk of Landévennec, P. was a Briton religious from Glamorgan educated by St. Illtud at his school at Llantwit. Together with twelve companions he voyaged across the Channel to Armorica, where a local count gave him both the island of Batz, on which he built a monastery. and a Roman fort on the mainland that became the nucleus of a settlement ancestral to today's Saint-Pol-de-Léon (Finistère), where in time he became bishop. Thus far this Vita, in which miracles and healing springs figure largely but in which little is said about P. himself that critically inclined others have found credible.
P. has been venerated on this day at Saint-Pol-de-Léon (in Breton, Kastell-Paol) since at least the eighth century. In the tenth century relics believed to be his were removed to Fleury-sur-Loire, where in 1562 they were profaned by Calvinists who sacked the abbey. P.'s major monument is the chiefly thirteenth-/sixteenth-century ex-cathedral dedicated to him at Saint-Pol-de-Léon. Here's an illustrated, French-language Wikipedia page on this church, which contains putative relics of P. said to have been translated back from Fleury before the sack:
The originally sixteenth-century chapelle de Prad-Paol at Plouguerneau/Plougerne (Finistère) is adjacent to three springs legendarily called into being by P.:
3) Theophanes the Confessor (d. 817 or 818). The wealthy and ascetic T. founded the monastery of Megas Agros ("Great Acre") at Mount Sigriane on the southern side of the Propontis and ruled it as abbot. A convinced iconophile, he could not be persuaded -- even after two years of prison -- to endorse Leo V's policy of iconoclasm. When he was very frail he was exiled to Samothrace, where he died shortly after his arrival. His fellow sufferer St. Theodore the Studite wrote a panegyric on the translation of his relics (BHG 1792b).
T. is the author of an important chronicle covering the years 285-813, a continuation of that of George the Syncellus. In the 870s this was translated into Latin by Anastasius Bibliothecarius and thus became known in the Latin West.
4) Symeon the New Theologian (d. 1022). A monk and abbot mostly in Constantinople, the mystic S. was a disciple of St. Symeon the Studite and a prolific writer who emphasized a personal experience of God. His controversial teachings led to a brief exile in 1009.
5) Bernard of Carinola (d. early 12th cent.). Today's less well known saint of the Regno used to be known as Bernard of Capua, thanks to his entry in the pre-2001 RM, which read: "Capuae sancti Bernardi, Episcopi et Confessoris." There is no evidence that he died anywhere other than at Carinola (CE) in northern Campania, which has his presumed remains, and -- contrary to what the RM's wording might suggest to incautious readers -- none that he was ever bishop of Capua.
B. is first recorded with certainty from 1101. We know very little about him: his probably fourteenth-century Vita (BHL 1205) is largely uninformative, while the dates and other details of his translation of St. Martin of Monte Masssico (one of the saints of Gregory the Great's _Dialogues_) to his newly built cathedral at Carinola (two versions: BHL 5602, 5604) are thought to be inventions of the Cassinese historian and forger Peter the Deacon. We last hear of him in 1104 in a donation by Richard II of Capua to Sant'Angelo in Formis.
The Vita does tell us that, before he became bishop of Carinola, B. was Richard's chaplain at Capua when R.'s father Jordan (d. 1090) was prince and that, when B. did become bishop, Jordan's brother Jonathan was governor of Carinola (presumably as count, though the Vita is not so specific). These dignitaries were of the family of Rainulf Drengot sometimes referred to (esp. when differentiating them from the Hautevilles) as the "Aversa Normans". The bishops they appointed tended to be Norman; it is supposed, therefore, that B. too was probably a Norman. He was remembered as the bishop who built Carinola's cathedral and who brought the remains of St. Martin to it. Inscriptional evidence suggests that the cathedral's initial phase, often (thanks to Peter the Deacon) placed in the years 1087-1094, actually dates from 1100 to 1108 or 1109; B.'s death is commonly put in the latter year.
Carinola's ex-cathedral (in 1818 the diocese was absorbed by that of Sessa, now Sessa Aurunca) of Santa Maria and San Giovanni Battista was built just off the Via Appia on land said to have been donated by (count) Jonathan. The site included a paleochristian funerary chapel, which latter since at least the fourteenth century has been included within the cathedral's fabric. The cathedral has frescoes and reliefs from the twelfth century (or late eleventh, if you accept Peter the Deacon's dating and discount the later inscriptions). A plan of the building (whose history is complicated) and an expandable view of its Renaissance pronaos, showing the three original portals (not entirely in their medieval state), are here:
An aerial view:
A better view of the central portal:
Detail (one of the lions on the portal):
The Italia nell'Arte medievale page on this church:
When B.'s cult originated is unclear. It is attested to at Capua from the fourteenth century and in the fifteenth B.'s presumed remains at Carinola were solemnly translated to a place of honor in his cathedral, where they were laid to rest in the re-used late antique sarcophagus shown here (whose fenestella was carved only in 1760):
and here (in fig. 16; tell the Reader to find: vescovo Erveo)
Though B. no longer graces the pages of the RM, the diocese of Sessa Aurunca continues to remember him on this day. For his hagiographic dossier, other source material, and further discussion, see Amalia Galdi, _Santi, territori, poteri e uomini nella Campania medievale_ (Salerno: Laveglia, 2004; Schola Salernitana. Studi e Testi, no. 9), esp. pp. 153-72 and 248-52.
Part of the tradition implies that before the construction of B.'s cathedral the diocese was centered on nearby Ventaroli (CE), a _frazione_ of Carinola. Two illustrated, Italian-language pages on the latter's "romanesque" church of Santa Maria in Foroclaudio are here:
A better view of the late eleventh-century apse fresco:
An expandable front view of this structure is here (showing the facade after the collapse in 2007 of the ornamental portal):
A view from before the collapse:
(last year's post lightly revised)
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