medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
The previous post repeated with a corrected Subject line for proper filing in the archives. Apologies for the duplication. --JD
Today (21. March) is the feast day of:
1) Beryllus (?). B. is the traditionally recognized protobishop of Catania. His first surviving mention comes in the eighth-century, romance-like Bios of St. Pancras of Taormina (BHG 1410), which rather unbelievably has him sent from Antioch as an evangelist by St. Peter himself. Byzantine synaxary accounts similarly have him sent from Antioch by St. Peter; these also say that after he had successfully converted many he was honored with gift of miracles, one being the changing the water of a spring from bitter to sweet. A third-century date seems more probable. But I have not seen Maria Stelladoro, "S. Berillo e l'apostolicità della chiesa di Catania", _Studi sull'Oriente Cristiano. Accademia Angelica-Costantiniana di Lettere, Arti e Scienze_ 5, no. 1 (2001), 133-52.
B. was dropped from the RM in the latter's revision of 2001. He is still celebrated on this day in the Archdiocese of Catania, of which he is a secondary patron.
2) Serapion of Thmuis (d. shortly after 362). S. was a celebrated bishop of Thmuis in Lower Egypt, today's Tell-et-Tmai. He gets a brief chapter (no. 99) in St. Jerome's _De viris illustribus_, where one learns about his authorship of treatises and letters, and a notice in Sozomen's _Historia Ecclesiastica_ (3. 14. 42), where he is said to have led a delegation of Egyptian bishops to Constantius II on behalf of St. Athanasius of Alexandria. S.'s commemoration today is a result of Baronio's conflation of him with an Alexandrian martyr of this name listed for this day in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology and in the martyrologies of Florus, Ado, and Usuard.
3) Lupicinus of the Jura (d. ca. 480). We know about the monastic founder L. chiefly from his early sixth-century Vita (BHL 5073) by a monk of Condat that forms part of the _Vita patrum jurensium_. Like his brother St. Romanus of Condat (28. February), he was already fading into legend by the time of St. Gregory of Tours' _Vita patrum_ some seventy years later. L. was the younger brother; initially he lived in the world but after the death of his wife he joined R. at the latter's hermitage at Condat (today's Saint-Claude in the Swiss canton of Jura), founded in about 435 and in L.'s time developing into a community whose life imitated that of Eastern desert fathers. In ca. 445 the brothers founded a second house at a place called Lauconne (today's Sant-Lupicin in the French département of Jura). They ruled these jointly until R.'s death in about 465, after which the very austere L. exercised single rule over both from his residence at Lauconne.
L. was buried at Lauconne, which in time came to be named for him. Saint-Lupicin's present church is dedicated to the BVM. Originally of the twelfth century, it has undergone various modifications and restorations over time. A distance view is here:
and an illustrated, French-language discussion of changes to the building (with a computer-generated reconstruction of the church's twelfth-century appearance) is here:
Two views of the mid-fifteenth-century sculptures of R. and L. in the choir stalls of the cathedral of Saint-Pierre, Saint-Paul et Saint-André at Saint-Claude, formerly the abbey church of Saint-Oyend:
4) Enda (d. ca. 542). E. (in Latin, Endeus) is considered the founder of the first true monastery in Ireland. According to his largely legendary Vita (BHL 2543), he was an hereditary chieftain who was converted to religion by his sister, the abbess St. Fanchea. After a pilgrimage to Rome, where he is said to have been ordained priest and to have become head of a major monastery, E. returned to Ireland, received from king Aengus of Munster the island of Aran (Árainn; also Inis Mór), the largest of the Aran Islands. There he founded ten monasteries, operated miracles, and had as a disciple St. Ciarán [of Clonmacnoise]. Thus far the Vita (except that I've left out the colorful bits, such as Fanchea and three of her nuns crossing the Irish Sea by foot on her shawl). E.'s principal monastery came to be named for him: Kill-Enda. It gave its name to the island's present village of Killeany.
The late eighth-century Martyrology of St. Oengus records E.'s feast on this day. He is a recurring figure in later stories from County Clare.
5) John of Valence (d. 1145). We know about J. chiefly from his contemporary Vita et Miracula by Giraldus of Valence (BHL 4446). He was a canon of Lyon who after a pilgrimage to Compostela entered the abbey of Cîteaux. In 1117 or 1118 J. became the first abbot of Cîteaux's daughter house at today's Bonnevaux in today's Villeneuve-de-Marc (Isère). In 1141 he was chosen to succeed the extruded Eustachius in the see of Valence, where he is said to have distinguished himself through assistance to the poor, to farmers, and to merchants who had been despoiled of their coin. Today is J.'s _dies natalis_. His cult was confirmed in 1903.
The abbey of Bonnevaux was suppressed in 1790. The main buildings were subsequently demolished; some early modern outlying structures survive. A view of the site is here:
6) Nicholas of Flüe (d. 1487). N. is the patron saint of the Helvetic Confederation (perhaps better known to some as Switzerland). A well-to-do farmer and local official in Unterwalden, he farmed in today's municipality of Flüeli near Sachseln in canton Obwalden. When N. was fifty he experienced a vision that led him to become a contemplative. Leaving his pious wife Dorothea, who is said to have supported N. in his decision, and their ten children, N. set off for Straßburg/Strasbourg to hook up with the Friends of God but, prompted by a vision confirming previous advice that as a Swiss he would be unwelcome there, returned to Flüeli where he established himself as a hermit. After a year, the locals built him a chapel. N. now ate very little, experienced many visions, and became widely known as a holy man. His advice to the Diet of Stans in 1481 is supposed to have prevented the Confederation from dissolving through civil war.
In around 1487 a book of N.'s meditations, ascribed to an illiterate Bruder Klaus ('Brother Nick'), appeared in Augsburg. This book, commonly known from the designation of its learned reporter/editor as the Pilgertraktat ('Pilgrim Treatise'), contains a woodcut imagistically representing the topics treated in the book's initial section:
What is thought to be an earlier depiction (ca. 1480/81) of the same scheme is the painted cloth known as the Sachsler Meditationsbild:
That printing of ca. 1487 also presents the woodcut portrait of N. shown here:
And here's an early sixteenth-century portrait of him:
Miracles were reported at N.'s grave soon after his burial and a cult arose. He was beatified in 1649 and canonized in 1947. N.'s relics are preserved in this modern altar in the church of Hl. Theodul und Hl. Mauritius at Sachseln:
Here's a view of its predecessor:
The site of N.'s hermitage and related buildings at Flüeli-Ranft is a major pilgrimage venue. One can visit N.'s rebuilt enclosure:
and a couple of early modern chapels, of which the upper one, to which N.'s enclosure is attached, represents N.'s own early chapel:
In the nearby village one may visit a house in which N. is said to have been born and another said to be the one in which he lived with his family before becoming a hermit:
In Swiss churches, N. is celebrated liturgically on 25. September (his patronalia). Today is his _dies natalis_ and his day of commemoration in the RM.
(Beryllus, Serapion of Thmuis, Lupicinus of the Jura, and Nicholas of Flüe lightly revised from last year's post)
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