medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (22. March 2008) is the feast day of:
1) Epaphroditus of Philippi (d. 1st cent.). This E. -- there also an African martyr of this not uncommon name -- is mentioned twice in Philippians (2. 25-30; 4. 18) as a Christian from Philippi whom the the church there had sent to assist the imprisoned St. Paul (in the Greek text he is called _apostolos_, i.e. 'emissary') and whom Paul says risked his life in that endeavor. We know nothing more about him.
Traditionally included among the seventy disciples (in Orthodox churches, the seventy apostles), E. is said in the fifth-century _Synopsis_ of Dorotheus to have been bishop of a place called Adriana. His notice (with the group of lesser apostles celebrated on 8. or 9. December) in the so-called Menologium of Basil II (later tenth- or early eleventh-century) and other synaxary accounts has him bishop of a similarly named place often thought to be Andriace, the port of Myra in Lycia. The _Hypomnema_ on the lives of Sts. Peter and Paul in the later tenth-century Menologium of Symeon Metaphrastes has Peter establish E. as bishop of Tarracina (today's Terracina in coastal southern Lazio). This dubious assertion, perpetuated by the RM prior to the latter's revision of 2001 and sometimes treated as an immemorial tradition of Terracina, seems unattested there or elsewhere in Italy prior to the sixteenth century.
2) Callinicus and Basilissa (d. 250 or 251). We know about C. and B. from Byzantine synaxary accounts, including one in the so-called Menologium of Basil II. In these C. sometimes appears erroneously under the feminine name form Callinica; the latter was used in these saints' entry in the RM until the latter's revision of 2001, when its commemoration of them was also moved from 24. March to today's date. B. is said to have been a wealthy woman who through donations distributed by C. subvened Christians imprisoned during the Decian persecution; C.'s arrest and confession led to their joint martyrdom (in Galatia, according to the tradition followed by the RM; at Rome, according to a tradition followed by many Orthodox churches).
3) Paul of Narbonne (d. later 3d cent.). According to St. Gregory of Tours (_Historia Francorum_ 1. 30), P. was consecrated at Rome in about 250 and was sent as a missionary to Gaul, where he founded the church of Narbonne. As P. is already mentioned by Prudentius (_Peristephanon_ 4. 9), Gregory's dating in this instance is probably correct. Later accounts identified him with the Roman governor of Cyprus Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:7-12) and made him a martyr. That identification is maintained in the dedication of Narbonne's basilique Saint-Paul-Serge, whose earliest predecessor is said to have been built over his grave. P.'s putative relics were burned during the French Revolution.
The Basilique Saint-Paul-Serge is a mostly late twelfth-century structure with a thirteenth-century chevet. A few views:
Some views of the numerous ancient sarcophagi, etc. in the crypt:
4) Lea (d. 384). We know about L. from St. Jerome, who shortly after her death praised her in a letter to her friend Marcella (_Ep_. 23). L. is described therein as an aristocratic Roman widow who had once been the head of a great household but who after her conversion lived a life a great simplicity and daily labor while heading a monastic community of Christian women in Rome. In this letter, in which L. is contrasted with her recently deceased fellow aristocrat Vettius Agorius Praetextatus (now in Tartarus, according to Jerome), she is called _sanctissima_ and said to be in heaven.
L. entered the martyrologies in a sixteenth-century addition to Usuard. Her modern cult is widespread in Lazio, especially at Ostia (where Jerome tells us she was buried).
We don't spend much time with non-Christians on this list. But Praetextatus, familiar to many medievalists from his portrayal in Macrobius' _Saturnalia_, and his wife Fabia Aconia Paulina, prominent pagans in an increasingly officially Christian late antique Rome, have left a couple of visuals worth noting. Here's a dedication to him listing his priesthoods (_CIL_ VI. 31929), with an English-language translation and discussion following:
and here's their funeral monument:
This bears an inscription (_CIL_ VI. 1779), most of which is in verse spoken by Paulina (herself a priestess of several mystery cults). Here's a translation:
Maijastina Kahlos, the author of a recent book on Praetextatus (__Vettius Agorius Praetextatus: A Senatorial Life in Between_, Acta Instituti Romani Finlandiae, no. 26 [Roma, 2002]), argues that Jerome's _Ep_. 23 is a response to this text. See her discussions here:
Here's an English-language translation of Jerome's letter:
5) Deogratias of Carthage (d. 457). D., a Catholic priest of Carthage, was in 454 named its bishop by the Arian king Genseric, who at the time was currying favor in Rome. In the following year, after the assassination of Valentinian III, Genseric's forces sacked the Eternal City and carried many of its inhabitants back to Carthage as slaves. Victor of Vita, whose _Historia persecutionis Africae provinciae_ is our sole narrative source for him, tells us that D. distinguished himself by selling off his church's gold and silver to redeem some of these captives and by converting two of his churches into hospitals tending to the spiritual as well as physical needs of the sick.
In the early sixth-century calendar of Carthage, D.'s laying to rest is celebrated on 5. January along with that of bishop Eugenius (481-505).
Expandable views of a number of fifth-century bronze coins from Vandal Africa, including some from the time of Valentinian III, are here:
6) Benvenuto Scotivoli (d. 1282). We know about B. from his own episcopal acta and from a few other contemporary documents. He had been a papal chaplain and then archdeacon of Ancona when Urban IV provided him to Osimo in 1264 when he restored its former see (which, thanks to Osimo's adherence to Frederick II, it had lost to Recanati in 1240) to that fortress town in the Marche. As bishop B. was especially vigilant in forbidding the alienation of church property. A cult arose immediately after his death, he was credited with lifetime and posthumous miracles, and a campaign began to have him formally canonized. There is no proof that a papal canonization of B. ever took place, but in his diocese he has been treated as a saint ever since and in the fifteenth century both Eugenius IV and Innocent VIII recognized his cult (in Innocent's case at least, this was certainly at the level of Saint).
B.'s acta survive at Osimo in three manuscript volumes known as the Protocollo di San Benvenuto. For what is known about Osimo's unsuccessful campaign (beginning in 1284) to have him canonized, see Diana Webb, _Patrons and Defenders: The Saints in the Italian City-states_ (London: I. B. Tauris, 1996), pp. 146-48 with notes 29-33 on p. 186. B.'s cult is attested to in the early fourteenth-century (1308) statutes of Osimo, which stipulate that his feast is to be kept as a holiday just as are those of the BVM and of Osimo's older saints Leopard, Vitalian, and Victor. He is called _sanctus_ in the RM.
In this polyptych from 1518 in the Diocesan Museum at Osimo, B. is the bishop at upper right:
In 1590 B.'s remains in Osimo's cathedral of San Leopardo, which had initially been in a tomb in the rear of the church but were later housed below it in the crypt were translated to a new tomb there. In this view it's the tomb at the rear:
And here it is in a later eighteenth-century engraving:
A still closer view:
B.'s previous tomb, which had been left in the upper church as a memorial after the first translation, is said to have been inscribed as follows: _S. Beneuenutus de Scotiuolis, Anconitanus, Episcopus Auximanus_ ('St. Benvenuto Scotivoli, Anconitan, Bishop of Osimo').
That other tomb in the first view above is a re-used historiated sarcophagus with the remains of the martyrs Florentius, Sisinnius, and companions:
Two illustrated pages on the cathedral of Osimo:
(Paul of Narbonne, Lea, and Deogratias of Carthage reprised with minor revisions from last year's post)
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