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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  March 2009

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION March 2009

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Subject:

saints of the day 24. March

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Tue, 24 Mar 2009 16:08:01 -0500

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text/plain

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

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

1)  Timolaus, Dionysius, Paesis, Romulus, Alexander, another Alexander, Agapius, and another Dionysius (d. 305). We know about this group of martyrs of Caesarea in Palestine from Eusebius, _De martyribus Palaestinae_, 3. 3.  The first six were young men from various places: Timolaus from Pontus, Dionysius from Tripoli in Phoenicia, Romulus from Diospolis where he was subdeacon, Paesis (the name is a trisyllable and is accented on the 'a') and the first Alexander from Egypt, and the second Alexander from Gaza.  These bound their hands as though they were prisoners and, at the outset of a games in which recently condemned criminals were to be exposed to beasts, ran towards the provincial governor shouting that they were Christians and were not afraid of what the animals might do to them.

Declining to let these six influence the course of _his_ spectacle, the governor simply jailed them and a few days later (24. March), presumably -- though we are not told this -- after they were given the formality of a trial --, had them executed by decapitation along with Agapius, who had already suffered many horrific tortures (and who is to be distinguished from another Agapius, arrested in the same year, also frequently tortured, martyred at Caesarea in 306, and celebrated on 21. November), and with the other Dionysius, who had been aiding the others while they were imprisoned.

Some views of the rebuilt Roman amphitheater at Caesarea:
http://tinyurl.com/56dej2
http://tinyurl.com/5tva88
http://tinyurl.com/6yqq2u
http://tinyurl.com/6kdtnx
http://flickr.com/photos/83031170@N00/2314717657/
http://comps.fotosearch.com/bigcomps/SIX/SIX138/071MI1.JPG
http://tinyurl.com/5hrfqy
 

2)  Hildelith (fl. ca. 700).  H. (Hildelid, Hildelitha; in Latin, Hildelita; in French, Hildelite; in German, Hildelit) was the second abbess of the double monastery at Barking in Essex, founded in the seventh century by St. Erkenwald (Earconwald).  St. Aldhelm's prose _De virginitate_ is dedicated to her and to the sisters there.  It is possible to infer from Aldhelm's work that not a few members of the community were wealthy noblewomen who had divorced their husbands in order to become brides of Christ.  That description may also fit H.; certainly she was well educated.  H. knew St. Boniface well enough to have communicated to him details of a vision of heaven and hell seen by a monk of Wenlock in what is now Shropshire.

John of Tynemouth's _Sanctilogium_ has a Vita of H. drawn chiefly from Bede's matter on Barking at _Historia Ecclesiastica_ 4. 6-11 but also including now unprovable assertions that H. was venerated in the tenth century.  Post-Conquest Barking commemorated her deposition on this date.  Goscelin of Canterbury (d. in or after 1107) wrote lections (BHL 3942) for her Office at Barking, where in the early fifteenth century she was celebrated both today and on the octave.  For a text, see Marvin L. Colker, ed., "Texts of Jocelyn of Canterbury Which Relate to the History of Barking Abbey", _Studia Monastica_ 7 (1965) 383-460, at pp.455-58.  According to Bede, H. was an energetic abbess who ruled for many years and who maintained strict discipline.

H. seems never to have graced the pages of the RM.  She is commemorated in the Order of St. Benedict, in the sanctoral calendar of the Carmelites of France, and in the Eglise Orthodoxe de France.


3)  John of the Staff (Bl.; d. 1290).  J. (in Italian, Giovanni dal Bastone) was an early Silvestrine Benedictine in the Marche.  Our information about him comes primarily from a Vita (4335) ascribed to his contemporary, Andreas Jacobus of Fabriano, the author of the oldest Vita of the congregation's founder St. Silvestro Guzzolini.  A native of the Paterno near Fabriano, J. studied with Silvestro at Bologna.  After an injury that left him lame he returned to Fabriano and opened a grammar school that became a local success.  At the age of thirty J. became a Silvestrine monk.  Ordained priest by the bishop of Camerino shortly thereafter, he spent the remainder of his active life as a preacher.  Today is his _dies natalis_. 

J. was buried in the church of San Benedetto in Fabriano.  Miracles took place at his tomb, a cult arose, and he was soon honored with an altar in the church and with this statue by the late thirteenth-/early fourteenth-century sculptor Martino da Cingoli:
http://tinyurl.com/cya53n
In 1586 the church was rebuilt and J. was translated to a place of honor in the crypt, where the staff he used in life is said to be preserved next to his elevated tomb:
http://tinyurl.com/cowqow
J. was beatified in 1772.  Popularly considered a saint, he entered the RM in 2001 as _sanctus_.


4)  Catherine of Sweden (d. 1381).  C. (Katarina av Vadstena) was the daughter of Ulf Gudmarsson, lord of Ulvåsa and of his wife Birgitta Birgersdotter of Finsta (better known today as St. Bridget of Sweden).  At the age of thirteen she was married to a young nobleman; their union was never consummated (later it was said that both had taken a vow of chastity).  When after a few years he died C. was in Rome with her mother, whose work she supported and whose ascetic lifestyle she imitated.  C. remained with B. until the latter's death in 1373.  In 1374 she brought B.'s body to the latter's foundation at Vadstena, where B. was interred and C. became abbess.  She spent the remainder of her life there and at Rome, working for her mother's canonization and directing the nascent Order of the Most Holy Savior (the Bridgettines).  Her own cult was confirmed in 1484.  Today is her _dies natalis_.

C.'s relics are kept along with those of her mother in the latter's shrine at Vadstena:
http://www.sanctabirgitta.com/media/331.jpg

Here are B. (at left) and C. in an altar painting (ca. 1500) from Högsby kyrka in Småland:
http://tinyurl.com/2beecf

An illustrated, Swedish-language page on C.:
http://tinyurl.com/2s38l6
Two sixteenth-century statues of C. said to be by the sculptor Håkan Gulleson:
http://tinyurl.com/24y28j
http://tinyurl.com/2fa2w7

A view of Vadstena abbey church, consecrated in 1430:
http://tinyurl.com/2e8mlc
A couple of views of the originally mid-thirteenth-century King's Palace at Vadstena, given to the monastery in 1346, remodeled for the nuns' use, used for other purposes after the monastery's abandonment by the nuns at the end of the sixteenth century, and restored in the 1950s (the site is now a museum):
http://tinyurl.com/yvyer5
http://tinyurl.com/2ba4xk

Best,
John Dillon
(Hildelith and Catherine of Sweden lightly revised from last year's post)

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