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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  April 2009

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION April 2009

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Subject:

saints of the day 3. April

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Fri, 3 Apr 2009 19:39:52 -0500

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text/plain

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (3. April) is the feast day of:

1)  Sixtus I, pope (d. ca. 125).  The seventh pope, S. (also Xystus) was in office for a little over ten years.  Questionable testimony to his having been a martyr gave him his former place in the general Roman Calendar (6. April).  He is still celebrated liturgically at Alatri (FR) in southern Lazio, where his putative remains, less some that have been transferred to Alatri's sister-city city of Alife (CE) in Campania, are, in a fourteenth-century account (BHL 7800), said to have reposed since 1132.  Citizens of Alife were bringing them from Rome, where supposedly they had been newly discovered, to their own town so that their presence might help to suppress a pestilence.  But when the relics arrived in Alatri they could not be moved any further.  In Alatri S. is celebrated on 11. January and (patronal feast) on the Wednesday immediately after Easter.

A search of www.find-book.co.uk for its description of G. A. Ferrari's _Vita di S. Sisto primo, Papa, e martire_ (Ronciglione, 1659) yielded an unusual result:
http://www.find-book.co.uk/B000X96S22.htm


2)  John I of Naples (d. 432).  Today's less well known saint of the Regno was bishop of the Parthenopean city from 413 to 432.  He is credited with the translation of the relics of St. Januarius from their resting place at the Solfatara near Pozzuoli to the catacombs now known as those of San Gennaro.  In fourteenth-century legend, J. received from the serving woman Eusebia the ampules of Januarius' blood that she had collected from the sands at his place of martyrdom just after his execution.  Modern versions of the story, recognizing the chronological difficulty (Januarius is believed to be a martyr of the Great Persecution), have J. receive the blood from Eusebia's heirs.  The early ninth-century Marble Calendar of Naples gives today as the feast of his laying to rest.

Here's a view of the upper level of the Catacombe di San Gennaro:
http://www.fi.cnr.it/r&f/n13/images/2NEW.jpg


3)  Joseph the Hymnographer (d. 886, perhaps).  J. was a Greek-speaking Sicilian who was still a child when his parents, fleeing the Muslim invasion of Sicily, brought him to the Peloponnese.  At the age of 15 he had moved on to Thessaloniki, where he entered religion at the monastery of the Holy Savior and later became a priest.  St. Gregory the Decapolite brought him to Constantinople and later sent him to Rome on a mission to the pope.  J. was captured by Muslim pirates and held on Crete for over a year.  Thereafter he returned to Constantinople, where he founded a monastery dedicated to Bartholomew the Apostle.

A partisan of the patriarch Ignatius I, J. was exiled after the latter was deposed in 858 and probably did not return to the city until Ignatius had been restored in 867.  After his return he was appointed to the diplomatically important office of scevophylax of Hagia Sophia.  J.'s date of death is now usually given as 886 (formerly, 883).  If the hymn to St. Theodora of Thessaloniki (d. 892) that goes under J.'s name is really his, this is surely too early.

As his differentiating agnomen indicates, J. is noted for his hymns.  This is so both for their quantity (over 250 are reasonably certain to be his) and for their familiarity in Eastern-rite churches.  J. is the chief contributor of hymns to the Parakletike and some 200 of his canons exist in various menaia.  Some years ago a version of J. M. Neale's translation of his _Phosteres tes ausias_ ("Stars of the Morning") was proffered to this list.  See:
http://tinyurl.com/z6kkc
or
http://tinyurl.com/k6936
A slightly different version will be found on the Web in various places, e.g.:
http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/s/t/starsotm.htm
http://www.ccel.org/a/anonymous/luth_hymnal/tlh255.htm

An English-language  translation of J.'s canon for the Akathistos will be found here:
http://tinyurl.com/dkfcxl
This canon is not as great a work as the Akathistos hymn itself but it's by no means unworthy.


4)  Richard of Chichester (d. 1253).  A former chancellor to the archbishop of Canterbury St. Edmund of Abingdon, R. was a reforming bishop of Chichester.  Miracles were reported shortly after his death.  A commission of inquiry was established in 1256 and in 1262 R. was canonized by Urban IV.  He has two thirteenth-century Vitae (BHL 7208, 7209), of which the second, by the Dominican hagiographer Ralph Bocking, is full of anecdotes about his solicitude for the poor and the sick.

Two brief, illustrated, English-language accounts of Chichester cathedral:
http://tinyurl.com/24ee2r
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chichester_Cathedral
More views here:
http://travel.webshots.com/album/553789916AYRPlt
An account (with view) of St Edmunds Chapel, Dover, consecrated by R.:
http://www.dover-kent.co.uk/places/st_edmunds_chapel.htm
Another view of St Edmunds Chapel, Dover:
http://www.urban75.org/photos/kent/images/dover-kent-02.jpg
A black-and-white reproduction of a wall painting of R., provided to Wikimedia by the Chichester Museum:
http://tinyurl.com/yoahsf


5)  Gandulf of Binasco (Bl.; d. 1260).  The Franciscan  G., a native of Lombardy, preached in Sicily and then became a hermit, though on occasion he would still preach.  He died at today's Polizzi Generosa (PA).  Only a few days before, he had preached his final sermon in Polizzi's principal church of Santa Maria Assunta.  According to this account
http://tinyurl.com/2hwc4h
on that parish's website, G. was buried here in bare earth.  A cult formed almost immediately.  In 1320 G.'s remains underwent a formal elevation and were reinterred in a more honorable location.  Jasmine flowers sprang up spontaneously both at his former gravesite and in the wine with which his bones had been cleansed (i.e., where the wine had been discarded?).  The citizens of Polizzi asked the bishop of Cefalu' to declare G. their town's patron and to grant them two new liturgical feasts, one on the anniversary of his death and the other on that of the elevation of his remains (the source for all this seems to be G.'s beatification process of 1632, which recorded the existence of both feasts).

In 1482 G.'s remains were laid in a marble tomb said to be the work of the distinguished sculptor Domenico Gagini.  The upper portion of this remains in the church's Cappella di San Gandolfo (he's called "San" by tradition):
http://tinyurl.com/nvgjr
, whereas G. himself is in the same chapel in a silver sarcophagus constructed in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries:
http://www.polizzigenerosa.it/italiano/arte/chiese/chiesamadre/urna.htm

Polizzi's Santa Maria Assunta also houses this fifteenth-century triptych usually ascribed to a follower of Rogier van der Weyden known as the Master of the Embroidered Foliage (or of the Leafy Embroidery) but recently attributed to Rogier himself:
http://tinyurl.com/o5t4m
There are some detail views at the top of this page:
http://tinyurl.com/2hwc4h
For the attribution to Rogier see:
http://www.madonienews.it/stampa.php?id_pagina=581

Best,
John Dillon
(last year's post lightly revised)

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