medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (4. April) is the feast day of:
1) Agathopus and Theodulus of Thessalonica (d. ca. 304, supposedly). A. and T. are recorded for this day in the later fourth-century Syriac Martyrology and in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology. T. alone is recorded for today in the earlier ninth-century Marble Calendar of Naples. Their legendary Passio (BHG 1784) is preserved in the early tenth-century menologium Vaticanus graecus 1660 and is also represented in abbreviated form in various synaxary notices. According to this account, A. was a deacon of the church of Thessalonica (now Thessaloniki) and T. was a lector of the same church. Arrested under Maximian (Galerius), they refused to hand over Christian scriptures or to make the obligatory sacrifice to the gods of the Roman state, were tortured and publicly mocked, and were cast weighted into the sea, where they drowned in what A. called a second baptism. Their bodies were recovered miraculously.
Although A. is called Agathopus (a rather common ancient Greek name) in both the Greek text of the Passio and its early modern Latin translation as these are printed in the _Acta Sanctorum_, the latter's later seventeenth-century editors for Aprilis tomus 4 (if the digitization from Chadwyck-Healy is to be credited) ignored both these indicia and Papenbroek's own _Praefatio_ (which also calls A. Agathopus) and in their heading for the entry for A. and T. instead called this martyr Agathodorus. Yet in that volume's index at page xlii A. is called Agathopus with references to this entry and, immediately after that, Agatophus with reference to matter in an earlier entry. The Chadwyck-Healy version's search engine has A. indexed only as Agathodorus. Not a good gift, I fear, for users of this valuable resource.
2) Isidore of Seville (d. 636). I. was the younger brother of St. Leander of Seville, who saw to his early education, and of St. Fulgentius of Écija (Roman-period Astigi). It was also Leander who ordained I. priest. A respected theologian, I. succeeded L. as metropolitan of Seville in 600 or 601. Keen on improving the educational level of the religious in his charge, he had episcopal schools opened in several dioceses (Seville, Zaragoza, Toledo, perhaps others) and wrote prolifically on many subjects. I.'s _Etymologiae_ or Origines_ was the leading Latin-language encyclopedia of the early and central Middle Ages. Here's I. as depicted in the Aberdeen Bestiary:
And here he is with his friend and correspondent St. Braulio of Zaragoza (Einsiedeln, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. 167; later tenth-century):
In 1063 I.'s relics were brought from Seville to León, where they were placed in the church of San Juan Bautista. An expandable view of their present reliquary is here:
I. was canonized in 1598. In 1722 he was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church.
3) Plato of Sakkoudion (d. 814). After training as a notary and a brief period of service as an official weigher of coin, P. entered religion at the monastery of Symboloi on Mt. Olympus in Bithynia. He spent some time in Constantinople in the 770s and in 783 co-founded the monastery of Sakkoudion near the aforesaid Mt. Olympus, becoming its hegumen. P. took part in the Second Council of Nicaea (787). From 795 to 797 he was imprisoned for opposing the second marriage of emperor Constantine VI. P. spent most of remainder of his life at the Stoudios monastery. His nephew Theodore the Studite wrote a funeral oration (BHG 1553-1553c) that serves as his Bios.
4) Peter of Poitiers (d. 1115). P. is Peter II in the numeration of the bishops of Poitiers. Previously a canon and archdeacon there, in 1087 he succeeded his much older brother Isembert II in the episcopal dignity with which several other members of his family had previously been clothed. P. opposed king Philip I's repeated marital infidelity and presided over a council at Poitiers in 1100 that led to one of the king's later excommunications. He lent support to Robert of Arbrissel's establishment, in his diocese, of the abbey of Fontevrault and in 1106 he went to Rome to secure from his ally Paschal II papal confirmation of Robert's Order of Fontevrault.
In 1113 P. is said to have faced down a death threat by the count of Poitiers, Guilhem VII (as duke of Aquitaine, conventionally Guilhem IX) and to have excommunicated that worthy in the latter's presence in the cathedral of Poitiers. The count, who had seized church property to finance his war machine, evicted P. from his cathedral town. P. spent his few remaining years in virtual exile at the episcopal castle at Chauvigny. Today is his _dies natalis_. He was buried at Fontevrault. The date of P.'s canonization is unknown.
Fontevrault is now Fontevraud-l'Abbaye (Maine-et-Loire). An illustrated, French-language account of the much altered abbey is here:
An illustrated, English-language page on the abbey:
An illustrated, English-language page on the abbey's Medieval Gardens:
The Romanes.com page on the originally twelfth-century abbey church:
An illustrated, English-language page on the church with views of the effigies of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II of England, and Richard I of England:
A line drawing and a description of what is said to have been P.'s thirteenth-century tomb in the same church are here (no. 10, perhaps a third of the way down the page):
A few views of the the remains of the originally eleventh-century chateau des évêques de Poitiers at Chauvigny (Vienne), starting with a distance shot where it's at lower left:
Some views of the originally eleventh-/twelfth-century collégiale Saint-Pierre at Chauvigny:
More views of this church are here:
Poitiers' originally later twelfth-century cathedral is also dedicated to a St. Peter (presumably the apostle). A few sets of views:
Sculptural details (corbels; some from Sainte-Radegonde):
A set of views of the cathedral's stained glass windows begins here:
5) William of Scicli (Bl.; d. 1404). W. (also W. of Noto; in Italian, Guglielmo) belonged to the noble family of Buccheri at Noto in southeastern Sicily. He is said to have entered as a page the court of Frederick II-or-III (the numeration of Sicilian kings is most troublesome in the case of its Fredericks; this is F. "the Usurper", d. 1337) and while yet an esquire to have saved his sovereign's life during a hunt on Etna's southern flanks by interposing himself between F. and a charging boar. Mortally injured in the process, W. was carried dying to Catania, where in a vision St. Agatha told him to arise, to abandon the court, and to seek solitude (where God would speak to his heart). Miraculously cured, but still lame, W. presented himself to the king, announced his intention to live as a hermit in accordance with the vision, and was given both permission to do so and a horse and some money to aid him on his way.
W. returned to Noto, became a Franciscan tertiary, and lived for some years in a nearby hermitage. He was joined there by St. Conrad/Corrado of Noto (a.k.a. of Piacenza) late in the latter's life. After Corrado had moved on to his final hermitage at the grotto of the Pizzoni, W. was instructed by the BVM to proceed to Scicli (also in southeastern Sicily; like Noto, now in Ragusa province). There he became custodian of a tiny church dedicated to the Virgin and spent the remainder of his long life in self-denial, penitence, and constant prayer. A memorial originally written in 1405 formed the foundation of his beatification campaign, which achieved success under Paul III in 1537 (beatification) and 1538 (decree granting W. an Office and Propers of a Mass). He is Scicli's patron saint.
(Isidore of Seville, Plato of Sakkoudion, Peter of Poitiers, and William of Scicli lightly revised from last year's post)
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