medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (7. April) is the feast day of:
1) Hegesippus (d. later 2d cent.). H. was a convert from Judaism who preached orthodoxy against the Gnostics and whose impulse to collect authentic Christian traditions took him from the East, where he had been based, to Corinth and to Rome during the papacy of St. Anicetus (ca. 155 - ca. 166). Eusebius preserves fragments of his _Hypomnemata_ ('Memorabilia') including a lengthy passage on the death of James the Just.
2) Theodore, Irenaeus, Serapion, and Ammonius (?). This group of martyrs from the Libyan Pentapolis consists, in the order named, of a bishop, a deacon, and two lectors. They (sometimes A. is not named and sometimes several unnamed companions are added) are entered under 6. April in some manuscripts of the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology and in others under 26. March. The latter is also their date of commemoration in the martyrologies of Usuard and of Ado. Some modern potted accounts of them add, without indicating a source, that they had their tongues cut out and that their suffering did not encompass their deaths. The year of their Passion is sometimes given as 310, presumably on the basis of an identification of this T. with the martyr bishop of Cyrene recorded in various menaea for 4. July and formerly commemorated in the RM on that date.
3) Calliopius (d. ca. 305). Calliopius was a Christian of Perge in Pamphylia who during the Great Persecution presented himself voluntarily at Pompeiopolis in Cilicia. After being severely beaten he was crucified upside down.
4) George of Mytilene (d. 787?). G., who from his seat at Mytilene was metropolitan of Lesbos, was memorably hospitable to fellow iconophiles exiled to his island during Iconoclast persecutions. In the hagiology of the island he is also revered for his generosity to the poor.
5) Aybert of Crespin (d. 1140). According to his closely posthumous Vita by Robert, archdeacon of Ostrevant (BHL 180), A. (also Aibert) was born near Tournai; his father was knight. After a childhood marked with indications of his great holiness and an early youth in which he began to live ascetically, A. became a disciple of a hermit who when on a journey had been a guest in his father's house. This hermit was also a priest and a monk of the nearby Benedictine abbey of Crespin in Hainaut whose abbot had permitted him to live apart. The abbot chose the two of them to be his companions on a pilgrimage to Rome. When he had to journey further to Benevento to take care of some business with the pope (Urban III) the companions were given permission to return sooner. Not long afterwards and prompted by a vision, A. made his monastic profession at Crespin.
For twenty-five years A. took part in the ordinary life of the monastery and served in several important offices. Then, with abbatial permission, he withdrew to a hermitage he had prepared in the wild and lived there for another twenty-five years, for twenty-two of which did without bread and for twenty of which he did without drink. A. had always devoted himself to repeated prayer but now, having had himself ordained priest, he celebrated two masses daily, one for the living and one for the dead. In his hermitage A. would also sing the entire psalter, fifty psalms at a time, each group of fifty followed by three lessons. He would say one hundred fifty Ave Marias daily, one hundred from a kneeling position and fifty while prostrate. On top of all this he heard confessions and imposed penances and was visited not only by common folk but also by all manner of religious, even including abbots and bishops, and also by lay lords.
After his death on this day A. was buried before the entire monastic community of Crespin at the place where he had maintained his cell. Lifetime miracles were recorded and others took place at his grave. Thus far A.'s Vita. His cult probably was immediate.
In the division of Hainaut in 1830, Crespin fell on the French side of border; it's situated in the département du Nord. Views of the remains of its abbey of Saint-Pierre (later, Saint-Landelin) are here:
For more on the abbey, see Anne-Marie Helvétius, _L’abbaye de Crespin des origines au milieu du XIIIe sičcle_ (Mémoire, Université libre de Bruxelles, 1986).
There are modern churches dedicated to A. in former territories of the abbey both in French and in Belgian Hainaut. The village of Saint-Aybert (Nord), not far from Crespin, is said to owe its name to the belief that this was the site of A.'s hermitage.
6) Hermann Joseph (d. 1241). H. is said to have been a native of Köln who at an early age developed an exceptionally strong devotion to the BVM and who spent a lot of time at his city's church of St. Maria im Kapitol. According to his later thirteenth-century Vita (BHL 3485), on one occasion the the young H., who had been praying before an image of the Virgin, offered her an apple he was carrying. Whereupon the Virgin, not wishing to disappoint, extended her hand and took the present gratefully. Herewith some views of St. Maria im Kapitol (consecrated, 1065; very badly damaged in World War II):
Three pages with multiple views (expandable):
Santa Maria im Kapitol has a later twelfth-century statue of the BVM said touristically to be the image to which the young H. proffered his apple. Placed in the east apse, it is a fragment of a relief and is thought to have been reworked as a full round figure only in the nineteenth century:
Apropos the BVM and apples, the same church also has this statue from around 1300 (acquired in 1879 and much restored) showing Mary as second Eve holding an apple:
At the age of twelve H. tried to become a canon at the Premonstratensian abbey at Steinfeld (in today's Kreis Euskirchen in Nordrhein-Westfalen). That offer was declined because of H.'s youth but the young saint was kept on and after the passage of time and the experience of a remarkable vision he was allowed to make his profession. With the exception of a brief and early stint in Frisia he spent the remainder of his life first at Steinfeld and later as spiritual advisor to a convent of Cistercian nuns at nearby Zülpich, experiencing all the while yet more visions and making himself beloved through his mildness of spirit and his acts of charity. H. is also said to have been exceptionally chaste and for that reason to have been called Joseph by some of his fellows. H. didn't care for this at first but accepted the name once it had been confirmed to him by the BVM in an apparition.
H. was canonized in 1958. His relics are kept in a tomb in the middle of the abbey church:
Here's an expandable view of a statue of J. from ca. 1500 in the same church:
An illustrated (black-and-white), German-language history of the abbey (Salvatorian since 1923) and of its church is here:
(last year's post lightly revised)
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