medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (9. April) is the feast day of:
1) Demetrius of Sirmium (?). D. is a martyr recorded for this date in the later fourth-century _Syriac Martyrology_. We know nothing about him. Delehaye and others have supposed that his cult, through a translation of relics, underlies that of the medievally significant, much discussed, and at least largely legendary megalomartyr Demetrius of Thessaloniki (26. October in many churches). For one take on this matter, see:
2) Liborius (d. 4th cent.?). L. (in French, Liboire) is said to have been an early bishop of Le Mans. His relics were translated to Paderborn (in then recently converted Saxony) in the reign of Louis the Pious when both towns had Frankish bishops. His Vitae, which come from both dioceses, are late and unreliable. That from Paderborn (BHL 4912, 4913) is by far the fuller, reflecting L.'s much greater prominence in his adoptive home, where he is a patron saint of both the city and the diocese and where his principal feast occurs on 23. July.
Paderborn's largely thirteenth-century cathedral of Sts. Mary, Kilian, and Liborius was badly damaged in World War II. The fabric one sees now incorporates much restoration work. A brief online tour of the exterior (to continue, click towards the lower left of each view) is here:
The 12th-century west tower and the thirteenth-century Paradise:
The Paradise has a notable portal (dated to before 1240):
Flanking the BVM are representations of Kilian and of L.:
One the diocese's treasures is the early twelfth-century portable altar of Sts. Kilian and Liborius:
(K. at left, L. at right)
The widely accepted ascription of this and another portable altar in Paderborn to the well attested Roger of Helmarshausen has been challenged relatively recently. See:
For L.'s various Vitae and Translationes, see Volker de Vry, _Liborius, Brückenbauer Europas. Die mittelalterlichen Viten und Translationsberichte. Mit einem Anhang der Manuscripta Liboriana_ (Paderborn: F. Schöningh, 1997).
3) Acacius of Amida (d. after 421, probably after 422). After the death in 421 of the Persian king Yazdegerd (Isdigerdes) I, who had been fairly tolerant of Christians in his realm, his successor Bahram (Vararanes) V began both a persecution of Christians and an attack on territories of the Roman Empire. The Romans put a stop to the attacks by scoring a succession of military victories, obtaining in the process numerous Persian soldiers as captives. According to Socrates (_Historia ecclesiastica_ 7. 21), there were some 7000 of these prisoners and they were facing starvation when A. (also Achatius), the bishop of Amida in Roman Mesopotamia (today's Diyarbakýr in southeastern Turkey), took pity on them. A. sold off his church's gold and silver vessels and with the proceeds ransomed the captives, supported them for a while, and then sent them back to Persia provisioned for their journey.
By the time of the captives' return the Hundred Years' Peace (422) between the Romans and the Persians will have been agreed and perhaps already signed. Socrates further asserts that Bahram was so amazed by A.'s actions, characterized as Roman benevolence, that he asked to have A. come to him that they might meet, a wish that was soon granted by emperor Theodosius II. Syrian sources add that it was A. who arranged the peace between Theodosius and Bahram and that through A.'s mediation the Great King released from prison the patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East (patriarch of Babylon), St. Dadisho I.
4) Waldetrude (d. later 7th cent.). The highly born W. (Waudru, Waltraud, etc.) was a sister of St. Aldegonde and the wife of St. Vincent Madelgar, by whom she had four children. When the children were grown, she convinced her husband that they should both retire from the world. W.'s way of doing this was to found on a hill called Castrilocus (or Castri locus; 'Place of the Fort or Enclosed Village') a community of nuns of which she was abbess. Though this community, which had been dedicated to St. Peter. did not survive the depredations of the Northmen, it was quickly replaced on the site by a female Benedictine community converted in the twelfth century into a house of canonesses (regular at first; secular from the thirteenth century onward).
W.'s cult is attested liturgically since the ninth century, also the date of her original Vita (BHL 8777). She is said to have been canonized in 1039. Her remains underwent a solemn recognition and elevation in 1250. Though the site of her foundation was still called Castrilocus in the twelfth century, it and the town that grew up around it came to be called Mons. It's now the chief town of Hainaut in Belgium. Some views of its collégiale Sainte-Waudru, begun in 1450:
Multiple views (the first of these extends over several pages):
Individual views (exterior):
At Mons, W. is celebrated especially on the Feast of the Holy Trinity, when she is paraded about the city in her modern _châsse_. The relics inside have been examined relatively recently and have been pronounced to be those of a woman who might well have lived in the seventh century.
5) Gaucher of Aureil (d. 1140). According to his late twelfth-century Vita (BHL 3272), G. (in Latin, Gaucherius) was born at a place identifiable with today's Juziers (Yvelines), not far from Meulan. When he was still in the womb his mother experienced dream visions presaging his saintliness. G. enjoyed a liberal education, had an excellent memory, worked hard at his studies, and avoided the preoccupations of the world. One of his teachers, a canon of Limoges, urged G. to take up an eremitical existence in his well wooded diocese. In about 1080, when he was about eighteen years of age, G., taking one companion, did exactly that.
In time G. drew to himself other companions and in 1093 he sought and received permission from chapter of Limoges (on whose property he had been residing) to convert his following into a community of Augustinian Canons. They were given an abandoned Benedictine monastery at today's Aureil (Haute-Vienne), with G. becoming the canons' first prior and with the stipulation that this priory (Saint-Jean-d'Aureil) would be available to cathedral canons as a place of spiritual and ascetic retreat. G. quickly established a house for canonesses at today's Bost-les-Mongeas in the immediate vicinity. The later twelfth-century Vitae of St. Stephen of Muret (or of Grandmont; BHL 7904, etc.) present that contemporary hermit and monastic founder in the same diocese as an associate of G.'s who left because he was unwilling to accept the presence of religious women.
G.'s reputation for sanctity grew and miracles were attributed to him. According to his Vita (written by one of the canons of his priory), he died at the age of eighty (returning from a trip to Limoges, he fell asleep while mounted, slipped off the animal, and struck his head on a rock). The year of his death comes from a set of mnemonic verses in medieval Latin preserved by the Jesuit college that took over the priory in the early modern period. From a statement by a later seventeenth-century canon of Limoges, said to have been been based on material in the diocesan archives no longer on hand in the early 1960s, it appears that G. was canonized in 1194 by the then bishop of Limoges acting with the permission of Celestine III. For his re-edited Vita accompanied by an historical introduction, see J. Becquet, "La vie de S. Gaucher, fondateur des chanoines réguliers d'Aureil en Limousin", _Revue Mabillon_ 54 (1964), 25-55.
Views of medieval portions of the much rebuilt church of the BVM at Bost-les-Mongeas are here:
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