medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (14. April) is the feast day of:
1) Tiburtius, Valerian, and Maximus (?). T. is a Roman martyr of the cemetery of Praetextatus, entered under this date in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology along with other martyrs named Valerian and Maximus. Their appearance in this compilation under other dates and at other cemeteries has been rationalized by the supposition that Valerian and Maximus had been buried elsewhere and that their remains were later brought into proximity with those of T. at his resting place. But V. and M. may have had martyred homonyms (they have very common names) and matters are further complicated by the existence in the seventh century of a martyr's church for a T. at the cemetery _ad duas lauros_ on the Via Labicana. He was probably the saint of this name celebrated on 11. August with the legendary Susanna of Rome and may well have been the T. of _Epigrammata Damasiana_, 31.
Legendarily, T., V., and M. are brought together in the Passio of St. Cecilia, where V. is C.'s husband in a chaste union, T. is his brother, and M. is a Roman official who converts and is martyred with them. This Passio's _dies natalis_ for T., V., and M. (21. April) was used medievally for their joint Roman feast on that day. Seventh-century pilgrim itineraries for Rome report today's T. as still reposing in the cemetery of Praetextatus. In the eighth century pope St. Gregory III restored their burial sites and in the ninth pope St. Paschal I transferred the remains of T. and companions to his rebuilt church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. Arnolfo da Cambio's late thirteenth-century ciborium in that church places statues of T., V., M., and C. in niches at the upper corners:
In this view of the originally ninth-century apse mosaic, V. is the second saint on Christ's left:
T., V., and M. repose with C. in the crypt. The latter though rebuilt in the early twentieth century retains its medieval cosmatesque floor:
A different view of the floor:
Two expandable views of a later fourteenth-century north Italian miniature depicting T., V., and M. (Avignon, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 136, fol. 235v):
An expandable view of a later fifteenth-century Flemish miniature depicting V. with C. (Mâcon, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 3, fol. 149v):
An expandable view of Francesco Botticini's later fifteenth-century painting of C. flanked by V. and T., now in the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid:
2) John of Montemarano (d. 1094 or 1095). Today's less well known saint of the Regno is the first known bishop of today's Montemarano (AV), a population center in south central Irpinia that seems to have been raised to episcopal dignity only in the eleventh century. He has a very brief medieval Vita (BHL 4414) and a set of presumed remains said to have been incorrupt at the times of their respective translations within Montemaro's then cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in 1624 and 1726. J.'s cult was confirmed in 1906.
According to the Vita, J. was a monk whom pope St. Gregory VII, during his exile in Salerno, named as bishop upon the request of the clergy and people of Montemarano. It has been inferred from this that J. was of local origin. He is said to have led the people in prayer when a church at Montemarano that he had dedicated became unusable due to an infestation of worms; this expression of collective piety caused the church's priest to confess that he had fouled this temple by using it repeatedly for sexual trysts. On another occasion, J. was in charge of a group of laborers engaged in clearing land near the river Calore; when it proved impossible to provide sufficient wine for them, J. had water drawn from the river, blessed it, and the Lord, honoring his servant, converted it into wine.
Montemarano's Santa Maria Assunta was rebuilt in 1494 to such an extent that it received a new consecration. It has been rebuilt several times since, most recently after the great Irpine earthquake of 1980. The crypt retains some medieval capitals visible here:
and is also said to have in its central apse two late eleventh- / twelfth-century frescoes, one of which portrays a seated bishop identified as J. by Riccardo Sica, writing in Volume Two of the _Storia illustrata di Avellino e dell'Irpinia_:
In the crypt, J.'s presumed remains are kept here:
The crypt is also said to contain a fifteenth-century wooden bust of J. The earliest representation of him whose reproduction I could find readily on the Web is this sixteenth-century statue in silver:
Montemarano's diocese was incorporated into that of Nusco in 1818. One of its treasures was this fifteenth-century folding chair (said to be one of but three of its kind now known to exist in Italy), preserved in part because it was later said to have been J.'s:
3) Bernard of Tiron (d. 1117). The Benedictine reformer and monastic founder B. (also Bernard of Abbeville, Bernard of Ponthieu) entered religion at the abbey of Saint-Cyprien near Poitiers. After about ten years there he was sent with a companion to the abbey of Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe, where he became prior and instituted reform. To avoid being elected abbot he withdrew as a hermit to the forest of Craon in Maine. When the monks of Saint-Savin discovered where he was, B. fled to the Île de Chausey in Brittany. But he kept in touch with Saint-Cyprien and allowed himself to be recalled there at the end of the eleventh century as prior with the understanding that he would succeed a failing incumbent as abbot, which he shortly did.
A dispute with Cluny, which claimed rights over Saint-Cyprien, caused B. to be put under interdict and gave him the opportunity both to return to an eremitical existence and to engage in itinerant preaching. A famous example of the latter activity is his sermon at Coutances from before 1105, when he defended the right of hermit monks to preach and attacked clerical marriage. In 1109, with the assistance of Rotrou III, count of the Perche, and of bishop St. Ivo of Chartres, B. founded a small settlement, with a chapel dedicated to St. Anne, in the woods of the Perche not far from the castle of Tiron. In 1113 or 1114 he moved the nascent abbey, with a new dedication to the Holy Trinity, to its present site on the property of a dependency of the cathedral chapter of Chartres at today's Tiron-Gardais (Eure-et-Loire). B. died there on this day a few years later.
According to the impressive Vita by his disciple Geoffroy le Gros (BHL 1251), B.'s cult was immediate. He was canonized in 1861.
After B.'s death the abbey of Tiron became the seat of an Order of reformed Benedictines, the Tironensians or Order of Tiron (now a Benedictine congregation). A brief and not altogether reliable French-language guide to the abbey, with views of its rebuilt church, is accessible here (click on 'Visite guidée'):
The church has some fifteenth(?)-century choir stalls:
The originally eleventh-century abbey church of Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A page of expandable views is here:
Two pages of mostly expandable views of the building's architecture and of its decor begin here:
4) Lidwina (d. 1433). L. (Liduina, Ludwina, Lidwigis, etc.) was born into a poor family in the Netherlandic city of Schiedam. At the age of fifteen she fell while ice skating and broke a rib. Her injury never healed, complications ensued, and for the remainder of her life she was bedridden and suffered greatly. L. fasted -- for the last twenty years of her life she is said to have eaten only the Eucharist -- and received visions. Some medical historians consider L. to have been a victim of Multiple Sclerosis. She has a Vita (BHL 4923-24) written before 1436 by a Father Hugo, subprior of the Sint-Elisabethklooster at Rugge near Den Briel, and another (BHL 4926) by the Franciscan Johannes Brugman that survives in various versions and was very popular. L. was canonized in 1890.
An illustration in a printing of Brugman's _Vita S. Lydwinae_ from 1498 and depicting L.'s accident is thought to be the oldest surviving pictorial representation of of ice skating:
This advertisement, by a Catholic bookstore and church-supply store, of a reprint of an English-language translation of J. K. Huysmans' retelling of L.'s Vita calls her story incredible:
You might think that if this account were that hard to credit the least that the proprietors of this store could do would be to keep their doubts to themselves.
(last year's post lightly revised)
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