medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (18. April) is the feast day of:
1) Eleutherius and Anthia (d. ca. 125, supposedly). An Eleutherius celebrated on 18. April occurs in the early seventh-century (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology and in the early ninth-century Marble Calendar of Naples. Medieval dedications to an E. of this name are widespread in central and southern Italy. Some of these are to the present E., others commemorate the pope of this name, and still others (in a much later-arising cult centered on southern Lazio) honor a pilgrim celebrated in late May.
An E. commonly celebrated in Eastern-rite churches on 15. December has a legendary sixth- or seventh-century Greek Passio (BHG 568-571b) that makes him a Roman native and son of a highly placed woman named Anthia and has him consecrated bishop by a certain Anicetus and sent to Illyricum to take up his ecclesiastical office, only to be sent to Rome for trial. There, after a colloquy with the emperor Hadrian followed by an impressive series of failed execution attempts, he is put to death along with Anthia on 15. December of some unspecified year. One of this text's Latin translations (BHL 2451-52), said to be earlier than the eighth century, adapts the legend to the E. of 18. April by changing this E.'s martyrdom to that date; it also makes him a less well-known saint of the Regno by substituting Aeca (the predecessor of Troia in northern Apulia) for Illyricum.
In 1105 two monks from Troia removed from a burial site near Velletri in Lazio and brought back to their home town the supposed remains of pope saint Pontianus and of a saint E. identified by the Troiani as their former bishop. (Troia is an eleventh-century Byzantine foundation on the ruins of Aeca; lacking a continuous tradition of settlement, it had to go elsewhere for the bodies of its local saints.) E. is one of Troia's patron saints; his putative relics there are carried in procession there on 18. July along with those of other patrons and with some said to be of A.
By the end of the twelfth century the E. of 18. April was also being venerated at Poreč (Italian: Parenzo) in Croatia, where he shared a tomb with the local martyr-bishop Maurus (yes, this is the same M. whose presumed remains had by this time been in the Lateran Baptistery for centuries) and where of course he was remembered as a bishop of Illyricum. In 1354 this tomb and its contents became spoils in the Genoese sack of Poreč; they stayed in Genoa until 1933, when they were returned.
A version of the Passio of the E. of Aeca and of his mother A. was known to Florus of Lyon in the ninth century, who when entering these saints under 18. April substituted 'Messana' for 'Aeca' as the name of E.'s Apulian town. This odd error led to later cults of E. and A. at Messina in Sicily and at Mesagne on the Salentine Peninsula in Apulia. Prior to its latest version (which omits them entirely), the RM listed Messina as the place of martyrdom for our E. and A.
Today's E. and A. have also had a long-standing cult at Rieti in eastern Lazio, where a church or churches dedicated to a St. E. are attested from the eighth through at least the thirteenth century and where the remains of E. and A. are said to have been translated to the cathedral in 1198.
Web-based visuals of medieval origin relating to these saints are not numerous. An eleventh-century sepulchral inscription for E. and A., now in the diocesan museum at Rieti, is shown on this page:
A view of the facade of Troia's cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (1093-1119) will be found here:
The architrave (_sensu Italiano_) / lintel over the main portal is replete with carvings (said to have been reworked in the sixteenth century). In the view of it on this page, E. is the saint at the far left:
There's a better view of this realization of E. at left in the fifth view from the bottom on this page:
The second saint from left in this late fourteenth-century panel painting now in the diocesan museum at Velletri is our E. and the pope at the far right is E.'s fellow abductee to Troia, St. Pontianus:
Here's a view of Poreč's originally thirteenth-century church dedicated to E.:
Located on the site of the town's late antique cemetery, it had a predecessor documented from the year 1183.
Nepi (VT) in northern Lazio had a medieval church dedicated to our E. "Restored" in the sixteenth century, it is now deconsecrated and houses an art gallery:
2) Eusebius of Fano (d. after 525). E. is one of the four traditional sainted bishops and protectors of today's Fano (PU) in the Marche. As bishop of that town he subscribed to the acts of a Roman synod of 503. Since a Vitalis signed the acts of the preceding synod of 499 as bishop of Fano, it appears that in 503 E. had not been in office very long.
According to the Anonymus Valesianus, E. accompanied pope St. John I on his mission to Constantinople on behalf of king Theoderic in 526; the assumption that he was caught up in Theoderic's subsequent jailings of the pope and of two senators who accompanied him has led to a modern belief that E. perished in prison in that year. But no late antique source tells us that this fate befel any of the three bishops said to have accompanied John I. One at least, Ecclesius of Ravenna, died in the early 530s and another, if as is thought the Anonymus' _Sabinum Campanum_ is a garbled reference to bishop St. Sabinus of Canosa, was still alive in 536 and seems to have lived well after that.
In the twelfth century E.'s relics, labeled as such (_Corpus Sancti Eusebi_), were rediscovered in Fano's cathedral when that building was being rebuilt after a fire. Here's an illustrated, Italian-language page on Fano's cathedral of the Assunta:
Two single views of the cathedral's facade (restored in 1928) with its thirteenth-century, polychrome marble portal:
The Italia nell'Arte Medievale page on this church:
3) Ursmar (d. 713). According to the tradition of the monastery at Lobbes in today's Belgian Hainaut, U. became its abbot in 689. He introduced the Benedictine Rule into this house and, in 697, consecrated its church of Sts. Peter and Paul. He is said to have been bishop of Lobbes as well and to have built outside the monastery a second church dedicated to the BVM. U.'s cult at Lobbes produced a tenth-century Vita (BHL 8417) by Rather of Verona, a late tenth- or eleventh-century one formerly ascribed to abbot Anso (BHL 8416), a metrical Vita by Heriger of Lobbes (BHL 8419), and several miracle collections.
4) Athanasia of Aegina (d. ca. 860, supposedly). The monastic founder and thaumaturge A. is said in her Bios (BHG 180) to have been married twice, first to a man who was killed in battle shortly after their wedding and then to another who accommodated her desire for sexual abstinence and who later became a monk. A. then gathered a group of female disciples and founded a religious community on the island with herself in charge. She is said to have been summoned to the court of the empress Theodora in Constantinople and to have stayed there for nearly seven years before being allowed to return, whereupon she died very quickly.
Lee Francis Sherry's English-language translation of A.'s Bios begins here:
5) Herluca of Bernried (or of Epfach; Bl.; d. 1127). Absent from the RM, the well educated recluse H. has a Vita (BHL 3835) by Paul of Bernried, known to many on this list as the early biographer of pope St. Gregory VII. One is not surprised, therefore, to find H. (also Herluka) presented as an ardent supporter of Gregorian reform. For thirty-six years she lived at Epfach an der Lech, whither she had arrived in her mid-twenties and where she performed acts of charity and promoted the cult of St. Wicterp (see above), who had appeared to her in a vision. H. was at this time in correspondence with the also well educated Benedictine recluse Bl. Diemut (Diemoth; 30. March) at nearby Wessobrunn. Becoming unpopular at Epfach, she fled in ca. 1122 to the Augustinian house at Bernried on the Starnberger See in today's Landkreis Weilheim-Schongau in southern Bavaria. There she was befriended by Paul and lived out the brief remainder of her life.
6) Galdinus (d. 1176). The Milanese city noble G. was archdeacon of Milan when the emperor Frederick I (Barbarossa) seized and burned Milan in 1162, exiling its archbishop who, like G., was anti-imperial in his politics and a supporter of pope Alexander III (against whom Barbarossa had in 1159 set up the first of three sequential antipopes). In 1165 Alexander called G. to Rome and created him cardinal priest of Santa Sabina. In March of the following year the exiled archbishop died, whereupon Alexander got sympathetic Milanese clergy to elect G. to that see and then consecrated G. himself on 18. April 1166. Under these circumstances G. became the first cardinal archbishop of Milan.
In September 1167 G. and other exiles returned to a devastated Milan, where in addition to leading the newly founded Lombard League he undertook the physical and emotional rebuilding of his diocese. He organized charitable distribution of bread to a needy populace, restored the cathedral, and provided support to the then newly formed Ospedale del Brolo, a charitable institution destined to play an important role in the city's social history.
One might think that G.'s feast today commemorates his consecration as archbishop but by coincidence today is also his _dies natalis_. According to the undated _Via sancti Galdini_ (BHL 3232), on 18. April 1176, ten years to the day after his consecration, G. died shortly after giving a sermon in the then cathedral of St. Thecla. He reposes under the altar of the confessio in the city's present cathedral, begun in 1386.
Remains of Milan's originally fourth-century Santa Tecla and of its associated baptistery of San Giovanni may be seen below ground level in front of the present cathedral:
7) Andrew of Montereale (Bl.; d. 1479). Today's less well known holy person of the Regno is an Augustinian Hermit attested in his order's brief, late fifteenth-century chronicle by its prior general Ambrogio Massari (d. 1485). A. has a brief, earlier sixteenth-century Vita first published in Italian that focuses on his learning, his preaching, and his practices of self-denial and mortification of the flesh. A native of today's Mascioni (AQ) in Abruzzo, he entered the Augustinian house at nearby Montereale (AQ) when he was fourteen. Ordained priest at the age of twenty-five, A. later studied theology at Rimini, at Padua, and at Ferrara before being transferred to Siena where he obtained his master's degree in that discipline. Sent to France, he preached at Bourges. Returning to Italy, he continued to preach and was also several times provincial for Umbria, where he aroused enmity by his attempts to reform several houses.
Named prior at Siena and head of his order's _studio_ there, A. withstood accusations lodged against him in Rome. His behavior in that matter led Massari to call him an example of holiness. A.'s last years were spent at Montereale, where he is said to have prophesied the day and hour of his death. In 1581 his remains at Montereale were said to be just as they were at his death. A.'s cult was approved papally in 1764. The titular of his order's early eighteenth-century church at Montereale, he reposes there in the chapel shown here:
(matter from older posts lightly revised and with the addition of Andrew of Montereale)
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