medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (19. April) is, in Orthodox churches, the feast of the Resurrection. In Latin-rite churches it is the feast day of:
1) Mappalicius and companions (d. 250). We know from the letters of St. Cyprian of Carthage about M. (also Mappalicus) and his seventeen named companions, all victims of the Decian persecution in Africa. M. had previously distinguished himself as unwilling to reconcile with those who during this persecution had apostasized; these included his mother and his sister. He died under torture during an interrogation. The early sixth-century Calendar of Carthage records a feast for M. on this day. Until its revision of 2001 the RM commemorated M. on 17. April. In Italian (this would work in English too, though perhaps not as obviously) some onomastically attuned wits have decided to honor M. as the patron saint of the Global Positioning System (GPS).
More directly pertinent to this list's concerns is M.'s status as the patron saint of Jonquières (Vaucluse) in Provence, whose village church (first recorded from 1137) of St.-Mappalice (in Occitan, Mapalis; in standard French, Mappalique) was rebuilt in the fifteenth century and again in 1982. Its belltower is said to date from 1491. The chevet (shown here along with the belltower) is certainly late medieval:
2) George of Antioch in Pisidia (d. ca. 816). As bishop of Pisidian Antioch G, took part in the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 and subscribed its Acta. The emperor Leo V exiled him for his refusal to carry out iconoclast measures promulgated in 815. G. is said to have died shortly after his removal.
Pisidian Antioch is now an archaeological site near Yalvaç in Turkey's Isparta province. Here's a view of the remains of a Byzantine church there:
In the absence of a readily locatable medieval image on the Web of the iconophile G., herewith an image of the iconoclast Leo V on one of his coins:
3) Gerold of Großwalsertal (G. of Vorarlberg; d. 978). On 1. January 949 the emperor Otto I restored property in today's Land Vorarlberg in Austria to a man of God named Adam who previously been deprived of his possessions for having taken part in a plot against him. A tenth-century entry in the Necrology of the abbey of Einsiedeln in Switzerland records an Adam, not expressly said to have been a monk, who died on 16. April 978. In the abbey's later medieval tradition A. was called Gerold, its priory at his former hermitage was called St. Gerold, and he was venerated liturgically as a saint. Medievally G.'s feast fell on various days; today's observance was established only in the seventeenth century.
St. Gerold (the place) is located at today's Blons, Bezirk Bludenz. The priory dates from before 1313, the year in which a predecessor of its present church was consecrated. Excavations in 1965/66 produced remains of an earlier "romanesque" church (said to have been destroyed in 1311) with what had been G.'s tomb.
4) Alphege (d. 1012). A. (Ælfheah, Elphege) became bishop of Winchester in 984 and archbishop of Canterbury in 1006. In September or early October 1011 viking raiders seized Canterbury and ordered a huge money payment to be made to them on the following Easter. When this was paid they turned around and asked for another sum as A.'s ransom. A. forbade this second payment (or else lacked the wherewithal to pay). A few days later, on 19. April, he was beaten to death by some of his captors during a feast. A. was buried at London and translated back to Canterbury in 1023 on the orders of king Cnut, who being Danish probably felt it in his English interest to honor him.
A. has a late eleventh-century Vita (BHL 2518) by Osbern of Canterbury, commissioned by archbishop Lanfranc. His cult remained strong throughout the Middle Ages.
Here's a view of the later medieval church of St Alphege at Solihull:
Some expandable views are here:
And a plan showing various stages of construction is here:
5) Leo IX, pope (d. 1054). The Alsatian Bruno of Eg(u)isheim and Dagsburg (also Bruno of Toul) came from a comital family with connections to the German kingly house. He was educated at the cathedral school of Toul and at the court of Conrad II. As a young man he commanded the Alsatian contingent on campaign in Lombardy. At the ripe old age of twenty-four he was named bishop of Toul, of whose cathedral he was already a canon, and was exempted from paying the usual cash donation to the king. Thus untainted by simony, B. proceeded to serve as a reforming bishop of Toul for about twenty years. He was elected pope on the nomination of Henry III in 1048 and consecrated in 1049, taking the name Leo.
L. was a very active pope, presiding over numerous synods and repeatedly taking strong stands against simony, lay investiture, and nicolaism. He traveled widely, consecrating many churches and granting privileges to numerous monasteries. L.'s diplomatic dealings with the church of Constantinople were disastrous, leading famously to his excommunication by the patriarch Michael Cerularius. So too were his interventions in the temporal affairs of the Italian south. Defeated militarily by the Normans at Civitate in northern Apulia in 1053, he became a political prisoner at Benevento for eight months. Already ill upon his release (though his captors had treated him with great respect), the aged pontiff died shortly after his return to Rome. Miracles were reported at his tomb. Bl. Victor III canonized him through elevation in 1087.
Here's a not awfully good reproduction of the eleventh-century miniature at Bern, Burgerbibliothek, cod. 292, fol. 92r (pseudo-Wibert, _Vita Leonis_), showing L. consecrating the church of St-Arnaud at Metz (a much better but black-and-white reproduction accompanies L.'s entry in the _Bibliotheca Sanctorum_):
L. in what is said to be an eleventh-century manuscript of a letter collection (can anyone identify it?):
There's a view of one of L.'s privileges here:
This page reproduces a miniature from a fifteenth-century Greek codex now in the Biblioteca Nazionale in Palermo depicting Cerularius and L.:
Moving back in time, here's Cerularius at left with clerics in a miniature in the twelfth-century Madrid Skylitzes (Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, vitr.26-2):
In this probably fifteenth-century mural painting in the Romitorio di Selva Oscura outside of Bassiano (LT) in southern Lazio, L. is the saint at far right:
6) Bernard of Sithiu (Bl.; d. 1182). According to his Vita by John of St.-Bertin, B. was a nobleman of the diocese of Maguelonne in the Narbonnais who was exiled for having committed great crimes and was forced to become a penitent in expiation thereof, going barefoot and chafed by seven bands of iron constricting different parts of his body. He wandered widely, traveling as a pilgrim to Jerusalem and even to India, but ultimately wound up in the vicinity of the abbey of Sithiu/St.-Bertin at today's Saint-Omer (Pas-de-Calais). There B. lived for four years in great misery and privation, visiting the sick and operating miracles. After his death on this day more miracles occurred, his cult was promoted by the abbey, many faithful visited his tomb, and the miracles continued.
7) Today was also once (and, to judge from his entry in the sanctoral calendar at Kirchensite.de, perhaps still is somewhere) the feast day of Bl. Werner of Oberwesel (d. 1287). According to the very late thirteenth- or early fourteenth-century Trierer episcopal chronicle _Gesta Boemundi_, W. (also W. of Bacharach; in Latin, Wernerus, Wernherus) was a poor Christian boy who while working in the house of a Jew at what is now Oberwesel (Rhein-Hunsrück-Kreis) in Rheinland-Pfalz was set upon and cruelly murdered by Jews who after tearing him to pieces concealed his bloodless body in a thicket at some distance from the town. W.'s body, untouched by birds or beasts, was discovered by a farmer plowing nearby. Popular suspicion that the perpetrators were Jews was quickly confirmed by a Christian serving woman who worked in the house in question and who said that she had observed the crime through a crack in a wall.
Still according to this account, a generalized massacre of the town's Jews then took place; only those few who had been able to find shelter in castles and strongpoints of the nobles escaped. W.'s body was brought to Bacharach (a larger town upstream along the Rhine that had already killed all its Jews in 1283), where a splendid chapel -- we learn elsewhere that this was an expansion of one honoring Sts. Cunibert and Andrew -- was erected to house it. Many miracles confirmed W.'s sanctity; crowds of pilgrims from near and far rushed to his tomb. Thus far the _Gesta Boemundi_. A contemporary Passio (BHL 8860) written not quite fourteen years after the event, repeats the blood libel, adds details (many making W. a type of Christ), and is silent about the pogrom (for which Oberwesel was punished by king Rudolf I).
This cult, centered on Bacharach, appears to have been very popular locally for about fifty years and, to judge from its Middle Dutch and Middle High German narratives, to have enjoyed wider fame even in the later fourteenth century. It was revived in the 1460s, when the Vita was rewritten at Bacharach (BHL 8861) and an ultimately unsuccessful canonization campaign was launched. With the approval of the archdiocese of Trier, W. was celebrated liturgically throughout the early modern period and beyond. He was removed from the archdiocesan liturgical calendar in 1963. A recent scholarly, German-language account of the cult written for a University of Hamburg seminar is here:
Here's an illustrated, German-language page on W.'s chapel in Bacharach:
A view of the chapel ca. 1840:
(last year's post lightly revised and with the addition of Werner of Oberwesel)
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