medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (25. August) is the feast day of:
1) Romanus of Nepi (?). Faithful readers of these notices will recall from yesterday's set that R. is one of the patron saints of Nepi (VT) in northern Lazio and that, according to a legendary Passio in various versions (BHL 6984-6987; oldest witness said to be of the eleventh century), he was a bishop of Nepi who was martyred under an emperor Claudius and who, along with his mentor and fellow martyr St. Tolomaeus of Nepi, was laid to rest by a beata Sabinilla in a crypt where other martyrs already lay. The crypt in question is the fourth-/fifth-century catacomb at Nepi traditionally called the catacombe di Santa Savinilla. A plan of this cemetery and several views of it (including one of its entrance through the church) are here:
And here's a view of a passage in the catacomb with humans for scale:
R.'s putative remains have been removed from there to Nepi's cathedral (now a co-cathedral of the diocese of Civita Castellana), where they repose in a late seventeenth-century sarcophagus in front of the main altar:
Cardinal Baronio, otherwise so hospitable to the local saints of Italy, chose not to admit R. and T. to the RM. They entered it only in 1762, with individual elogia decreed by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, when their cult was confirmed at the behest of the then cardinal bishop of Nepi and Sutri. They left the RM as part of of its revision of 2001. R. and T. are celebrated liturgically at Nepi, R. today and T. yesterday.
2) Patricia, venerated at Naples (d. 7th cent., supposedly). Today's less well known saint of the Regno is also known as P. of Constantinople. She is the eponymous founder of a major Neapolitan convent and the supposed source of a blood relic that is said to liquefy every year on this day as well as on every Tuesday during the year.
According to her legendary Acta (BHL 6483-6491, including separate miracle accounts), P. was a high-born young lady of Constantinople who desired nothing more than to remain a holy virgin, praying and performing works of charity. When the emperor Constans II insisted that she marry one of his favorites, she used a pilgrimage to Rome as an excuse to flee. Taking some eunuchs and some female virgins as attendants but avoiding all the perils that make the similarly motivated journey of St. Arthellais to Benevento so interesting, she boarded a ship that was subsequently blown off course and that landed in the port of Naples. There she visited various holy places and then went on to Rome, where she completed her pilgrimage and took the habit along with her virgins.
Depending on the text one reads, P. then either 1) returned to Constantinople (the emperor having died in the meantime) in order to to liquidate her inheritance and then set set off on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, with her ship being blown off course and landing at Naples or, less interestingly, 2) set off on a return voyage to Naples. In either case, she fell ill and died on route. A prodigy revealed that the Greek monastery of Sts. Nicander and Daria in the heart of Naples would be her burial site. The monks obligingly moved on to another monastery and P.'s virgins, under the leadership of one Aglais or Aglay, used the site for a Greek-rite monastery dedicated to her and began her cult.
According to the version by Leo the priest (BHL 6484, 6485), about a century later a foreigner got to P.'s remains and removed one of her teeth as a sacred relic for a church that he wished to erect in her honor in his own land. An effusion of blood proceeded from where the tooth had been. This was collected and placed in two containers of glass, which latter became potent relics in their own right. Thus far P.'s Acta.
P.'s monastery is thought to have become Benedictine in the later eleventh century. In the later Middle Ages it was patronized by upper-class Neapolitans and in the early modern period P.'s cult really took off (in 1549 her body was rediscovered at the monastery; either in 1510 or -- the more commonly accepted date -- in 1645 her blood was first observed to bubble). P. has been a patron of Naples since 1625. When the convent of Santa Patrizia was confiscated by the state in 1864, the sisters, bringing both P. and her blood with them, moved into Naples' formerly male convent of San Gregorio Armeno (another Benedictine house with a legendary history pointing to a Greek-rite origin). P. is still there today. Her blood, which is supposed to promote childbirth, is a local favorite among San Gregorio Armeno's extensive collection of such relics. P. was dropped from the RM in its revision of 2001.
The monastery of Santa Patrizia was one of the last places on earth to use Beneventan script other than for teaching purposes. Ms. 1981 of the SchÝyen Collection contains a collection in that script of altar prayers by St. Thomas Aquinas and others transcribed at this house in the earlier sixteenth century. An expandable view of its decorated opening page occurs here:
3) ∆bbe (d. 683?). ∆. (also Ebba; sometimes called ∆. or E. the Elder to distinguish her from her historically dubious but liturgically recognized homonym of the later ninth century) was a sister of king St. Oswald of Northumbria (d. 642) and perhaps also of his younger brother and successor king Oswiu (d. 670). According to St. Bede the Venerable, by about 672 she was abbess of the double monastery of _Urbs Coludi_ (in today's Coldingham in the Scottish county of Berwick), where prompted by St. AdomnŠn she instituted a more rigorous way of living than had obtained there previously or than would after her death when, as AdomnŠn had foreseen, the monastery was destroyed by fire in divine retribution for the community's moral laxitude. ∆. is said to have been on friendly terms with St. Cuthbert and with St. Wilfrid and to have obtained in 681 the latter's release from his imprisonment by king Egfrith.
∆.'s early cult, for which some have said there is little evidence, would seem to be attested by the presence of one of her Vitae (BHL 2358) at fols. 1v-38r of WŁrzburg, Universitštsbibliothek, Hs. MP.TH.Q.23, a manuscript recorded in the Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina Manuscripta as being of the first quarter of the ninth century. Her putative remains are said to have been brought to Durham in the eleventh century; her twelfth-century Vita ascribed to Reginald of Durham (BHL 2357b) has an account of their Inventio at Coldingham whose dramatic date appears to some readers to follow that of the arrival there of Durham monks in the twelfth century. At Coldingham St Abbs and St Abb's Head take their names from ∆.
The same Vita also claims that ∆. founded a community at Ebchester in County Durham. though that could be mere inference from eleventh- and twelfth-century forms of that toponym. She is recorded in some post-Conquest calendars (at Durham seemingly not before the thirteenth century).
∆. has yet to grace the pages of the RM. Her cult seems now restricted to the Church of England's mostly eleventh-century church dedicated to her at Ebchester:
and to the Church of Scotland's church in the remains of Coldingham Priory (founded from Durham in 1100):
4) Louis IX of France (d. 1270). L. was by all accounts an upright and very pious person, famed for his justice and for his charity. His two crusades -- the first to coastal Egypt, the second to Tunis -- failed spectacularly: captured and imprisoned during the first, he died of an illness early in the second. After L.'s death near Tunis his bones and heart were returned to France and a movement soon began to have him canonized. In 1272 pope Gregory X asked L.'s Dominican confessor to furnish a Vita and in 1282-83 L. was the subject of a lengthy canonization inquest at Saint-Denis, where miracles were reported at his tomb. He was canonized in 1297 by Boniface VIII, whose excellent relations with L.'s grandson Philip IV doubtless caused the entire proceedings to be suffused in a glow of the mutual admiration and respect for which these two are famous.
Boniface VIII, as we all know, also had wonderful relations with his predecessor, St. Peter Celestine (as pope, Celestine V). One can only guess at what would have been his reaction to the fourteenth-century overpainting, in a church in L'Aquila (San Pietro di Coppito) in the Angevin-ruled kingdom of Sicily, of a portrait of P. with one of L. See the image in the illustrated, Italian-language account here:
Or the larger image here:
L'Aquila's chiesa di San Pietro di Coppito was badly damaged in last April's terrible earthquake. A page of post-earthquake views of this church's exterior is here:
Does anyone know whether the fresco survived intact?
Two relatively early depictions of L. in manuscript illuminations:
a) Dedication of Vincent of Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ (Dijon, BibliothŤque municipale, ms. 568, fol. 9r; later thirteenth-century):
b) L. in a Vitae sanctorum (Rouen, BibliothŤque municipale, ms. 1410, fol. 3l late thirteenth- or early fourteenth-century):
Here's L. in the Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux (1324-1328):
More on this manuscript here:
Finally, a few illustrated pages on the Sainte-Chapelle, erected by L. in the 1240s to house what was believed to be the Crown of Thorns and a putative relic of the True Cross:
5) Thomas of Hereford (d. 1282). Thomas de Cantilupe was the grandson and son of barons who had served as steward to a king of England (John and Henry III, respectively). An uncle, Walter de Cantilupe, became archdeacon of Gloucester. Educated in theology at Paris and in law at Orlťans and Oxford, T. inherited his family's administrative skills and put them to the service of the Church. He was made chancellor of the University of Oxford in 1261 and in 1265, during the ascendancy of Simon de Montfort, he was briefly chancellor of England. After a period abroad, where he lectured at Paris, T. returned to Oxford in about 1272, where he again served as chancellor. In 1275 T. became bishop of Hereford.
As bishop T. was careful to maintain episcopal authority in his diocese. Though this led him into disputes with neighboring bishops and with secular nobles, his eminence was such that he also managed to serve as a member of Edward I's Privy Council in at least 1276. His resistance to what he considered unjustified encroachments upon his rights by John Pecham, archbishop of Canterbury from 1279 to 1292, led to dissension between the two and to T.'s withdrawal to the Continent in 1280 and 1281. A return late in the latter year was followed Pecham's declaring T. excommunicate in February of 1282. T. appealed to the pope (Martin IV), whom he met with personally at Orvieto in June of that year. The pope moved shortly afterwards to Montefiascone on the Via Cassia; T. followed, taking up lodgings at nearby Ferento. He fell ill there and died on the night of 25. August, while his appeal was still under review.
On the Sunday following his death T. was accorded a solemn funeral, attended by several cardinals (one of whom later became pope Nicholas IV), at the monastery of St. Severus outside of Orvieto. His heart and his bones were brought back to England, where his successor at Hereford Richard Swinfield (d. 1317) opened a campaign to have him canonized as a saint. In 1307 papal commissioners held hearings in this matter both in Hereford and London; their report treats T.'s excommunication as invalid and records an impressive number of miracles credited to T. in the years following his death. T. was canonized in 1320.
Whereas the abbey of San Severo near Orvieto is sometimes said to go back to the eighth century, in the form in which it exists today it really begins in the late eleventh century, when it was a project of that great patron of the Church, Matilda of Tuscany (1046-1115). A wealthy institution in the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, it was Benedictine until 1221, Premonstratensian from 1226 to 1423, and Olivetan for a while after that, though it never really rebounded from wartime damage sustained in the early fifteenth century. Its present owners have restored parts of it and now run it as an hotel. Two distance views of the abbey are here:
A somewhat closer view:
Some black-and-white detail views follow (from the Courtauld, which uses "thirteenth century" as the master date for all views of structures in this complex). The abbey's eleventh-century church was reoriented in the fourteenth century. In the first of these views its absidiole may be seen above a later pronaos on the building's west side:
Exterior view, porch and monastic building:
Tower (said to have been begun in the eleventh century and to have been completed in 1103):
And a few in color:
The abbey's belltower may seem familiar to those who have been in the upper city of Orvieto. There's a very similar one of the same vintage belonging to the chiesa di Sant'Andrea (thanks to a restoration in 1926, this looks much healthier than the one at the abbey in the countryside down below):
(last year's post revised and with the addition of Romanus of Nepi)
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