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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  August 2009

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION August 2009

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Subject:

saints of the day 28. August

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 19:18:26 -0500

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (28. August) is the feast day of:

1)  Hermes of Rome (d. ca. 304?).  H. is a martyr of the Via Salaria vetus, recorded under this date in the Depositio martyrum of the Chronographer of 354 and in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology, both of which give his resting place as the cemetery of Basilla.  In 1932 and in 1940 fragments of the original marble plaque of his epitaph by pope St. Damasus I (Ferrua no. 48), previously known only from an incomplete copy in a manuscript sylloge, were found in an underground chamber of this very cemetery.  This merely tells us that H. was a martyr who had come to Rome from Greece and that he was long dead when the epitaph was written.  Like Basilla, he probably was a victim of the Great Persecution.  In late antiquity the legendary Passio of pope St. Alexander (BHL 266) made H. a Roman city prefect converted by A. and martyred under Trajan (well before the cemetery of Basilla came into use).

In the late fourth century H.'s gravesite was already monumental.  Two centuries later, pope Pelagius I (579-90) erected a subterranean basilica there.  That church is recorded in the late sixth-century _Index oleorum_ of abbot John of Monza and in the seventh-century itineraries for pilgrims at Rome; in the eighth century it was restored by pope Adrian I (772-95).  In the early fourteenth century the church was no longer in use.  Rediscovered in the early seventeenth century, it forms part of what is now referred to as the catacomb of Hermes.  An intermittently mentioned above-ground monastery serving the site is not recorded after 1188.

Both this catacomb church and H.'s listings in early medieval sacramentaries and martyrologies contributed to the diffusion of his cult throughout western Europe.  Three places where he has been venerated especially are Ronse (Renaix) in Belgium's Oost-Vlaanderen province, Acquapendente (VT) in northern Lazio, and the city of Salzburg in Austria.  Here are some views of Ronse's collegiate church dedicated to H., whose claim to have relics of H. is documented from 1160 onward:
http://www.carillon.org.au/usyd/renaix/
http://enkiri.com/europe/belgium/vlaanderen/ronse941.html
http://www.cornelissen.de/name/cor_bel2.htm
This church's putative relics of H. are kept in several velvet-covered nineteenth-century châsses, one of which is shown here:
http://proculaine.ifrance.com/hermes2.jpg

Acquapendente's Basilica Cattedrale del Santo Sepolcro houses what are said to be relics of H., the city's patron.  The present building, originally of the eleventh and twelfth centuries with an eighteenth-century facade, was badly damaged in World War II and has since been rebuilt.  Herewith some exterior views (in the rear only the central apse is medieval):
http://tinyurl.com/ysd34t
http://tinyurl.com/ywcd3h
http://tinyurl.com/2hj9dz
and views of its tenth-/eleventh-century crypt, housing a Holy Sepulchre:
http://www.provincia.viterbo.it/ivbook/picture/ivb_029.gif
http://tinyurl.com/2bgmk7
http://tinyurl.com/35dq8n
http://tinyurl.com/lrd4nj
The capital at left here is in the crypt:
http://www.romeartlover.it/Francig4.jpg
Detail view:
http://tinyurl.com/38d8we
Another capital in the crypt:
http://www.fabiopiferi.it/escur/Francigena/acq_mo3.jpg
An Italian-language account of this monument is here:
http://tinyurl.com/n8lbjp

Salzburg's Museum Carolino Augusteum houses a panel from an altarpiece of 1449 by Conrad Laib showing H. in what is said to be a Bürgermeister's (mayor's) costume, appropriate in its way for a supposed city prefect of ancient Rome:
http://www.aeiou.at/aeiou.history.data.jpg/001474.jpg
Detail view:
http://www.salzburg-city.com/history/got1.jpg

The village church of Warbeyen (Stadt Kleve) in Germany's Land Nordrhein-Westfalen is dedicated to the BVM and to H. but is usually referred to simply as Sankt Hermes.  Its choir and nave are said to be from the earlier and mid-sixteenth centuries respectively (a predecessor is first recorded from 1368).  Here's a distance view:
http://tinyurl.com/5t8nve
Exterior, front (the tower is modern):
http://tinyurl.com/nro68j
Exterior, south flank:
http://tinyurl.com/mtrplf
Exterior, choir:
http://www.helmut-verhuelsdonk.de/warb4.jpg
There's a better exterior view of the choir in this brief video (the view starts at 1:10):
http://tinyurl.com/lgc3cb
Interior (ca. 1950?; expandable):
http://tinyurl.com/ko83so


2)  Vicinius (d. 4th cent.?).  The legendary protobishop of Sarsina (FC) in the Romagna, V. is known chiefly through his late eleventh- or early twelfth-century Vita et Miracula (BHL 8557).  This brief but elegantly written document tells us that V. came from Liguria, by which could be meant either today's Emilia, the latter having in late antiquity been joined with ancient Liguria in a single province, or today's Lombardy (most of which formed the main part of ancient Liguria).  Ordained bishop by divine providence, he preached the Gospel to the people of the _urbs Saxenata_ (i.e. Sassina, Sarsina's ancient name form) and engaged in the full range of virtuous behaviors typical of a saintly bishop.

Especially effective at driving out demons, V. is said to have used a collar and chain to subdue the possessed whilst effecting their internal release.  This very restraint (who could believe otherwise?), traditionally referred to as V.'s "chain" though today it is represented only by a collar, was preserved in Sarsina's cathedral, where remains believed to be those of V. were interred, and was employed medievally in various post-mortem miraculous cures.  Here's a view:
http://tinyurl.com/6a79ug

Sarsina's originally tenth-/eleventh-century basilica cattedrale di Santa Maria Maggiore e San Vicinio (now a co-cathedral of the diocese of Cesena-Sarsina) is shown here
http://www.lemaschere.it/sarsinagallery2.html
http://tinyurl.com/6ybky7
http://tinyurl.com/5qrjzf
and in more detail here:
http://www.irisversari.it/pievi/pievi3/sarsina.htm
One of its treasures is this twelfth-century marble ambo bearing emblems of the four evangelists:
http://www.lemaschere.it/sarsinagallery10.html

In the late eighteenth century the right aisle was converted into a chapel of San Vicinio:
http://www.lemaschere.it/sarsinagallery5.html
That's the putative V. himself in an effigy reliquary behind the grate beneath the altar.  A detail view (though V.'s skull is said not to have been preserved):
http://tinyurl.com/6myzeh


3)  Augustine of Hippo (d. 430).  A.'s career and major writings are too well known to warrant a summary here.  But for a brief refresher, try the 'Context' section of Michael Mendelson's entry on him in the _Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy_:
http://setis.library.usyd.edu.au/stanford/entries/augustine/

The archeological site of the former Hippo Regius lies outside of today's Annaba in Algeria.  Here's a page of expandable views:
http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/jod/algeria/hippo-scenes.html
And here are some views of A.'s later fourteenth-century monument (1362) in Pavia's church of San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro in which (in a much earlier state) the Lombard king Liutprand was said to have deposited relics of A. brought from a previous resting place in Sardinia early in the eighth century.  The tomb now houses human remains discovered in 1695 beneath the floor of said church's crypt that in 1728 were adjudged papally to be those of A.:
http://tinyurl.com/n786cj
http://tinyurl.com/lcq4ft
http://static.panoramio.com/photos/original/12186338.jpg
Many detail views are here (scroll down to Masters of Campione):
http://snipurl.com/rg08u

In 1842 an elbow from A.'s putative relics in Pavia was brought to Annaba and placed in a reliquary statue of A. intended for the then not yet built modern church dedicated to A. on a hill overlooking the site of Hippo Regius.  Here's a view of that reliquary with its embedded relic in the completed church:
http://tinyurl.com/mjmd8n

In 2004 the city of Ostia (RM) in Lazio, the medieval home of St. Monica's mortal remains, decided (apparently for promotional reasons) to adopt her son, whose time there will have been brief, as its patron saint, replacing St. Aurea/Aura in that capacity (hard cheese, Aurea!).  Herewith a set of views of A.'s putative relics from Pavia on display in Ostia's city hall that year (use the horizontal bar to scroll through):
http://tinyurl.com/ly4jxu


4)  Angelo of Pesche (Bl.; d. 1460).  This less well known holy person of the Regno (also A. delle Pesche) became a Franciscan lay brother at the order's monastery of Sant'Onofrio at today's Vasto (CH) in Abruzzo, where he was recorded as being from today's Pesche (IS) in Molise.  A. served as a gardener (perhaps also as an alms-gatherer) at Franciscan houses in southern Italy, acquiring a reputation as a deeply prayerful contemplative.  In a tradition that seems to be post-medieval in origin, he is said to have been consulted on spiritual matters by grandees of the realm and on one such occasion to have been stimulated by a musical performance to levitate in ecstasy and to have remained aloft for some time.

A. died at his order's convent at Lucera (FG) in northern Apulia.  Herewith some views of its originally thirteenth-century chiesa di San Francesco (restored 1936-1942) and of some of its fourteenth- to sixteenth-century frescoes:
Exterior views:
http://fujiso3.hp.infoseek.co.jp/hna6hp/pna558.html
http://tinyurl.com/6bdb5x
Interior views:
http://tinyurl.com/6bvzvd
http://tinyurl.com/dhodv
http://tinyurl.com/7obbd
http://www.fotografieitalia.it/foto.cfm?idfoto=769
http://www.fotografieitalia.it/foto.cfm?idfoto=770
More views here (starting with the nineteenth image in this set):
http://tinyurl.com/5sehlp
The glass-encased effigy reliquary beneath the main altar is that of Lucera's saint Francesco Antonio Fasani (Francis Anthony of Lucera; 1681-1742), to whom the church is now dedicated.  A.'s resting place is unknown.  At least, that is what people of Pesche were told in 2006 when, having recently become aware of his existence, they began to celebrate him in his home town and made inquiries in Lucera about possible relics.

Best,
John Dillon
(last year's post somewhat revised)

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