medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (26. August) is the feast day of:
1) Maximilian of Rome (?). M. (also Maximian, Maximus) is a Roman martyr whom the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology lists for today without indicating his place of sepulture. Seventh-century guidebooks for pilgrims to Rome place him in the cemetery of Basilla on the Via Salaria vetus. The earliest of these, the _Notitiae ecclesiarum urbis Romae_, puts him in the martyrial basilica dedicated to St. Hermes as does also the late sixth-century _Index oleorum_ of abbot John at Monza.
2) Anastasius of Salona (?). A. (also A. the Fuller; in Croatian: Anastazije, StaĻ) is an early martyr of Salona, the capital of Roman Dalmatia. He had an early fifth-century martyrial basilica at a nearby locale that is now Marusinac in Croatia and was one of the Dalmatian and Istrian martyrs whom pope John IV (640-42) translated to Rome and housed in a chapel built for them (that of St. Venantius) in the Lateran Baptistery. The (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology lists for today an A. of Salona whom it says was a fuller. A legendary Passio of an A. the fuller (BHL 414), whose earliest witness is of the tenth century, has him martyred on this day at Salona under Diocletian. The A. in the mosaics of the Lateran Baptistery's cappella di San Venanzio, on the other hand, is richly dressed and thus presumably to be thought of as an aristocrat. He's at far right here:
A. also has a cult at today's Split (in Italian: Spalato), where he is one of the martyrs said to have been translated thither from Salona around the time of the latter's sack by proto-Slavs and Avars in 614. Here's a view of his altar in Split's cathedral:
A martyrial basilica at Marusinac is commonly but insecurely identified as that of A. Here's a view of it, showing the presence of a crypt below the place where the altar would have stood:
Today is also the feast day of two probably artificial groups of saints venerated in different parts of the Regno, namely:
3) Orontius (previously, Arontius) and companions (d. ca. 65, supposedly). O. (in Italian, Oronzo, Oronzio) is a medievally attested saint whose present cult is essentially early modern. He is the principal patron of Lecce (LE) on Apulia's Salentine peninsula and a patron of several other towns and cities in the region.
Prior to its revision of 2001, the RM listed for tomorrow (27. August) a group of four saints, Arontius, Honoratus, Fortunatus, and Sabinianus. Recorded for that day in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology as martyrs at Potenza in today's Basilicata, all four were among the dozen saints of southern Italy translated to Benevento by duke Arechis II in 760 and there interred magnificently in his newly built church of Holy Wisdom (Santa Sophia), shown here (exterior):
and here (interior):
This larger group was called the "Twelve Brothers" and a Passio was soon written for them (BHL 2297; shorter version, BHL 2298; Donatus, Felix, and companions) in which they literally _are_ brothers. Hailing, it was said, from Hadrumetum in Roman Africa, they were tried in Carthage (seemingly during the persecution of Diocletian) before an official named Valerianus, imprisoned, and released by an angel. They then fled to Italy and were there hunted down and executed in small groups at different places at the command of the selfsame Valerianus (whose obsession in this matter makes him something of a forerunner of Hugo's inspector Javert). Alfanus of Salerno's _carmen 13_ is a metrical version of these saints' Passion and Translation to Benevento (BHL 2299; 1000 dactylic hexameters).
Arontius enjoyed a widespread cult of his own in Apulia and Lucania (the latter including parts of today's Campania and Calabria as well as most of Basilicata) that is documented from the eleventh and twelfth century onward. At Lecce, his cult is first recorded in a charter of the future king Tancred from the year 1181. The change in name form to Orontius seems to have occurred in the later Middle Ages. In about 1480 Francesco II del Balzo, duke of Andria, count of Montescaglioso, etc., etc. offered to Lecce the body of Sancto Orontio, whose whereabouts the duke claimed to know. (This is the same duke who was so instrumental in the rediscovery of the long hidden body of St. Richard of Andria and in later vouching for that saint's canonization when earlier records had inconveniently gone missing.) Lecce was slow to respond, apparently for reasons that were fiscal in nature.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, O. (as we may now abbreviate him) and two other local saints, Justus and Fortunatus, received a new Vita said to have been based in part on a medieval document, not earlier than the twelfth century, that has since disappeared. This new account makes O. a native of Lecce who greeted the missionary Justus when the latter had been sent to Italy in the 60s by the apostle Paul. O. was converted by Justus, later travelled to Corinth, where Paul made him Lecce's first bishop, and finally suffered martyrdom at Lecce during the Neronian persecution.
Modern historians have not looked kindly on this story. Local persistence, aided by O.'s great popularity in the Salento once he had been credited with the region's relatively mild experience of a pestilence that was severe in other parts of the kingdom, led in the later seventeenth century to official confirmation of the cult of Justus, Orontius, and Fortunatus by the Sacred Congregation of Rites. In this revised persona O. (not presently in the RM) is commemorated liturgically on 26. August, his supposed _dies natalis_.
O. is the subject of major festivities at Turi (BA), Ostuni (BR), Campi Salentini (LE), Botrugno (LE), and of course Lecce itself, where his statue gazes down from atop a column (parts of which came from one of a pair of Roman-period columns at Brindisi) in the piazza that bears his name:
Two views of the column(s) as presently located at Brindisi:
Here's O. is again, above the piazza entrance to Lecce's baroque cathedral (Justus and Fortunatus are represented in the niches below):
No medieval depictions of O. or medieval buildings dedicated to him appear to have survived.
4) Simplicius, Constantius, and Victorianus (d. ca. 159, supposedly). The patron saints of today's Celano (AQ) in Abruzzo, S., C., and V. are three presumed martyrs whose highly legendary central medieval Passio (BHL 1127) makes them nobles of Burgundy who were converted to Christianity under an emperor Antoninus (usually interpreted to mean Antoninus Pius, r. 138-161) and who during a persecution later in the same reign were sent for execution first to Rome, where they made many converts who themselves were martyred, and then to Marsican territory, where they were decapitated on this day. Jets of water arose from where the severed heads struck the ground, giving rise to a fountain identified with today's Fontegrande at Celano.
According to an early fifteenth-century inscription from Celano, Pandulf, bishop of the Marsi (in office in 1057) oversaw an Inventio of the martyrs' remains and the latter's placing under the main altar of Celano's church of St. John (whose locale, specified in other documents as _in capite aquae_ or _ad caput aquae_, is that of the Passio's fountain). In the thirteenth century that church was replaced as the town's principal one by another in a different location, today's San(ti) Giovanni Battista (ed Evangelista), where in 1406 the then count of Celano had the martyrs' remains translated into a new chapel and interred in a marble sarcophagus. In 1709 these remains were translated to their present location under that church's then new main altar, which latter is said to incorporate pieces from their early fifteenth-century sarcophagus.
In the absence of any early testimony for a martyrdom at Celano, modern scholarly opinion tends toward the view that S., C., and V. are actually saints of these names who in life had nought to do with Celano but whose relics had been brought there at some point prior to the eleventh-century Inventio. They entered the RM in 1630 and left it in consequence of the revision of 2001.
Herewith some views of Celano's San(ti) Giovanni Battista (ed Evangelista), two showing its later fifteenth-century wooden doors with ornamental paneling:
A four-page, illustrated, Italian-language site on this church is here (p. 2 has some views of late medieval frescoes):
This church was badly damaged in last April's great earthquake in the Aquilano.
The original San Giovanni ad caput aquae was rebuilt in the later fourteenth century and, after further vicissitudes, survives as Celano's church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. An illustrated, Italian-language account of it is here:
(last year's post very lightly revised)
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