medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (14. September) is the feast day of:
1) Crescentius of Rome (d. ca. 304, supposedly). According to his very late Acta (BHL 1986; probably eleventh-century in origin), C. came from a noble family of Rome and was baptized as a child along with his convert parents. Soon they all moved to Perugia, where the father (St. Euthymius; 29. August) died of natural causes. C. and his mother were denounced as Christians, were arrested, and were sent back to Rome for judgment. On his way into the city C. as a prisoner cured a blind woman at the Milvian Bridge. On the fourteenth of September, just outside the city and on the Via Salaria, he was executed by decapitation, being all of eleven years of age. The woman whom he had cured buried him secretly in the cemetery of Priscilla.
C. is an early example of the numerous child saints from Roman catacombs who by translation have become local saints elsewhere. Though his Acta come from Perugia, his cult is essentially Tuscan and preeminently Sienese. He seems to have been brought to Siena in 1058 (the Acta's attempt to make this event much earlier is patent flummery). By 1215 C. was one of that city's official patrons, along with Sts. Ansanus and Savinus, as he still is (the usual fourth patron, St. Victor, appears to have been added only at the end of the thirteenth century or the beginning of the fourteenth). In Duccio di Buoninsegna's recently restored great window from 1287-88 for Siena's cathedral (now in the Museo dell'opera della metropolitana), he is the third of the patron saints flanking the central panel (Bartholomew, Ansanus, Crescentius, Savinus). In Duccio's Maestà for the same cathedral (1308-11), he is again third (Ansanus, Savinus, Crescentius, Victor).
Two views of Duccio's window:
Part of the central panel (C. at right):
An illustrated, Italian-language discussion of this window:
Front view of Duccio's Maestà del Duomo di Siena:
Detail view (expandable), with C. at left:
In Simone Martini's Maestà (1315) in Siena's Palazzo Pubblico the order of the four patron saints is the same (Ansanus, Savinus, Crescentius, Victor) and they are again in the front row. Here's an expandable view:
Some views of C.'s portrait bust by Francesco di Valdambrino (1409; also in Siena's Museo dell'opera della metropolitana):
and, in a reversed image:
In the fifteenth century C. was was often represented as a cephalophore. For details of his cult see Franca Ela Consolino, "Un martire 'romano': Crescenzio", _Bullettino senese di storia patria_ 97 (1990), 34-48. C. was dropped from the RM in its revision of 2001.
2) Maternus of Köln (d. after 314). M. (in French, Materne) is the first bishop of Köln whose name has been transmitted. He took part both in a council in Rome in 313 dealing with the Donatist schism in Africa and in the synod of Arles in 314. And that's all that is known about him. A successor named Euphrates is attested from 343.
A legend that appears initially in the eighth-century Vita of St. Maximinus of Trier and was developed in the tenth-century _Vita Eucharii, Valerii et Materni_ (BHL 2655), soon expanded by Heriger of Lobbes (BHL 2658), makes M. along with Trier's first two bishops, Sts. Eucharius and Valerius, missionaries sent by Peter who found the dioceses of Tongeren/Tongres-Maastricht, Trier, and Köln, with M. becoming bishop of the latter city. This legend appears in the _Annolied_ celebrating Köln's archbishop Anno II (d. 1075), in the _Gesta Treverorum_ (finished 1101) dealing with the archiepiscopal and other history of Trier, and, with further elaborations (one making him the resurrected son of Nain from Luke 7:11-15), in numerous later texts. Rooted in these dioceses, M.'s cult spread widely in German-speaklng Europe.
Here's M. as depicted in the late tenth-century illuminations of the Codex Egberti made for an archbishop of Trier:
Legendarily, Eucharius and Valerius are said to have restored M. to life with a staff given by St. Peter after their companion died while they were all journeying in Alsace. This very staff (who could doubt it?) is now preserved in the Treasury of Köln's cathedral:
3) The Exaltation of the Holy Cross (628). First celebrated at Jerusalem in 629, this feast (in Greek: Hypsosis tou [Timaiou kai Zoopoiou] Stavrou) commemorates the emperor Heraclius' returning the Holy Cross in 628 from adverse possession by Sassanid Persia, which latter had acquired this relic with its capture of Jerusalem in 614, and his re-erection of the Cross in that city's church dedicated to it.
Expandable views of coins of Heraclius (and of some successors) showing the exalted Holy Cross are here (click on the images to bring them up severally, then click again for greater expansion):
A view of a piece of what is said to be the Holy Cross on display (center; with the _titulus_ at lower right) in Rome's Santa Croce in Gerusalemme:
A view of the putative fragment of the Holy Cross at the monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana, near Potes (Santander), said legendarily to have been brought from Palestine in the fifth century by St. Turibius of Astorga:
Here's a view of a later twelfth-century plaque for a cross (enamel over gilt copper; 1160-1170), now in the Musée du Louvre in Paris and showing Heraclius defeating the Persian king Khusrau (Chosroes) II, the then possessor of the Holy Cross:
A fourteenth-century illumination (1348) of Jean de Vignay's French-language translation of the _Legenda Aurea_ showing Heraclius in battle against Khusrau's successor Shiruya, with the Cross at left (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 241, fol. 244v):
Piero della Francesca's fresco (ca. 1460), in the cappella maggiore of the chiesa di San Francesco in Arezzo, of the battle between Heraclius and Khusrau:
The same artist's fresco (ca. 1466), in the same chapel, of Heraclius returning the Holy Cross to Jerusalem:
4) Albert of Jerusalem (d. 1214). A native of Emilia, A. became a canon regular at today's Mortara (PV) in Lombardy. In 1184 he was made bishop of Bobbio; in the year following he was translated to the see of Vercelli. After having distinguished himself in that position as a diplomat and mediator he was elected (Latin) patriarch of Jersualem in 1205. A. arrived at Acre/Acco in 1206. On this day in 1214 he was fatally stabbed by the master of Acre's Hospital of the Holy Spirit, whom he is said to have reproved for lax behavior. Carmelites remember A. as the author of their first, very brief Rule, granted to hermits on Mt. Carmel at some time during his patriarchate.
5) Notburga of Eben (d. 1313, supposedly). N. (also N. of Rattenberg) is a very poorly documented saint of the Austrian Tirol. In early modern Lives she is said to have been a nobleman's cook who distributed food to the poor, who also toiled as an agricultural laborer in Eben and who despite her employer's objections would cease working at the beginning of the Sabbath (Saturday, while it was yet light), who was buried in the latter town, and whose sanctity was confirmed by numerous postmortem miracles. The earliest record of N. is of the dedication of her chapel at Eben in 1434. She received a legendary Vita in 1646; this presents the miracle of the sickle suspended in air that gave N. her characteristic iconographic attribute.
In 1718 N.'s reputed grave at Eben was opened and a skeleton and some fragments of clothing were removed and treated as holy relics, with the skeleton being exposed on the altar of the then parish church at Eben. A set of Acta appeared in 1754, documenting the antiquity and continuity of her cult. The latter was confirmed, at the level of Saint, by Pius IX in 1862. In the dioceses of Passau and München-Freising, in most Austrian dioceses, and in the diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone (Bozen-Brixen) N. is celebrated on 13. September.
N.'s relics are kept at the altar of the eighteenth-century parish church dedicated to her at Eben (Tirol):
At Rattenberg (Tirol) one may view the house in which she is said to have been born:
Since at least the later Middle Ages a completely different Notburga (known to many thanks to the Brothers Grimm) has had a popular cult at Hochhausen, a locality of today's Haßmersheim (Neckar-Odenwald-Kreis) in Baden-Württemberg. There's an illustrated, German-language account of her here:
(last year's post lightly revised)
To join the list, send the message: join medieval-religion YOUR NAME
to: [log in to unmask]
To send a message to the list, address it to:
[log in to unmask]
To leave the list, send the message: leave medieval-religion
to: [log in to unmask]
In order to report problems or to contact the list's owners, write to:
[log in to unmask]
For further information, visit our web site: