medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (1. October) is the feast day of:
1) Piat (?). P. (Piatus, Piaton, Platon, etc.) is a local saint of Hainaut and Flanders whose relics St. Eligius, bishop of Noyon from 641 to 659/60, found at today's Seclin in the French département du Nord and whom he there enshrined. By the tenth century P. had a legendary Passio (BHL 6845; several later versions) that makes him a native of the duchy/principality of Benevento (which, if true, would also make him a saint of the Regno) who is ordained priest at Rome by St. Dionysius of Paris, who accompanies Denis and St. Quintinus of Vermand to Gaul, who evangelizes in the territory of Tournai, is arrested in the same persecution that leads to the martyrdoms of Sts. Dionysius, Quintinus, Lucian, Crispin, and Crispinian, refuses to apostasize, is tortured, and finally is executed on this day by decapitation (later versions make him a cephalophore). Prior to his death, L. had converted thirty thousand, not counting women and little children.
Still according to the Passio, miracles at P.'s death and an odor of sanctity emanating from his nostrils as his body is prepared for burial confirm his sanctity. Further miracles are reported at his tomb, at which the ill, the blind, the lame, and the demonically possessed are healed and the prayers of the faithful are heard.
A French-language description and a couple of views of the originally twelfth-century église Saint-Piat at Tournai:
A couple of illustrated French-language pages, with rather different content, on P. and on the originally thirteenth-century église collégiale Saint-Piat at Seclin (the first page showing putative relics of P.):
Multiple views of this church's crypt, including several of P.'s mid-thirteenth-century tomb lid:
P. (at right; St. Dionysius of Paris at left) in the late thirteenth-century (ca. 1285-1290) Livre d'images de Madame Marie, a book originating in Hainaut (Paris, BnF, ms. Nouvelle acquisition française 16251, fol. 84v):
P.'s fourteenth-century chapel at Chartres:
Many views, including his window in the chapel and sculpted repesentations of him on the cathedral:
2) Romanus the Melode (d. betw. 555 and 565). The great hymnographer R., a native of Emesa (today's Homs) in Syria, was a convert from Judaism. He was a deacon at Berytus (now Beirut) before moving on to Constantinople in the last years of the reign of Anastasius I (491-518). There he served at the church of the Theotokos at Blachernae and wrote a large body of distinguished work, including (by tradition, at least) the Akathist hymn to Mary.
3) Nicetius of Trier (d. 566 probably; perhaps a little before). We know about N. from his two surviving letters, from mentions in the correspondence of others and in the poems of St. Venantius Fortunatus, and especially from the writings of St. Gregory of Tours (whose Vita of N. is _Vita patrum_, 17). Born into what would appear to have been the Gallo-Roman aristocracy, he was educated at, and rose to become abbot of, a now unidentified and unlocated monastery that a writer of the abbey of Saint Martin at Trier in about 1000 said was in Limoges. In 526 king Theuderic I promoted him to bishop of Trier over the wishes of the local clergy, who had nominated St. Gall instead.
N. was the last Gallo-Roman to be bishop of Trier. During his lengthy episcopacy he rebuilt the dilapidated late antique cathedral on a smaller scale, turned the core of the now shrunken city into a _castellum_ with thirty towers and a catapult, lived ascetically, tried to raise the educational standard of the cathedral clergy, and looked out for the spiritual well being not only of those in his immediate charge but also, through their rulers (e.g. the emperor Justinian I, the Lombard king Alboin), of Christians more generally. His reputation for holiness and outspokenness was widespread. Chlotar I exiled him in 560; after that monarch's death in 561 his son Sigebert I had N. reinstated.
According to Gregory, N. overcame demons on more than one occasion. The best known of these is probably the incident in which N., having gone into some bushes to answer a call of nature, was accosted by, and with the sign of the cross dismissed, a huge evil spirit who was certainly the Devil himself (_Vita patrum_, 17. 3). When his death was approaching, N. announced that he had been summoned to heaven by St. Paul and by St. John the Baptist. He was buried in the church of St. Maximinus at the city's ancient Christian cemetery. As far as one can tell, N.'s feast day at Trier has at least usually been today. Ado and Usuard entered him in their martyrologies under 5. December, the date under which N. was also commemorated in the RM prior to the latter's revision of 2001.
4) Bavo (d. ca. 655). Little is known about the historic B. (in Flemish: Baaf), a local saint of G(h)ent/Gand after whom one of its medieval monasteries was named and who is the titular of that city's late medieval cathedral. According to his first Vita (BHL 1049; thought to have been written ca. 825), he was a member of the Frankish great nobility who after the death of his wife attached himself to St. Amandus of Maastricht, by whom he was instructed in the religious life. When A. had founded the monastery of St. Peter at G(h)ent/Gand B. (whose baptismal name was Allowin or Adlowin) made his profession there and stayed in that community. Later he became a recluse on the site, immured in a tiny cell. There he resisted diabolic temptation, experienced celestial visions, and died on this day in an unspecified year. Miracles accompanied his burial and a cult arose. Thus far this Vita.
Later Vitae, starting with a fairly lengthy metrical one (BHL 1050) in leonine hexameters, elaborate upon this account.
An illustrated, English-language site on St. Baafs Abdij / St. Bavo's Abbey, G(h)ent begins here (there's a menu of links to other pages at lower left):
The lavatorium (ca. 1160):
A set of views of buildings in the abbey:
Another set of views starts here and runs to the end of the album:
Herewith three illustrated pages outlining the history of the church at G(h)ent/Gand that in the early fifteenth century came to be called after B. and that in the 1560s became that city's cathedral:
This cathedral is home to Jan van Eyck's celebrated Ghent Altarpiece, finished in 1432. An illustrated page on that is here:
and a better view of open front is here:
Another architecturally interesting dedication to B. is the originally fourteenth-century (with some remains from an eleventh-century predecessor) Sint Baafskerk at Aardenburg in Sluis (Zeeuws-Vlaanderen). An illustrated, Dutch-language page on this church, considered the most complete example of the local building style called Scheldegotiek, is here:
(in the menu at left, click on 'Sint Baafskerk')
A different view of one of the painted sarcophagi noted towards the bottom of that page (some of these are from another church):
Some single views (exterior):
An illustrated discussion of the originally late fifteenth- or very early sixteenth-century Sint Bavokerk at Zingem (Oost-Vlaanderen) is here:
And here's one on the Sint Baafskerk at Zellik in Asse (Brabant):
Both of these churches and the one at Aardenburg began as dependencies of B.'s abbey at G(h)ent/Gand.
Moving back to The Netherlands, some views of the fourteenth- to early sixteenth-century St. Bavokerk in Haarlem:
A seventeenth-century view by Pieter Saenredam:
Another, by Gerrit Adriaenszoon Berckheyde (1673):
B. is often portrayed with a falcon on his wrist, as in these well known examples by Hieronymus Bosch (1490):
and by Geertgen tot Sint Jans (also late fifteenth-century):
(last year's post lightly revised and with the addition of Nicetius of Trier)
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