medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (16. October) is the feast day of:
1) Longinus the soldier (d. 1st cent.). Today's commemoration in the RM honors the soldier who at John 19:34 pierces the crucified Jesus with a lance and who in the apocryphal _Acta Pilati_ (?fifth-century) and in later texts is called Longinus. Latin traditions identify him with the centurion at the Cross who confesses (if perhaps not always in the voice of John Wayne) Jesus' divinity (Matthew 27:64, Mark 15:39, Luje 23:47). L. had a rich and varied apocyrphal career which included evangelizing Cappadocia and being martyred at the Caesarea there. He has Passiones in Greek (BHG 988) and in Latin (BHL 4965). L. is entered under 15. March in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology , which is also where he was in the RM until its revision of 2001. In the Greek and other eastern churches, and in the earlier ninth-century Marble Calendar of Naples, his feast has ordinarily been kept today.
L. (at right, piercing Jesus) in an ivory panel originally from an early fifth-century casket, now in the British Museum:
L. (at left, piercing Jesus) in two fourteenth-century manuscripts now in the BnF in Paris:
L.'s martyrdom in another fourteenth-century manuscript in the BnF:
L. with the Holy Lance (ca. 1437-1446) as depicted by Beato Angelico in the Museo Nazionale di San Marco in Florence:
2) Gall (d. ca. 645). G. is the saint of the Benedictine monastery in Switzerland that bears his name (Sankt Gallen) and that according to its tradition was founded early in the eighth century at the very spot where he had lived as an hermit. He has three early Vitae, all of which share a common narrative thread: the fragmentarily preserved Vita vetustissima (BHL 3245), witten ca. 770; a much more completely preserved Vita by Wetti(nus), a monk of Reichenau (BHL 3246), composed between 816 and 824; and an expanded reworking of the latter by the literarily talented Walafrid Strabo, also a monk of Reichenau (BHL 3247-3249), written in 833/34.
According to these accounts, G., an Irishman and an ordained priest, was St. Columban's disciple and accompanied him on his mission to the Continent. When C. was driven out of both Luxeuil and the Burgundian kingdom G. traveled with him to the shores of the Bodensee (a.k.a. Lake Constance) and, operating from Arbon in today's Switzerland and from Bregenz in today's Austria, assisted in evangelizing among the Alemanni. When C. left to settle at Bobbio G., being badly ill, stayed behind. Seeking greater solitude, G. retired to a cell he had built for himself on the Steinach south of the Bodensee but later resumed his missionary activity in collaboration with a priest at Arbon. Miracles attested to his sanctity. G. died at Arbon, where the bishop of Konstanz officiated at his funeral service. Seeming to act on their own, the horses carrying his bier brought him to his cell, where he was interred. Further miracles confirmed G.'s immediate cult.
Herewith the title page and the opening text page of Walafrid Stabo's _Vita sancti Galli_ in its oldest witness, a manuscript of the last decade of the ninth century (Sankt Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 563, pp. 2, 3):
The same in a later eleventh-century (1072-1076) manuscript also at Sankt Gallen (Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 560, pp. 24, 25):
3) Lullus (d. 786). The Anglo-Saxon L., also known by the English-language forms of his name 'Lul' and 'Lull', was a friend and missionary collaborator of St. Boniface, whom he succeeded as bishop of Mainz and whose accomplishments he subsequently did much to preserve. Hence he is often referred to Lullus of Mainz. His formation as a monk of Malmesbury, together with William of Malmesbury's early twelfth-century interest in his abbey's connection with the Bonifatian project, have also led to his being called Lullus of Malmesbury. It seems a particularly German thing to call him Lullus of Hersfeld, though hardly an inappropriate one considering that he founded this once important abbey and that he remained its abbot throughout his episcopate (later, archiepiscopate) at Mainz.
L. was buried in the abbey church and it was there that his canonization occurred in 852 when his remains were moved to the abbey's then new basilica. The abbey's town, today's Bad Hersfeld in northeastern Hessen near the latter's border with Thüringen, celebrates him as its founder and patron saint. Its Lullusfest, which takes its origin in the events of 852, proclaims itself Germany's oldest civic celebration.
For a recent account of L., of his role in promoting the memory of St. Boniface, and of his own later memory, see James Palmer, "The 'vigorous rule' of Bishop Lull: between Bonifatian mission and Carolingian church control", _Early Medieval Europe_ 13 (2005), 249-27. The text of the same scholar's sympathetic evocation of L. in a recent BBC "Legacies" programme is available here:
The twelfth-century abbey church at Hersfeld (which latter officially became Bad Hersfeld only in 1949) survived the dissolution of the monastery but not the Seven Years War, when (in 1751) the French first used it as a powder magazine and then set it afire. A plan of the structure:
Views of the ruin:
On the grounds of the former abbey is a belltower known as the Katherinenturm. This houses the Lullusglocke, said to have been cast in 1038 and to be Germany's oldest dated church bell. Various views are here:
4) Bertrand of Comminges (d. 1123). According to his Vita (BHL 1304), written in about 1168 for a younger relative who was archbishop of Auch, the Gascon nobleman B. was educated militarily but avoided the sins into which a military life is likely to lead and instead emulated the virtues of the soldier-saint Martin of Tours before/in becoming in the early 1070s a cathedral canon and archdeacon of Toulouse (the latter post, at least, suggests some prior religious training not mentioned in the Vita). In about 1079 B. was advanced to the see of the then semi-abandoned Comminges, today's Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges (Haute-Garonne). He built a cathedral that was visited by pilgrims on their way to Compostela, established a chapter of canons regular, acted as a reform bishop for over forty years, and (so the Vita, roughly two-thirds of which is devoted to B.'s miracles) was humble, chaste, and generous and died an obvious saint.
Honorius III instituted a canonization inquest on B.'s behalf in 1220 and from 1222 Comminges was being called Saint-Bertrand. In 1309 B.'s namesake and former episcopal successor Bertrand de Goth, now pope Clement V, accorded him an Elevatio in the cathedral, where B.'s relics are said to remain.
Two illustrated, French-language pages on the cathedral of Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges:
Both of those have expandable views of B.'s sculptural representation on the tympanum of the cathedral's main entrance. Other representations of B. are shown here:
5) Hedwig of Silesia (d. 1243). H. (in Polish, Jadwiga ¦l±ska) was a daughter of a count of Andechs in Bavaria and for that reason is sometimes called H. of Andechs. After having been educated in a convent she was married at age twelve to duke Henry I of Silesia (Henry the Bearded). She encouraged German-speaking settlement in Silesia and the furtherance there of a German-speaking church. In 1202 Henry founded at H.'s request the Cistercian abbey of the BVM and St. Bartholomew at Trebnitz (in Polish, Trzebnica) in Lower Silesia. After Henry's death in 1238 H. moved to the convent, where she buried Henry, where a daughter was abbess, and where she spent the last few years of her life. In her Vitae (maior: BHL 3766; minor: BHL 3767) she is said to have been very pious, to have lived simply and increasingly ascetically, and to have donated her wealth to the church and to the poor.
Here's a view of H.'s charter of 1242 (now in the Warsaw City Archives) making over her possessions to the abbey at Trebnitz/Trzebnica:
H. was laid to rest in the abbey church. She was canonized in 1267. She is Silesia's patron saint and one of the patron saints of Poland.
The abbey church, since greatly rebuilt, was originally constructed between 1202 and 1240. Surviving from its early state is the north portal of the west facade with this tympanum whose sculptures are of David playing Bathsheba with a servant behind her:
H.'s chapel and effigy tomb in this church are rather later. Some views:
The abbey's reliquary of H., originally from 1533 (the crown is eighteenth-century):
H. in an illumination in the Schlackwenwerther Codex / Codex Ostrovsky (so called from its having once belonged to the Piarist monastery in Schlackenwerth/Ostrov in today's Czech Republic) commissioned by duke Ludwig I of Liegnitz and Brieg (Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum, MS. LUDWIG XI 7), a manuscript from 1353 devoted to H. and containing her Vita maior:
H.'s marriage to Henry, in the same codex:
There's a clearer view (also enlargeable) of the wedding scene here:
A statue of H. (ca. 1420) in the church of Niedernburg Abbey in Passau-Niedernburg:
Two altar panels of ca. 1430, now in the National Museum in Warsaw, with scenes of H.'s life:
Detail from one of those panels:
(last year's post revised and with the additions of Gall and Hedwig of Silesia)
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