medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (17. October) is the feast day of:
1) Catervus (late 1st or early 2d cent., supposedly). The patron saint of Tolentino (MC) in the Marche, C. had a cult that was already in existence in 1054, when church dedicated to him is recorded as having existed there. In 1206 a local monastery of the same name is attested. By 1254 C. was being called a martyr. Though Boniface VIII in an indulgence of 1299 referred to him as _confessor_, locally C. was still held to be a martyr in 1474, when he is first recorded as Tolentino's patron saint.
A perhaps thirteenth-century Vita (BHL 1656 b and c) makes C. the son of noble parents who heard Peter and Paul preach at Rome; according to this account, C. exercised the office of praetorian prefect and was married early to a highly placed Roman named Septimia Severina, with whom he lived in chaste wedlock. He preached, performed miracles, and converted many in Rome, in the Holy Land, and finally at Tolentino in the March of Ancona, where he was martyred for his faith. Septimia Severina saw angels carrying C.'s soul off to heaven; his mortal remains she placed in a sculpted marble tomb that the Vita describes in some detail.
That description, though in places inaccurate, is hardly fanciful. For the sarcophagus exists (it has a place of honor in Tolentino's cathedral of San Catervo) and its inscriptions, misread and/or misinterpreted in the Middle Ages, together with its Christian iconography clearly formed the basis for C.'s cult. This was the resting place of the late fourth-century former praetorian prefect Flavius Iulius Catervius, of his wife Septimia Severina, and of their son Bassus. Septimia Severina had it made for her husband and, ultimately, for herself: the two are shown on it together in marital union:
An Adoration of the Magi from the same sarcophagus:
A distance view of the sarcophagus in the cathedral's Cappella di San
There is not the slightest evidence, by modern standards, that any of the occupants was particularly saintly.
According to an inscription on the sarcophagus, Catervius died on 17. October of some year; hence Catervus' feast day. Septimia Severina was celebrated liturgically at Tolentino on 27. November (the Vita makes it clear that both husband and wife were saints). An inspection of the sarcophagus in 1567 yielded remains of Bassus as well; he came to be celebrated on 25 October. None of these worthies has ever graced the pages of the RM. C. continues to be celebrated liturgically at Tolentino on this day.
The sarcophagus is shown and discussed in Josef Wilpert, _I sarcofagi cristiani antichi_ (Roma: Pontificio istituto di archeologia cristiana, 1929-36), vol. 1, pp. 7, 90-91 and plates 72, 73, and 94. Its inscriptions are at _CIL_, IX. 5566; they are given again in the preface to Hippolyte Delehaye's posthumously published edition of the Vita: "Saints de Tolentino: La _Vita Sancti Catervi_," _Analecta Bollandiana_ 61 (1943), 5-48. D.'s acidulous comments on this text make lively reading.
In addition to Tolentino's cathedral (rebuilt in the 1830s but still retaining bits of its thirteenth-century predecessor) another medieval monument now bearing C.'s name is Tolentino's Torrione San Catervo, a restored thirteenth-century macchiolated tower that was once part of the city's walls. It served as the Austrian command post at the battle of Tolentino in 1815, where Murat's defeat insured Hapsburg dominance in the north of Italy and Bourbon restoration in the south. Here's a view:
2) Rufus and Zosimus (d. ca. 106). According to St. Polycarp of Smyrna in his Epistle to the Philippians (chapter 9), R. and Z. were Christians caught up in the persecution of Trajan who accompanied St. Ignatius of Antioch (no. 3, below) on his enforced journey to Rome but who were martyred _en route_ at Philippi. Polycarp's reference to them was incorporated by Eusebius in his account of Ignatius in the _Historia ecclesiastica_. From there (presumably in Rufinus' Latin translation), R. and Z. entered the historical martyrologies with Florus of Lyon, who entered them under 17. December. Ado, followed by Usuard, entered them under 18. December and gave them an elogium treating them as having been among the disciples who founded the primitive Church among Jews and Greeks. Both that elogium and the 18. December date of commemoration survived in the RM until its revision of 2001.
3) Ignatius of Antioch (d. ca. 107). The apparently Syrian I. (also I. the God-bearer) became bishop of Antioch on the Orontes in about the year 69. Nothing specific is known about his episcopate. Sts. John Chrysostom and Jerome report that he had been in contact with Apostles. At some point during the persecution of the emperor Trajan I. was arrested and sent under guard to Rome. While _en route_ in Asia Minor I. wrote his seven surviving epistles. The majority were composed at Smyrna (where I. was welcomed by St. Polycarp); the remainder at Troas. Polycarp is our earliest source for I.'s martyrdom; St. Irenaeus of Lyon and Origen tell us that he was thrown to the beasts.
By the late fourth century Antioch claimed to have his relics; in the earlier fifth century the emperor Theodosius translated these to the former temple of the Tyche of Antioch, which building then became a Christian church dedicated to I. Relics said to be I.'s later came to Rome (where they were placed in the basilica di San Clemente) and to other places in the West, where I.'s major feast was celebrated on 1. February. The revised RM of 2001 prefers today, his attested _dies natalis_ in late antique Antioch.
I.'s relics in Rome's San Clemente are said to lie with those of St. Clement in the confessio below the main altar. In these views the confessio is barely visible though the grille at center:
I.'s martyrdom in the late tenth- or very early eleventh-century so-called Menologion of Basil II (Città del Vaticano, BAV, Vat. gr. 1613):
I.'s martyrdom on the left pillar of the left portal of the south porch (ca. 1194-1230) of the cathedral of Notre-Dame in Chartres:
I. at left (St. Nicholas of Myra at right) in the fourteenth-century frescoes (1335-1350) of the Visoki Decani monastery near Peć in, depending on one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:
Expandable views of a late fifteenth-century manuscript illumination of I. in a breviary for the Use of Langres are here (Chaumont, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 32, fol. 371v):
I.'s martyrdom, at left in a late-medieval(?) painting in the narthex of the originally thirteenth- or fourteenth-century church of the BVM, also known as a church of Christ's Ascension (Kisha e Ristozit) in Mborja (Korça/Korçë), Albania:
While we're here, a couple of exterior views of the church:
4) Martyrs of Volitanum (d. late 3d or early 4th cent.). We have no details of these African martyrs, on whose _dies natalis_ St. Augustine pronounced at least one sermon. Their feast on this day is recorded in the early sixth-century Calendar of Carthage.
5) John the Dwarf (d. prob. 398 or 409. We know about the Egyptian desert father J. (also John the hermit and John Colobus ['kolobos' being Greek for 'dwarf']) chiefly from his sayings in the _Apopthegmata patrum_ and from a late seventh- or early eighth-century panegyric that survives in several languages and that underlies his notice in the Synaxary of Alexandria. J. spent most of his life as a hermit at the famous monastery of Skete, where he was ordained priest and where St. Arsenius the Great was one of his disciples. He was a contemporary of patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria (385-412). Late in life J. left Skete because of barbarian pressure and settled down in a place near today's Suez, where he died on this day in an unrecorded year. His death is said to have occurred on a Sunday (thus narrowing down the candidates for the likely year of his passing).
6) Dulcidius (d. 5th cent.). According to an 'ancient' breviary of Agen, D. (in French, Dulcet) succeeded St. Febadius as that city's bishop. He is said to have erected a basilica honoring Sts. Caprasius and Fides. Relics believed to be his are preserved in a late twelfth- or thirteenth-century century châsse and in a fourteenth-century arm reliquary of copper, both in the originally twelfth-century parish church of Saint-Dulcet at Chamberet (Corrèze). A distance view of the church (which was reworked in the nineteenth century):
And here's a page of expandable views of its early thirteenth-century enameled reliquary châsse of D. (the last image shown is of D.'s sepulture):
7) Florentius of Orange (d. betw. 524 and 527). Traditionally the eighth bishop of Orange, F. took part in the council of Epaon in 517 and in that of Arles in 524. A successor participated in the council of Arles in 527. He is entered under today in the martyrologies of Ado, Usuard, and Notker and is presumably the F. entered for today in the martyrology of Wandelbert of Prüm. In at least the central and later Middle Ages he was thought to have been born in Tours, whence he is sometimes called F. of Tours. F. has a Vita in at least three versions (BHL 3040-3042) whose earliest witness is assigned to the twelfth century and which the Bollandists elected not to print in the _Acta Sanctorum_ on the grounds that all its substance after the place of F.'s birth is taken, often word-for-word, from the Vita of St. Veranus of nearby Cavaillon.
One of the legendary exploits shared by F. and V. -- and perhaps the best known, as it is included in the very brief lections on F. printed in the _Acta Sanctorum_ from a Propers of the diocese of Piacenza -- is the bringing back from the dead of a girl of today's Firenzuola d'Arda (PC) in Emilia as she was being carried to the grave. Although V. now has a major street named for him in Firenzuola d'Arda, both medievally and today most of the credit there for this miracle has gone to F. In the early Middle Ages a monastery in the town was dedicated to an F. (perhaps not originally today's saint); since the later thirteenth century this F., thought to be today's saint, has been the titular of its ex-collegiate church of San Fiorenzo. The latter's library preserves two related texts by Bl. Iacopo da Varazze thought to have been written between 1281 and 1285 (_Tractatus miraculorum reliquiarum Sancti Florentii_; _Historia translationis reliquiarum eiusdem_).
Fiorenzuola d'Arda's collegiata di san Fiorenzo replaced an earlier church dedicated to St. Boniface and was built between 1273 and 1315 and was rebuilt in the later fifteenth century. An illustrated, Italian-language page on it is here:
Other views (exterior only):
Back at Orange, F. is the titular of the originally fifteenth-century, formerly Franciscan église Saint-Florent. Herewith some exterior views (a few showing the adjacent Roman theatre):
The church was badly burned in the French wars of religion. Secularized at the Revolution, it was returned to church service in the nineteenth century. Herewith two interior views (nave and sanctuary; one of four chapels):
(last year's post lightly revised and with the addition of Florentius of Orange)
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