medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (21. October) is the feast day of:
1) Dasius, Zoticus, and Gaius (d. 304?). D., Z., and G. are martyrs of Nicomedia entered for today in the Syriac and the (pseudo-)Hieronymian martyrologies as well as in the historical martyrologies of the ninth century. Nicomedia having been Diocletian's capital, it is supposed that they were early victims of his persecution. A brief Passio in Greek (BHG 492) says that they were tortured before being thrown into the sea to drown.
2) Hilarion of Gaza (d. 371). We know about H. (also H. the Great) chiefly from his Vita by St. Jerome (BHL 3880). He was born a pagan and converted to Christianity while a young student at Alexandria. At the age of fifteen H. lived with for some months with St. Anthony Abbot in the Egyptian desert. When his parents died he went home, sold off his property and distributed the proceeds to the poor, and became a solitary near Maiuma (the port of Gaza). H. became famous both as an ascetic and as a thaumaturge with healing powers. Fleeing his numerous visitors and supplicants, he undertook a voyage that brought him through Libya and Sicily to Dalmatia and finally to Cyprus, where he died. His faithful disciple Hesychius brought his body back to Gaza.
Here's H. as depicted in the October calendar in the fourteenth-century (1335-1350) frescoes in the church of the Holy Ascension at the Visoki Deèani monastery near Peæ in, depending on one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:
3) Malchus of Syria (d. last quarter of the 3d cent.). We know about M. (also M. of Chalcis, M. of Nisibis) from his Vita, written in 391, by St. Jerome (BHL 5190). According J., when he was much younger he went with his friend bishop Evagrius to the town of Maronia near Antioch on the Orontes (this will have been in 374) and there met the aged hermit M., a Syrian, who was living chastely and very religiously with an old woman who seemed close to death (and whose name J. either did not catch or else chose to suppress). M. told J. that he came from the vicinity of Nisibis, that in order to evade an arranged marriage he had as a young man left home and joined a community of monks at a place called Chalcis between Imma and Beroea (today's Aleppo).
Years later, M. continued, having learned of his father's death he wished to go home and visit his mother. His abbot was against this but M. left anyway and joined a caravan that in turn was attacked by pagan nomads whom J. calls Saracens. These took captive both M. and a woman from the caravan and brought them beyond a great river to wild lands where M. was set to tending sheep and where after a while he and the woman were compelled under pain of death to marry each other. The woman, who was already married, and M., who was a monk, agreed to live together chastely. Later they were able to flee and, evading various perils (J. tells a good story), made their way to Chalcis, where M. found that his abbot had died. Eventually the chaste couple came to Maronia, where M. settled as an hermit and the woman lived with nearby virgins but consorted with M. as a sister.
When J. came to catalog his writings in the _De viris illustribus_ he coupled his Vitae of M. and of Hilarion of Gaza (no. 2, above) in a way that affirmed the sanctity only of H.: _Malchi captivi monachi vitam et beati Hilarionis_. In the medieval Latin church, M. and his unnamed companion were examples of chastity overcoming adversity; though they could be considered saintly (as, for example, by the early twelfth-century Reginald of Canterbury in his six-book poem on them, BHL 5190b), they lacked a cult. In Byzantine synaxaries and in some Eastern-rite churches generally M. is commemorated on 26. March. He appears in very late medieval expanded editions of Usuard under today's date as an add-on to Hilarion of Gaza and without the title of saint. M. received the latter distinction in late sixteenth-century editions of the early RM.
M.'s companion, despite her equal fortitude and willing embrace of chastity (at one point she says that were she to escape she would not go back to her husband), has not been so lucky. Reginald of Canterbury, who thought well of her, gave her a name (Malcha). But no church calls her holy. Here they are, depicted with St. Jerome, in an earlier fourteenth-century collection of French-language saint's lives (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 183, fol. 177v):
4) Virgins martyred at Köln (d. 450 or 451, supposedly). This is the feast that used to be known as that of St. Ursula and her companions or as that of St. Ursula and her 11,000 companions or (earliest attestation) as that of the 11,000 Virgins. Underlying it is an inscription now mounted in Köln's Basilika St. Ursula (built over the remains of a small, fourth-century church) that is variously dated either to the fourth or fifth century or to the ninth and that announces a rebuilding by a _Vir Clarissimus_ of Eastern origin named Clematius of a church dedicated to martyred virgins. In the ninth century these virgins received a Passio (BHL 8427) in which they are a king's daughter of Britannia (usually taken to be Brittany) named Ursula who in order to preserve her vow of virginity flees her homeland by ship with eleven thousand fellow virgins, is forced by a storm to enter the Waal, and then travels upstream to Köln.
Still according to this Passio, U., prompted by an angel, undertakes together with her virgins a pilgrimage from Köln to Rome. On their return, they find that Köln has been conquered by Huns. The latter's chieftain proposes marriage to U.; when she declines, she is shot to death with an arrow and all her companions are martyred. Thanks to the virgins' sacrifice, Köln is liberated from the Huns. The people of Köln recover the martyrs' bodies and a man of Eastern origin named Clematius erects a new basilica in their honor. Thus far the Passio.
Later versions add fresh details: the numbers of the companions and their social standing vary, Geoffrey of Monmouth retails a version in which they are from _his_ Britain, and the martyrs are said to return from Rome with a pope Cyriac and numerous other ecclesiastical dignitaries all of whom join the virgins in martyrdom. The names of a few companions were established early. Others were revealed to St. Elizabeth of Schönau.
The cult in question is first attested from the eighth century with an Office for the 11,000 Virgins. Absent from the ninth-century historical martyrologies, it is given four lines in the also ninth-century martyrology of Wandelbert of Prüm and has left numerous other traces from then onward as it spread throughout the Latin church.
An illustrated, multi-page, German-language site on U., on the other virgins, and on their veneration at Köln begins here:
Today's Basilika St. Ursula in Köln was known into the seventeenth century as the Church of the Holy Virgins. Erected in the early twelfth century and partly rebuilt in the late thirteenth, this chief temple of the cult in question suffered extensive damage in World War II and was restored in the early 1960s to a quasi-facsimile of its former self (e.g., the formerly vaulted ceiling of the nave was replaced with a curved span of very different appearance; the dominant interior color scheme is now the off-white and gray also seen in the restored Dominican church of St. Andrew [resting place of Albertus Magnus]).
An illustrated, German-language page on this church is here:
Other exterior views of the church (which latter is mentioned in the "new" RM's elogium for the Virgins as a way of preserving Ursula's name in this context):
This page offers a 360-degree panorama of the main portion of the interior:
The martyrdom of U. and her virgins as depicted in the Livre d'images de Madame Marie (ca. 1285-1290; Paris, BnF, ms. Nouvelle acquisition française 16251, fol. 101v):
The martyrdom of U., her virgins, the pope, and various bishops as depicted in a later fifteenth-century (1463) manuscript of Jean de Vignay's translation of Vincent of Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 51, fol. 389r):
Two illustrated, English-language pages on Hans Memling's Saint Ursula Shrine (1489) in Bruges:
5) Tammarus (d. later 5th cent., supposedly). This less well known saint of the Regno has been venerated since at least the twelfth century in Benevento and in other towns of Campania and of Frosinone province in southern Lazio. Absent from the early martyrologies and from the Marble Calendar of Naples, he is one of twelve African bishops said in the legendary and synthesizing eleventh- or twelfth-century _Vita sancti Castrensis_ (BHL 1644-1645) to have been exiled under the Vandals and to have found found refuge in Campania, with T. settling down at Benevento as a hermit and later becoming its bishop. At Benevento, where T. is entered under 15. October in the twelfth-century calendar of Santa Maria del Gualdo and in the also twelfth-century missal of San Pietro (Benevento, Bibl. Cap., Cod. VI. 29), he is now celebrated on 21. October.
Prior to its revision of 2001 the RM included in its elogium of St. Priscus of Capua (1. September) his companions from the _Vita sancti Castrensis_, including T. With the exception of Castrensis himself (always separately mentioned on 11. February), these companions no longer grace the pages of the RM. Putative relics of T. repose under the main altar of Benevento's cathedral. Elsewhere in Campania, he is the patron saint of San Tammaro (CE), of Villa Literno (CE), and of Grumo Nevano (NA); in these place T. is celebrated on 15. or 16. January (the latter since the later Middle Ages has been his feast day in the dioceses of Capua and Aversa). Herewith a few slightly expandable views of T.'s originally twelfth-century church at San Tammaro, a _frazione_ of today's Casaluce (CE):
6) Wendelin (d. later 6th or early 7th cent.?). W. is a saint of the dioceses of Metz and Trier, where he seems to have been venerated since at least the tenth century. His fifteenth- or sixteenth-century Vitae (BHL 8845, 8846; there are also two contemporary Lives in German) make him an Irishman who became a hermit and at whose tomb at a locale called _Basonis villare_ (attested in an early eleventh-century calendar of Stablo/Stavelot) miracles took place. W. is credited in these Vitae with saving the city of Saarbrücken from a great fire in 1417. His cult was confirmed papally in 1450. In Germany he is usually celebrated on 20. October.
In about 1050 _Basonis villare_, now St. Wendel in the Saarland, began to be called by the name of its saint. Its originally fourteenth-century church dedicated to him houses his putative remains in a raised tomb (Hochgrab) that was dedicated in 1360. Some exterior views of the church:
An interior view:
Other interior views of the church, including (lower down on the page) views of the tomb, will be found here:
Another view of the tomb:
7) Bertold of Parma (d. during the years 1106-1114). According to his Vita (BHL 1284) by a younger contemporary, B.'s parents were an Englishman of little means named Abundius and a Breton named Berta; these fled England as a result of devastation caused by a great conflict between the French and the English (usually understood to be the Norman invasion) and settled first in Milan and later in Parma, where B. was born. In the latter town B.'s parents lived near the monastery of Sant'Alessandro, (a convent of Benedictine nuns) which latter they frequented and whence they obtained alms. In recompense, the father dedicated B., who was being brought up in his own trade (cobbler), to the monastery's service.
At the age of twelve, B. decided that he wished to enter monastic life at Sant'Alessandro. Overcoming with his mother's aid his father's initial objections, he obtained parental permission and was presented to the abbess. For the remainder of his life -- apart from abbatially permitted pilgrimages to Rome and to Vienne (where he visited the hospital of St. Anthony abbot and made miraculous cures) --, B. resided chastely as a lay brother at Sant'Alessandro, running errands in town for the nuns, visiting the sick, and effecting other works of charity. He also served as sacristan of the monastery's church and became known to many by virtue of his having been its porter. He died young and in an odor of sanctity. Thus far the Vita.
One of medieval Italy's earliest lay saints, B. enjoyed a cult at Parma practically from the moment of his sepulture. A (the?) patron saint of sacristans, he has yet to grace the pages of the RM. When the church of Sant'Alessandro was rebuilt early in the sixteenth century, a door, said to be of the eleventh century, was preserved from the previous structure as a relic of B. Here's a view of what's left of that (it's kept in Parma's Galleria nazionale):
(matter from last year's posts revised and with the addition of Malchus of Syria)
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