medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (30. October) is the feast day of:
1) Marcian of Syracuse (d. 1st cent., supposedly). We have no information about this less well known saint of the Regno and legendary protobishop of Syracuse prior to the late seventh and early eighth centuries, when he is the subject of a hymn by Gregory of Syracuse and of an anonymous Encomium (BHG 1030) that makes him an Antiochene disciple of Peter sent to Sicily to preach the Gospel and martyred at Syracuse after having made many conversions there. In the sixth century, a basilica at Syracuse thought to have been dedicated to M. was built in (crypt, with a martyr's tomb) and over (remainder of the basilica) part of a Christian cemetery whose dated inscription is of the early fifth century. In the eighth or very early ninth century, M. was depicted in a fresco in that city's catacombs of St. Lucy.
In 842, during the ongoing Muslim conquest of Sicily, relics said to be M.'s were translated to the Campanian port city of Gaeta, where M. subsequently became one of that city's patron saints. At about the same time his feast was recorded for today on the Marble Calendar of Naples; this festal date is also recorded for him in a Capuan codex of 991 and in the eleventh- through thirteenth-century menaia of the Greek abbey at Grottaferrata. In around 1092, after the Latin reconquest of Syracuse, the aforementioned basilica there was rebuilt as a church of St. John
the Apostle and its crypt, now called that of St. Marcian, was amplified and re-worked. Illustrated, Italian-language accounts of the crypt are here:
and especially here:
2) Saturninus of Cagliari (d. ca. 304, supposedly). S. (medievally and later, also Saturnus; in Sardinian, Sadurru and Saturru) is first attested in the mid-sixth-century _Vita Fulgentii_ often ascribed to Ferrandus the disciple and companion of St. Fulgentius of Ruspe. There we are told that when in about 517 Fulgentius, Ferrandus, and other Catholic churchmen of the Arian-ruled Vandal kingdom based on Carthage were in internal exile on Sardinia they built a monastery outside of Cagliari near the church of the holy martyr Saturninus (whose date and place of martyrdom are unspecified).
At Cagliari a long-standing tradition makes S. a local martyr of the Great Persecution. A donation by Cagliari's judge Torchitorius I (Orzoccus) to the archbishop of Cagliari in the period 1070-1080 speaks of _S. Saturnu nostru_. S. has a dossier whose chief text is the _Passio sancti Saturnini_ (BHL 7491) edited in 2002 by Antonio Piras from four manuscripts and one printed text, none earlier than the latter half of the twelfth century. In Piras' view, this Passio dates to the period between the end of the sixth century and the end of the eighth and is the source of similar material in other texts, including the Passio of Sergius of Cappadocia (BHL 7598) sometimes thought instead to have been used for the creation of S.'s Passio. Other texts in S.'s dossier include the _Legenda sancti Saturni_ (BHL 7490) and the surviving portion of the poem _Christe, patris verbum_ (BHL 7491b), both seemingly of the twelfth or thirteenth century.
During the early Middle Ages southern Sardinia was an outpost of the "Byzantine commonwealth". Latinization of its then Greek-rite church began in earnest in the eleventh century. A chief mover in this was the Victorine congregation of Marseille, which took over important cult sites and other properties in the judicate of Cagliari including, in 1089, the church now called the basilica di San Saturno/Saturnino and after early expansion by the Victorines and after several more recent restorations still famous for its fifth-century core and its sixth-century cupola above the central _martyrium_. Two illustrated, Italian-language pages on this church are here:
Other exterior views:
Two further interior views are at the foot of this page:
Pier Giorgio Spanu, _Martyria Sardiniae. I santuari dei martiri sardi_ (Oristano: S'Alvure, 2000), discusses both cult and church at pp. 51-60 (with plans and photographs).
Medievally, S. was venerated principally in the judicates of Cagliari and Arborea. Calaritan charters from the early twelfth century onward refer to a church of Sanctu Sadurru de Giida in the area around Suelli called Trecenta (Trexenta). The much rebuilt chiesa di San Saturnino in Isili (NU), once part of the judicate of Arborea, is first documented from the fourteenth century. First documented from the sixteenth century is the originally earlier twelfth-century chiesa di San Saturno/Saturnino at Ussana (CA); its initial construction is assigned conjecturally to the Victorines of Cagliari. Herewith an Italian-language account and some views of that church (the oldest portions, as often, are in the rear):
Further north, in the former judicate of Logudoro, at today's Benetutti (SS) is the originally twelfth- or thirteenth-century chiesa di San Saturnino. A church of this dedication there was donated to the Camaldolese in 1163; the present church is thought to be their rebuilding of it:
S. was dropped from the MR in its revision of 2001. He is Cagliari's patron saint (and that of Isili as well).
3) Maximus of Cuma (d. ca. 304, supposedly). This less well known saint of the Regno is entered for today in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology (in the earliest ms., as a martyr of today's Conza in Campania) and in the earlier ninth-century Marble Calendar of Naples. Some later witnesses of the (ps.-)HM and some late medieval hagiographic texts record an M. of _Apamia_ (either a corruption of _Campania_ or a reference to the Roman name of today's Pescina [AQ] in Abruzzo; if the latter, then the saint so identified will probably be the Abruzzese M. of Aveia). As a result, our M. was until fairly recently also known as M. of Apamea and was said on the basis of such texts to have suffered at Apamea in Phrygia.
M. has a highly legendary Passio in two rather different versions (BHL 5845, whose earliest witness is of the tenth century, and BHL 5846 and 5846b, whose earliest witness is of the eleventh century); the latter has an expansion (BHL 5847; earliest witness is also of the eleventh century) that François Dolbeau has said has the manner and style of the later ninth-/early tenth-century Neapolitan hagiographer John the Deacon. He is said legendarily to have been martyred at the coastal Campanian town of Cumae (now Cuma), to have appeared some fifteen years after his death to the Juliana venerated at Cuma (16. February; formerly J. of Nicomedia), and to have requested removal from his original burial place to a martyrial basilica that after this translation -- said to have occurred on 30. October -- became the town's cathedral.
Archaeology puts the transformation of the chief temple on the acropolis of Cumae to a Christian church only in the fifth or sixth century. That church, dedicated to M., was Cuma's early medieval cathedral. Excavations there in 1933-1934 brought to light the mutilated funerary inscription of someone who in the early eighth century had fallen in battle against the Lombards and who commended himself to M.'s patronage. In 1207 the archbishop of Naples conducted a translation to Naples from Cuma of the putative remains of Juliana and of M.; those of M. were interred under the main altar of Naples' then cathedral.
Perhaps directly from Cuma (some suggest Capua instead) M.'s cult reached the also formerly East Roman duchy of Gaeta by the later tenth century, whence St. Nilus of Rossano and his community brought it to their foundation at Grottaferrata in the Alban Hills outside of Rome (M., characterized as a deacon, is celebrated in an early eleventh-century calendar from that abbey). M. is present in all but the first of the Capuan calendars published by Michele Monaco in his _Sanctuarium Capuanum_ of 1630; one version of his Passio occurs in the thirteenth-century _sanctorale_ of the chapter library of Bovino (FG) in Apulia.
Some views of the former temple of Jupiter / cathedral of St. Maximus at Cuma:
4) Germanus of Capua (d. ca. 541). This less well known saint of the Regno, an early bishop of Capua, has a vague and unreliable Vita (BHL 3465; late but earlier than 873-74) that tells us that he was born in that city of illustrious parents and that, upon his father's death and with his mother's consent, he sold off his entire inheritance and dedicated himself to the poor. The _Liber
Pontificalis_ offers details of his role in the papal embassy to Constantinople of 519-20 which brought about the end of the Acacian schism.
St. Gregory the Great has two stories about G. in the _Dialogues_. In one (4. 40), G.'s prayers secured the release from purgatorial punishment of the deceased Roman deacon Paschasius, now toiling as a bath attendant at a place identified medievally as Agnano in the Phlegraean Fields; in the other (2. 35), St. Benedict, having been granted a vision of the whole world all at once, saw the soul of G. ascending to heaven.
In 887 Louis II brought G.'s remains from Capua to Montecassino, where the new town at the foot of the mountain -- today's Cassino (FR) in southern Lazio -- became known as San Germano, the name it would retain until 1863. G.'s relics were later moved to a chapel in the abbey church, where they were destroyed in the Allied bombardment of 1944.
A reproduction of a thirteenth-century miniature from the Biblioteca Angelica copy (ms. 1474) of Peter of Eboli's _De balneis Terrae Laboris_ (vel sim.; title varies) showing Germanus and Paschasius at upper left is here:
For a discussion of this image and of the corresponding passage in Peter's poem, see this page by Jean D'Amato Thomas, the American doyenne of medieval and early modern Phlegraean Field studies:
5) Gerard of Potenza (d. 1122?). This less well known saint of the Regno was an early twelfth-century bishop of Potenza, then an important comital center and now the capital city of Basilicata. He has a brief, seemingly closely posthumous Laudatio (BHL 3429), written in the persona of his otherwise undocumented successor Manfred, who claims to have been a partial eyewitness to the actions and events recounted. Whereas these are mostly reported in very general terms, we _are_ told that G. came from a noble family of Piacenza (in the Italian north), that he was elected bishop of Potenza late in life, that he served only eight years, and that his canonization _viva voce_ by Calixtus II (d. 13 or 14 Dec. 1124) was announced in Potenza by several bishops (one of whom was not yet in office at the start of the first Lateran council, 18 March 1123).
Local tradition has G. dying in 1119. If he is correctly recorded as having signed a bull issued issued by Calixtus at Catanzaro in 1121, he was still alive in the latter year. G.'s cult is attested from 1250, when his remains were moved to a place of honor in Potenza's cathedral. Thanks to the first of the few miracles related in his Laudatio, G. is considered a patron of cripples and the paralytic.
Potenza's late twelfth-century cathedral (since dedicated to G.) was rebuilt in the eighteenth century and was restored following damage sustained in the earthquake of 1930 and the Allied bombing of 1943. During the latest restoration, the foundation of the original apse and a hypogeum with a mosaic floor were brought to light. The oculus in the facade is said to be a survivor from the medieval church. A set of expandable views (not including the hypogeum) is here:
(matter from older posts revised and with the addition of Maximus of Cuma)
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