medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (7. October) is the feast day of:
1) Marcellus of Capua (?). This less well known saint of the Regno is the survivor of a group of martyrs variously entered under 6. October in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology either as of Apulia or as of Capua (Marcellus, Castus, Aemilius, Saturninus). Ado, Usuard, and Notker assigned them all to Capua. Modern scholarship has found in the variants of the (ps.-)HM enough assignment of M. alone to Capua (sometimes at today's date) to justify the conclusion that he is a genuine saint of that city whose name was attracted into a larger and problematic grouping of saints from Apulia. In the "new" RM of 2001 he replaced Marcellus and Apuleius, dubiously said in the Passio of Sts. Nereus and Achilleus (BHL 6058) to have been adherents of Simon Magus converted to Christianity by St. Peter and later martyred.
Capua's originally mid-ninth-century chiesa di San Marcello Maggiore, though entirely rebuilt in the nineteenth century, preserves portions of a portal with twelfth-century carvings and incorporating as its lintel (or architrave, _sensu italiano_) an earlier inscription from the the tomb of one of Lombard Capua's leading families. Some views:
The images of the soldiers on the left jamb suggests that in the twelfth century the M. of this church may have been construed as Marcellus of Tingis (Marcellus the Centurion; 30. Oct.). The parishes of San Marcello in today's diocese of Capua have churches dedicated to that M.
2) Justina of Padua (d. 304, supposedly). Nothing is known about the historical J. A saint of this name has been venerated as a martyr in northeastern Italy and especially at Padua since at least the very late fifth century or very early sixth century, when the praetorian prefect Opilio founded in the latter city a basilica dedicated to her that lasted until 1117 and that from perhaps the eighth century onward was the church (since several times rebuilt) of what later became a major Benedictine monastery. The last image on this page is of an expandable view of the inscription recording Opilio's foundation, now mounted at the entrance to the reconstructed late antique cappella di San Prosdocimo in Padua's basilica di Santa Giustina:
In the sixth century St. Venantius Fortunatus speaks of J.'s tomb in this church (whose walls were painted with scenes from the Acta of St. Martin of Tours). Across the Adriatic in the Istrian town of Poreč in today's Croatia she is figured in the earlier sixth-century mosaic portraits of the triumphal arch of the Basilica Eufrasiana:
Later in the same century J. appears in the procession of female martyrs in Ravenna's Sant'Apollinare Nuovo. Her cult is attested inscriptionally from Rimini in the sixth or seventh century. It is not entirely clear whether she is also the J. who in this general period entered the Ambrosian Canon of the Mass and to whom was dedicated an oratory at Como in 617.
The late eighth- or very early ninth-century Sacramentary of Salzburg, whose texts are of Venetian origin, preserves part of a Mass for J. celebrated on 8. October. What is thought to be the oldest of J.'s Passiones (BHL 4571) is usually ascribed to the eleventh century. This makes her a wealthy virgin and a native of Padua who is arrested while there hastening to the aid of Christians caught up in the persecution of Maximian, who in a colloquy with that worthy refuses to sacrifice to the idols, and who is executed forthwith on 5. October by a sword thrust through her flank. Versions from the twelfth century onward add details and assign J.'s _dies natalis_ to today.
Donatello executed a statue of J. in the later 1440s for the high altar of Padua's Basilica del Santo (i.e. Anthony of Padua). In this distance view it is the second figure from left (first in the upper register):
Detail (J.'s head):
There's an excellent full-length photograph of this statue at p. 123 of Andrea Nante, ed., _Santa Giustina e il primo Cristianesimo a Padova_ (Padova: Museo Diocesano di Padova, 2004).
J. is at lower right in Andrea Mantegna's St. Luke Polyptych (1453-54), formerly in Padua's Santa Giustina and now in the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan:
3) Sergius and Bacchus (d. ca. 305, supposedly). According to their highly problematic older Greek Passion (BHG 1624), S. and B. were imperial bodyguards who refused to accompany their emperor when he entered a temple of Zeus (probably somewhere in western Syria, most likely at Antioch on the Orontes) in order to make sacrifice. In punishment, they were stripped of their military garb and insignia, paraded through the streets in women's clothing, and then taken elsewhere and tortured. B. died first; after lasting for several more days, S. was taken to Resafa (Resaphe, Rusafa, Rasafa, etc.) in the Euphrates valley and executed. Witnesses buried him at his place of execution, where later a martyrium was erected in his honor.
Opinions on the underlying historicity of this account vary from outright acceptance (John Boswell, _Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe_ [New York: Villard Books, 1994], pp. 146-53) to cautious, modified acceptance (Elizabeth Key Fowden, _The Barbarian Plain: Saint Sergius Between Rome and Iran_ [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999], ch. 1) to outright rejection as fiction (Hippolyte Delehaye, Agostino Amore, David Woods); this last position is fairly well summed up by Woods in the section devoted to these saints in his _Military Martyrs_ website:
But there is no doubt that from at least the fifth century onward S. and B. enjoyed a major cult based initially in eastern Syria but by the middle of the sixth century widespread in eastern Christendom and by then also beginning its diffusion in the West. In this regard, S. (who in the aforementioned Passio not only outlasts B. but also outranks him) often had primacy of place and sometimes the sole dedication. Resafa's early Byzantine renaming as Sergioupolis is a case in point; a western example would be the abbey of Saint-Serge et Saint-Bach at Angers, already in existence in the early eighth century and originally dedicated to Sts. Sergius and Medard.
A seventh(?)-century icon, probably of Constantinopolitan origin, of S. and B. that once belonged to St. Catherine's Monastery, Sinai and that now is in the Bohdan and Varvara Khanenko Museum of Arts in Kiev:
S. and B. on a later twelfth-century (1179) sarcophagus in Verona's Museo civico di Castelvecchio:
A thirteenth-century icon of S. and B. in St. Catherine's Monastery, Sinai:
The damaged fourteenth-century mosaic portrait of B. in Constantinople's Chora Church, now a secular museum in Istanbul:
The corresponding portrait of S. has been very largely defaced, a fate that has not befallen many of the building's other mosaic portraits.
Scenes from the martyrdom of S. and B. in the fourteenth-century frescoes of the Visoki Decani monastery near Pec in, depending on one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:
S. and B. in the later fourteenth-century narthex frescoes of the monastery church of the Theotokos at Gračanica in, depending on one's view of the matter, Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija or the Republic of Kosovo:
A late fifteenth-century manuscript illumination of S. and B. with Sts. Marcellus and Apuleius (on whom see no. 1, above) behind them in a Roman Breviary (Clermont-Ferrand, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 69, fol. 585v):
S. and B. in early sixteenth-century frescoes (1502) by Dionisy and sons in the Virgin Nativity cathedral of the St. Ferapont Belozero (Ferapontov Belozersky) Monastery at Ferapontovo in Russia's Vologda oblast:
The originally fourth-century monastery of Mar Sarkis (St. Sergius) at Ma'lula (Maalula), Syria. The rounded main altar of its church is dated to the years 313-325 (if so, the original dedication is not likely to have been to S.).
Views of the interior:
A close-up of the top of the main altar:
Remains of Basilica A at Resafa, dated by Gunnar Brands in 2002 to the late fifth century and proposed by him as having been at least initially dedicated to S. and B. as their martyrion (an inscription found in the same building had earlier led to its identification as the basilica of the Holy Cross and to a mid-sixth-century dating):
Sergius, Bacchus, and Leontius cathedral at Bosra, Syria. Built in 512, said (but how accurately?) to be the first known domed building built on a square ground plan. A brief, English-language description will be found near the bottom of this page, along with an expandable color view higher up ("Roman Cathedral"):
The sixth-century church of S. and B. in Constantinople (527?), now Istanbul's Küçük Ayasofya Mosque:
Forty-two expandable black-and-white views may be reached by clicking on the thumbnail here:
Several black-and-white views of this church are here (Thais):
Various black-and-white views (Courtauld; 2 pages):
An exterior view, two interior views, and a ground plan are about
halfway down the page here:
Another ground plan:
A computer-generated model of this church as it might have looked when the now lost basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul was attached to it:
The originally eighth-century church of S. (Abu Serga) and B. in Cairo:
The twelfth- and fifteenth-century parish church of Saint-Serge at Angers (formerly the abbey church of Saint-Serge et Saint-Bach):
Three interior views are here (fairly close to the bottom of the page):
A detail of the vaulting occurs here:
Views of various windows are here:
The originally fifteenth-century crkva Sv. Sergija i Vakha in Podi (near Herceg Novi) in Montenegro:
4) Mark, pope (d. 336). M. was bishop of Rome from 18. January 336 to 7. October of the same year. He is credited with establishing the practice whereby the the bishop of Ostia consecrates the newly elected bishop of Rome. He is the probable founder of the titular church seemingly once named for him but now Rome's basilica di San Marco Evangelista in Campidoglio. M. was laid to rest in the cemetery of Balbina, where he had erected a basilica that lasted into the seventeenth century. His putative relics are now in the aforementioned San Marco in Campidoglio. Herewith an illustrated, Italian-language account of that church:
Facade and belltower:
Apse mosaic (black-and-white):
For color views of the apse mosaic, see this offering at Marjorie Greene's medrelart site on Shutterfly:
(last year's post lightly revised)
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