medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (8. October) is the feast day of:
1) Reparata (d. 250, supposedly). Since at least the eighth and ninth centuries a saint of this name (in French, Réparate) has been venerated in several places in mainland central Italy, in Sardinia and Corsica, and in the city of Nice (where she is the titular of the cathedral). Thought at first it might seem that these represent a single devotion that radiated from an undetermined point, at least some are initially separate cults that at different times have adopted versions of the same early medieval Passio (BHL 7183ff.). For example, the R. venerated at Atri (TE) in northern Abruzzo was until well into the Early Modern period known instead as Liberata. Other originally local Reparatas now thought of as the same saint may always have borne their present name (a similar problem exists for saints with the semantically similar name of Restituta).
Curiously, given this geographic distribution, R.'s first mention in a liturgical calendar is in a later ninth-century manuscript of Bede's Martyrology from the abbey of Lorsch in today's Hessen. Her legendary Passio makes her a twelve-year-old virgin of Caesarea in Palestine who during the Decian persecution refuses to sacrifice to the idols, is tortured in various ways, and ultimately is executed. That the martyr R. is never mentioned by Eusebius, a late antique bishop of the Caesarea in question whose work was widely available in the Latin translation of Rufinus, seems not to have acted as a bar to the widespread ecclesiastical acceptance of this story in the Latin West.
Local adaptations exist. A less well known saint of the Regno named R. has been venerated at today's Teano (CE) in northern Campania since, it would seem, the ninth century when a women's monastery dedicated to her was founded there. She has a revised Passio with a new Translation account (BHL 7188-7189) narrating the miraculous arrival of her relics during the town's period of Lombard rule. A similar miraculous arrival of relics is told of the R. venerated at Nice (the story is essentially the same as those of the arrivals of St. Devota at Monaco, of St. Restituta at Ischia, and of St. Trophimena at Minori).
At Florence, where the originally late eighth-century predecessor of today's cathedral was dedicated to an R. from at least the ninth century onward, her early Passio was replaced in the fourteenth century by one borrowed from Teano and an unsuccessful attempt was made in 1351 to procure from that source relics of R. to bolster a cult that hitherto had not had any (the abbess at Teano palmed off on the unsuspecting Florentines an arm made of wood and plaster; the deception was discovered only a few years later when the "relic" was being placed in an expensive reliquary newly made for it). NON-MEDIEVAL ASIDE: Teano's relics of R., which for centuries had been kept in the cathedral, are now kept in the re-opened convent's early modern church shown here:
Herewith some views, etc. of the remains of Florence's church of Santa Reparata underlying the present cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore:
Portraits, etc., of R. from Florence:
a) R. (at left, with the Madonna and St. Zenobius of Florence), statues by Arnolfo di Cambio (late thirteenth-century; R. and the Madonna) and his workshop (Z.) once on the main facade of Florence's cathedral, now in the latter's Museo dell'opera del duomo:
b) R. (at right, with Sts. Zenobius of Florence and John the Baptist) in a triptych by the the Master of the Cappella del Polittico Medici (active, 1315-1335) in Florence's Museo dell'opera del duomo:
c) Marble statuette of R. (ca. 1340; attrib. to Andrea Pisano), now in Florence's Museo dell'opera del duomo:
d) R. before the emperor Decius, predella panel from a dismembered altarpiece of R. by Bernardo Daddi (active by 1327; d. perh. 1348) now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York:
Another view (expandable; fainter colors):
Another predella panel from this altarpiece:
R. being prepared for execution (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art):
Tuscany's early medieval capital of Lucca has an originally ninth-century church dedicated to St. John and to R. and overlying remains of an earlier basilica whose dedication is unknown. Some views occur lower down on this page:
More views, etc.:
The late twelfth- or early thirteenth-century portal gracing this church's early sixteenth-century facade:
2) Pelagia of Antioch, said to have suffered under Numerian (?). Orthodox churches celebrate on this day at least two saints P., this one and P. the Penitent (no. 3, below; also said to have been of Antioch). The present P. is recorded under this day in the later fourth-century Syriac Martyrology and was eulogized on this day by St. John Chrysostom in a sermon (BHG 1477) that furnishes the details by which her story is generally known. According to J., P. was a fifteen-year old Christian virgin of Antioch on the Orontes who, when her house was surrounded by soldiers who in the reign of Numerian (283 and 284) had come to arrest her, went to its roof, prayed to God to keep her from being assaulted by those below, and then threw herself to her death in the street below.
Eusebius, in a paragraph relating the suffering of Christians in Antioch during the persecution of Diocletian (_Historia ecclesiastica_ 8. 12. 2), seems to have been thinking of P. when he says that some threw themselves to their death from the tops of tall houses rather than to suffer at the hands of their enemies. In the next paragraph E. similarly presents anonymously the martyrdom of the female Antiochian saints who in other texts are called Ber(e)nice and Prosdoce. In a Latin tradition represented by St. Ambrose of Milan (_De virginibus_ 3. 7. 33; Letter 27 [to St. Simplician]) and by the ninth-century Florus of Lyon in his martyrology, P. is the sister of these other two.
P. was occasionally celebrated in Greek churches on 9. June rather than today. Although the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology records her under today, in the medieval Latin West P. was from Florus of Lyon onward usually celebrated on 19. October in a joint feast with Ber(e)nice re-gendered as Beronicus. Prior to 2001 the RM commemorated her twice, on 9. June by herself as a saint treated by Ambrose and John Chrysostom and on 19. October as a companion of Beronicus. Both commemorations were dropped in the revision promulgated in that year.
In this fourteenth-century fresco in the nave 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, the P. on the viewer's right is this P. and the one on the viewer's left is P. the Penitent:
That painting is from the October calendar, which at Gračanica as at many other places included on this day a third P., the martyr of Tarsus whose Passio is BHG 1480. Here's a view of the entire composition:
3) Pelagia the Penitent (d. 4th or 5th cent., if not altogether fictional). We know about this Pelagia (also P. of Antioch, P. of Jerusalem) from an originally Greek-language Bios by someone calling himself James the Deacon that exists in different versions not only in Greek (BHG 1478, 1478d) but also in Syriac (BHO 919; the earliest surviving text) and in Latin (BHL 6605-4409; ?also 6604t). This is an expansion of a sermon by St. John Chrysostom (_Hom. 67 in Mt_) about an unnamed former actress of Antioch on the Orontes who had become a recluse. According to James, P. (who was also called 'Pearl' because of her luxurious manner of dress) had lived sinfully as a prostitute and as the head of a band of actors until she was converted by a bishop named Nonnus who had been trained at a famous monastery in the Egyptian desert (this N. is sometimes identified with the fifth-century bishop St. Nonnus of Edessa).
Still according to James, after resisting attacks of the devil the newly baptized and penitent P. gave away all her property to the church of Antioch to be used to support the poor. She then dressed herself in men's clothing that she had received from Nonnus and went to Jerusalem, where she passed for male and lived on the Mount of Olives as a monk named Pelagius. James, who had been Nonnus' deacon, encountered P. on a trip to Jerusalem; she recognized him but he did not recognize her. P.'s secret was discovered only after her death. Thus far P.'s Bios.
Later versions of P.'s very widely disseminated story include Latin poems by Flodoard of Reims (BHL 6610) and by Geverhard von der Grafschaft (BHL 6610d), a Latin prose retelling in Jacopo da Varazze's _Legenda aurea_, and, in Greek, a Bios by Symeon Metaphrastes (BHG 1479; re-worked version, BHG 1479b).
Here's a fourteenth-century manuscript illumination, by Richard de Montbaston and workshop, of P. and other prostitutes plying their trade and of Nonnus prayiing (Vies des saints; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 185, fol. 264v):
4) Felix of Como (d. late 4th or very early 5th cent.). F. is the not so legendary protobishop of Como. The recipient of two surviving letters from St. Ambrose of Milan, he was consecrated bishop by the latter probably in 386 and converted many in Como to the Catholic faith (we are not told whether or in what proportion these were pagans, Jews, or Arians). In an ancient tradition of Como F. is said to have gathered up the remains of the martyred St. Carpoforus and companions and to have erected as the city's first cathedral a primitive church dedicated to C. that in the earlier eighth century was restored and enlarged by king Liutprand.
Como's present basilica di San Carpoforo is essentially an eleventh-century structure. Here's a view of its crypt:
In 1593 remains believed to be those of F. were kept under its altar along with those of Carpoforus and his companions. In 1932, when San Carpoforo ceased to be used as a church, these relics were translated to Como's chiesa di Santa Brigida, where they remain today.
5) Hugh of Genoa (d. ca. 1230). After a lengthy career in the Holy Land with the Hospitallers of St. John, H. was elected master of the order's house at Genoa, where he was known for his acts of charity, his modesty, and his self-denial. After his death, his cult was virtually immediate. During his time at Genoa he completed construction of the Commenda di San Giovanni di Pré, continental Europe's most impressive monument to the work of the Hospitallers of St. John. A brief, English-language account of the complex is here:
An illustrated, Italian-language account of the Commenda's double church:
H. was interred in the lower church, which is now dedicated to him.
Other views of the church:
An illustrated, Italian-language account of the Commenda (the former hospital):
Since late this spring the Commenda has housed a "theatrical museum" offering theatrical and multimedia presentations of persons and events of the medieval past. Here are three views of the interior from the more recent past, when the building served as an exhibition gallery:
A greatly expandable interior view of the structure in its present use:
And an illustrated, Italian-language account of the present offerings:
6) Marzio of Gualdo Tadino (Bl.; d. 1301). A former stonemason, M. early distinguished himself by aiding the poor and the ill. At age 31 he settled down to an eremitical life as a Franciscal tertiary close to his natal town of Gualdo Tadino in northeastern Umbria and for the next sixty years edified the locals in word and deed. In his final years he lost his eyesight and bore this affliction with what is said to have been exemplary patience. Regarded as a saint even in his lifetime, he has yet to enter the RM let alone be canonized. His much rebuilt hermitage is known as the Eremo di Santo Marzio. A view of it is here:
For something a tad more obviously medieval, here's a view of Gualdo Tadino's mid-thirteenth-century basilica cattedrale di San Benedetto:
(last year's post revised and with the addition of Pelagia of Antioch said to have suffered under Numerian)
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