medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (3. October) is the feast day of:
1) Dionysius the Areopagite (d. early 2d cent., supposedly). This is the D. who at Acts 17:34 is said to have been converted to Christianity through hearing St. Paul's sermon on the Areopagus. Eusebius (_Historia ecclesiastica_ 3. 4. 10, 4. 23. 3) preserves a tradition making him Athens' first bishop. Florus of Lyon, followed by Ado and Usuard, has him tortured and then martyred on this day under Hadrian (117-138). D. was later confused with his homonyms the Christian philosopher and the martyred bishop of Paris.
2) Candida of Rome (?). The early seventh-century _Notitia Ecclesiarum urbis Romae_ records C. as one of the martyrs of the cemetery of Pontianus _ad Ursum pileatum_ on the Via Portuensis. That C. is presumably identical with (or, very probably, gave rise to) the C. who in the legendary and synthesizing Passio of St. Pi(g)menius of Rome (BHL 6849-6849a) gives P. Christian burial in this cemetery. The (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology commemorates her today (by herself) as well as on 1. and 2. December (in connection with P.). Usuard entered C. in his martyrology as a masculine Candidus and in that he was followed by the RM until the latter's revision of 2001.
3) Hesychius, disciple of St. Hilarion (d. later 4th cent.). According to St. Jerome's largely legendary Vita of the Palestinian abbot St. Hilarion (BHL 3879), H. will have entered the latter's monastery at Majuma (the port of Gaza) sometime between 328 and 354, accompanied his master on voyages to Egypt (twice), to Epidaurus, and to Cyprus, and been the beneficiary of Hilarion's will disposing of his very few possessions. He is said to have brought Hilarion's body back to Majuma.
4) Ewald and Ewald (d. 695). We know about E. (in Latin, Evaldus and Hevaldus) and E. from their joint elogium in Bede's Martyrology. They were two English monks who in 690 followed their abbot, St. Willibrord, on his mission among the Frisians. To distinguish them, they were given appellations according to whether their hair were fair (Albus) or dark (Niger or its diminutive Nigellus). They were both exceptionally pious and E. the Dark possessed an excellent knowledge of Holy Scripture. In 695 they were sent to evangelize among the Saxons and were martyred almost immediately. E. the Fair was killed outright; E. the Dark, on the other hand, underwent lengthy torture and gradual dismemberment before his death. Their cult was immediate.
Pepin of Héristal is said to have translated the remains of E. and E. to Köln, where he had them entombed at the church of St. Clement that later was dedicated to the German missionary pioneer, St. Cunibert. That church was rebuilt in the thirteenth century; badly damaged in World War II, it has since been restored. Some expandable views of it are here:
In about 1400 the relics of E. and E. were placed into a new shrine there. This disappeared in 1945. Here's a reproduction of that portion of an earlier photograph of the shrine's portraits showing those of E. and E.:
At present they each have shrine in the apse of Sankt Kunibert:
5) Utto (Bl.; d. late 8th or very early 9th cent.). U. (in Latin, also Utho; in German, also Udo) was the first abbot of the Benedictine abbey of St. Michael at Metten (Lkr. Deggendorf) in Bavaria, founded in about 766 on his own land by the nobly born priest Bl. Gamelbert. According to the latter's legendary Vita (BHL 3260; earliest witness is of the later twelfth century), G. had while traveling on pilgrimage to Rome baptized U. when the latter was a little boy and had prophesied that U. would be his heir; later, having first become an hermit and then having gathered a few followers into a monastic community, he died after having previously announced that his unnamed heir, who was not one of his hermit monks, would succeed him.
An also legendary late medieval account in the abbey's chronicle has the adult U. travel from his native Italy to Bavaria and there become a hermit. Later, when Charlemagne had brought the duchy under his control, he met the bearded U. at his cell in the woods and commanded him to establish a monastery, which U., after further wandering, did at what had been G.'s cell at Metten. Modern accounts prefer a version of events in which at G.'s request his younger relative and godson U. came from Reichenau with twelve other monks and proceeded to establish the monastery. U. was at the synod of Dingolfing in Bavaria in the 770s, where he joined a prayer association among monasteries that led to his name being among those recorded in 784 in a memorial book on the life of St. Virgil of Salzburg and, in 823 or 824, in the _Liber confraternitatum_ (German: Verbrüderungsbuch) of the abbey of Reichenau.
U.'s veneration at Metten was probably continuous from the date of his death onward. The abbey has an abbatial staff whose head, carved seemingly in the thirteenth century from walrus ivory, shows the agnus Dei standing atop an encircling great serpent-like beast and whose wooden shaft bears both a rock crystal sphere and above that a bronze guard with the leonine hexameter inscription QVOD DOMINVS PETRO / PETRVS TIBI CONTVLIT VTTO ("What the Lord gave to Peter, Peter gave to you, Utto"; abbreviations resolved). Herewith two views:
In the later Middle Ages U.'s remains reposed in a monumental tomb (_Hochgrab_) in the choir of the abbey church. His relics are now in a modern shrine in a niche behind the altar; the tomb, with its recumbent figure of U., is in the cloister. Herewith some expandable views:
The inscription (also in leonine hexameters) is said to read: _Abbas hic primus Utho, nec laudibus imus, / Hic jacet ut limus, c½lis requiescit opimus_ ("Here is Utto, first abbot but not least in praise. As mud he lies here; in heaven he reposes sumptuously").
6) Gerard of Brogne (d. 959). Our principal sources for this nobly born pioneer of Benedictine Reform in northern portions of Western Francia and in Lotharingia are a closely posthumous chapter in Folcuin of Lobbes' _Gesta abbatum Sithiensium_, a rewritten, probably eleventh-century Vita from Brogne (BHL 3422), and mentions in writings, mostly hagiographic, from other houses. As a very young layman G. established a house of canons at a church on property of his at Brogne, now the locality of Saint-Gérard in Mettet (Namur) in Belgium. Later, when on a mission to Paris on behalf of the future king Robert I, he visited Saint- Denis (of which Robert was lay abbot) and was allowed to bring back with him relics of St. Eugenius of Toledo. Returning to Saint-Denis, G. become a monk there, was ordained priest, and then converted the canonry at Brogne into a Benedictine house of which he was abbot.
At the behest of count Gislebert of Lotharingia G. similarly reformed the monastery of St. Ghislenus at today's Saint-Ghislain in Belgian Hainaut. In the 940s, at the behest of count Arnulf of Flanders, he likewise reformed several monasteries, including those of St. Bertinus at Sithiu in what now is Saint-Omer (Pas-de-Calais) and St. Peter at Mt. Blandin / Blandigny in what is now G(h)ent/Gand. At St. Bertinus he called in as abbot a monk from the abbey of St. Aper in Toul, a move that implies connections in upper as well as lower Lotharingia. St. Peter in today's G(h)ent/Gand, whither G. translated relics of Sts. Wandregisilus (Wandrille), Ansbert, and Wulfram, was later particularly important in spreading Benedictine Reform elsewhere. A disciple of G.'s re-founded Wandregisilus' abbey of Fontenelle (now that of Saint-Wandrille) in today's Saint-Wandrille-Rancon (Seine-Maritime) in Normandy. G. kept in touch with all his monasteries and made a tour of them shortly be
fore his death.
G. died at Brogne and was buried there. He was accorded an Elevatio in 1131. His much rebuilt monastery was closed during the Revolution. In the nineteenth century the dilapidated abbey church and cloister were removed to make way for a road. Excavation on the site has revealed a fragment of early construction that could be the base of an absidiole of G.'s own church:
In 1910 a relic believed to be G.'s was brought from Bruges/Brugge to the Benedictine abbey of Maredsous in Anhée (Namur). Herewith a view of its present resting place:
Other relics of G. (like the one at Maredsous, these are believed to have been detached in the seventeenth century from G.'s principal relics in the abbey church at Saint-Gérard) are at Namur and at Saint-Gérard. The Pays de Brogne is currently celebrating the 1050th anniversary of G.'s death. I could find no announcement of a similar celebration at the website of the Diocèse de Namur, which latter is this year celebrating its own 450th anniversary. One may hope that this is not an instance of self-centered youth failing to show proper respect for its elders.
7) Julian of Palermo (Bl.; d. 1470). The Sicilian Benedictine Giuliano Mayali (also spelled Majali), a member of a prominent Palermitan family, was a champion of public health at home, an accomplished diplomat overseas, and the founder of a hermitage ancestral to one of modern Italy's many Marian sanctuaries. J. is credited with both the petition leading to the establishment of Palermo's central hospital (1429) and the latter's initial set of regulations (1442). He also served Alfonso V (of Aragon) and I (of Sicily) as an ambassador to Tunis five times from 1438 to 1452. In his later years he retired to his home monastery of Santa Maria delle Ciambre at what is now Borgetto (PA), a town west southwest of Monreale whose upper portion (which is where the monastery was) overlooks the the Gulf of Castellammare. From there he retired further to a nearby hermitage that he built and outfitted with a private chapel.
After J.'s death, the monastery (of which the poet Teofilo Folengo was a sixteenth-century prior) maintained the hermitage as an oratory. Santa Maria delle Ciambre was closed in 1639; both it and the fifteenth-century oratory are now in ruins. A view of the remains of the oratory is at upper right here:
The oratory's quasi-successor, the nearby santuario di Maria Santissima Addolorata del Romitello ["Romitello" = "piccolo romitorio", i.e. "little hermitage"], possesses a painting of the BVM that, according to tradition, appeared to J. while he was praying in the woods that formerly covered this site. More recent events caused the archdiocese of Monreale to declare the painting miraculous (in 1896). A distance view showing some of the characteristics of the local terrain is here:
And here's a view of the modern santuario with the same hillside and antenna mast in the background:
J. was beatified in 1970. Here's a portrait of him from well before that showing the small, radiate nimbus of a _beatus_:
The first home of the hospital with which J.'s name is linked was Palermo's fourteenth-century Palazzo Sclafani (1330), granted in run-down condition by the city in 1435. That building's original south side still survives. Here's a view showing its monumental portal with the arms of the Sclafani counts of Adernò surmounted by an eagle sculpted by Bonaiuto of Pisa:
And here's a view of an upper portion of that facade:
Until 1944 a fifteenth-century depiction of the Triumph of Death graced one of the courtyard walls of the Palazzo Sclafani. Here's a view of this at least regionally famous fresco now preserved in Palermo's Galleria Regionale della Sicilia di Palazzo Abatellis:
(last year's post lightly revised and with the additions of Utto and Gerard of Brogne)
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