medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (13. October) is the feast day of:
1) Theophilus of Antioch (d. ca. 185). The well-educated convert and Christian apologete T. wrote a number of works that have not come down to us (except, in some instances, in a few fragments) and one that has, his three-book _Ad Autolycum_. He became bishop of Antioch on the Orontes in 165. T. seems not to have enjoyed a cult anciently. His commemoration on this day in Latin martyrologies is down to St. Ado of Vienne, who entered him under today with an elogium drawn from Rufinus' translation of Eusebius.
2) Faustus, Januarius, and Martialis (?). Since at least the early fifth century Córdoba had a cult of three martyrs referred to by Prudentius (_Peristephanon_, 4. 20), in the accusative, simply as _tres coronas_ ('three crowns') and, in the genitive, by a sixth century inscription as _dominorum trium_ (literally 'three masters'). Their names are given as Faustus, Januarius, and Martialis in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian martyrology, in the Mozarabic liturgy, in a simple but not historically very credible Passio of perhaps the eighth or very early ninth century (BHL 2841), and in the ninth-century martyrologies of Wandelbert, Florus, Ado, and Usuard. According to the Passio, they were three soldiers tortured and executed on this day. A widely shared guess places their suffering in the Great Persecution. The ninth-century St. Eulogius of Córdoba records a monastery dedicated to them in that city.
3) Florentius of Thessalonica (?). Our only source for F. is a brief and seemingly legendary notice in the Synaxary of Constantinople under today's date. This makes F. a Christian of Thessalonica (Thessaloniki) who zealously preached the faith, who attacked the idolatry of the (non-Christian) Greeks, and who for that reason was arrested by the local governor. Having confessed his Christianity, he was tortured severely and then was burned to death on a pyre. Thus far the synaxary notice. The earlier ninth-century Marble Calendar of Naples records F. under yesterday's date.
4) Benedict the martyr, venerated at San Benedetto del Tronto (d. ca. 304, supposedly). There are many Benedicts the martyr in Italy. Most are apparently catacomb saints whose veneration is no older than the early modern period. But at Ascoli Piceno in the southern Marche since at least the eleventh century a B. has been venerated as a local martyr of ca. 304 (he's one of the companions of St. Emigdius of Ascoli). And further south in the same province at today's San Benedetto del Tronto (AP) today's B., according to diocese of San Benedetto del Tronto - Ripatransone - Montalto, has also been venerated since the eleventh century. An undated inscription preserved in the town's later eighteenth-century chiesa di San Benedetto martire but thought to have once belonged to his tomb has been read to say that B. died at the age of twenty-eight when Diocletian and Maximian were consuls.
Tradition deriving in part from the interpretation of six now lost paintings recorded in the earlier eighteenth century in the predecessor of B.'s present church, makes B. a soldier martyred near today's Cupra Marittima (AP). Radiocarbon dating in 2003 (at the Lecce Tandetron Laboratory of the Università di Lecce) of a cranial bone from B.'s putative remains gave its owner's date of death as 300 (CE), plus or minus fifty-five years. B., whose cult has been recognized papally, has yet to grace the pages of the RM.
5) Lubentius (d. ca. 370, supposedly), L. is mentioned in the eighth- and ninth-century versions of the the Vita of St. Maximinus of Trier as the priest of Kobern in today's Kobern-Gondorf (Lkr. Mayen-Koblenz) in Rheinland-Pfalz who carried out the return of M.'s body from Aquitania to Trier. His celebration in the archdiocese of Trier is first recorded from the tenth century. Relics believed to be L.'s have since at least 981 been at his former abbey church at Dietkirchen on the Lahn (now incorporated into Limburg an der Lahn in today's Hessen). He has a nicely written but quite legendary Vita from the eleventh century (BHL 4968) that has him baptized by St. Martin of Tours, travel by boat up the Lahn to the then quite sylvan Dietkirchen, and there establish an oratory where he dies and is buried. According to the twelfth-century _Gesta Treverorum_, L. evangelized along the valley of the Lahn.
L.'s present church at Dietkirchen is originally of the later eleventh century. A German-language account with expandable views is here:
None of those shows the church's location on a bluff above the Lahn particularly well, so here are two that do:
L.'s sarcophagus and reliquary bust in this church:
The reliquary bust (dated to 1477):
L.'s early nineteenth-century church at Kobern houses this arm reliquary of him:
6) Gerald of Aurillac (d. ca. 920; _aliter_, 909). Almost everything that is known about the lay saint and monastic founder G. comes from his Vita by St. Odo of Cluny (BHL 3411), written within ten or twenty-five years of G.'s death and based in good part on the recollections of four people (two of them lay) who had known him.
According to Odo, G., whose father was count of Aurillac (in Auvergne), was brought up both for secular lordship and, after he had suffered some facial disease of the skin, for the church. He managed to succeed his father as count, lived soberly and celibately, sought to be just to all in his domains, tempered his justice with mercy, coped with weakness of sight and/or partial blindness, made pilgrimages to major shrines in France and to Rome, and in tumultuous times managed to defeat his enemies without much resort to weaponry. G., who used his wealth to found the exempt abbey of Aurillac, wished to be a monk but stayed in the world until his death. He was buried in abbey church of St. Peter; his cult was immediate. Thus far the Vita.
As attested by charters of pope Formosus and Charles the Simple, G.'s foundation took place in the late ninth century. At first the abbey used a pre-existing church of St. Clement but a few years before G.'s death a new abbey church, dedicated to St. Peter, was consecrated. That church was enlarged in the later tenth century, at least in part to accommodate numerous visitors to G.'s shrine. Rebuilt and added to several times since, it is now the église Saint-Géraud in today's Aurillac (Cantal). Herewith some views:
And here are more views of the interior, taking during a just-concluded scholarly conference celebrating the eleventh centenary of G.'s death (calculated according to the widely accepted view that G. died in the year 909):
One of those views is of G.'s reliquary:
For a detailed presentation of the church and its history, see Pierre Moulier, _Églises romanes de Haute-Auvergne, II: Région d'Aurillac_ (Nonette: Editions Créer, 2000).
7) Luke of Demenna (or of Armento; d. late 10th cent.). This less well known saint of the Regno was a Greek monk originally from the Val Demone, the northeastern administrative district of medieval Sicily roughly corresponding to today's Messina province and to the more northerly parts of today's Enna and Catania provinces. Whether the 'Demena' of his Vita refers to the Val Demone as a whole or to a now vanished town near today's San Marco d'Alunzio (ME) is not clear. L., who will have been born shortly after the Muslim conquest of this part of the island, grew up at a time when its Greek Christian religious institutions were under increasing threat from the area's new masters. To escape these, after training at the monastery of St. Philip of Agira at today's Agira (EN) he crossed over to Calabria and there placed himself under the discipline of St. Elias the Speleote, at that time still living at or near Reggio.
As Muslim raids on coastal Calabria became more common, L. withdrew further and founded small monastic community at today's Noepoli (PZ) near the Calabrian border in what is now Basilicata. Desiring further solitude, L. moved on to today's Agromonte, a _frazione_ of today's Latronico (PZ) in the upper valley of the Sinni, where he restored a small monastery. L. then moved further east to the upper Agri valley, where he settled at today's Armento (PZ) and founded a monastic community that well after his death became known as that of Sts. Anastasius and Elias at Carbone and that during the kingdom's Norman-Swabian period was one of its great royal abbeys with many properties and many dependencies elsewhere. But that was all in the future.
In 982, hearing of the advent of Otto II, L. fortified Armento against an attack (that never came) from the Germans and Lombards who were soon to be decisively defeated by Sicilian Muslims near Stilo in Calabria. Within a few years Armento was threatened by Muslim raiders. Gathering and blessing those of his people (probably both monks and townspeople) who were both male and fit to fight, the aged L., wrapped in a cloud of fire that enveloped both himself and the pure white horse on which he rode, led his little host in an attack upon the infidel camp. Many of the enemy were killed or captured, while others fled in disgrace, casting away their arms. Gandalf could not have done it better, though of course the author of the lost Greek-language original of L.'s Vita (BHL 4978) did not have Tolkien for a model.
L. died not too long afterward. His Vita as edited in the _AA.SS._ places his death in 993; current scholarly opinion offers a range of dates from 984 to 995. L.'s _dies natalis_ is given variously as 5. February or 13. October; today is the day chosen by the editors of the new RM. Though L. was buried at Armento, in time his remains were removed for reasons of safety (and, perhaps, of diocesan pride) to the cathedral of Tricarico (MT), where they are said to remain today in a chapel dedicated to him. His monastery at Armento suffered two disastrous fires and changed location several times; its physical remains consist chiefly of rubble on a hillside in Basilicata and an incomplete archive that was removed to Rome in the early seventeenth century.
A view of Armento is here:
The arms of Armento show L. mounted upon a horse that is anything but gleaming white:
Tricarico's originally eleventh-century cathedral has been rebuilt so often that it preserves little of its medieval aspect.
Here's a page of views of it:
8) Chelidonia of Subiaco (d. 1152 [traditional]). C.'s name appears in our oldest sources as 'Cleridona' or 'Cleridonia'; the now traditional 'Chelidonia' appears to be a relatively late hagiographical flight of fancy. According to her Vita, she was born in the Cicolano, a territory that until its incorporation into Lazio in the great realignment of 1927 was traditionally part of Abruzzo (thus making C. a saint of the Regno). She is said to have renounced the world at an early age, to have made a pilgrimage to Rome, and then to have settled in a cave near the Benedictine monastery complex of Subiaco. There she resided as a hermit, engaging in a life or prayer and fasting and occasionally revealing her sanctity through acts of thaumaturgy. After her death (sometime before 1183; neither the year nor the day is known with certainty), C. was buried at the monastery of St. Scholastica.
Within a few years C. was reinterred in her grotto and another women's monastery was founded nearby. Dedicated at first to St. Mary Magdalene, this later was known as the monastery of Santa Cleridona. In 1578 her remains were translated back to that of St. Scholastica.
C.'s cult is documented from the late twelfth century onward. Her Vita's oldest form consists of eight readings for an Office preserved at Subiaco in a thirteenth-century manuscript written for a women's monastery, probably the one dedicated to her; to the best of my poor knowledge, it is still unedited. In 1695 C. was proclaimed the principal patron of Subiaco. Views of a thirteenth-century fresco of her (by one Magister Conxolus) in the lower church of the Sacro Speco at Subiaco are here:
Significant work was done on C. in the last several decades by Sofia Boesch Gajano, whose often announced book on C. and on her cult is apparently yet to appear. It was therefore rather appalling to discover that the _New Catholic Encyclopedia_ (2003) prints only a brief entry on C. written long ago by Martin R. P. McGuire (d. 1969) and does not add to it any citations of more recent scholarship.
(last year's post lightly revised and with the additions of Theophilus of Antioch, Florentius of Thessalonica, and Gerald of Aurillac)
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