medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (20. November) is the feast day of:
1) Basil of Antioch (d. 2d cent.). B. is entered under today in the later fourth- or early fifth-century Syriac Martyrology as being one of the "older martyrs" (i.e. those before the Diocletianic persecution). He is also entered under today, along with an otherwise unidentified Dionysius, in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology. The latter repertory has another entry for him, along with an Auxilius and a Saturninus, on 27. November. That entry, now considered multiply erroneous, underlay the commemoration under that day in the pre-2001 RM of the the three saints so named. Restoring B. to his better attested day leaves us as much in the dark as before about details of his life and suffering.
2) Dorus of Benevento (?). The cult of this poorly documented saint of the Regno is attested by pope St. Leo I in a letter of 448 (_Ep._ 417 Jaffe-Wattenbach). His putative relics were among those translated on 15. May 1119 by archbishop Landulf II to his recently built cathedral (the present one, which has since undergone modifications, horrific bomb damage in World War II, and a modern rebuilding).
3) Hippolytus of Condat (d. later 8th cent.). According to the mid-twelfth-century catalogue of the abbots of the monastery of Condat (for most of the Middle Ages called Saint-Oyend; today's Saint-Claude [Jura] in Franche-Comté), H. was a bishop and abbot who served in the former capacity for seven years and in the latter capacity for twenty-six years. While some, both medievally and recently, have supposed that he was the homonymous bishop of Belley listed in that diocese's eleventh-century catalogue of bishops, the combination of evidence pointing to that H.'s having lived in the sixth century and the presence of a bishop H. of the abbey of Condat among the subscribers of the acts of the council of Attigny in 762 makes it appear that the two are distinct.
Some views and a brief, English-language discussion of H.'s originally twelfth(?)-century but much rebuilt church at Saint-Hippolyte (Doubs) will be found toward the bottom of this page:
H. is also the titular of the église collégiale Saint-Hippolyte in Pontigny (Jura), founded in about 1430. Some views of that church:
4) Edmund the Martyr (d. 869 or 870). E. was a king of the East Angles slain in battle against invading Danes. He has very brief notices in the _Anglo-Saxon Chronicle_ (under 870) and in Asser's _Vita Alfredi_ (cap. 33). His veneration as a saint is first documented from coinage of the later ninth and early tenth centuries. Abbo of Fleury's late tenth-century _Passio_ of E. (BHL 2392) presents him as a willing victim for his people who sacrifices himself to certain torture and death in order to prevent further bloodshed. Abbo further relates the miraculous Inventio of E.'s head by Christians who already had his body and his later translation to a splendid church at the royal vill of Beadericesworth (later, Bury St Edmunds). Relics believed to be those of E. were venerated there until the Dissolution.
Penny (before 905) commemorating E.:
Abbey gate (mid-fourteenth-century) at Bury St Edmunds (Suffolk):
E. at left on a panel of the Wilton Diptych (ca. 1395-1399) in the National Gallery, London:
E. in a glass roundel (ca. 1420-1440):
5) Gregory the Decapolite (d. ca. 841). We know about the visionary and thaumaturge G. chiefly from his closely posthumous Bios (BHG 711) attributed to Ignatius the Deacon. A native of Irenopolis in the Isaurian Decapolis (in today's southwestern Turkey), he spent fourteen years in a monastery headed by a maternal uncle of his and then began a period of wandering that took him to Ephesus, to Proconnesus, through Thrace and Macedonia to Thessalonica, thence to Corinth, thence by ship to Reggio di Calabria, and thence to Rome where he is said to have stayed for three months and to have sought pope Leo III's aid against the iconoclast emperor Leo V. On his return trip he lived for a while as a hermit at Syracuse and then traveled to Thessalonica by way of Otranto.
In his second stay at Thessalonica G. acquired as a disciple the young St. Joseph the Hymnographer (3. April), with whom he visited Constantinople and whom he sent on his disastrous mission to pope Gregory IV. As both the Bios and a canon by Joseph attest, his cult was immediate.
6) Bernward of Hildesheim (d. 1022). Our chief source for B.'s life is his Vita by his former teacher Tangmar (d. ca. 1002) as supplemented by others (BHL 1253, 1254). After study at Hildesheim and then at Mainz, where he was ordained priest, he spent six years as a chaplain at the imperial court where he was tutor to the future Otto III. In 993 B. was consecrated bishop of Hildesheim, where he reformed episcopal government, founded the abbey of St. Michael, and defended his city against incursions of Northmen. He created an impressive episcopal library and was an important patron of many arts.
B. was buried in the abbey church of St. Michael, to whose monks his cult was authorized by a council at Erfurt in 1150. Papal canonization ensued in 1193. In the following year B.'s relics were divided, some going to the cathedral and others remaining in the abbey upon whose suppression in 1803 they passed to the church of the Magdalene.
Hildesheim's abbey church of St. Michael was begun by B. very early in the eleventh century and was completed by his successor St. Godehard in 1033 Here's an illustrated, English-language page on it:
The cathedral of the BVM at Hildesheim (the "Hildesheimer Dom") was initially built by B. during the period 1010-1020. Subsequently modified, horribly bomb-damaged in World War II, and since rebuilt, it has at least two pieces of liturgical furniture dating from its adornment by B.:
A paschal candlestick (commonly referred to as a column because of its form and because it is an imitation of Trajan's column in Rome):
and a great _corona_ (suspended holder for multiple lamps or candles) used for extra illumination on special feasts:
B.'s bronze doors for this cathedral also survive:
Expandable views of some panels start about a quarter of the way down this page:
This early eleventh-century pair of altar candlesticks is traditionally thought to date from B.'s time:
A page of views of B.'s reliquary shrine in the Magdalenenkirche at Hildesheim:
7) Cyprian of Calamizzi (d. ca. 1215). This less well known saint from the Regno (also C. of Reggio; in Italian: Cipriano di Calamizzi, often C. dei Calamizzi) was a medical doctor from a wealthy family of Reggio di Calabria who by turns became a monk, then a hermit on family property at Pavigliana in the coastal hills south of the medieval city (whence he is also sometimes called Cipriano di Pavigliana), and finally abbot of the extramural Greek monastery of St. Nicholas of Calamizzi near the outflow of the river Calopinace.
In the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries the area around Reggio was rural and largely Greek-speaking, with a populace that supported numerous small monasteries as well as a cultured elite of lay professionals descended from the nobility of what until recently had been a Byzantine possession. C., who seems to have been responsible for the development of a locally significant scriptorium at the Calamizzi monastery (which he rebuilt and embellished), represents a link between these two elements of the population.
Both C.'s Bios (BHG Supp., 2089; written by March 1242) and the surviving hymns in his honor (four stichera and a theotokion) are modest productions. But the former is noteworthy for its survival only at the monastery of St. Catherine in the Sinai. Though its presence there is explainable from that monastery's having had a dependency at Messina, diagonally across the strait from Reggio, it also serves as a reminder that texts of Italo-Greek origin could travel widely in the greater Byzantine cultural area. A prose prayer for healing found in Italo-Greek manuscripts circulated under C.'s name as well as anonymously.
C.'s monastery of St. Nicholas survived the seismic sinking of the Calamizzi promontory in 1562 but fell victim to the very destructive earthquake of 1783. There are caves in the hills around Pavigliana that were once hermitages; C. is thought to have lived for a while in one of these.
In this map of today's Reggio, Punta Calamizzi is no. 10 and the area of it that sank is colored blue-green:
In that map, no. 4 is the area of the medieval city. The latter's outline is still plainly visible in this map of the city from 1700:
8) Ambrogio Traversari (Bl.; d. 1439). A student of the emigre Greek professor Manuel Chrysoloras, the Camaldolese monk A. was the leading early Quattrocento translator (into Latin) of Greek patristic writings, General of his order from 1431 to 1434, and a moving spirit of the Council of Florence.
An expandable view of the explicit of a fifteenth-century manuscript of A.'s translation of the _De mystica theologia_ of pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (Cittŕ del Vaticano, BAV, ms. Pal. lat. 148, fol. 106v):
(last year's post very lightly revised and with the addition of Hippolytus of Condat)
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