medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (4. November) is the feast day of:
1) Nicander and Hermaeus (d. later 1st or early 2d cent., supposedly). N. and H. are martyrs of Myra in Lycia with a legendary metaphrastic Passio (BHG 2295) preserved in a single eleventh-century manuscript (as of a few decades ago this text had not been edited; I haven't checked to see whether that's still the case). According to a related Byzantine synaxary notice, N. was bishop of Myra and H. a priest who had been ordained by the apostle Titus in his capacity as bishop of Crete. Their zealous proselytizing is said to have caused them to be denounced to a governor Libanius, after which they underwent a lengthy series of nasty torments before being executed. Celebrated on this day in medieval Greek-language and Syriac-language calendars, they are absent from the martyrologies of the medieval Latin West.
2) Vitalis and Agricola (?). V. and A. are martyrs of Bologna whose bodies were unearthed in a former Jewish cemetery there in the year 392. That great discoverer of martyrs' remains, St. Ambrose of Milan, was present; thanks to him, late antique interest in this pair became widespread in Italy and in Gaul. Later tradition made V. a servant of A. and had him martyred first; A. was said to have been crucified. They appear in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology on 3. November and again on 3. December. Their association with other saints named Vitalis has led at times to their being listed on 28. April and/or on 27. November. In Bologna they have been celebrated today since at least the Carolingian period.
Bologna's basilica dei Santi Vitale e Agricola, thought by some to be originally of the sixth century, contains fragments of mosaic floor that have been so dated. But in its present form, which utilizes elements from earlier structures, it is originally of the eleventh century (rebuilt in the nineteenth) and forms part of the of the Santo Stefano complex. In this distance view it is the building at rear left:
and is number 5 on the plan shown here:
The last two views show a relief above the entrance. Figured (from left to right) are A., Christ, and V. A better view of that relief:
Interior views (nave):
Interior views (crypt):
In 1019 V.'s and A.'s relics were translated from sarcophagi in Santi Vitale e Agricola to their present home in the newly built crypt in the same complex's church of San Giovanni (number 2 on the plan linked to above), now part of Santo Stefano's chiesa del Crocefisso. A view of that crypt (does anyone have a better?):
An expandable view of a late fifteenth-century manuscript illumination of V. and A. in a Roman Breviary of French origin is here (Clermont-Ferrand, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 69, fol. 596v):
Gina Fasoli, ed., _Vitale e Agricola. Il culto dei protomartiri di Bologna attraverso i secoli_ (Bologna: EDB, 1993).
Giampaolo Ropa, Giulio Malaguti, _Vitale e Agricola sancti doctores_ (Bologna: EDB, 2001).
Giulio Malaguti, _Martirio di pace. Memoria e storia del martirio nel XVII centenario di Vitale e Agricola_ (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2004).
3) Pierius (d. ca. 310). According to St. Jerome (_De viris illustribus_, 76; expanding on Eusebius, _Historia ecclesiastica_, 7. 32. 26-27), P. was a priest at Alexandria of ascetic bent who lived a life of voluntary poverty, who taught the people (now usually understood to mean that he headed the local catechetical school) under bishop St. Theonas (late second-century), who was very learned in dialectic and in rhetoric, whose stylistic attainments were such that he was called a younger Origen, who wrote a commentary on Hosea, and who after the persecution finished his life at Rome.
4) Amantius of Rodez (d. 5th cent.?). We know both from a notice in St. Gregory of Tours' _Vita patrum_, 4 that the body of this holy bishop of today's Rodez (Aveyron) in Midi-Pyrénées was translated by that town's bishop Quintianus (documented from 506 and 511) into a basilica that A. had built and that subsequently had been enlarged. A. has a legendary Vita (BHL 351; ascribed by Delehaye to the ninth-century) that ascribes miracles to him and that credits him with converting many locals. He also has a Miracle collection (BHL 352; seemingly ninth- or tenth-century) that places his death only shortly before his translation by bishop Q. and that adds many details that some have been unwilling to treat as products of hagiographical invention.
We don't get to Rodez very often in "saints of the day", so here are some illustrated, French-language pages on its thirteenth- (begun 1277) to sixteenth-century cathédrale Notre-Dame:
5) Perpetuus of Tongeren [Tongres]-Maastricht (d. earlier 7th cent.). P. (in French, Perpète) is first heard from in the late tenth-/early eleventh-century _Gesta episcoporum Tungrensium_ of Heriger of Lobbes, where he is said to have succeeded the also shadowy St. Gondulphus in this see, to have been its twenty-third bishop, and to have died at Dinant. The eleventh-century _Annales Leodienses_ place P.'s assumption of his episcopal duties in 598. His cult at Dinant, with a feast day of 4. November interpreted as his _dies natalis_, is first attested from the thirteenth century, when his relics, said to have first lain in a church of St. Vincent, had been translated to Dinant's church of Notre-Dame.
P.'s putative relics were kept there in a head reliquary and in a châsse, both of which were removed in 1466 by Charles the Rash ("Charles le Téméraire"; I see little reason to continue calling him Charles "the Bold") but were back by century's end. They are said to have been taken to Germany for safekeeping during the period of the French Revolution, with the châsse hidden so well that no one has seen it since. Here's a view of P.'s head reliquary in the treasury of the collégiale Notre-Dame in Dinant (prov. de Namur):
Some views of P.'s cult center and putative resting place, Dinant's originally late fifteenth-/sixteenth-century but since much rebuilt collégiale Notre-Dame in Dinant, replacing a predecessor of the same dedication burnt down in 1466 (what one sees now is a restoration of 1821 with further work after damage in two world wars):
6) Modesta of Trier (d. later 7th cent.). According to an account in the late seventh- or early eighth-century _De virtutibus sanctae Gertrudis_ (on G. of Nivelles; BHL 3495) sometimes transmitted separately as a Vita of M., M. (also M. of Öhren) was a) a close friend of G., whom however she never saw in life, and b) the abbess of of a monastery in the vicinity of Trier who in a vision saw G. in the hour of the latter's death. She had a cult from at least the ninth century until at least well into the eighteenth at what was believed to have been her abbey, that of St. Mary _ad Horreum_ (later, St. Irmina at Öhren). In 952 M.'s putative remains were placed with those of other sainted virgins in the crypt of St. Maximinus at Trier. From 1097 onward she and other virgins also had an altar at Trier's church of St. Simeon.
7) Emeric of Hungary (d. 1031). E. (in Hungarian, Imre; in Latin, Hemericus) was the son of king St. Stephen (István) of Hungary and a pupil of bishop St. Gerard (Gellért) of Csanád. Predeceasing both his father and his tutor, he died as a result of a hunting accident when he was in his twenties or perhaps his very early thirties. Miracles were reported at his tomb. E. was canonized by Elevatio along with Stephen and Gerard in 1083 as one of the Christianizers of Hungary and soon received a Vita of his own (BHL 2528). In Hungary he is celebrated tomorrow (5. November).
Here's E. (at right, with bishop St. Gerard/Gellért at far left) in a fourteenth-century fresco in the Lutheran church of at Mâlăncrav (Hungarian: Almakerék) in Romania's Sibiu county:
Several fourteenth- and fifteenth-century depictions of E. will be found at the Galéria page of this site marking the millennial commemoration of his birth (1007-2007):
(last year's post lightly revised and with the additions of Nicander and Hermaeus and Perpetuus of Tongeren-Maastricht)
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