medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (13. November) is the feast day of:
1) Mitrias (?). We first hear of M. (in Latin also Mytrias; in French, Mitre) from St. Gregory of Tours, who at _In gloria confessorum_, 70 relates how he was regarded by the church of Aix as its miracle-working patron saint and who gives as an example from the time of king Sigibert (d. 575) his treatment of a powerful courtier who had used a court in his power to alienate land belonging to said church and to fine its bishop after he had protested: the malefactor was made to suffer from a wasting disease until at long last he repented and made restitution, whereupon he was deprived of life as punishment for his crime.
Prior to his narration Gregory says that in life M. had been a slave and refers to an account of this Christian athlete's struggles and ultimate victory. The legendary Vita of M. that we have now (BHL 5973) first appears in a later eighth-century collection of saint's lives in which it is part of a small group of early Vitae of saints of Provence. This makes him an emigrant from Thessalonica who worked as an agricultural laborer for a priest of Aix whom M. did his best to dissuade from continuing an unholy life out of wedlock with a female companion. The priest would have none of this and when M. operated a miracle he had him tried for sorcery. Convicted, M. was executed by decapitation (said to have been thirty-three, he is also a type of Christ), after which he picked up his head and brought it to Aix's cathedral church. Thus far his Vita.
Prior to 1383 M.'s putative relics reposed in a series of bishop's churches dedicated to the BVM, of which the last was the originally eleventh-century église Notre-Dame de la Seds, shown here:
In 1383 they were translated to Aix's cathédrale Saint-Sauveur, an originally twelfth- and thirteenth-century building that incorporates an originally late antique baptistery and that has seen many subsequent modifications. Here's an illustrated, French-language account of this church:
The cathedral also houses this later fifteenth-century (ca. 1470-1475) panel painting of M. by Nicholas Froment:
2) Arcadius, Paschasius, Probus, Eutychian, and Paulillus (d. 438?). We know about these martyrs of Africa from Prosper's _Chronicle_ and from a letter of the bishop of Cirta to Arcadius. The first four were military officers of Spanish origin; Paulillius was a young brother of Paschasius and Eutychian. They were all close to the Vandal king Genseric, who in 437 commanded them to become Arian. When they refused he dismissed them, had them exiled, and later had the first four executed and had Paulillius, spared on account of his tender years, condemned to slavery. They entered the historical martyrologies with Florus of Lyon, who placed them under 12. November. Usuard changed their day to today.
3) Brice (d. 444). According to Sulpicius Severus (_Dialogi_, 3. 15), B. (Brictius, etc.) was raised by St. Martin of Tours, whom he succeeded as bishop of that town. Attested since the time of bishop St. Perpetuus (d. 491), B.'s cult is closely connected with that of his mentor.
B. at right with M. in an earlier fourteenth-century (1348) copy of Jean de Vignay's French-language version of the _Legenda aurea_ (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 241, fol. 304r):
B. at left in a closely contemporary French-language collection of saint's lives (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 185, fol. 173r):
A panel painting of B. from 1483 shows him bringing coals to the tomb of the deceased Martin:
For an explanation of this scene, see:
B. and M. in a wooden sculpture of the same year, flanking St. John the Precursor:
A French-language account of the originally thirteenth-century église Saint-Brice at Grisy (Calvados) in Normandy:
A view of the originally thirteenth-/fourteenth-century église Saint-Brice at Tournai (Doornik) in Belgian Hainaut:
NB: The main portal came from an older structure (later eleventh- or early twelfth-century).
An illustrated, French-language page on the originally fifteenth-/sixteenth-century église Saint-Brice at Aÿ-Champagne (Marne) in Champagne:
4) Himerius of the Suze (d. 7th cent.?). H. (in French, Imier and Himier; in German, Immer; in the Latin of the Bollandists, Himerius erem. Susingensis) is a very poorly documented saint of the Bernese Jura. His cult is first attested from 884 when a chapel dedicated to him and said to have been built over his grave already existed at what is now Saint-Imier (canton Bern/Berne). H. has a legendary Vita (BHL 3959; no witness earlier than the fifteenth century) that makes him a native of the Jura who became a hermit, went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, returned and established himself in the valley of the Suze (also Suse; in German, Schüss), evangelized in the surrounding territory, and died on 12. November of an unspecified year. Other chapels dedicated to him are recorded from nearby locales.
H.'s cult arose in an area that from the end of the tenth century onward belonged ecclesiastically to the diocese of Lausanne and territorially to the diocese of Basel. He was venerated in both dioceses as well as in those of Geneva, Besançon, and Mainz. The center of his cult remained at St.-Imier, where in the twelfth century a collegiate church was erected in his honor. Now the town's Reformed church, it was damaged by a fire in 1512 that caused a partial rebuilding, received a belltower in 1840, and underwent restorations in 1927-30 and in 1982. A French-language history of the building is here:
Thirteenth-century painting of Christ in the apse:
Sixteenth-century vault painting of the Four Evangelists:
Detail views of the Evangelists are here (though the manner in which they are identified, particularly Matthew, are perhaps less than satisfactory):
In time, St.-Imier seems also to have had a saint Longinus. But one should watch out for hagiographic falsehoods (to say nothing of bad puns).
5) Nicholas I, pope (d. 867). The Roman-born N., a trusted advisor of Benedict III, succeeded to the papacy in 858. His pontificate was marked by a series of actions in which he asserted papal primacy over his metropolitans, including John of Ravenna, Günther of Köln, and Theutgaud of Trier, all of whom he deposed, and Hincmar of Reims, whose own depositions and excommunications of others he reviewed and sometimes overturned. N. was equally successful in enforcing his will against Lothar II of Lotharingia, whose divorce and re-marriage to his mistress he refused to sanction even when under the threat of military invasion. With the Roman emperor in Constantinople, Michael III, he was strikingly unsuccessful, both in his campaign to secure the reinstatement of the patriarch Ignatius and in his attempt to influence the course of the church in Bulgaria.
N.'s letters are in PL 119. Those to the emperor Michael and other important East Romans are literary masterpieces: concise, vigorous, and eloquent. Light years above the chancery standard of his remaining correspondence, they are apparently the product of a writing team whose chief member was the former anti-pope and future papal librarian Anastasius Bibliothecarius.
In 868 N.'s immediate successor, Hadrian II, urged bishops attending a synod at Troyes to include N.'s name in the payers of the Mass. But whatever cult N. enjoyed then did not last. He entered the RM only in 1630.
6) Homobonus of Cremona (d. 1197). H. (in Italian, Omobono) was a merchant tailor of Cremona, married, exceptionally charitable, and extraordinarily upright. His reputation for holiness was such that he was canonized a mere two years after his death. According to André Vauchez, H. was the first lay saint of non-noble birth to be accorded papal canonization. H. is a patron of the cities of Cremona and Modena. Here he is at right, after bishop St. Himerius and the Madonna Incoronata, in the loggia over the porch of Cremona's originally twelfth-/fourteenth-century cathedral:
The two flanking statues are attributed to Gano da Siena (Gano di Fazio; d. before 1318).
H. as depicted by the fifteenth-century Bolognese painter Pietro di Giovanni Lianori:
H. at lower right in Domenico da Tolmezzo's St. Lucy altarpiece (1500) now in the Galleria d'Arte Antica in Udine:
H. is also the patron saint of tailors. Here are some exterior views of the now deconsecrated, originally twelfth-century church at Catanzaro (CZ) in Calabria dedicated to H. by the tailors' guild:
7) Donatus of Montevergine (d. 1219). Today's less well known saint of the Regno was an energetic abbot of Montevergine (in today's Avellino province of Campania), where he is celebrated in conjunction with a number of the monastery's other abbots. From at least the sixteenth century until 1836 he was venerated as the patron saint of his reputed home town, Acerno (SA; also in Campania). Acerno's originally fifteenth-century cathedral of San Donato was once dedicated to him. Both the dedication and the patronal designation now honor St. Donatus of Arezzo. The cathedral, rebuilt in the later sixteenth century, still shows much of its predecessor's late medieval plan. Plans and views from its latest restoration are here:
D. has yet to grace the pages of the RM.
(last year's post lightly revised and with the addition of Mitrias)
To join the list, send the message: join medieval-religion YOUR NAME
to: [log in to unmask]
To send a message to the list, address it to:
[log in to unmask]
To leave the list, send the message: leave medieval-religion
to: [log in to unmask]
In order to report problems or to contact the list's owners, write to:
[log in to unmask]
For further information, visit our web site: