medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (19. November) is the feast day of:
1) Severinus, Exuperius, and Felician (d. 3d cent., supposedly). S., E., and F. are martyrs of Vienne whose cult is first documented from the early ninth century, when different versions of their miraculous Inventio were current, and who are entered under 19. November in the ninth-century martyrologies of Florus of Lyon, St. Ado of Vienne, and Usuard. They have two relatively late and quite legendary Passiones (BHL 7665, 7666) that make them martyrs of what would seem to be the latter half of the third century. Their cult at Vienne was active well into the sixteenth century.
2) Barlaam of Antioch (d. 304?). We know about B. principally from Eusebius (_Hist. Eccl._, 8. 12), from sermons by St. Basil the Great, St. John Crysostom, and Severus of Antioch, and from an at least partly legendary Greek Passio representing a tradition already fairly widespread in the sixth century. He is said to have been an unlettered rustic caught up in a persecution at Antioch whose stubborn refusal to sacrifice to the gods of the Roman state led to his being made to hold in his hand incense and burning coals over an altar in an attempt to to cause him to react in pain in such a way that his letting go of the coals and the incense would give the appearance of a sacrificial act. But B., it is said, unflinchingly allowed the coals to burn his hand.
B. is entered in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology under 18. November. His commemoration on 19. November in the the RM follows the practice of the Synaxary of Constantinople.
3) Forty Women Martyrs of Heraclea (d. early 4th cent.?). This group of martyrs is entered under today in the partially preserved fourth-century Gothic Calendar and under 1. September in Byzantine menologia as having suffered at Beroea in Thrace (today's Stara Zagora in Bulgaria). They are entered under 1. September in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology and in Byzantine synaxaries as martyrs of Heraclea in Thrace (today's Marmara Ereli in Turkey). They have a legendary Greek-language Passio (BHG 2280, 2281) that makes them widows and virgins arrested in the Licinian persecution along with their deacon Ammon (also Ammos) at Beroea and executed at Heraclea. The perhaps eleventh- to thirteenth-century anonymous Bios of the fifth-century St. Elizabeth the Wonderworker (BHG 2121) retrojects to E.'s own time a veneration at Heraclea of the entire group, including Ammon.
Prior to its revision of 2001 the RM included Ammon in this commemoration and entered it under September 1.
4) Eudo (d. early 7th cent., supposedly). E. (also Odo; in French, Eudes) is the fairly legendary founder of the abbey of Saint-Chaffre at today's Le Monastier-sur-Gazeille (Haute-Loire) in Auvergne. According to the monastery's cartulary chronicle and to its Vitae of E. (BHL 8102-8105; not earlier than the tenth century), the foundation took place around the year 600 (modern scholars prefer the eighth century) and the original dedication was to St. Peter. E.'s cult is first attested from 840 and is still active in the diocese of Le Puy-en-Velay (where he is celebrated on 20. November).
Views of the originally eleventh-century abbey church of Saint-Chaffre:
More views here (incl.several of the interior and one of the chevet):
5) Simon of Calabria (d. 10th or early 11th cent.). As far as one can tell, S.'s memory survived the Middle Ages solely in an entry (BHG 2400) in the Synaxary of Constantinople. According to this clearly legendary account, he was a monk of Greek-speaing Calabria sent to Africa by his hegumen in order to effect the ransom of fellow monks who had been enslaved during a raid. While he was negotiating, it became apparent that the Muslims wished him to abjure Christ. S. protested that he would rather die. One of his interlocutors then raised an arm to strike him only to find that member immediately paralyzed. After the same fate had befallen another, S. was arrested and charged with sorcery.
The magistrate before whom this putative saint of the Regno appeared promised to free both S. and the other Christians if he through his prayers would restore the health of the two paralyzed Muslims. S.'s prayers were heard, the Muslims were cured, S. and the earlier captives were freed and returned to Calabria. At his monastery S. resumed a severely ascetic lifestyle and distinguished himself through further miracles. Thus far his synaxary notice.
6) Atto of Tordino (d. 11th cent.). According to his now lost Vita (said to have been medieval in origin), this less well known saint of the Regno was a monk of Montecassino sent from there to Abruzzo in or shortly after 1004 to establish as its first abbot a monastery at the newly endowed church of San Nicol˛ in the Tordino valley near Teramo. The monastery, which prospered rapidly, was formally that of San Nicol˛ di Tordino but came in time to be known also as that of A., who was remembered for his efforts in improving the spiritual and material well-being of the local populace and whose tomb became a pilgrimage destination. By the end of the twelfth century the monastery, now enormously wealthy, was a major landholder in the region. A modern scholarly survey refers to its "vasto patrocinio". The parish church of Sant'Attone in the locality of the same name in today's very industrial San Nicol˛ di Tordino (TE) occupies part of the original site.
When in 1477 the monastery was closed the cathedral chapter of Teramo adopted A. as its own patron, a distinction that he retains today (the diocesan patron is of course St. Berard of Teramo). An Italian-language account of Teramo's originally twelfth-century cattedrale di San Berardo is here:
A view of the cathedral's main portal (originally of 1332) in the form it assumed in the fifteenth century:
None of the figures in the niches is of A.
7) Mecht(h)ild of Hackeborn (d. 1298 or 1299). The mystic M., who seems not to have been papally canonized but who appears in the RM with the designation Saint, was a younger sister of St. Gertude of Helfta. As a child she was allowed to enter the latter's community at Rodersdorf in today's Wegeleben (Landkreis Harz) in Sachsen-Anhalt and both there and later after the community's move to today's Helfta (Kr. Eisleben), also in Sachsen-Anhalt, she was director of the monastery's school. M.'s mystical experiences began to be collected late in her life and are recorded in the posthumously assembled _Liber specialis gratiae_. A German-language version of that book, printed in Leipzig in 1503, is available here in digitization from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich:
(last year's post very lightly revised and with the addition of the Forty Women Martyrs of Heraclea)
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