medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (28. November) is the feast day of:
1) Irenarchus of Sebaste (d. early 4th cent. ?). I. is a very poorly attested saint of Sebaste in Armenia (today's Sivas in central Turkey). He has a legendary Martyrion (BHG Suppl., 2204) whose first manuscript witnesses are of the tenth century but which will have already been in existence in some form by the eighth century, when the Martyrion of St. Blaise, which draws upon it, begins to be attested. Later Martyria and synaxary notices of I. depend upon his legend as presented in this text, a tissue of commonplaces making him a pagan at Sebaste who during the persecution of an otherwise unknown governor Maximian (generally taken to be the emperor ineptly reduced in rank by I.'s hagiographer) is moved to convert by the constancy of seven Christian women prisoners and who is martyred after they are. The _dramatis personae_ also include two infants and the priest Acacius who baptizes I.
Unlike Blaise, whose cult (also linked hagiographically to Sebaste) was popular enough to have stimulated a sixth-century reference by a medical encyclopedist, I. has no testimonia apart from this Martyrion. Epigraphic evidence of his having had an early cult is lacking. I. entered the Latin-Rite martyrologies from Greek liturgical sources in the sixteenth century. Medieval Greek liturgical books typically do not include in I.'s commemoration the seven women, the two infants, and the priest Acacius. Since its revision of 2001, neither does the RM.
2) Papinian and Mansuetus (d. 430). We are told about these two African martyrs, victims of Vandal persecution under Geiseric, in Victor of Vita's propagandistic _Historia persecutionis Africanae provinciae_ (1. 8. 10). P. (more correctly Pampinian; also Papian) was bishop of Vita (today's Zaghouan in Tunisia); he is said to have been burned to death with red hot iron plates. M. was bishop of Uruc (or Urusi; today's Henchir Sougga near Kairouan); he is said to have been burned to death outside Vita's gate of Furnos or Furni. P. and M. entered the historical martyrologies with Florus of Lyon, who placed them under 1. December. Usuard moved them to today. The RM's _elogium_ for P. and M. names a number of other African bishops said to have died in persecutions under Geiseric (whom it prefers to call Genseric) and Huneric.
3) Stephen the Younger (d. 764). S., perhaps the most prominent victim of Byzantine first iconoclasm, has a Bios of ca. 809 by a deacon of Constantinople who also was named Stephen (BHG 1666). A native of that city, he had been an hermit before entering the monastery of St. Auxentius on the homonymous mountain in Bithynia (now Kaish Dagh near Kadiköy in the Asiatic portion of Istanbul). S. was hegumen there when in 762 the emperor Constantine V requested that he observe the anti-iconophile canons of the council of Hieria of 753. S.'s refusal brought him exile on Proconnesus but in 763 he was brought back to Constantinople, imprisoned, and later executed. Today is his _dies natalis_.
S. as depicted in the mid-eleventh-century mosaics of the katholikon of the Nea Moni on Chios:
S. as depicted (at right, with St. Theodore the Stoudite at left) in the earlier fourteenth-century (ca. 1312-1321) frescoes in the parecclesion of St. Nicholas in the monastery church of the Theotokos at Gračanica in, depending on one's view of the matter, Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija or the Republic of Kosovo:
S. as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (ca. 1317-1324) of the church of St. Demetrius in the Patriarchate of Peć at Peć in, depending on one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:
S.'s martyrdom as depicted (lower register) as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century (1335-1350) frescoes in the narthex of the church of the Holy Ascension at the Visoki Dečani monastery near Peć in, depending on one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:
The saints in the upper register (Peter, Andrew, John, _et al._) are probably an admixture of martyrs of the same persecution (represented by Peter the Stylite and Andrew the Calybite) and later opponents of iconoclasm (represented by John of Damascus; compare S.'s pairing with Theodore the Stoudite in the fresco at Gračanica noted above). Prior to its revision of 2001 the RM included in this commemoration Basil, Peter, Andrew, and three hundred and thirty-nine monks described as S.'s companions in martyrdom under Constantine Whose-Name-Is-Dung. The revised RM of 2001 continues to differentiate this Constantine from others by means of the scurrilous epithet _Copronymus_. Shaun Tougher's account of C. in the online encyclopedia _De Imperatoribus Romanis_ offers a nuanced consideration of possible reasons for his persecution (whose victims were not all iconophile):
4) Theodora of Rossano (d. ca. 980). Our information about about this less well known saint of the Regno comes from mentions in the Bios of St. Nilus of Rossano (BHG 1370). Born into a family that was locally distinguished on both sides, she felt a religious vocation early and upon reaching adulthood at age fifteen joined a newly formed monastic community of women near today's Rossano (CS) in Calabria. T. is said to have had a motherly affection for N., who served for a while as the community's spiritual director. She was abbess when at N.'s bidding she welcomed into her flock the very needy mother and sister of Bl. Stephen of Rossano. Either then or shortly afterward the community appears to have moved to a women's monastery founded around the middle of the tenth century by the Byzantine military governor of Calabria and dedicated to St. Anastasia. The year of T.'s death is guesswork.
The men's monastery to which Rossano's seemingly originally eleventh-century oratorio (or chiesa) di San Marco is thought, not altogether securely, to have succeeded, on the same site, the aforementioned monastery dedicated to St. Anastasia. Herewith some views:
Rather appallingly, those apses have been tinted fairly recently at the base to appear lighter in color. See the third view here:
or this one:
5) James of the March (d. 1476). J. (Giacomo della Marca; Jacobus Picenus) was born at Monteprandone in today's Ascoli Piceno province of the Marche overlooking the valley of the Tronto, which at this part of its course served as the border in the later Middle Ages between the papal state to the north and the mostly mainland kingdom of Sicily to the south and which now similarly separates the Marche from Abruzzo. He was christened Domenico and studied first at Ascoli Piceno and then at Perugia, where he obtained doctorates in civil and in canon law. After a few years in minor posts at Florence and at Bibbiena he entered the Franciscan order in 1416 at the convent of Santa Maria degli Angeli at Assisi. There he took the Christian name by which he is known and studied under St. Bernardino of Siena.
Santa Maria degli Angeli is of course the home of St. Francis' celebrated chapel, the Porziuncola. Herewith a few views of this monument, starting with the exterior (frescoed in 1829/30) and ending with Ilario da Viterbo's recently restored altarpiece of 1393 on the rear wall:
J. was ordained priest in or shortly after 1420 and began to preach extensively in north central Italy, founding as he went numerous Monti di Pietà (low-interest pawn and credit funds which the Franciscans were promoting actively). He also traveled widely in northern and eastern Europe, both as a diplomat and as an inquisitor. From 1435 to 1438 J. was his order's vicar in Bosnia. In the 1450s J. preached crusade against the Turks; in 1456 he succeeded St. John of Capestrano in János Hunyadi's campaign in Bosnia and Serbia. Back in Italy he continued to preach and was also called upon to resolve numerous local disputes. In his last few years J. was based at Naples. He was buried at the Franciscan convent of Santa Maria la Nuova, where he still is (thus qualifying as a saint of the Regno). Some views of J.'s incorrupt remains are here:
J. was canonized in 1726. He is one of Naples' patron saints. An early poem (_Elegiae_ 1. 7) by the late fifteenth-/early sixteenth-century Neapolitan humanist Jacobo Sannazaro honors him.
In 1449 J. founded the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in his native Monteprandone. The convent's library, now housed in Monteprandone's Palazzo Comunale, has a nucleus of manuscript books that once belonged to J., including four so-called autographs that are really working texts dictated by him. Most of J.'s sermons have not been edited but the two published relatively recently in the the conference volume _San Giacomo della Marca nell'Europa del '400_ (Padova: Centro Studi Antoniani, 1997) show considerable skill. (J. was given to quoting pertinent bits of Italian poetry in these Latin texts: at least one has a few lines from Dante and many quote _Laude_ by or attributed to Jacopone of Todi). Herewith some views of the library and of selected contents:
Expandable views of pages from individual codices are at lower right here:
Other views (also expandable):
At Monteprandone one may also see a house where J. is said to have been born:
Also at Monteprandone, in the Museo del Santuario di San Giacomo della Marca, one may see various objects said to have been his. The last four images (all expandable) on this page are of a chalice, two crucifixes, a chest for relics, and an ivory triptych said to have belonged to J.:
More views (also expandable) are at lower right here:
Some fifteenth-century portraits of J.:
Carlo Crivelli's painting (1477):
A portrait by Carlo's brother, Vittore Crivelli (second image is expandable):
Pietro Alemanno's portrait:
Cola d'Amatrice's portrait:
The similarity among many of these closely contemporary portraits is probably the result of the circulation among Franciscan houses of copies of J.'s death mask. One may compare the similarly uniform later fifteenth-century Italian portraiture of St. Bernardino of Siena (20. May; d. 1444; canonized, 1450).
(last year's post revised and with the addition of Theodora of Rossano)
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