medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (16. November) is the feast day of:
1) Augustine and Felicity of Capua (d. ca. 250?). These less well known saints of the Regno have been thought victims of the Decian persecution since at least the end of the fourth century. They were figured in the now lost mosaics of the late fifth-/early sixth-century church of St. Priscus at today's San Prisco (CE) in Campania, an extramural survivor of Roman-period (Old) Capua. As martyrs, A. and F. are entered for today and again for tomorrow in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology. In eighth- and ninth-century calendars and sacramentaries from Campania they are identified as a bishop of Capua and his mother. In the same period their remains were said to have been translated to Benevento.
2) Fidentius, venerated in the Veneto (d. ca. 305, supposedly). F. has an Inventio (BHL 2927; summarized by Pietro de Natalibus) that makes him a martyr of Armenian origin put to death at Altino under Maximian. He has been venerated from the ninth century onward at several locales in the Veneto, most notably in the diocese of Padua. An Inventio from that city (no BHL number but said to be similar in many respects to BHL 2927) makes him its third bishop, martyred under Marcus Aurelius (so ca. 168) at the village of Polverara, where his remains were said to have been miraculously found in the tenth century. According to this account, when the newly discovered saint was being translated to Padua for reburial in its cathedral he got no farther than just outside the church of St. Thomas the Apostle at Megliadino, where the bullocks that were transporting him halted and would not budge.
The parish church of today's Megliadino San Fidenzio (PD) has been dedicated to F. since at least the thirteenth century. The present church is modern. Here's a view of its predecessor, rebuilt between 1235 and 1245 and demolished between 1888 and 1906:
3) Eucherius of Lyon (d. 449). We know about the Gallo-Roman E. (in French, Eucher) from his own writings and from those of his friend St. John Cassian. A well educated native of Lyon who had become senator and who had fathered two sons who became bishops in other cities, he retired with spousal consent in about 422 to Lérins, where he entered religion at the monastery and where he later became a hermit on the Île Sainte-Marguerite. In about 435 he became bishop of Lyon. Previously E. had written on aspects of withdrawal from the world. Now he engaged in pastoral activity and in pastoral writing of which his hagiographic production -- sermons on local martyrs and the _Passio Acaunensium martyrum_ -- forms a part.
Before he withdrew to Lérins E. had announced his intention to live as a hermit in a cave on a property of his overlooking the Durance and then called Mons Martis. That place has been identified with today's Beaumont-de-Pertuis (Vaucluse), whose chapel of Notre-Dame is situated at what appears to have been the town's original location (Villa Vetus; Ville Vieille). Here's a view of the chapel with a modern statue of E. in the foreground:
In the same town one may with difficulty visit a cave named for E. and, adjacent to it, a small chapel (attested from the fourteenth century; rebuilt in 1648) thought to have belonged to a priory (attested from 1118) dedicated to E. Two illustrated, French-language pages dealing with the site:
Another exterior view of the cliffside chapel:
Another distance view of the cliff:
4) Otmar of Sankt Gallen (d. 759). We know about this founder of the famous Benedictine abbey chiefly from his early ninth-century Vita by Gozbert the younger as revised in the 830s by Walafrid Strabo (BHL 6386, 6386d), from his Miracula by Iso of Sankt Gallen (BHL 6387), written between 864 and 867, from Book 2 of Walafrid Strabo's _Vita sancti Galli_ (BHL 3248), and from Ratpert's also ninth-century _Casus sancti Galli_ (a history of the monastery). An Alamann from the area of the Bodensee, O. is said to have been educated at Chur, where he was ordained priest. In 719, at the bidding of a Frankish count, he took charge of the decayed monastery on the Steinach founded by the Irish missionary St. Gall in the early seventh century.
O. changed the monastery's character from eremitic to cenobitic, increased both its population and its holdings, established a hospice and a leprosarium, and, in 747, introduced the Benedictine Rule. But his success attracted first the attention and then the enmity of the bishop of Konstanz, whose claims upon the abbey O. resisted, as well as the hostility of Frankish _missi_ under Pepin the Short, who wished to reaffirm his hold on the area. In 759 the aged O. was falsely accused of adultery; convicted, he was sentenced to internal exile on the island of Werd in the upper Rhine and was there quickly starved to death. His body was brought back to Sankt Gallen ten years later.
In 864 O. was accorded an Elevatio by the then bishop of Konstanz. His translation to a chapel dedicated to him next to the abbey church followed in 867 and a public cult commenced (first documented in an imperial charter of 883). Along with Gall, he is a principal patron of the diocese of Sankt Gallen.
The opening page of Walafrid Strabo's Vita of O. in its oldest manuscript (late ninth-century; St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 562):
The opening page of Walafrid Strabo's Vita of O. in a manuscript of the later eleventh century (1072-1076; St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 560):
5) Margaret of Scotland (d. 1093). The eldest daughter of the English prince Edward Ætheling, M. was born during her father's exile in Hungary. In 1057 Edward returned to England, bringing his family with them. His son Edgar Ætheling was involved in the Anglo-Saxon resistance to the Norman Conquest and in 1068 he fled with M. and with other members of the family to Scotland, where M. soon married king Malcolm III. The marriage took place in Dunfermline at a church (Holy Trinity) at which M. soon established a priory (it became an abbey in 1128) and in which she was buried opposite the altar. A pious woman, she sought to bring Scottish church practices into line with those she had experienced elsewhere. Today is her _dies natalis_.
M.'s early twelfth-century Vita by Turgot, prior of Durham (BHL 5325) ascribes to her various miracles. By then her feast was already being celebrated today. A translation of her relics within the new church consecrated in 1147 occurred in 1180 and in 1250 they were translated again to a shrine in a newly built chapel at the east end. Her undocumented canonization is thought to have occurred either in 1250 or in 1251. M.'s shrine there was very popular in the later Middle Ages. Miracles at it are reported in a collection in Robert Bartlett, ed., _The Miracles of Saint Æbbe of Coldingham and Saint Margaret of Scotland_ (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003); a brief description of the shrine occurs in a hymn to M. by the poet James Foullis of Edinburgh (d. 1549). The abbey was sacked in 1560. M.'s relics are said to be in the Escorial.
Here's an exterior view of the chapel M. is said to have built in Edinburgh Castle:
Some views of the nave of the twelfth-century abbey church at Dunfermline:
The base of what had been M.'s later medieval shrine:
6) Simeon of La Cava (Bl.; d. 1140). This less well known holy person of the Regno was the fifth abbot and the first Blessed of the great abbey of the Most Holy Trinity at today's Cava de' Tirreni (SA) in Campania; his four predecessors are all officially Saints. He served during a time of expansion of his wealthy institution's temporal holdings in southern Italy and of improvements to its physical plant at its main site in front of and in Monte Finestre (near Salerno). The east side of the abbey's cloister may date from his tenure:
S. completed the monastery's recently established castle at what is now Castellabate (SA) and purchased from the count of Acerno the adjacent port of Lu Traversu, thus giving the abbey a port on the Tyrrhenian sea just below the Gulf of Salerno to go with its two more northerly ones at Vietri and Cetara. He is also credited with instituting land reforms that increased agricultural production in the interior and that turned Castellabate's formerly swampy coast into a prosperous fishing and trading zone.
7) Edmund of Abingdon (d. 1240). E. (whom the RM and many others call Edmund Rich, apparently without medieval authority for this form of his name) was born at Abingdon. His parents were named Reginald and Mabel and his father was given the sobriquet _dives_ ('rich'). Raised ascetically by his mother, he was schooled at Oxford and at Paris and taught theology at Oxford from 1214 (probably) until his election as archbishop of Canterbury on 20. September 1233 (royal approval given on 10. October, which would have been around the start of Michaelmas Term). During his time as a teaching theologian E. wrote both a moral gloss on the Psalms and a very successful treatise on the spiritual life, _Speculum ecclesie_, that also circulated in versions in Anglo-Norman and Middle English.
E.'s consecration ensued on 2. April 1234. In that year he worked successfully to prevent a general civil war between Henry III and rebel barons. During his relatively brief prelacy he attempted to reconcile jurisdictional aspects of English canon and common law, an initiative that saw fruit on the canon law side in 1237.
In his last years E. was seriously at odds with his (monastic) chapter over his intent to form a college of canons in the diocese and over the chapter's assertion of the right to elect its own prior. He died in France on his way to Rome to prosecute a case against the Canterbury monks and was buried at the Cistercian abbey of Pontigny, where he had recently stayed and where he is said to have requested confraternity. At their general chapter in the following year the Cistercians formally asked for E.'s canonization. After further postulations from England and France, commissions of inquiry were authorized in 1244; canonization followed in 1246. Records of E.'s canonization process survive, as do several Vitae composed within the decade following E.'s death.
Views of St Edmund's Chapel, Dover, consecrated by St. Richard of Chichester in E.'s honor in 1253:
E.'s tomb at Pontigny:
8) Agnes of Assisi (d. 1253). In 1212, at the age of fifteen, A. joined her older sister St. Clare at the nascent Franciscan community on the slopes of the Subasio near their native Assisi. According to her early fourteenth-century Vita (BHL 153), her family was deeply unhappy with A.'s decision and tried unsuccessfully to persuade her to return. This effort was probably not helped by a severe beating administered to A. by her uncle Monaldus. When St. Francis accepted her into the community he gave her the name by which she is known -- her baptismal name was Cat(h)erina -- because her youthful resistance to violence paralleled that of St. Agnes of Rome. Not long afterward C. and A. were established at a house next to the church St. Damian, the first home of what would become the Poor Clares.
In 1220 A. was sent to serve as abbess of the recently founded Franciscan house at Monticelli near Florence. Later she returned to St. Damian, where she is said to have received a vision of the Christ Child and where, having died not long after her sister, she was initially buried. In 1260 her remains were brought to a chapel dedicated to her in Assisi's basilica di Santa Chiara. A.'s Vita records numerous miracles. Her cult was confirmed in 1752.
In the Maestro di Santa Chiara's late fourteenth-century Tavola di Santa Chiara (in C.'s basilica at Assisi) the scene at upper right represents A. being restrained by her family and, above it, her reception by Sts. Francis and Clare:
(last year's post lightly revised and with the addition of Edmund of Abingdon)
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