medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (17. November) is the feast day of:
1) Acisclus [and Victoria] (?). A. (in Catalan, Iscle) is a martyr of Córdoba first recorded, without specifics, by Prudentius at _Peristephanon_ 4. 19-20. A legendary, originally eighth-century Passio sanctorum Aciscli et Victoriae_ (BHL 26) gives A. a sister named Victoria and has them imprisoned in a persecution that could be either that of Septimius Severus or that of Diocletian a century later and then executed by decapitation on 18. November in the amphitheater of Córdoba. V. is probably in origin the Victoria of Gerapolis entered under today's date in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology. A. and V. were celebrated jointly in Visigothic Spain and France and are entered jointly, under today, in the martyrologies of Florus, Ado, and Usuard. They were also commemorated jointly under today in the RM until its revision of 2001, when (as Delehaye had urged) V. was dropped. V. continues to be celebrated along with A. in the diocese of Córdoba.
St. Isidore of Seville (_Historia Gothorum_, 45) speaks of A.'s tomb at Córdoba without mention of V. But the ninth-century St. Eulogius of Córdoba (_Memoriale sanctorum_, 2. 9) records a basilica there of which both were titulars. In the thirteenth century a Cistercian house was established next to the basilica, which had survived the period of Muslim rule; in the fourteenth century the monastery passed to the Dominicans. Putative relics of V. and A., the city's principal patrons, and of other martyrs of Córdoba are displayed in the rebuilt, early modern church of San Acisclo y Santa Victoria:
An illustrated, Spanish-language page on the rupestrian church dedicated to A. and V. at Arroyuelos (Cantabria):
Views, etc. of the originally twelfth-century ermita Sant Iscle y Santa Victòria de les Feixes at Cerdanyola del Vallès (Barcelona), which replaced a church of the dame dedication attested from 995:
A view of the originally thirteenth-century iglesia de San Acisclo y Santa Victoria (Sant Iscle y Santa Victòria) at Surp in Rialp (Lérida):
2) Alphaeus and Zacchaeus (d. 304). According to Eusebius (_De martyribus Palaestinae_, 1. 5), A. and Z. were the only martyrs from among the many who at Caesarea in Palestine resisted the Diocletianic persecution at its outset. After undergoing a series of brutal tortures they were executed by decapitation. The longer, Syriac-language version of Eusebius' work makes Z. a deacon at Gadara and A. a lector and exorcist at Caesarea. Today is their _dies natalis_.
3) Gregory the Thaumaturge (d. ca. 273). Today's well known saint of the Regno (also G. of Neocaesarea) was a well-to-do student named Theodore when in about the year 232 he and his younger brother Athenodorus met Origen at Caesarea in Palestine. Under the latter's influence they converted from paganism to Christianity and then studied under the new master for about five years. In about 238 they returned to their native and almost entirely pagan Neocaesarea in Pontus (today's Niksar in Turkey), where the young T. soon became G. its bishop and where over the course of the next thirty-five years he wrote treatises and letters, some of which have survived, and became famous for miracles. Stories of the latter circulated widely over the next several centuries and were repeated or alluded to by other church fathers. According to St. Gregory of Nyssa, G. is the first person known to have seen the Theotokos in a vision.
It is not known when the southern Calabrian relics said to be G.'s arrived there. Guesses range from the sixth century (implausible) to the eighth (possible, but not every cult will have been brought by refugees from iconoclastic persecution) to the the eleventh, when the now Franciscan monastery of San Gregorio Taumaturgo at Stalettì (CZ) probably was founded. G. is Stalettì's patron saint and his putative relics there (less a cranium that has been in Lisbon since the late sixteenth century) are kept in the rebuilt monastery church. There's a view of them on this page (doesn't work in Firefox), underneath that of G.'s church in Moscow:
G. as depicted in an eleventh-century mosaic in the katholikon of Hosios Loukas in Phokis:
G. as depicted in an icon variously dated to the twelfth century and to the fourteenth, now in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg:
G. 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:
G. as the student T. listening to Origen along with his brother Athenodorus and, at right, as bishop G. operating a miracle in an illumination in a later fifteenth-century (1463) copy of Vincent de Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ in the translation of Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 51, fol. 27v):
4) Anianus of Orléans (d. 453). According to his early Vita (BHL 473; first attested from the late eighth or early ninth century), the Gallo-Roman noble A. (in French, Aignan) was born at Vienne but spent most of his life at Orléans, where in 382 he was ordained priest by St. Evurtius and where by general acclamation he succeeded as bishop in 388. He is best known for organizing the defense of his city against the Huns in 451 (Sidonius Apollinaris, _Epistulae_, 8. 15; Gregory of Tours, _Historia Francorum_, 2. 7). Today is his _dies natalis_.
By the sixth century there was a monastery at A.'s tomb at Orléans. Robert II le Pieux rebuilt its church in the early eleventh century. A plan of this rebuilt church is here:
Though most of the eleventh-century church was pulled down in 1359 in anticipation of the English siege, its crypt survives. A French-language account of this monument is here:
The martyrium in the crypt:
The church was rebuilt from 1439 to 1509 (date of its new consecration). An illustrated account is here:
And another (multi-page) is here:
Some exterior views:
This display reliquary in the church is said to preserve a bone from one of A.'s arms:
Two illustrated, French-language pages on the early twelfth-century chapelle Saint-Aignan in Paris, founded by Stephen of Garland, Louis VI's chancellor and dean of Saint-Aignan at Orléans:
The eleventh- / twelfth-century église Saint-Aignan at Brinay (Cher) is known for its later twelfth-century frescoes:
Four pages of views (mostly details of the frescoes):
An illustrated, French-language page on the originally twelfth-century église Saint-Aignan et Sainte-Apolline at Chalou-Moulineux (Essonne):
Views of this church's belltower:
Views of the eleventh-/twelfth-century église collégiale Saint-Aignan at Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher (Loiret), built over an earlier crypt:
5) Florin (d. later 7th cent.?). F. is a poorly documented saint of eastern Switzerland. Our first testimony to his existence comes from the early ninth-century Vita of yesterday's St. Otmar of Sankt Gallen: according to this text, before taking over the monastery at Sankt Gallen O. had been in charge of a church at Chur dedicated to F. A charter of Henry I from 930 records that king's donation to the bishop of Chur of a church dedicated to F. at today's Remüs (canton Graubünden) in the Engadin. Two legendary Vitae of F. (BHL 3063, 3064; no witness earlier than the thirteenth century) tell us nothing useful about the historical person and rather little about his cult.
By the beginning of the twelfth century F.'s cult had spread not only into other Alpine dioceses but also to the German Rhineland, where he was venerated in the diocese of Trier. His chief monument there is the originally late eleventh- or early twelfth- to sixteenth-century Florinskirche in Koblenz. An English-language account of that church is here:
and an illustrated, German-language one is here:
Also dedicated to F. is the church of the former Benedictine double monastery of Schönau in today's Strüth (Lkr. Rhein-Lahn-Kreis) on the western edge the Taunus in Rheinland-Pfalz, home of St. Elisabeth of Schönau (18. June). Herewith exterior and interior views, showing the church's fifteenth-century choir:
F. is the titular of the neo-gothic cathedral of Vaduz (a nineteenth-century replacement for an originally medieval chapel of the same dedication) and along with Lucius of Chur one of Liechtenstein's patron saints.
6) Hugh of No(v)ara (d. later 12th cent.). H. was remembered as a disciple of St. Bernard. He is often said to have been sent by B. from Clairvaux to the abbey at Casamari (which latter became Cistercian in the 1140s). At some unknown time he became the first abbot of his order's monastery of Santa Maria la Noara in today's Novara di Sicilia (ME) in northeastern Sicily, completing its construction in 1167 (on another view, in 1172). His cult was perpetuated at the monastery, first at its original site at a place called Vallebuona some five kilometers distant from the town of Novara and, from the seventeenth century onward, at its new church dedicated to him on a site just above the town itself.
H. was beatified in 1604. In 1928 the Congregation of the Rites granted an Office in his honor to the Cistercian Congregazione di San Bernardo in Italia. It's not clear whether he is also celebrated by the same order's Congregazione di Casamari. When his entry in the _Bibliotheca Sanctorum_ was written he was styled Blessed; more recent publications and the latest version (2001) of the RM call him Saint.
An illustrated, Italian-language page on the medievally rebuilt and recently restored former abbey church of Santa Maria la Noara is here:
"la Noara" is of course a toponym; the church's dedication is to St. Mary of the Annunciation. She and H. are also the civic patrons of Novara di Sicilia. H.'s major patronal feast falls in August, but Novara di Sicilia's _frazione_ of Badiavecchia (also two words: Badia Vecchia) celebrates him on 10. November. H.'s liturgical feast day is today, his traditional _dies natalis_. His relics were long kept in the seventeenth-century church dedicated to him in Novara (now undergoing restoration); today they are in the town's also early modern principal church of Santa Maria Assunta.
PRAETERMISSI: Today's entries in the RM are exceptionally rich in ancient and medieval saints. Absent from this posting are Sts. Namatius of Vienne (d. later 5th cent.), Gregory of Tours (d. 594), Hild or Hilda (d. 680), Lazarus of Constantinople (d. later 9th cent.), Hugh of Lincoln (d. 1200; this is Hugh the bishop), and Elisabeth of Hungary (d. 1231; also E. of Thüringen), as well as Bl. Salome or Salomea of Kraków (d. 1268). Contributions by others on any of these or, for that matter, on any other ancient or medieval saint are of course welcome.
(last year's post revised)
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