medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (11. December) is the feast day of:
1) Fuscianus, Victoricus, and Gentianus (d. late 3d cent., supposedly). F., V., and G. (in French: Fuscien, Victoric, Gentien) are saints of the diocese of Amiens and of the former abbey of Sanctus Fuscianus in Sylva (or de Nemore; en français, Saint-Fuscien-aux-Bois) that was situated at today's Sains-en-Amiénois (Somme) in Picardy. Their medieval cult is widely documented in northern France and especially at several places named in a legendary Passio (BHL 3224-3227) that associates them with St. Quintinus of Vermand and that has them persecuted by the same Roman official as he, one Rictiovarus (after whom an entire cycle of Passiones is named).
The Passio makes F. and V. evangelizers of the Morini, a people in today's Picardy and the Pas de Calais, has them arrested at today's Sains-en-Amiénois (Somme), taken to Amiens and tortured, executed at the site of the future Saint-Fuscien (Somme), and buried at Sains-en-Amiénois together with G., an elderly convert at the latter town who had been killed there while trying to prevent the arrest of F. and V. Not altogether surprisingly (they are, after all, martyred evangelizers of what would become France), later elaboration presents F. and V. as cephalophores. An Inventio (BHL 3229, 3229d) has the bodies of the three saints discovered miraculously by a sixth-century priest of Amiens, whereupon the bishop Honorius and king Childebert I found a church over their grave. From there F., V., and G. are thought to have been translated in the ninth century to the cathedral of Amiens, whose bishop Hilmeric gave a relic of F. to Saint-Riquier in 865.
In the cathedral, F., V., and G. (often referred to simply under F.'s name) were accorded translations into new reliquary shrines in 1096 and 1175. A statue in the jambs of the Saint-Firmin portal of Amiens' thirteenth-century cathédrale Notre-Dame is generally understood to represent F.:
Stephen Murray of Columbia University has proposed that the next two statues in that sequence of views (nos. 12 and 13) represent V. and G. See his account of the Portal of Saint Firmin here:
Here's an expandable view of a mid-twelfth-century manuscript illumination from Corbie showing F. and V. (nimbed) converting G. (not nimbed):
And here's a view of a later fifteenth-century manuscript illumination (ca. 1470), in a French-language version of the _Legenda Aurea_, of the decollation of F. and V. (Mâcon, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 3, fol. 141r):
G. was dropped from the RM in its revision of 2001 but is still venerated along with F. and V. at Saint-Fuscien (Somme), at Beaugency (Loiret), and especially at Sains-en-Amiénois (Somme), where the originally fifteenth- and sixteenth-century église Saints-Fuscien-Victoric-et-Gentien houses a late twelfth- or early thirteenth-century tomb of the three martyrs, thought to have been placed by the abbey in an earlier church at that location:
Another view of the tomb is here (along with one of the church's twelfth-century baptismal font):
Some views of this church:
2) Damasus I, pope (d. 384). D. was a Roman deacon who succeeded pope Liberius in 366. His election was followed by violence between his supporters and those of a rival candidate whose adherents were ejected from the last of their churches only in the following year. D. spent much of his pontificate putting his personal stamp on the church of Rome by combating heresy, building churches, and erecting numerous inscriptions bearing his name within the city and at martyrs' burial sites along major roads leading into it. He promoted internal concord and Roman primacy through the cult of Sts. Peter and Paul, appointed the first papal vicar of Illyricum, and encouraged St. Jerome to produce a freshly translated Latin Bible. It was probably on his watch that the Roman church began using prescribed prayers in the Latin language.
D.'s name survives in that of the early modern successor to his basilica dedicated to St. Lawrence, San Lorenzo in Damaso ("_in_ Damaso" because it was in a complex of buildings D. had erected, one of which housed the archives of the Roman church). His keenness to identify and to memorialize the resting places of martyrs resulted in the erection of some sixty tablets with verse inscriptions of his composition, many carved in a special letter form designed by the calligrapher Furius Dionysius Filocalus. Here's a view of D.'s epitaph for St. Agnes of Rome (_Epigrammata Damasiana_, ed. Ferrua, no. 37), inscribed in Filocalian letters and set up at the Basilica di Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura:
Two fairly recent articles of note on D.'s martyrial inscriptions are Marianne Sághy, "_Scinditur in partes populus_: Pope Damasus and the Martyrs of Rome", _Early Medieval Europe_ 9 (2000), 273-87, and Dennis E. Trout, "Damasus and the Invention of Early Christian Rome", _Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies_ 33 (2003), 517-536. For a somewhat broader survey of D.'s activity in Rome, see John Curran, _Pagan City and Christian Capital: Rome in the Fourth Century_ (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000), pp. 137-57.
D. (at right) and St. Jerome in a later eleventh-century Gospels from northern Italy (Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 325, fol. 14r):
D. and Jerome in the later thirteenth-century (ca. 1260) Brantwood Bible (London, British Library, Yates Thompson ms. 22), a manuscript of northern French origin:
D. among the portraits of the popes (1480-81) in the Sistine Chapel:
3) Sabinus of Piacenza (d. ca. 395). S. (in Italian, Savino) is the traditional second bishop of the Emilian city of Piacenza. He may have been the Milanese deacon who under pope St. Damasus was sent to Antioch in 372 to reconcile competing factions in the government of that church and whose success in this effort is reported in the correspondence of St. Basil the Great. His election to the see of Piacenza (anciently Placentia) is dated by Lanzoni to the year 376. As bishop he upheld Nicene orthodoxy at the Council of Aquileia in 381, maintained a correspondence with his friend St. Ambrose of Milan, founded a church dedicated to the Holy Apostles, and presided over the Invention of the relics of the presumed martyr St. Antoninus of Piacenza.
St. Gregory the Great (_Dialogi_, 3. 10) relates a miracle story concerning S.: The Po having overflowed its banks, S. told a deacon to go to it and to order it to return to its channel. At this the deacon laughed. But the laugh was on him when the river promptly obeyed a written command to that effect that S. had had cast into its waters
S.'s church of the Holy Apostles (which arose over an extramural cemetery going back to the first century CE) came in time to be called after him, presumably because his remains were entombed there. They now repose in the tenth-century crypt of that building's present-day successor on the site, Piacenza's largely eleventh- and twelfth-century Basilica di San Savino, consecrated in 1107 and now sporting an early modern facade. Here's a view of the interior:
Some views of capitals in the nave:
Capitals in the crypt:
Mosaic floor (late eleventh- or twelfth-century) in the crypt:
Mosaic floor (late eleventh- or twelfth-century) in the presbytery:
The church has an impressive twelfth-century wooden crucifix. Two views:
4) Daniel the Stylite (d. 493). According to his Bios (several versions; BHG 489 etc.), the Syrian D. was a monk who after an early meeting with St. Simeon the Stylite the Elder resolved to become similarly ascetic. In time, having become hegumen of his community, he passed the reins of governance on to a capable assistant, visited Simeon again and then headed to the vicinity of Constantinople, where he took up residence first at and then near the Constantinian church of St. Michael at Anaplus, resisted demons, and gained the confidence of the archbishop Anatolius. After nine years had passed D. received a vision of the now deceased Simeon and became in his turn a pillar saint.
D. spent thirty-three years and three months on his pillar, enduring extreme privation, performing miracles, and giving spiritual advice to those who either sought it (including the emperors Leo II and Zeno) or who did not but who needed it just the same (the initially pro-monophysite usurper Basiliscus, whom D. was persuaded by an orthodox crowd to visit in a highly unusual departure from his perch). Leo II saw to it that D. got a more capacious column; he also (with difficulty, of course) persuaded D. after a particularly vicious ice storm to accept a shelter atop his parapet. That shelter is shown in this icon of D. reproduced by the Ökumenisches Heiligenlexikon from an undisclosed source:
The shelter is not shown in the depiction of D. in the so-called Menologion of Basil II (Città del Vaticano, BAV, Vat. gr. 1613; later tenth- or very early eleventh-century) tinily reproduced near the bottom of this page:
Nor is it in this depiction of D. in the earlier fourteenth-century (1330s) frescoes of the church of the Hodegetria 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:
Nor in this depiction of D. in the earlier fourteenth-century (1335-1350) frescoes in the nave 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:
D.'s sainthood was widely recognized in his lifetime. The archbishop Euphemius gave him a public funeral and had him buried underneath an oratory adjacent to his pillar. His Bios, written by a young disciple shortly after his death, is deservedly a classic. The standard English-language translation is in Elizabeth Dawes and Norman H. Baynes, tr., _Three Byzantine Saints: Contemporary Biographies translated from the Greek_ (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1948; later reprints).
(last year's post lightly revised)
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