medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (27. January) is the feast day of:
1) Julian, venerated at Sora and Atina (d. 2d cent., supposedly). Today's less well known saint of the Regno has very late legendary Acta (in Italian) from Atina in southern Lazio's Frosinone province that make him a young Christian from Dalmatia arrested at Anagni and martyred at Atina. Another tradition (also late) has him martyred at Sora in the same province. In 1612 J.'s putative relics were found in a church dedicated to him near Sora and old enough to have been described then as ancient (which doesn't necessarily make it older than the fifteenth century). They now repose in an altar dedicated to him in Sora's cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.
Although there exists a strong suspicion that this J. is merely J. of Le Mans (on whom see no. 3, below) outfitted with a new legend when his original identity had been forgotten, cases such as that of the recently mentioned Projectus of Cavour leave open the possibility that this really is a local saint whose feast day was at some point moved to that of a more famous homonym. I don't know whether this J. is still venerated at Atina. In addition to Sora, he is now venerated at Giugliano (NA) in Campania, whose name has nothing to do with any saint Julian and whose present patron saint is J. of Le Mans.
2) Devota (d. ca. 304, supposedly). According to her Passio of uncertain date (BHL 2156; published by the historian of Lérins, Vincent Barralis, in 1613 from an old manuscript of the monastery of Saint-Pontius at Nice), D. was a Corsican serving girl of Christian upbringing who during the Diocletianic persecution refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods. So the ruthless official sent to implement the persecution (his name is consistently printed as _Barbarus Praeses_, i.e. "Governor Barbarian"; whether he's that or merely but still routinely "the barbarian governor", we're clearly in the world of stock characters here) had her employer, the honorable Euticius Senator ("Senator Goodfortune"), secretly poisoned and had the still recalcitrant D. tortured to death on an _equuleus_ (a sort of rack).
Still according to the Passio, to prevent cremation of the martyr's remains, two priests spiced her corpse with preservatives and set off with her in a not very seaworthy boat, headed for Africa. Winds and waves came close to sinking their vessel but D., appearing to the pilot in a dream, told him to change course for Monaco by following the dove he would see leaving her mouth. He did and their boat arrived at the entrance to Monaco's valley of Les Gaumates, where she now reposes in a church dedicated to her. Since some of the names in this account are significant, it should be noted that _devota _ signifies in Latin a female who has willingly sacrificed her life for a higher cause. In Barralis' text D. is consistently called Deivota ("Vowed of God"); otherwise she is always Devota (or other-language versions thereof).
Along with its St. Julia, D. is a post-medieval patroness of Corsica. She is also patroness of the Principality of Monaco. Herewith some views of Monte Carlo's originally eleventh-century église Sainte-Dévote (rebuilt several times from 1536 to 1870), sited near the place where her body is said to have come ashore:
One of D.'s putative relics on display:
That display case actually holds several (as seen here in front of the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta / Sainte-Marie-de-l'Assomption in Lucciana [Haute-Corse]):
D. was in Lucciana for its part in the celebrations in 2003 of the seventeen hundredth anniversary of her death. With that in mind, a few views of its originally twelfth-century cathedral ('[l]a Canonica'):
Further views, the place identified as 'Mariana' (the name of the adjacent Roman town), are at the album 'Rosemary's Corsica' (photos by Rosemary Hayes) on Medrelart:
3) Julian of Le Mans (d. 4th cent., supposedly). J. is the legendary protobishop of the city of the Cenoman(n)i, a Gallic people inhabiting what later came to be called Maine. Their city acquired a definite article and is now Le Mans (Sarthe). J.'s nicely written Vita by the late tenth-/early eleventh-century Letaldus of Micy (BHL 4544) numbers him among the famous apostles of Gaul and places their work in the years following the great persecutions. Founding a hermitage in what would become his diocese, J. overcame opposition by operating miracles, of which the most dramatic was his causing a spring to burst forth from solid rock. Many conversions followed and when J. had baptized the local chief (one Defensor) his work was assured. Later miracles of note included raising people from the dead and freeing others of demonic possession.
In Letaldus' telling, miracles attended both J.'s peaceful death at his hermitage and the transport of his remains to the city for burial. He had a magnificent funeral that drew a great crowd not only from the city proper but also from the surrounding countryside and villages and even from nearby _castella_. Many miracles were reported at his tomb.
Two early fifteenth-century manuscript illuminations depicting the miracle of the spring:
Paris, Bibl. Sainte-Geneviève, ms. 1267, fol. 410r:
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, ms. M. 105, fol. 43r:
J.'s consecration as bishop as depicted in a late fifteenth-century (ca. 1480-1490) copy of the _Legenda aurea_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 244, fol. 66v):
The cathedral of Le Mans is dedicated to J. Two illustrated, French-language accounts of this splendid pile (expandable images):
and here (scroll down to Le Mans):
Flight into Egypt:
Angels (chapel vaulting):
A menhir stands next to the building:
Roger I and Roger II of Sicily owned relics of J. that ultimately found a home in the Cappella Palatina at Palermo. In 1077 Roger I renamed the fortress town of Gibel Hamid in northwestern Sicily after J. The town remained Monte San Giuliano until 1934, when it resumed its classical designation of Eryx in the Italian form Erice; the elevation on which it stands is still Monte San Giuliano. That last is also the name of the hill underlying the central Sicilian town of Caltanissetta, a former Muslim strongpoint that became part of Roger I's demesne in 1087. Twelfth-century service books from Sicily show particular attention to J.'s feast. Here's J. in the later twelfth-century mosaics of the nave in the Cappella Palatina:
A twelfth-century patron of the cathedral in Le Mans was Henry II of England, who had been baptized in that church and whose father was buried there. J.'s cult in England is said to have received a boost during his reign.
4) Vitalian, pope (d. 672). A native of Segni in Lazio, V. became pope in 657. He devoted much of his pontificate to resisting the imperially promoted monothelite heresy. In this endeavor he was more tactful (or more fortunate) than pope St. Martin I but he did have to endure imperial removal of the diocese of Ravenna from his authority. It was also he who sent Sts. Theodore of Tarsus and Hadrian of Nisida to Canterbury. In the absence of good visuals of V., herewith some numismatic representations of the two emperors with whom he had to deal, Constans II (641-68; ruled as Constantine):
and Constantine IV (668-85):
5) Gilduin (d. 1077). G. is a saint of the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Père (Saint-Pierre) at Chartres, now often called Saint-Père/Pierre-en-Vallée. According to his Vita by a monk of that house (BHL 3545), he was a highly born Breton noble who as a child excelled in his studies and who as a youth entered the clergy of Dol. Quickly elevated to the diaconate, he was elected only a few years later to succeed a simoniac, married archbishop (Saint-Père seems to have accepted Dol's pretensions to metropolitan status) whom Gregory VII had deposed at the request of other bishops of Brittany. G. declined on account of his youth and inexperience and, when it was clear that his refusal alone would be insufficient, journeyed to Rome to ask Gregory to set aside his election. Gregory did so, naming the bishop of Rennes in G.'s place.
On his return journey G. detoured first to the Orléanais to visit his mother's family and then to Chartres on pilgrimage. At Chartres his sanctity was revealed when he expelled a devil. Struck down by a fever, G. practiced self-mortification all the same. Foreseeing his approaching death and kissing the Virgin's tunic, he commended himself to Mary and the saints in the cathedral. G. died on this day at Saint-Père and was buried in a stone chamber beneath the choir of the abbey church. Miracles were reported at his grave and his hair shirt, his tunic, and his dalmatic became precious relics. Thus far this Vita.
G.'s remains are reported to have been accorded an Elevatio in 1165. In 1793, one reads, they were hidden in the church of Champhol (Eure-et-Loir) to prevent their profanation in the Revolution; there they were forgotten until their discovery after a bombing in 1944. The then bishop of Chartres, a Breton, placed them at Saint-Père in 1948 and restored G.'s cult. Since 1950 G. has been the patron saint of expatriate Bretons.
A few views of the largely twelfth- and thirteenth-century église Saint-Père in Chartres:
christopher crockett shared with the list last April some very good views of this church (his links still work):
Gordon Plumb's views of this church's windows:
G. (at right; at left, St. Louis of France) in one of those windows:
(last year's post revised and with the addition of Gilduin)
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