medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (2. January) is the feast day of:
1) Telesphorus, pope (d. earlier 2d cent.). The immediate successor of pope St. Sixtus I, T. is said in the _Liber Pontificalis_ to have been Greek. A remark by St. Irenaeus of Lyon (_Adversus haereses_, 3. 3. 3) has often been taken to mean that T. suffered martyrdom; its repetition in Eusebius (_Historia ecclesiastica_, 5. 6. 4) gave it broader currency. Prior to its revision of 2001 the RM commemorated T. on 5. January, the day assigned to him in earlier martyrologies from Florus of Lyon onward and one given in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology for an African martyr of the same name. Here's a view of T.'s portrait (1480 or 1481; variously attributed) in the Sistine Chapel:
2) Basil the Great (d. 379) and Gregory of Nazianzus (d. 390; esp. in Orthodox churches also called G. the Theologian, the latter differentiating him not only from his homonymous father, the sainted bishop of Nazianzus, but also from such other Gregorys as G. the Thaumaturge, G. of Nyssa, and G. of Agrigento). Fellow students at Athens and then fellow monks, B. and G. followed different paths in their subsequent ecclesiastical careers, though thanks to B., who was metropolitan of Caesarea, G. too attained to episcopal dignity as bishop of Sasima. G. was also briefly and unhappily bishop of Constantinople. Their writings have given them special prominence among the Greek Fathers.
Together with St. John Chrysostom B. and G. constitute the Three Holy Hierarchs celebrated jointly in Eastern churches on 30. January, though in these churches they have individual feast days as well. Those of B. and G. are their respective _dies natales_, 1. January and 25. January; this is also where they appear in the early ninth-century Marble Calendar of Naples.
A black-and-white reproduction of a twelfth-century manuscript portrait of G.:
(Modern adaptations in color exist on the Web, but I have no idea how true to the original their colors are.)
B. at right (after Sts. John the Almsgiver and Athanasius) in the originally early thirteenth-century frescoes (1208-1029; repainted in 1569) of the church of the Theotokos at the Studenica monastery near Kraljevo (Raška dist.) in southern Serbia:
G. at left (St. Nicholas at right) in the originally early thirteenth-century frescoes (1208-1029; repainted in 1569) of the church of the Theotokos at the Studenica monastery near Kraljevo (Raška dist.) in southern Serbia::
B. at right (St. Symeon Nemanja at left) in the later thirteenth-century frescoes of the church of the Holy Trinity, Sopoćani Monastery, Sopoćani (Raška dist.) in southern Serbia:
B. and G. in fresco (betw. 1315 and 1321) in the parecclesion of the Chora Church (Kariye Camii), Istanbul (St. Cyril of Alexandria at right):
B. in the earlier fourteenth-century (1330s) frescoes of the diaconicon 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:
G. and B. (center and right; St. Sava of Serbia at left) in the earlier fourteenth-century (1330s) frescoes of the apse 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:
B. at right (St. J. Chrysostom at left) in the earlier fourteenth-century (1335-1350) frescoes in the chapel of St. George in 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. (second from left) and B. (last; the others are Sts. Paraskeva/Pyatnitsa and John Chrysostom) in an early fourteenth-century Pskov School icon now in the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow:
Portable icon (fourteenth-century) of, clockwise from top left, Sts. John Chrysostom, B., G., and Nicholas:
B. in an early fifteenth-century icon (ca. 1405) by Theophanes the Greek in the Annunciation cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin:
B. and G. in four early sixteenth-century frescoes (1502) by Dionisy and sons in the Virgin Nativity cathedral of the St. Ferapont Belozero (Ferapontov Belozersky) monastery at Ferapontovo in Russia's Vologda oblast:
a) B. teaching:
b) B. in the Liturgy of the Officiating Fathers:
c) G. teaching:
d) G. in the Liturgy of the Officiating Fathers:
Two dedications to B.:
a) Church of Agios Vasilios (thirteenth-century?) at Thalames in Lefktra (Messinia prefecture) in the Peloponnese:
A fragmentary fresco in this church:
b) B.'s originally late fourteenth-century church at Arta (Arta prefecture) in Epirus, Ag. Vasilios tis Agoras:
Brief, English-language account:
An ornamented page from a fifteenth-century manuscript of letters and other writings by B., G., and others (London, British Library, Ms. Burney 75, f. 170):
The BL's detailed record for this manuscript:
In November 2004, His Holiness John Paul II returned to the care of the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople His All Holiness Bartholomew relics of G. and of John Chrysostom that had been brought to Rome in the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade. Views of G. (in the bone, as it were) in his display case may be seen here:
These views were taken in Constantinople. In the ceremony of transfer at Rome the cases were covered:
3) John the Good (d. ca. 660). This saint's appellation "the Good" is traditional in Milan and has been adopted both by the Bollandists and by the editors of the RM. But it barely suffices to distinguish him from the Mantuan Bl. John the Good (d. 1249; active mostly near Cesena), who in accordance with common custom is often called a saint. Were it not that, thanks to his splendid baroque altar in Milan's cathedral, J. is probably familiar to many on this list as San Giovanni Bono (_not_ Buono: we're north of the Rimini - La Spezia line here), I would be tempted to enter him as John I of Milan.
J. is the traditional thirty-sixth bishop of Milan. The last of the line of Catholic bishops of Milan in exile at Genoa during the first century of Lombard rule (the contemporary bishops _in_ Milan, about whom we're poorly informed, will have been Arian), he is also the traditional fifteenth bishop of Genoa. After bishop Honoratus, who ruled in Milan before its capture by the Lombards, none of these bishops in exile is known to have been venerated by the Milanese church as a saint until J., whose return to rule in the Ambrosian City probably underlies his canonization.
The exact date and circumstances of J.'s return are unclear. Today's Liguria was seized from the East Romans by the Lombard king Rothari (an Arian) in 641-43. We don't know how tolerant R. was of Catholics (for what it's worth, he was married to one) nor do we know when J. was elected bishop or where he was prior to his arrival in Rome in time to subscribe the acts of the just concluded Lateran synod of 649. In all likelihood, the return occurred only after the accession of the Catholic king Aripert I in 653.
Other than this, all that's known or surmisable about J. comes from the verses for his Office by the later thirteenth-century Milanese archpriest Origo Scaccabarozzi (Orricus Scacabarotius) which appear in the _Analecta hymnica medii aevi_ (AH) at vol. 14b, pp. 239-42, where they constitute no. 21 in Guido Dreves' not entirely complete edition of the verse portions of Origo's _Liber officiorum_. A biographical portion of these is entered in the _Bibliotheca hagiographica latina antiquae et mediae aetatis_ as an untitled Rhythmus (BHL 4354).
In Origo's telling, J. was born in the diocese of Genoa at a place called Villa Camulli, probably today's Camogli (GE) in Liguria; his parents, who were nobles of Vallis Rechi (alternatively, Vallis de Recho) in the same diocese, brought him at an early age to Milan, where he became a priest. J. was a humble and conscientious pastor; he also erected a church honoring bishop St. Syrus of Genoa and endowed it with relics of the BVM. Elected bishop, he served for ten years with such humility that one could hardly discern his station. Though J.'s Genoese heritage is stressed, there is no indication that he was ever bishop in that city.
Still according to Origo, J. in an apparition revealed to one Ursus the forgotten location of his grave. Ursus communicated this to archbishop Heribert (Aribert of Intimiano; d. 1045), who gave J. an Elevatio -- presumably in the church of St. Michael next to the episcopal palace whence he was translated in 1582 to the cathedral -- and who shared some of J.'s relics with the people of Vallis Rechi. The latter has long been identified with today's Recco (GE) in Liguria, where J. has been venerated since at least 1288 and where he is now celebrated on 10. January and again on 8. September (the latter presumably commemorating the translation of his relics). In Milan J. is celebrated on 15. January.
4) Sylvester of Troina (d. 1072? or 1164? or 1185?). Like Lawrence of Frazzanò (30 December), Conus or Cono of Naso (a.k.a. Conon or Cono of Nesi; 28. March), and Nicholas Politi (17. August), S. is a poorly documented Greek saint of insular Sicily during or, on one view, just before its period of Norman and Swabian rule.
The basic details of S.'s life as these are usually recounted come from the early modern hagiographer Filippo Ferrari's summary, in his _Catalogus sanctorum Italiae_, of information derived from S.'s Office at Troina. According to this account, S. was born at Troina, entered the nearby monastery of St. Michael the Archangel, and quickly outstripped his fellow monks in self-denial and general severity of lifestyle. Among his miracles perhaps the most famous is his one-day, round-trip journey by foot in the middle of winter from Troina to Catania in order to pray at the tomb of saint Agatha on her feast (essentially a bilocation miracle).
Returning via Palermo from a trip to Rome, S. is said to have predicted, and by his prayers to have obtained, the recovery to good health of the future king William II (the healing of the ruler's son or daughter is a hagiographical topos). An attempt to make him abbot of his monastery caused him to leave the premises and to become a hermit in the woods not far from Troina, where he died, according to one calculation, in 1185. An inventio of S.'s allegedly intact remains occurred in the early fifteenth century, miracles ensued, his cult was confirmed by Julius III, and he (or whoever these remains really belong to, if they are not his) now reposes in the seventeenth-century church in Troina dedicated to him, shown here:
More precisely, S. is thought to repose within this church in an effigy tomb attributed either to the Panormitan sculptor Antonello Gagini (d. 1536) or to his son Gian Domenico Gagini:
For further discussion, see Alessandro Galuzzi, "Silvestro di Troina, santo", in the _Bibliotheca Sanctorum_, vol. 11 (1968), cols. 1074-75, where, however, Pertusi's death date for S. is erroneously given as 1172 (P., following the _Akolouthia tou hosiou patros hemon Silvestrou tou neoupoleos Trounes prostatou_ published in 1626, moved S. back a century and dated his death to 1072, thus making S.'s Norman connections in the standard account an exercise in historical appropriation by the Latin church).
S.'s monastery of St. Michael the Archangel was re-established by Roger I as part of the post-conquest systematization of the Basilian "order" within his domains. Later (like so many other Greek houses in Sicily) made Benedictine, it was abandoned as ruinous in 1700. A view of the remains (called San Michele Arcangelo _vecchio_ to distinguish this monastery from its successor -- now also a ruin) is here:
(last year's post revised)
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