medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (18. January) is the feast day of:
1) Cosconius, Zeno, and Melanippus (?). C., Z., and M. are martyrs of Nicaea entered in the later fourth-century Syriac Martyrology under 19. January, 23. February (where they follow Polycarp and Aratus and where all are entered as martyrs simply of Asia), and 2. September (where again theirs is not the first commemoration). The (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology enters them under 15. January, 18. January, and 19. January. Father Bolland, who was not aware of the Syriac Martyrology, entered these saints in the _Acta Sanctorum_ under 15. January, assigning their suffering to Egypt on the basis of what is now recognized as a misplaced localization in the (ps.-)HM's entries under that date. They appear to have entered the RM only in the revision of 2001. Their entries in the Syriac Martyrology under 19. January and 2. February record them as older martyrs, i.e. martyrs who suffered before the Great Persecution.
The revised RM enters C., Z., and M. under today. Given that in the Syriac Martyrology 19. January is the only day on which their commemoration does not follow one or more others (thus making this day more likely to have been that of their principal feast) and that 19. January is also the one date for these saints that the Syriac Martyrology and the (ps.-)HM have in common (their shared source is thought to have been a now lost, earlier-to-mid-fourth-century martyrology in the Greek language), one would think that tomorrow, not today, is their earliest attested feast day.
2) Successus, Paulus, and Lucius (d. ca. 259). We know about these martyrs of Africa Proconsularis from the Passio of Sts. Montanus and Lucius (BHL 6009; abridgment, BHL 6010), whose narration by a contemporary calls S. a bishop and has him suffer with P. and with unnamed others in what is evidently the persecution of Valerian (the narrator has a vision of the martyred St. Cyprian, his bishop). L. is the Lucius of that Passio, who earlier therein is named with Montanus and various others, none of whom is either S. or P. and all of whom are victims of the same persecution at the same place (presumably Carthage). L., Montanus, and the others named with them used to be commemorated in the RM on 24. February; the present commemoration conflates the two groups and drops the companions in each group. The RM calls all three bishops and has them suffer in the _Decian_ persecution.
The _Passio Sanctorum Montani et Lucii_ was edited by François Dolbeau in _Revue des Études Augustiniennes_ 29 (1983), 39-82 (reprinted in vol. 1 of Dolbeau's _Sanctorum societas. Récits latins de sainteté (iiie-xiie siècles)_ [Bruxelles: Société des Bollandistes, 2005; Subsidia Hagiographica, 85]). There's a good description of it in Maureen Tilley, _The Bible in Christian North Africa_ (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997), pp. 46-47, online here courtesy of Google Books:
3) Prisca (?). P. is the saint of the _titulus Priscae_ on the Aventine. That church is attested from the fifth century; the Gregorian Sacramentary in its Paduan version (early eighth-century) records a dedication feast for it on this day. In the course of the sixth century P., like the eponyms of other of Rome's _tituli_, came to be referred to as a saint. Her feast today is recorded in the originally seventh-century Roman _capitularia evangeliorum_ and in various texts of the Gregorian Sacramentary. The seventh-century pilgrim itineraries for Rome all consider P. a martyr, locating her tomb in the cemetery of Priscilla. In Ado and in Usuard P. is a virgin martyr.
P. has an undated legendary Passio (BHL 6296; no witness earlier than the twelfth century) that makes her a girl of eleven years, martyred under an emperor Claudius, buried on the Via Ostiensis, and later translated to the church of the holy martyrs Aquila and Prisca (as the _titulus [s.] Priscae_ was known in at least the eighth century). The latter dedication makes it clear that P. was also thought of as the Prisca of Aquila and Prisca, St. Peter's hosts in Rome. Today's titular and stational church of Santa Prisca is the successor, after many restorations and rebuildings, of the original _titulus Priscae_. Amidst its early modern splendors is this baptismal font created, it is said, in the thirteenth century out of an ornate second-century column capital and supposedly used by Peter to baptize P.:
P.'s putative relics are kept in the church's originally ninth-century crypt. This has some medieval frescoes of uncertain dating, among them this one said to depict P.:
P. as depicted in an illuminated initial in a Roman Missal of ca. 1370 from Bologna (Avignon, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 136, fol. 22r):
4) Volusianus (d. ca. 496). We know about the Gallo-Roman V. chiefly from St. Gregory of Tours' _Historia Francorum_ and from letters to him preserved in the correspondences of St. Sidonius Apollinaris and of Ruricius of Limoges. A wealthy scion of a senatorial family in Visigothic Gaul, he was the seventh bishop of Tours and was related to his predecessors St. Eustochius and St. Perpetuus. V. erected a basilica near Tours' principal monastery and was invited by Sidonius to reform according to the statues of Lérins a monastery on land he owned in S.'s diocese. After Clovis' adoption of Catholic Christianity in Frankish Gaul V. was suspected by his Arian secular rulers of pro-Frankish sympathies and was exiled, depending on which chapter in Gregory of Tours one prefers either to Spain or to Toulouse, and died a virtual prisoner not long afterwards.
In the early twelfth century a count of Foix translated relics said to be V.'s along with those of other saints to a monastery church at Foix then dedicated to a St. Nazarius (probably the N. of Spain, though later local tradition opted for the N. of Milan). That church was quickly replaced on the same site by a successor dedicated to V. The monastery, which became very wealthy, later claimed to have been been founded by Charlemagne. A local hagiography was developed according to whose late medieval texts (BHL 8731-8731f) V. had been martyred by his Arian captors outside the gates of Foix. Credited with miracles, V. became Foix's patron saint and still is so today.
The early twelfth-century abbatiale Saint-Volusien in Foix was greatly expanded in the fourteenth century, receiving both "gothic" vaulting sustained by external buttresses and a "gothic" choir with radiating chapels. That church was largely destroyed in 1582 but was rebuilt over the course of the seventeenth century on the same plan, using stones from the previous fabric and retaining elements that had survived the destruction. It was last restored in 2003 and 2004. Herewith two views from above (taken from the castle of Foix), both showing the south transept and the second showing the twelfth-century south portal:
Views of the south portal:
Two very similar views of the interior:
V.'s putative relics reside here:
A French-language announcement, from 2003 and interesting in some of its details, of the then imminent restoration:
Two twelfth-century capital reliefs (said here to be two capitals but, to judge from other accounts, probably two sides of the same capital) from the adjacent cloister (also destroyed in 1582), now displayed in the Musée départemental de l'Ariège. The first of these depicts V. being led off in captivity. The scene with the city gate has been thought to represent an imaginary Frankish capture of Toulouse preceding V.'s martyrdom:
5) Beatrice d'Este II (Bl.; d. 1262). Not to be confused with the earlier Bl. Beatrice d'Este (d. 1226), this member of Ferrara's ruling family is known chiefly from a nearly contemporary account by a monk of Padua, by a sketch in the _Chronica parva Ferrariensis_, and by a seemingly fourteenth-century account from the pen of a nun of her community in Ferrara. A daughter of Azzo VII of Ferrara, she had been betrothed in 1249 to a noble who was podestà of Vicenza but was soon released from that obligation by the latter's death in battle. Retiring with some other women of the court to Ferrara's island of San Lorenzo, B. founded there a small religious community that accepted the rule of St. Benedict in 1254 and that in 1257 moved into the very nearby monastery of Santo Stefano della Rotta. She was only about thirty-six when she died.
Today is B.'s _dies natalis_. A cult arose very quickly. The water used to wash her body was said to have caused miracles and until its dissolution in 1512 the sisters would repeat the washing as needed in order to have a supply of the wonder-working liquid. A new tomb in the monastery cloister became a pilgrimage destination; condensation from it continues to be collected several times a year for distribution to the faithful. B.'s cult was approved papally, at the level of Beata, in 1774.
In 1297 B.'s community acquired from the Augustinians the adjacent church of Sant'Antonio. For centuries the convent has been called Sant'Antonio in Polesine. Herewith a couple of views of its originally thirteenth-century church of that name:
6) Margaret of Hungary (d. 1270). In 1241, when the kingdom of Hungary was largely overrun by Tatars, king Bela IV and his queen Maria Laskarina (daughter of Theodore I, Nicaean emperor of the Romans) who had withdrawn to a fortified city in Dalmatia, promised their next child to God should the kingdom be spared further devastation. The Tatars withdrew and in the following year M. was born. Her parents kept their vow and at the age of three or four M. entered the Dominican convent at Veszprém. At the age of twelve she entered a new convent, also Dominican, that her father had had built for her on an island in the Danube near Buda. There she made her profession before Bl. Humbert of Romans, Master General of her order.
As a Dominican religious M. practiced a life of extreme asceticism and stalwart service to the poor. A cult, accompanied by miracles at her tomb in the island convent, arose soon after her relatively early death. In the following year (1271) M.'s brother, king Stephen V, requested a canonization inquiry; this was carried out and its acts were sent to Rome. M. sanctity is documented by a Vita et Miracula intended for her canonization (BHL 5330d; M.'s _Legenda vetus_) and by the acts of her canonization trial of 1276 (BHL 5330). In response to the papal letter commissioning her canonization inquiry, these documents also testify to the efficacy of M.'s work in countering heresy among those with whom she was in contact.
In the 1340s M. received a Vita (BHL 5331; M.'s _Legenda maior_) by the Dominican Garin de Gy-l'Évêque, a future Master General. This incorporated material from the canonization trial but responded to more current models of sanctity by making M. a mystic and by attributing to her an instance of levitation.
Though none of these efforts led directly to M.'s canonization, her cult continued in Hungary, where in 1409 the Dominican Bl. Giovanni Dominici (he of _Lucula noctis_ fame) as cardinal legate granted an indulgence to pilgrims visiting her tomb and where Dominicans celebrated her with an Office of her own. M. (wearing a crown) appears at lower left in the gallery of Dominican saints in this mid-fourteenth-century panel painting now in Florence's Santa Maria Novella and thought to have been commissioned for Hungarian Dominicans resident in that city:
M. also appears as a saint in this painting by Juan de Borgoña (ca. 1470-1536) of Mary Magdalen and three Dominican saints (ca. 1515), now in the Prado:
A slightly larger version that image is accessible here:
M.'s equivalent canonization occurred in 1943. She was a niece of St. Elizabeth of Hungary (E. of Thüringen; 17. November), canonized in 1235. One of M.'s sisters was St. Cunegunda/Kinga of Poland (24. July), canonized in 1999.
(last year's post revised and with the additions of Cosconius, Zeno, and Melanippus and Beatrice d'Este II)
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