medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (24. January 2010) is this year also the feast day of:
Aquilinus of Milan (d. ca. 1015?). A. has been venerated in the Ambrosian City since the 1450s. Until recently he was celebrated on 29. January. He now has a movable feast that falls on the Sunday immediately preceding that date. A. appears not to have any surviving late antique or medieval acta. Our earliest account of him is in an Ambrosian breviary compiled in 1582 by the Borromeo family priest Pietro Galesino (also the biographer of Sixtus V).
The _Acta Sanctorum_ prints a Latin Vita of A. published in 1634 on the basis of an Italian-language one of 1606. This brief document -- devoid of specific dates and of other fairly unambiguous temporal references -- makes A. a native of Würzburg who became a canon and subsequently provost of the cathedral chapter at Köln and who to avoid election as that city's bishop then fled to Paris, which latter by his prayer and toil he then freed from a pestilence.
To avoid being elected bishop of Paris he then fled to Milan, where he became a canon of San Lorenzo, upheld Catholic orthodoxy against heretics whom the Vita calls Arians, and was murdered by some of these in the church of Sant'Ambrogio. He was buried in San Lorenzo, where he is famous for his miracles. Thus far this Vita.
Reliance on the Vita's designation of A.'s opponents as Arians led early modern hagiographers to date him variously from the late fifth and early sixth centuries to the late eighth and early ninth. Vestiges of these datings will still be found in recent, non-scholarly accounts of him. The scholarly preference now is rather to identify A. with the somewhat similarly named Wezelin, the provost of the cathedral chapter of Köln whom Rupert of Deutz in his _Vita sancti Heriberti_ presents briefly as yielding to Heribert election as that city's bishop. As Heribert became archbishop of Köln in 999, A.'s activity in Milan will have taken place early in the eleventh century.
Why A. is said to have died in about the year 1015 is not clear to me. Another way of putting this has him martyred shortly before 1018. The latter year is that of the consecration of a famous Milanese archbishop, Aribert of Antimiano/Intimiano; perhaps there's something in the historiography of his pontificate that makes pre-Patarene ecclesiastical violence in Milan unthinkable during those years.
Milan's centrally planned, originally fourth-century church of San Lorenzo Maggiore has been through several fires as well as a major reconstruction in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Nonetheless, much of its early architecture and some vestiges of its early mosaic decor remain. Here's an exterior view with the octagonal structure now called the cappella di Sant'Aquilino visible on the left:
This chapel, once a separate building, was previously dedicated to one of the several saints named Genesius. In this view it's the brick structure at left:
Another exterior view (warning: can be slow to load):
The plan shown here indicates the chapel's relationship to the remainder of San Lorenzo (whose present main entrance is at top):
A clearer plan of the chapel itself is here:
An interior view showing some of the surviving mosaics:
A detail of the mosaics showing a beardless Christ:
Another inteior view (the portal molding is composed from pieces of an ancient frieze:
This view shows A.'s seventeenth-century silver and crystal casket containing his supposedly incorrupt remains:
An English-language account of the whole is here:
Some views of the interior of San Lorenzo proper:
That church's medieval fresco depicting saint Helen:
A. is the patron of the city's porters (in Italian, _facchini_), who in medieval and early modern times worked chiefly in the vicinity of the nearby Porta Ticinese.
(last year's post lightly revised)
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