medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (29. January) is the feast day of:
1) Constantius of Perugia (d. ca. 170-180, supposedly). C. is the legendary protobishop of Perugia (PG) in Umbria. Along with the sixth-century martyr-bishop St. Herculanus and with St. Lawrence, to whom Perugia's cathedral is dedicated, he is a co-patron of that city. According to his Passio (BHL 1937 and later reworkings), C. was still a young man when he was martyred under an emperor Antoninus. The latter is commonly thought to be Marcus Aurelius. In collective representations of Perugia's saints, C. is the young bishop and Herculanus is the older bishop.
A church at Perugia dedicated to C. is attested from the early eleventh century. Perugia's present chiesa di San Costanzo (consecrated, 1205) was extensively rebuilt at the end of the nineteenth century. Surviving from the thirteenth-century church are the exterior of its apse and portions of its ornamental main portal, shown here:
Perugia's candlelight procession in C.'s honor is first attested from 1310. It is one of four such processions dealt with in Perugia's statutes of 1342.
Still in Umbria, Trevi (PG) also had a medieval church dedicated to C. To see what's become of it, go here:
2) Valerius of Trier (d. early 4th cent.?). V. is traditionally the second bishop of Trier. He is said to have succeeded St. Eucharius and to have been followed by St. Maternus of Köln. The three have a legendary Vita (BHL 2655, etc.), first documented from the tenth century, that makes them evangelists sent to Gaul by St. Peter. This claim was repeated both by Heriger of Lobbes in his _Gesta episcoporum Tungrensium_ (ca. 1000) and in later writings at Trier. A sarcophagus that once contained V.'s putative remains may still be seen in the crypt of Trier's Kirche Sankt Matthias (n this view, it's the one at right):
3) Aphraates (d. after 378). We know about this A. (there's also a slightly earlier Syrian church father of this name) from a brief sketch by Theodoret of Cyrus in his _Historia religiosa_ (cap. 8) and from an anecdote about him in the same author's _Historia ecclesiastica_ (4. 23). A native of Persia, he was born into a prominent pagan family, converted to Christianity in his youth, and migrated to Edessa, where he took up life as an hermit in a little dwelling outside the city proper. At some time prior to the accession of the emperor Valens (364-378) he moved on to Antioch on the Orontes, where again he established himself on the outskirts of the city. Though his knowledge of Greek was quite defective, he nonetheless entered into public disputations between Arians and Catholics of the city's Greek-speaking population and proved an effective champion of Nicene orthodoxy.
During Valens' persecution of non-Arian Christians A. received threats and much verbal abuse but persevered nonetheless. When in a chance meeting Valens called him a rabble-rouser he took the opportunity to reproach the emperor for his actions against Catholics. He lived ascetically, gained popular respect, operated miracles, and outlived Valens.
4) Gildas (d. ca. 570). This historian of late Roman and sub-Roman Britain is said to have been a king's son, born in Strathclyde and educated as a churchman either in Wales or in Gaul. He preached in Ireland and is presumed to be the _Giltas auctor_ referred to by St. Columbanus late in the sixth century. G. was a major source for Bede in his _Ecclesiastical History_. The earlier of G.'s two principal Vitae (BHL 3541; eleventh-century) seems to have been written at the monastery named for him at today's Saint-Gildas-de-Rhuys (Morbihan) in Brittany and claims him as its founder. The later one (BHL 3542; twelfth-century) knows nothing of G.'s having been in Brittany but has him retire to a hermitage near Glastonbury and avers that he was buried at Glastonbury Abbey.
The originally eleventh-century abbey church of Saint-Gildas at Saint-Gildas-de-Rhuys was extensively rebuilt in the twelfth century and again in the seventeenth. An illustrated, French-language page on this building:
And a virtual tour is here (click on the arrows):
Also dedicated to G. is the originally twelfth-/thirteenth-century abbey church, rebuilt in the nineteenth century, of Saint-Gildas-des-Bois (Loire Atlantique). The abbey itself was founded in 1020. Some views:
5) Sulpicius I of Bourges (d. 591). S. (also Sulpicius Severus; not to be confused with the historian of that name) was a friend of St. Gregory of Tours. According to the latter (_Historia Francorum_, 6. 39), S. came from the first rank of the Gallo-Roman senatorial nobility and was well educated both in rhetoric and in metric (i.e. versification). Observing that S. was personally austere, Gregory gives him the added appellation Severus. S. served as a palace official under king Guntram, who appointed him late in life to the vacant see of Bourges, rejecting others whose attempted simony the king (according to Gregory) publicly rebuked.
Usuard records S. on this date. His cult was eclipsed by that of his seventh-century successor Sulpicius II (Sulpicius Pius; 17. January); in the later Middle Ages he had ceased to appear in his diocese's liturgical calendars.
6) Gelasius II, pope (Bl.; d. 1119). Today's less well known holy person of the Regno was oblated at Montecassino in the reign of abbot Desiderius II (as pope, Bl. Victor III). Learned in theology and an excellent writer, he is presumed to have studied under Alberic of Montecassino. His earliest surviving work is a youthful Passio of St. Anatolia; also from his early period at the abbey are Passiones of Sts. Eustachius, Hippolystus, and Erasmus of Formia (the patron saint of his native Gaeta). It is not certain when G. entered papal service. In 1082 he was created cardinal deacon of Santa Maria in Cosmedin; in 1088 Urban II made him chancellor. In the latter role G. is considered responsible for a noteworthy rise in the style of papal documents. In about 1100 Paschal II made him archdeacon and put him in charge of the papal library.
In January 1118 the aged G. was elected to succeed Paschal, whose stormy relations with the emperor Henry V had of course not ended the investiture controversy. He was seized almost immediately by the imperial sympathizer cardinal Cencio II Frangipane, was released after a general uprising in the city on his behalf, but was forced to quit Rome in early March of the same year and to retire to Gaeta while Henry occupied the city and installed his nominee (the archbishop of Braga) as (anti-)pope Gregory VIII. At Gaeta G. was ordained priest and consecrated bishop of Rome, whereupon he excommunicated Henry and Gregory. In July, when Henry had left the city. G. was able to return briefly under Norman protection. Civic unrest led by members of the Frangipane family, who attacked him while he was celebrating Mass in Santa Prassede, caused G. to leave again, this time journeying to France, where he held a synod at Vienne but soon died at Cluny.
Benedictines venerate G. as a _Beatus_ and commemorate him today, his _dies natalis_. He appears not to have been formally beatified by any pope and he has yet to grace the pages of the RM.
On his way to France G. consecrated Pisa's then unfinished cathedral. Herewith some views of that edifice:
(last year's post revised and with the addition of Aphraates)
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