medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (1. January) is the feast day of:
1) Mary, the Mother of God. Greek Orthodox churches celebrate the Synaxis of the Holy Theotokos on 26. December. The feast is attested from sixth-century Rome, where initially it may have commemorated the dedication of Santa Maria Antiqua. For most of the western Middle Ages this was the day of the Feast of the Circumcision, a fourth-century feast in the east that seems to have been adopted in Rome in the seventh or eighth century and that lasted on the general Roman Calendar from the latter's late sixteenth-century inception until its revision of 1969.
2) Justin, active in Campania and Abruzzo (?). Prior to 2001 this less well known saint of the Regno was commemorated in the RM as Justin of Chieti. Under that persona he is the legendary evangelist and protobishop of Teate, the Roman-period antecedent of modern Chieti (CH) in Abruzzo. He has collections of Miracula from 1160 and 1297 and a fifteenth-century Passio that is said to be based on those of other saints of this name, chiefly the Justin of Justin, Felix, Florentius, and Justa, formerly of 25. July, whose equally legendary Passio (BHL 4586; a related text is in the _AA.SS._ for 1. August under Justa V. M. Aquilae in Vestinis) makes them members of a family from Siponto in northern Apulia but active as evangelists in the late third and/or early fourth century in the vicinity of today's L'Aquila (AQ) in Abruzzo.
J. is credited with having saved Teate from a plague of harvest-threatening locusts in 593 when the locals carried his arm in procession. He is further said to have assumed the form of a graceful bird and in that guise to have repelled a Muslim attack on Teate/Chieti in the late tenth or early eleventh century. The latter miracle is recalled in these lines of his hymn: _Praedictus Pater sedulis, motus eorum lacrymis, per volucrem mitissimam, gentem fugavit barbaram_. Another version has J. conceal the town from the attackers in a blanket of clouds.
Also included in today's commemoration in the RM, as these two are now thought to be the same saint, is the aforementioned Justin of Justin, Felix, et al. (a.k.a. the Saints of Siponto). He is the patron saint of Paganica, an ancient town some nine kilometers distant from L'Aquila, of which latter it is is now administratively a _frazione_. According to his legend, his _dies natalis_ is 31. December. Today was once J.'s feast day in Chieti. His liturgical celebration there now occurs on 11. May.
Chieti's cathedral is said to have been dedicated to J. since at least the ninth century. The present structure goes back to the eleventh century but has undergone significant modifications over time. The belltower is of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; the facade, portal, and steps are modern (1930s). An illustrated, Italian-language guide is here:
Other exterior views:
These three pages of multiple views begin with two showing the restoration of 1931-1947 in progress:
Two views of the crypt (de-baroqued in a restoration of 1970-1976, with J.'s tomb in the altar (said to contain most of his relics):
Multiple views of the crypt, including two showing medieval frescoes, are here:
Paganica's eighth-/twelfth-century basilica di San Giustino, locally notable for its use of spolia, is sited next to a medieval and, assuming that some of the funerary inscriptions now or formerly in the church came from the immediate vicinity, originally ancient extraurban cemetery. According to a very problematic Inventio and Translatio from L'Aquila (BHL 4587), in 1330 the remains of all of the Saints of Siponto were found in its crypt. An exterior view is here:
and a page of views, exterior and interior, is here:
Last April's terrible earthquake in the Aquilano caused massive damage and suffering in Paganica, which latter was very close to the epicenter of this seismic event. The basilica di San Giustino was reported to have sustained minor damage to the columns in the nave, to the crypt, and to the belfry. Though the earthquake struck only a few days before Paganica's annual festival in J.'s honor, the evacuated residents managed to conduct from their tent city an abbreviated procession in which J.'s cult statue was carried on a route that was thought relatively safe (aftershocks were still occurring then).
Here's a view of an eighth- or ninth-century transenna (choir screen) from this church now ordinarily housed in L'Aquila proper at the Museo Nazionale d'Abruzzo (whose own building, the city's sixteenth-century castle, was severely damaged by the earthquake):
3) Fulgentius of Ruspe (d. 527 or 533). The sources for the life of this North African monk, bishop, and Church Father are his Vita (BHL 3208) ascribed to his disciple and correspondent Ferrandus and stray comments in his own mostly dogmatic writings. The grandson of a Carthaginian senator banished to Italy after the Vandal conquest, F. (Fabius Claudius Gordianus Fulgentius) was born on family property at Thelepte in Byzacena (now the ruin of Medinet-el-Kedima in Tunisia's Kasserine governorate), lost his father early, and as a young man became a monk against the wishes of his mother. After an extensive period in monasteries in Byzacena and travel to Sicily and Rome he returned to Byzacena, where he was ordained priest and served as abbot of a small house he had founded.
In about 507 F. was elected bishop of Ruspe in the same province (often identified with the ruin of Koudiat Rosfa near Sidi Mzarra in the governorate of Sfax). In 508 he was one of sixty Catholic bishops sentenced by king Thrasimund to internal exile in Sardinia. Recalled in about 515, F. proved such a resolute foe of officially favored Arian tenets that he was exiled again in 517 and did not return until after Thrasamund's death in 523. During his second exile -- again in Sardinia -- he helped to found a monastery next to a church of St. Saturninus in the vicinity of Calaris (the Roman, Vandal, and East Roman predecessor of today's much larger Cagliari).
Apart from some sermons and letters, F.'s surviving authentic works are defenses of Chalcedonian orthodoxy and treatises on grace, free will, and predestination. A theological disciple of St. Augustine of Hippo, he is commemorated in the Order of St. Augustine on 3. January. Today is his _dies natalis_ and his day of commemoration in the RM.
The second view on this page shows the remains of a late antique church on the capitolium of Thelepte:
The aforementioned church of St. Saturninus is presumed to have been an early form of Cagliari's originally late antique basilica di San Saturno/Saturnino. After central medieval expansion by the Victorines and after several more recent restorations, that structure is still famous for its fifth-century core and its sixth-century cupola above the central _martyrium_. Two illustrated, Italian-language pages on this church are here:
Other exterior views:
Two further interior views are at the foot of this page:
F. is at lower left this eleventh-century illumination, in a copy of Beatus of Liébana's commentary on the Apocalypse, depicting St. John and his exegetes (Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 8878, fol. 13v):
An expandable view of F. as depicted (in an illuminated letter 'O') in an early twelfth-century lectionary containing the prologue to his Vita (Le Mans, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 214, fol. 13r):
4) William of Volpiano (d. 1031). We know about W. (also W. of Dijon; in the Latin of the Bollandists, Willelmus ab. S. Benigni Divionensis) from his Vita by Rodolfus Glaber (BHL 8907), a work that in its present form is closely posthumous but that seems to have been begun at its subject's behest while he was yet alive, as well as from chronicles of some of the monasteries with which he was associated and from other sources. A member of the upper-echelon nobility of the kingdom of Italy, he was born at today's Isola San Giulio in Piedmont's Lago d'Orta ("of Volpiano" was his father's comital name), was oblated at the monastery of St. Michael in today's Lucedio (VC) in Piedmont, and was educated there as well as in Vercelli and Pavia.
W. made his profession at Locedio (as the place used to be known). He had already held responsible positions there when his monastery was reformed by abbot St. Maiolus of Cluny. When Maiolus returned to Cluny W. went with him. In 989 he was chosen to reform the ancient monastery of St. Benignus at Dijon. W. was consecrated abbot in 990, ruled his house strictly, rebuilt its church between 1001 and 1016, and added to it a large, three-story rotunda dedicated to the BVM and consecrated in 1018. He also founded on his own property in Piedmont, in the period 1000-1003, the abbey of Fruttuaria and reformed many other houses including, at the behest of Richard II of Normandy, Fécamp and Jumièges. W. directed these other monasteries through local abbots and through visitations.
The former abbey church (now the cathedral) of Saint-Bénigne at Dijon, consecrated in 1287, replaced a twelfth-century rebuilding of W.'s church but retained W.'s rotunda. The latter, in origin an oversize external crypt attached to the abbey church's east end and considered a church in its own right, was demolished in 1792. The rotunda's lowest storey, which was underground, survived by virtue of its having been used as a rubble pit during the demolition; it was excavated and restored in the later nineteenth century. Herewith a longitudinal section, executed in 1739, of this building, which appears to have been influenced by Santo Stefano al Celio in Rome and whose central tower shown here was erected only in the twelfth century:
A sketch showing the rotonda's orientation to the now vanished church and its roof showing the original oculus in the center:
A ground plan:
For a clearer reproduction of that section and for other graphic representations of the building, see Carolyn Marino Malone, "The Rotunda of Sancta Maria in Dijon as 'Ostwerk'", _Speculum_ 75 (2000), 285-317. Herewith some views of the restored portion of the rotunda:
Fruttuaria's eleventh-century abbey church (dedicated to the BVM, to St. Benignus, and to all the saints) was modeled on that of Cluny. Located at today's San Benigno Canavese (TO), it has since been greatly rebuilt. These pieces of mosaic floor are later eleventh-century survivors discovered during the installation of a heating system in 1979:
And here's a view of the church's "romanesque" belltower:
5) Odilo of Cluny (d. 1049). A scion of the nobility of Auvergne, O. succeeded St. Maiolus as abbot of Cluny in 994, having been chosen as M.'s coadjutor in the year previous. He traveled to Italy nine times, was in regular contact with popes, with the German emperors, and with other monarchs, promoted the Truce of God, and is considered the chief architect of the extended Cluniac confederation, the number of whose members he almost doubled during his long rule. O. is also remembered as the author of a memorial of the empress St. Adelaide (BHL 63-65) and as the institutor at Cluny of a day of commemoration ancestral to the feast of All Souls. His first Vita, written by his disciple Jotsald of Saint-Claude (BHL 6281), was supplanted at Cluny by another written by St. Romuald of Ravenna (two versions: BHL 6282, 6282b).
(last year's post lightly revised and with the addition of Fulgentius of Ruspe)
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