medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (7. January) is the feast day of:
1) Polyeuct of Melitene (d. ca. 259, supposedly). P. is a martyr of the Roman garrison town of Melitene in Armenia, today's Malatya in southeastern Turkey. According to his earliest surviving Acta (BHG 1866-67), he was a formerly pagan military officer who publicly refused to enforce Valerian's persecution edict, saying that Christ in a dream had removed his Roman military garb and had replaced it with that of the celestial host. Officialdom promptly effectuated his transfer to the latter body.
In the Syriac Martyrology, in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology, and in the martyrology of Bede, P.'s feast falls on 7. January; in most eastern churches it ocurs on 9. January. A second listing (perhaps for another saint of this name) in the (ps.-)HM on 14. February caused Florus of Lyon to list P. there. St. Ado of Vienne, followed by Usuard, moved him up to 13. January. That is also where L. was in the RM prior to the latter's revision of 2001.
In the early sixth century (524-27) a very large church dedicated to P. was erected at Constantinople by Anicia Juliana, whose foundation epigram survives as _Anthologia Graeca_, 1. 10. St. Gregory of Tours goes on about this at length in his _In gloria martyrum_, cap. 102, noting that P.'s relics there prevented acts of false swearing (whence P. has become the traditional patron saint of vows and treaties). The remains of this church were discovered 1960; that in turn led to the identification of certain carved stones now in Venice as having once been part of its fabric. Some views follow.
Plan, distance view of the ruins, various carved stones:
Interior piers, now displayed outside the south facade of San Marco in Venice as the Pilastri Acritani ('Pillars of Acre'):
P. as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century (betw. 1335 and 1350) frescoes in the nave of 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:
P. as depicted in the mid-fourteenth-century frescoes on the arch under the dome of the church of the Holy Apostles 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:
2) Lucian of Antioch (d. 312). According to Eusebius (_Historia ecclesiastica_, 8. 13. 2, 9. 6. 3), L. was a learned priest of Antioch who, after having at Nicomedia in the presence of the emperor Maximinus Daia affirmed his Christianity both with a speech on behalf of the faith and with his writings, was imprisoned and executed. A tendentious and somewhat fanciful lost fourth-century Bios claiming him as an Arian has left traces in late antique church histories and apparently underlies both his earlier Passio (BHG 996z) and his metaphrastic one (BHG 997). St. Jerome reports the existence of versions of the Septuagint and of the New Testament edited by L. The dying Constantine the Great was baptized at Helenopolis (the former Drepanum in Bithynia) in a church containing L.'s remains; exactly when these arrived there is not known.
A Laudatio in L.'s honor by St. John Chrysostom (BHG 998) shows that in late fourth century Antioch his feast was kept on 7. January. That is also where L. is entered in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology and the ninth-century historical martyrologies of Florus of Lyon, St. Ado of Vienne, and Usuard. Byzantine synaxaries, whose notices of him transmit legendary details, enter L. under 15. October.
L. (at right) as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century (betw. ca. 1312 and 1321/1322) frescoes of the nave in the monastery church of the Theotokos at Gračanica in, depending on one's view of the matter, either Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija or the Republic of Kosovo:
L. (at right) as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century (betw. 1335 and 1350) frescoes in the nave of 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:
3) Valentine of Raetia (d. ca. 460?). The historical V. (also V. of Passau) is a very shadowy figure venerated in what were once the Roman provinces of Noricum ripense and Raetia prima. We first hear of him in chapter 41 of Eugippius' early sixth-century Vita of St. Severinus of Noricum, where, in the narration of an event that will have occurred in the year 480, the priest Lucillus (Severinus' successor as leader of his monastic community) is said to have followed the instructions of his now deceased abbot Saint Valentine, who had been bishop of Raetia, to annually celebrate his laying to rest on the day following Epiphany. St. Venantius Fortunatus in his later sixth-century Vita of St. Martin of Tours mentions an Alpine church or churches dedicated to a V. who may have been this one (as opposed, say, to V. of Rome).
According to Arbeo of Freising's not always reliable later eighth-century Vita of St. Corbinian, C. was very fond of a burial church of a confessor named Valentine at what is now Mais in Merano/Meran (BZ) in the South Tirol. Arbeo says that V. was translated to Trent by the Lombards not very long after C.'s death (ca. 725; this translation is thought by those who accept its factuality to have taken place in about 739) and was given by the Lombard king to his son-in-law to Tassilo III of Bavaria, who in turn together with bishop Joseph of Passau (d. 764) translated V.'s relics to Passau. Whatever the accuracy of this story, relics believed to be those of V. were in Passau by 774.
In the twelfth century a priest of Passau's cathedral wrote a legendary Vita of V. (BHL 8462) that made him a man of God who arrived in Raetia from afar, who successfully preached of the Catholic faith to pagans and to Arians, who traveled twice to Rome and was there made bishop of Passau, who tried several times to convert Passau, failed, and was driven out, after which he continued his work at Mais, where he died and whence his body was translated back to Passau by duke Tassilo. Eugippius' Vita of Severinus appears to have been unknown to, or at least unused by, the author of this Vita. In medieval Passau V. (who along with St. Maximilian of Celeia replaced St. Stephen as patron of the diocese) was celebrated chiefly in a translation feast on 4. August.
By the end of the Middle Ages V. was a healing saint, invoked especially in cases of epilepsy (as was also his homonym of 14. February). Three late medieval images of V. in this role are shown here:
More are shown here:
In the Tirol V. is also famously a protector of cattle.
Originally medieval churches dedicated to V. are numerous in his core cult area from the South Tirol across Austria into southern Bavaria. But most have been so rebuilt that even if their walls are still in part medieval they no longer possess much of a medieval appearance. Herewith some partial exceptions:
a) The chiesetta di San Valentino / St.-Valentins-Kirchlein in the locality of San Valentino / St. Valentin in Val Sarentina / Sarntal (BZ) in the South Tirol, with a twelfth-century apse and with today's V. in fresco at the entrance:
b) The chiesa di San Valentino / Filialkirche zum Hl. Valentin at Falzes/Pfalzen (BZ) in the South Tirol:
c) The chiesa di San Valentino / Kirche zum Hl. Valentin, with a fourteenth-century medieval belltower and fifteenth-century polygonal choir, at Brennero/Brenner (BZ) near the homonymous pass in the South Tirol:
d) The Filialkirche zum Hl. Valentin at Sulzbach, Pichl bei Wels (Kr. Wels) in Oberösterreich:
e) The Pfarrkirche zum Hl. Valentin at Großrußbach (Kr. Korneuburg) in Niederösterreich:
f) The Kirche St. Valentin at Thonstetten (Lkr. Freising) in Bavaria:
g) The Pfarrkirche St. Valentin at Reutern, a section of Bad Griesbach im Rottal (Lkr. Passau) in Bavaria:
Slightly south of the Italian churches already mentioned, the originally thirteenth(?)-century church of San Valentino sopra Siusi / St. Valentin ob Seis at Siusi allo Sciliar / Seis zu Füßen des Schlerns (BZ), situated between Bressanone/Brixen and Bolzano/Bozen in the South Tirol, now celebrates the V. of 14. February as its principal saint. But on its late medieval altar the central figure of the Ecce Homo is flanked both by that V. and by today's, leading one to surmise that it too may once have had V. of Raetia as its titular. Some views:
4) Valentinian of Chur (d. 548). In addition to the above-noticed Valentine, Raetia also has a saint Valentinian, attested epigraphically from a now largely lost sepulchral inscription in verse (_CIL_ 13. 5251; _ILCV_, 1079; copied in 1536) that had been kept in the eighth-century crypt of the church of St. Lucius (Luzi) at Chur. Erected by a younger relative named Paulinus, this tells us that V. had been bishop of Chur and that he was kind to refugees and to prisoners.
5) Knud Lavard (d. 1131). The Danish K. (in Latin, 'Canutus'; in English, often 'Canute' or 'Knut') is also known as Knud the Duke to differentiate him from his father's half-brother, St. Knud the King (Knud IV of Denmark; 10. July). A son of the Danish king Erik I Ejegod, he was educated at the court of Saxony. As duke (jarl) of Slesvig (Sønderjylland) he spent much of his life fighting with, and otherwise dealing with, the northern Obodrites (a Wendish tribal group), over whom he was recognized as king by Lothar II of Germany in 1129. Seeing K. as a rival for the Danish throne, prince Magnus (perhaps with the connivance his father, king Niels) had him murdered near Ringsted in Seeland (Zealand; in Danish, Sjaelland).
K. was buried in the originally eleventh-century Haraldsted Kirke at Ringsted, expanded in the fifteenth century:
A cult is said to have arisen immediately. A pilgrimage chapel (not tiny) was erected at the site of K.'s murder. Some views of the remains of that structure:
K. was canonized in 1169 by Alexander III at the request of his (K.'s) posthumous son, king Waldemar I. In 1170 his remains were translated to the church of the Benedictines at Ringsted. The _Vita sancti Canuti ducis_ (BHL 1554; by an Englishman, Robert of Ely), which notes various postmortem miracles, followed in the 1170s or 1180s. K. is Seeland's patron saint.
Here's K. as portrayed in the later thirteenth-century paintings in his and his descendants' burial church, Skt. Bendts Kirke, Ringsted:
Some views of the church, rebuilt in the thirteenth century and restored in 1900-1909:
K. is often portrayed holding a lance, as here in the later fifteenth-century paintings in the Vigersted Kirke at Ringsted:
If they look carefully, fans of a certain Prince of Denmark may discern here at least one Rosenkrantz and many Gu(i)ldensterns.
A view of the church itself:
K. is similarly portrayed (at right) in this later fifteenth-century hanging from Fogdö in Sweden's Småland province:
6) Raymond of Peñafort (d. 1275). The canonist R., a member of a prominent Catalan noble family, studied law at Bologna and then taught it there. In 1220 he returned to his nearly native Barcelona to take up a dual position as cathedral canon and professor at a newly founded diocesan seminary. Here R. produced the first of the practical works in moral theology for which he is best known, his confessor's manual, the _Summa de casibus poenitentiae_ or _Summa casuum_. In 1230 he moved to Rome as Gregory IX's personal confessor; appointments as chaplain and as papal penitentiary soon followed. While in the Curia he produced an important collection of decretals, the _Liber Extra_.
In 1236 R. retired from the papal court and returned to Barcelona. In 1238 he was made General of the Dominicans, the order to which he had belonged since 1222. After two years, during which time he applied his professional skills to the revision of the order's constitutions, he retired again to Barcelona. Here he spent the remainder of his long life, engaged in writing and in the propagation of the Christian faith in Jewish and Muslim communities. R. was an early supporter of the Mercedarians. He encouraged St. Thomas Aquinas to write his _Summa contra gentiles_.
Attempts by the Dominicans of Barcelona to have R. canonized, accompanied of course by the recording of various miracles, began in shortly after his death but were long unsuccessful, initially because of poor relations between the papacy and the crown of Aragon. In 1542, with Spain a major power in Italy as well as elsewhere, an Office for R. was granted to the Dominicans of Spain. R. was canonized in 1601.
An English-language translation of R.'s _Summa de matrimonio_ was issued at Toronto in 2005 by the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies as: Raymond of Penyafort, _Summa on Marriage_, translated by Pierre Payer (Mediaeval Sources in Translation, no. 41).
Four expandable views of pages from a mid-thirteenth-century copy of the _Summa de casibus poenitentiae_ in the Glasgow University Library are here (third item on the page):
Beato Angelico's portrait of R. (ca. 1441-1442; the full halo an early modern update?) in the chapter room at the convent (now the national museum) of San Marco in Florence:
Two views of R.'s tomb in the cathedral of Barcelona:
In the mid-nineteenth century the originally early thirteenth-century iglesia de Santa María in today's El Pla de Santa Santa María (Tarragona; until 1953 Pla de Cabra) was rededicated to R. Herewith a page of expandable views of this church (partly rebuilt after becoming ruinous in the eighteenth century; in 1951 declared a Spanish national monument):
(last year's post revised with the additions of Polyeuct of Melitene and Lucian of Antioch)
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