medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (8. January) is the feast day of:
1) Severinus of Noricum (d. ca. 482). According to what is practically the only source for S. in his lifetime, Eugippius' _Commemoratorium vitae s. Severini_, this future saint of the Regno appeared in Noricum ripense and in eastern Raetia (the Danube valley area of today's Austria and Lower Bavaria) at some time after the death of Attila the Hun. He had been a hermit further to the east (if this is so, probably in Pannonia) but now he was active in establishing small monasteries in the vicinity of Roman towns and in tending to the spiritual and political welfare of the Roman populace, no longer protected by the Empire and pressured on all sides by unfriendly and often openly hostile Germanic peoples. He died peacefully at his monastery at Favianis (today's Mautern an der Donau). A page on Roman-period Favianis is here:
Personally very ascetic and credited with miracles, S. is said to have foretold that the remaining Romans would have to leave the area (under the circumstances, perhaps not such a tough guess). When in 488 Odoacer did organize an evacuation into Italy, the monks of Favianis, one of whom was Eugippius, took their saint's body with them. For a while they resided on a height generally considered to have been in the Montefeltro (in today's Marche near that region's border with the Romagna). During the papacy of Gelasius I (492-96), they moved, taking S. with them, to the seaside property of Lucullanum just outside of Naples (as it was then; the place is well within today's city, at the promontory of Pizzofalcone). There Eugippius organized a new monastery and there, in 511, he finished his account of S.
In 902, it is thought, S.'s relics were translated under the threat of Muslim raids to the safety of a new monastery inside Naples itself. In short order (and after the translation from Misenum of the supposed remains of one of St. Januarius' companions in martyrdom), this foundation became known as that of Saints Severinus and Sos(s)ius. S. was medievally a patron of Naples and from there his cult spread widely in mainland southern Italy. At least four towns in the territory of the former Regno take or once took their names from S., sometimes indirectly: San Severino Mercato (SA), San Severino di Centola (SA), San Severino Lucano (PZ), and, formerly also a San Severino, San Severo (FG). A later fifteenth-century altarpiece from S.'s monastery in Naples, portraying him in the center panel of the lower register as a mitred abbot, is now in Naples' Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte. Here's a view:
In 1806 Santi Severino e Sos(s)io was included in the act secularizing the kingdom's monasteries. In the following year S.'s relics were translated to their present abode, the thirteenth-century church of San Sos(s)io at the nearby town of Fratta, today's Frattamaggiore (NA). An exterior view, showing that building's early modern facade (rebuilt in the nineteenth century) and belltower, is here:
Some interior views of this Italian national monument (both from before the disastrous fire that gutted it in 1945 and from after the medievalizing reconstruction that followed) will be found lower down on this page:
Other views (expandable) are here:
North of the Alps, S. is a patron of Bavaria and of the Austrian diocese of Linz. Dedicated to him at Passau is a medieval church built over a late antique one thought to have been the extramural basilica that S. is said to have erected here. In its present state it is probably later fifteenth-century with later modifications; remains of Ottonian date are said to exist in the nave. Here are a couple of views:
A Roman-period funerary monument now serving this church as a font for holy water.
A partial view of the church's fifteenth-century statue of S.:
This nearby city gate from 1412 is also named for S:
Bibliographic information on Knoell's CSEL edition of Eugippius' _Vita sancti Severini_ (1886) and on Mommsen's edition of the same work in the MGH (1898) will be found here:
On the same page are a text and an English-language translation of a medieval Sapphic hymn in honor of S. as patron of Naples transmitted in a hymnary that until relatively recently was thought to have come from the monastery of Santi Severino and Sossio at Naples but is now considered to be of central Italian (Roman/Umbrian) origin.
2) Maximus of Pavia (d. 514). M. was bishop of Pavia between St. Epiphanius (d. 496) and St. Ennodius (d. 521). The latter while yet deacon wrote two brief orations on his behalf (_dictiones_ 3 and 4). In the thirteenth century Pavia celebrated M. on 9. January. A tradition preserved in the fourteenth-century _Cronaca dei re lombardi e dei vescovi di Pavia_ made him the founder of a church of San Giovanni in cemeterio (presumably the originally eighth-century and now destroyed San Giovanni in Borgo), where he and other late antique and early medieval bishops of Pavia were laid to rest.
3) Nathalan (d. later 7th cent.?). N. is a very poorly attested local saint of Deeside in today's Aberdeenshire, where late and unreliable tradition has him found several churches, places his death in 452, and has him buried at Tullich. One of the places where he is reputed to have founded a church is the site, near Cowie Castle in the town of Stonehaven, of the now abandoned chapel of St. Mary and of St. Nathalan (a.k.a Cowie Church or Cowie Chapel), consecrated in 1276. Here's a view:
An illustrated account of trhe building's architectural features is here:
4) Gudula (d. late 7th or very early 8th cent.?). The virgin G. (in Latin, also Gudila, Guodila; in Dutch, Goedele, Goele; in French, Gudule, Goule) is a popular saint of Brabant with a rather legendary mid-eleventh-century Vita by Hubert of Brabant (BHL 3684). According to Hubert, G. was the daughter of a count Witger and of St. Amalberga, was the sister of Sts. Pharaildis, Reinildis, and Emebert bishop of Cambrai, and the relative of yet other saints, not least of whom was her cousin Gertude of Nivelles, by whom she was educated. After Gertrude's death she lived piously and very ascetically with her parents at Hamme in Brabant, where she resisted diabolic temptation, died, and was buried _non sine miraculis_.
Still according to Hubert, a few years later G.'s wonder-working relics were translated to a church of the Holy Savior at nearby Moorsel, where later she was venerated by Charlemagne, who founded in that town a women's monastery dedicated to her. In the later tenth century, the monastery at Moorsel having been devastated by barbarians, G.'s relics were translated to Brussels' church of St. Gaugeric (a.k.a. Gorik, Géry), again _non sine miraculis_. Thus far this Vita. In about 1047 G.'s putative remains were moved to Brussels' collegiate church of St. Michael, shortly thereafter known as that of (St. Michael and) St. Gudula.
The opening sentence of G.'s notice in the January volume of Butler's _Lives of the Saints_ in its revision by Paul Burns (Burns & Oates; Liturgical Press, 1995; pp. 59-60) reads: "She is the patron saint of Brussels, where the great church of Sainte-Gudule, often mistaken for a cathedral, is dedicated to her." Apart from its perhaps unintentional swipe at Brussels' protector St. Michael ("the patron saint" implies that G. alone is Brussels' patron), this utterance may be thought misleading in its failure to indicate that "often mistaken" will have been true for past time only: the church in question has been a cathedral since 1962. Herewith some views, etc. of this mostly thirteenth- to fifteenth-century pile, whose eleventh-century crypt (excavated since 1991) slightly pre-dates the arrival of G.'s relics:
A ground plan and a brief architectural history are here:
A multipage, illustrated, English-language guide to the crypt begins here:
Four virtual tours of the building (not including the crypt) are available here:
This expandable view of a later fifteenth-century painting, by the Master of the View of Saint Gudula, of the Preaching of St. Gaugeric, shows one of the church's towers not yet completed:
5) Wulfsige (d. 1002). We know about the Englishman W. (also Wulfsin, Wulsin; to the Bollandists, Vulsinus) chiefly from a brief Vita by Goscelin of St.-Bertin (BHL 8753; late eleventh-century) and from several charters. Said to have been oblated as a child to the monastery of Westminster, he succeeded St. Dunstan as abbot there and later as bishop of Sherborne. At Sherborne he converted his chapter to Benedictine monasticism and secured for distribution to his secular clergy an epistle from Ælfric of Eynsham a detailed letter on pastoral care presenting the Benedictine Rule as as an ideal for the conduct of their lives. A letter to W. and two from him occur in the Sherborne Pontifical (Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 943), a late tenth-century manuscript originally from Canterbury; W. may have obtained it for his diocese. W. presided at St. Edward the Martyr's translation at Shaftesbury in 1001.
W. has yet to grace the pages of the RM. He is commemorated today in the Order of St. Benedict.
6) Lorenzo Giustiniani (d. 1456). The theologian L., a member of one of Venice's leading families, had been one of the founding secular canons of San Giorgio in Alba and was their prior when in 1433 he was made bishop of Castello (as the diocese of Venice was then called). He was prolific writer and an habitual ascetic. In 1451, after the suppression of the patriarchate of Grado, L. became the first patriarch of Venice. He was buried in his cathedral, San Pietro in Castello, where since 1649 his remains have reposed in the main altar (his cult as a _beato_ having been confirmed papally in 1524). L.'s fellow Venetian Alexander VIII is said to have canonized him in 1690, shortly before his death; official publication of this act ensued only in 1727.
L. as depicted by Gentile Bellini in a painting from 1465 now in the Galleria dell'Accademia Veneziana:
L. with other saints in a painting from ca. 1532 by Giovanni Antonio (Sacchis) da Pordenone, also in the Galleria dell'Accademia Veneziana:
(last year's post lightly revised and with the addition of Wulfsige)
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