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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  February 2010

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION February 2010

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Subject:

saints of the day 25. February

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 25 Feb 2010 10:34:53 -0600

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text/plain

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (25. February) is the feast day of:

1)  Caesarius of Nazianzus (d. 369).  A member of a very saintly family, C. studied at Alexandria and then returned home to practice medicine.  He was so successful that he was called into government service and served at Constantinople as imperial physician under Constantius II and Julian.  Members of C.'s family persuaded him to resign his post under Julian but he returned to service under Jovian and Valens.  In 368, while serving as quaestor for Bithynia, he narrowly escaped death in an earthquake.  Thus reminded that his life could be brief, C. left the imperial service and became a penitent.  He had given his fortune to the poor when in the following year he died prematurely.

We know about C. from his funeral oration by his brother, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, presented here in an English-language translation:
http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/gregnaz-caesar.html


2)  Walburg (d. 779).  The sister of Sts. Willibald and Wunibald, W. (also Walburga, Walpurga, Walpurgis) left England for Germany to assist St. Boniface in his missions.  She settled in at Tauberbischofsheim in the northeast of today's Baden-Württemberg and moved on to Heidenheim in Bavaria, where she was put in charge of the sisters at a double convent founded by Willibald.  Later she ruled the entire establishment (both sexes).  W. is the patron saint of the abbey of Sankt Walburg in Eichstätt, founded by count St. Liutger of Lechsgmünd in 1035 adjacent to a church that had housed her relics since the late ninth century.
A painting on parchment from 1360 depicting the abbey's founding:
http://tinyurl.com/2fd5jh
Late gothic statues of W. and family in the upper crypt of the Pfarrkirche St. Walburg in Eichstätt:
http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/FCU1Qw4byGrqZmJU4Jt-gg
W.'s resting place in the crypt:
http://tinyurl.com/2zpdzr

As W. is said to have been born in 710, the diocese and the abbey are celebrating a jubilee year in her honor:
http://tinyurl.com/yga29sb
An inexpensive, 152-page illustrated book on the history of the abbey has been released in conncetion with the jubilee:
Maria Magdalena Zunker OSB, _Geschichte der Benediktinerinnenabtei St. Walburg in Eichstätt von 1035 bis heute_ (Londenberg: Kunstverlag Josef Fink, 2009; ISBN 978-89870-544-8)
According to the notice at bottom here, the book is obtainable from the abbey's book store for euro 9,80 plus shipping costs: 
http://tinyurl.com/yj8ra84

Two depictions of W. in the Walburgiskirche in St.Michael in Obersteiermark (Steiermark):
a)  Glass window (ca. 1295):
http://www.burgenseite.com/faschen/walburgis_faces_11.jpg
b)  Wall painting (ca. 1300):
http://www.burgenseite.com/faschen/walburgis_faces_1.jpg

Some other dedications to W.:

a) W.'s originally twelfth- to fifteenth-century church in Oudenaarde (Oost-Vlaanderen):
http://www.trabel.com/oudenaarde/oudenaarde-walburga.htm
http://tinyurl.com/yq25lg
http://stijn.linearecta.be/images/Oudenaarde.jpg
http://www.beiaard.org/steden_ouden.html
http://tinyurl.com/yw5jon

b) the originally early twelfth-century Pfarrkirche St. Walburga in Overath (Lkr. Rheinisch-Bergischer Kreis), Nordrhein-Westfalen, expanded in the 1950s:
An illustrated, German-language page on this church:
http://www.st-walburga.de/pfarrkirche/baubeschreibung.htm
Distance view:
http://tinyurl.com/arvzx6
South side:
http://tinyurl.com/2xxbbf

c) the Burgkapelle St. Walpurgis in Nürnberg, first recorded from 1267/68 and subsequently modified:
http://tinyurl.com/26lzdb
http://www.baukunst-nuernberg.de/walpurgis.jpg

d) a well illustrated, English-language account of the mostly thirteenth- and fifteenth-century St. Walburgiskerk in Zutphen (Gelderland):
http://gelderlandchurches.tripod.com/zutphenwalburgis.html

e) a similar account of the originally fourteenth-century St. Walburgiskerk in Arnhem ("restored", 1851-55; burned out in 1944; restored, 1947-51):
http://gelderlandchurches.tripod.com/arnhemwalburg.html

f) the mostly fourteenth- and fifteenth-century St. Walburgiskirche in Großhabersdorf (Lkr. Fürth) in Bavaria:
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/1792048

g) the originally fifteenth-/early sixteenth-century Kirche St. Walburga at Ramsdorf, an _Ortsteil_ of Velen (Lkr. Borken) in Nordrhein-Wesfalen, expanded in 1912/13:
Illustrated, English-language page:
http://nieland.our-kin.com/History/Places/StWalburgaChurch.htm
Other views:
http://tinyurl.com/dmbv78
http://tinyurl.com/ah7ayf
http://tinyurl.com/ckpbz6


3)  Gerland of Agrigento (d. 1100).  G. (in Italian, Gerlando; in Sicilian, Giullannu) was the first Latin bishop of Agrigento (prior to 1927, Girgenti) after the Norman-led reconquest of Sicily.  Our only good source for him, Geoffrey Malaterra, Roger I's late eleventh-century biographer writing in Catania, calls G. "Gerlandum quendam, natione Allobrogum" ("a certain Gerland, of the Savoyard nation").  Potted lives of the saints uncritically repeat a late medieval claim that he was a relative of the Hautevilles and often perpetuate an unproven early modern conjecture identifying him with his contemporary Gerland of Besançon, the author of a treatise on the computus.  G. is today's saint of the day in the ecclesiastical region of Sicily.

Agrigento's cathedral is said to have been dedicated to G. since the fourteenth century.  Built and rebuilt from the late eleventh century to the later fourteenth (with rededications in 1315 and 1354) and again in the later seventeenth century and heavily redecorated within during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, its exterior has little medieval to show apart from a couple of windows surviving from the original structure and its unfinished fifteenth-century belltower. Front views:
http://sicilyweb.com/foto/198/198-02-57-25-9145.jpg
http://tinyurl.com/2sx8o9
A side view of the belltower:
http://fujiso3.hp.infoseek.co.jp/sc5hp/psc533.html
Detail thereof:
http://sicilyweb.com/foto/2/2-10-21-34-4027.jpg
Inside, the front part of the nave with its massive polygonal columns dates from the fourteenth century:
http://tinyurl.com/dj8992
http://tinyurl.com/dmnjql
G. at rest within his church:
http://tinyurl.com/ap4g5w

A view of the portal of the fourteenth(?)-century ex-chiesa di San Gerlando at Sciacca (AG), deconsecrated in 1955:
http://tinyurl.com/ynqyh3

Back at Agrigento (a place "saints of the day" doesn't get to all that often), some other medieval ecclesiastical buildings of note:

a) Santa Maria dei Greci (eleventh-century; said to have been G.'s first cathedral; built over a fifth-century BCE temple; thirteenth-century portal):
http://static.panoramio.com/photos/original/1159309.jpg
http://www.dibaio.com/dbweb/agrigento/img/foto01.jpg
http://www.dibaio.com/dbweb/agrigento/img/foto03.jpg
http://tinyurl.com/yfbgv6t
http://www.dibaio.com/dbweb/agrigento/img/foto04.jpg
Plan:
http://tinyurl.com/39pfe5

b) San Biagio (originally twelfth-century; built over part of the base of a fifth-century BCE temple of Demeter):
http://tinyurl.com/yjpv9ow
http://static.panoramio.com/photos/original/20031986.jpg
http://fujiso3.hp.infoseek.co.jp/sc5hp/psc529.html
http://tinyurl.com/yjamw2n

c)  San Nicola (originally thirteenth-century, Cistercian; sixteenth-century buttresses; its former monastery is the home of Agrigento's Museo Archeologico Nazionale).  An illustrated, Italian-language account is here (NB: the expanded views can be slow to load):
http://www.italyguides.it/img/med/ag_valle_templi24.jpg
Other views (some calling this church San Biagio or San Cataldo!):
http://sicilyweb.com/foto/2/2-03-18-12-9978.jpg
http://www.flickr.com/photos/proust2000/2065964888/sizes/o/
http://tinyurl.com/yz8my6l
http://www.viaggiscoop.it/foto/207/3598/29138.jpg
http://www.viaggiscoop.it/foto/207/3598/29139.jpg
http://tinyurl.com/y9rnahm
http://www.viaggiscoop.it/foto/207/3598/29137.jpg
http://www.italyguides.it/img/med/ag_valle_templi25.jpg

d)  The originally thirteenth-century, now abandoned ex-chiesa di San Giorgio degli Oblati:
http://tinyurl.com/yjhroun
http://www.agrigentogigas.it/LENTA/CHIESA%20OBLATI.HTML

e) Santo Spirito (Cistercian convent first attested from 1295, now a museum; exterior portions of church and remains of cloister):
http://www.flickr.com/photos/33897054@N06/3887455870/sizes/l/
http://www.lavalledeitempli.it/SantoSpirito_Monastero.htm
http://tinyurl.com/43vl8
http://www.fujiso.com/sc5hp/psc532.html
http://tinyurl.com/ykvtmv7
http://www.santospiritoag.com/cenni_storici.html


4)  Robert of Arbrissel (Bl.; d. 1116).  We know about the monastic founder R. chiefly from two closely posthumous Vitae (BHL 7259, 7260), the first by Baldricus, archbishop of Dol (better known to some as Baudri of Bourgeuil; BHL 7259) and the second by Andreas, a monk of Fontevrault; this survives in an abbreviated Latin version (BHL 7260) and, in fuller form, in a sixteenth-century French translation.  R. was born at today's Arbrissel (Ille-et-Vilaine) in Brittany, where he succeeded his father as the village priest.  After study in Paris R. was for four years archpriest at Rennes, where he is said both to have settled quarrels and to have pursued the sort of reform agenda that is likely to have provoked ill feelings (e.g. opposing lay ownership of churches, simony, and married priests).

The appointment of a new bishop led to a change of venue.  R. taught for a few years at Angers, after which became an hermit in the forest of Craon, where in short order he founded a community of canons and developed a reputation as an exceptionally effective preacher.  In 1095 Urban II heard R. preach at Angers and, it is said, commanded him to devote himself to preaching.  R. pursued this course for the remainder of his life, traveling from place to place and attracting a following of both sexes, with some of whom he is said to have slept (chastely in the view of his defenders, sinfully in the view of his detractors).  In 1101 he founded a double monastery -- with the women clearly outnumbering the men -- at today's Fontevraud-l'Abbaye (Maine-et-Loire) in Pays de la Loire.

When in 1115 R. ceased to direct the community he placed it under the rule of an abbess.  R. wrote a Rule that was adopted by other houses that became priories of this mother house in what quickly became the Order of Fontevraud with many new foundations.  The Rule was approved by Calixtus II in 1119.  Andreas' Vita probably was submitted with it in the hope of a canonization that never came.  R. entered the RM in 2001 at the level of _Beatus_.  

A view of the originally eleventh-century église Notre-Dame de l'Assomption at Arbrissel, where R. began his sacerdotal career:
http://tinyurl.com/ae822o

Some views of the originally twelfth-century abbey church of Fontevrault/Fontevraud, restored in the later twentieth century after having served, along with other monastic buildings, as a prison from the late eighteenth century onward.  R. had been buried next to the main altar.  Now the place is famous for its _gisants_ of some later notables.
http://tinyurl.com/byybw4
http://tinyurl.com/ygwjdxs
http://tinyurl.com/kmamko

Best,
John Dillon
(last year's post revised)

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