medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (27. February) is the feast day of:
1) Julian and Besas (d. 259). J. and B. are martyrs of the anti-Christian riots in Alexandria in the year preceding the Decian persecution. According to Eusebius (_Historia ecclesiastica_ 6. 41) or, more precisely, to an account by St. Dionysius of Alexandria from which Eusebius quotes, J. and one of his slaves (Eunus; no longer commemorated in the RM) were bound to camels and whipped through the city, after which they were killed by having quicklime poured over them. B. was a soldier who tried to protect them; he was decapitated.
Günther Zuntz has a brief, lucid, and methodologically instructive article on the text of Eusebius' description of the manner of J.'s death, "A Textual Note on Eusebius, _Hist. Eccl._ VI. 41. 15", _Vigiliae Christianae_ 5 (1951), 50-54.
2) Honorina (?). H. is a poorly documented saint of the lower Seine, honored in the dioceses of Bayeux and Rouen. She has an undated legendary Passio (BHL 3981; not later than the twelfth century) modeled on that of St. Dorothea of Caesarea in Cappadocia as well as a twelfth-century translation account (BHL 3983) describing the ninth-century removal, under the threat of raids by Northmen, of her relics from a monastery at Gerardivilla to the _castrum_ at Confluentinum, today's Conflans-Sainte-Honorine at the confluence of the Seine and the Oise. In the 1080s a church dedicated to H. was erected at Conflans, where in 1250 her relics were accorded a formal recognition.
H.'s relics survived the Revolution. In 1801 they were deposited ceremoniously in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine's originally late eleventh-century church of Saint-Maclou. Views of this edifice are here:
The monastery whence these relics came will have been a predecessor of the twelfth-century and later Augustinian priory dedicated to H. at modern Graville, now part of Le Havre (Seine-Maritime), whose surviving church is said to be originally of the late eleventh or very early twelfth century. An English-language account of the latter is here:
Nine expandable views:
Some very good older photos are here (nos. B000378-B000385):
Visitors may see a sarcophagus said to have been H.'s (discovered in this church in 1867):
Another dedication to H. is the originally eleventh-century église Saint-Clair et Sainte-Honorine at Mutrécy (Calvados):
Its fact sheet from Patrimoine de France:
At Conflans-Sainte-Honorine H. is celebrated liturgically on the last Sunday in February. She is the patron saint of Conflans and a patron of boatmen.
3) Baldomerus (d. later 7th cent.?). B. (also Baldimerus, Waldimerus; in French, Baudemer, Waldimer, Galmier, etc.) is recorded under this day in the ninth-century martyrologies of Florus of Lyon, St. Ado of Vienne, and Usuard as a man of God who died at Lyon and whose tomb is famous for many miracles. The earliest witness to his brief, legendary Vita (BHL 899) is dated to the late ninth century and bears witness to his reputation for miracles at his burial site, which latter it places in Lyon's monastery of St. Justus.
According to that Vita, B. was an humble and pious blacksmith of modest countenance and bearing who resided in Lyons, who wore mean clothing and mean shoes, who prayed constantly, and who was chaste, a true friend, alert at readings, careful to perform vigils, and generous to the poor. (If some of these seem to be particularly monastic virtues, that is because the Vita is being slightly proleptic at this point.) One day abbot Viventius of the aforementioned monastery encountered B. in a village, sensed that this was a man of God, and asked him to join his community. B. agreed and later consented very unwillingly to be ordained subdeacon (by the mid-seventh-century bishop Gaudricus or Gaudericus, which is why B. is dated as he is). He chose a poor cell, lived very sparingly, and fed genuinely wild birds at mealtimes. B. prayed daily for the city and for those who dwelt in it, as well as for the abbot. Many miraculous cures occurred at his grave. Thus far the Vita.
Some views of the originally fifteenth-century (1421-1471) église Saint-Galmier about sixty kilometers distant from Lyon in Saint-Galmier (Loire) in France's région Rhône-Alpes (the facade is early twentieth-century):
Other views of the interior (showing some very colorful modern stained glass):
Several interior views (including one showing a remainder of the jubé) start about a third of the way down this page:
4) Basil the Confessor and Procopius the Decapolite (d. 820s?). The monks B. (who is not to be confused with St. Basil of Parium, also called Basil the Confessor) and P. have brief, separate notices in the Synaxary of Constantinople under today (P.) and tomorrow (B.). These present them as resisters to iconoclasm who were physically abused and imprisoned together under an iconoclast emperor and who were released only after his death. B.'s notice calls the emperor "Leo the Iconoclast". Whereas for a long time it was widely assumed that the worthy in question was Leo III (717-741), recent scholarship prefers Leo V (813-820). These saints' reassignment to the period of Second rather than First Iconoclasm has led to their identification with correspondents of St. Theodore the Stoudite: B. as the hegumen to whom _Ep._ 389 Fatouros is addressed and P. as his homonym of _Ep._ 69 Fatouros.
P. has a brief Bios (BHG 1583) that will have been written between the later ninth-century date of the Bios of St. Theodore the Stoudite by Michael the Monk, from which it borrows, and the twelfth-century date of its earliest witness. Offering no chronological or geographic indications, this tells us that its hero was an iconophile monk who spent seven years as a desert solitary before founding a monastery and who had resumed life as an hermit when he was arrested under an iconoclast emperor. The latter had P. whipped and then exiled; P. outlived his persecutor but died in his place of exile. Thus far P.'s Bios.
5) Gregory of Narek (d. early 11th cent.). The Armenian G. (in Armenian, Grigor Narekatsi; often simply Narek) was born ca. 950. The son of a bishop, he was educated by an older male relative who was the head of a monastery at the village of Narek on the shore of Lake Van in what is now southeastern Turkey. G. spent most of his life at Narek, where he wrote both a mystical commentary on the Armenian version of the Song of Songs and a great deal of religious poetry that has become classical in Armenian culture, most notably his _Book of Prayers_ or _Book of Lamentations_ (often referred to simply as "the Narek").
G. as depicted in illuminations in a later twelfth-century (1173) manuscript from Cilicia of the _Book of Prayers_ (Yerevan, Matenadaran MS 1568):
The introduction to Thomas J. Samuelian's translation of G.'s _Book of Prayers_ is here:
And the translation itself is here (use the menu at left for the individual poems):
6) Luke of Messina (d. 1149). Today's less well known saint of the Regno was a monk at what in the first decades of the twelfth century was the leading Greek-rite house in Roger II's domains, St. Bartholomew of Simeri's Nea Hodegetria outside of Rossano in southern Calabria. At some time before Bartholomew's death in 1130 (after which his monastery would become known in his honor as Agia Theotokos tou Patir (or, more simply, the Patirion), Roger asked him to direct the monastery he had been building since 1122 near the tip of the Lingua Phari ('Lighthouse Tongue'), the curving spit of land that forms one side of Messina's harbor and that suggested to ancient Greeks one of the city's earlier names, Zankle ("Sickle"). Bartholomew, who was getting on in years, declined but proposed L. instead.
Roger seems to have accepted, for shortly before 1130 L. crossed the Strait of Messina with a dozen other monks and the material items (vessels, service books, etc.) required for establishing a functioning monastery. Finding no monks to greet them at the still unfinished complex, they settled in and began work at what under L.'s direction and Roger's command would be, from 1131 on, the mother house (_mandra_) of many Greek monasteries in Sicily and of a number in Calabria as well. There was already a small church on the site, vowed by Roger I in gratitude for his conquest of Messina and dedicated to the Holy Savior. The monastery took the church's name and as San(tissimo) Salvatore in/de Lingua Phari (or, latinizing the latter's Greek equivalent, _in acroterio_) it became the island's leading exponent of Greek-language religious culture.
L.'s founder's typikon for the monasteries under his jurisdiction gives in its preface a brief but highly interesting account of the establishment of San(tissimo) Salvatore in Lingua Phari. Timothy Miller's annotated English-language translation of this document is no. 26 here:
L.'s disciplinary typikon survives in a sixteenth-century Calabrian translation written in the Greek alphabet at the monastery of San Bartolomeo di Trigona outside of today's Sant'Eufemia d'Aspromonte (RC) in Calabria. It is edited in Katherine Douramani, ed., _Il typikon del monastero di S. Bartolomeo di Trigona_ (Roma: Pontificio Istituto Orientale, 2003; Orientalia Christiana Analecta, no. 269), pp. 316-20. San(tissmo) Salvatore in Lingua Phari's liturgical typikon was edited in 1969 by Miguel Arranz, who thought its manuscript to be in L.'s own hand (a view since questioned by others). See Arranz, ed., _Le typicon du monastère du Saint-Sauveur à Messine, Codex Messinensis GR 115, A. D. 1131_ (Roma: Pontificio Istituto Orientale, 1969; Orientalia Christiana Analecta, no. 185).
L.'s monastery on the Lingua Phari (now the Punta San Ranieri) was confiscated in 1546 by Charles V, who converted it into a fort. An explosion and fire in 1549 destroyed most of the monastic structures; what remained was removed or built over in what even today is a restricted-access military site. A distance view of the harbor, with the Punta San Ranieri to the right of center, is here:
Some closer views of the site itself:
The inscription visible in those last views, but not in this one, which shows the bastion undergoing restoration:
, reads in full: VOS ET IPSAM CIVITATEM / BENEDICIMUS
According to Messinese legend, this is how in the year 42 the BVM ended her letter to the faithful of the city, already largely converted by St. Paul. Not every port can display such august paleochristian recognition.
(last year's post lightly revised and with the additions of Baldomerus and Basil the Confessor and Procopius the Decapolite)
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