medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (28. February) is the feast day of:
1) Marana and Cyra (d. ca. 455?). We know about M. and C. from the _Historia religiosa_ of Theodoret of Cyr(r)hus. They were holy women of Beroea in Syria (today's Aleppo/Halab) who acquired a small house outside of town and immured themselves in it, living a life of extreme asceticism and self-mortification. They received food and wake-up calls from devoted maidservants for whom they erected a smaller, attached house and with whom they conversed through a communicating window. Theodoret's portrait of these hermits presents them as still living at the time of his writing (early 440s).
Cardinal Baronio entered M. and C. in the RM under 3. August. Byzantine synaxaries usually recorded them on today's date; the RM's latest version (2001, rev. 2005) has followed suit.
2) Romanus of Condat (d. ca. 465). We know about R. chiefly from the early sixth-century _Vita patrum jurensium_. By the time of Gregory of Tours' _Vita patrum_ some seventy years later he was already fading into legend. Around 435 R., who was then perhaps in his mid-thirties, decided to imitate the life of the Eastern desert fathers in the fastnesses of the Jura, where he established an hermitage at a place called Condidasco, now Saint-Claude in the Swiss canton of Jura. He attracted followers, notably his brother St. Lupicinus, and in time they founded other monastic colonies in the region. In 444 R. was ordained priest by St. Hilarius of Arles at a council in Besançon.
One of R.'s foundations was a community of women ruled over by his sister Iola (Yole) that overlooked the gorge of La Balme at today's Pratz (canton Jura). In his extreme old age R. died there on what had been intended as a farewell visit. The originally thirteenth-century chapelle de Saint-Romain-de-Roche at Pratz marks the traditional location of his grave:
A brief, French-language account of the monastery of Condat and its successors is here:
R. is said to have founded, in the middle of the fifth century, a monastery at today's Romainmôtier-Envy (canton Vaud) that was destroyed in the sixth century by Alamanni and re-founded in 632. In the early tenth century it was given to the reformed Benedictines of Cluny, who operated it as a priory. In the fifteenth century, when it was in the gift of the counts of Savoy, it regained abbatial status. An illustrated, German-language page on this house is here:
Many views of Romainmôtier's eleventh- to fifteenth-century buildings are here:
More views of the church:
The third view from left in the lower row is of the church's ambo, a survivor from this building's eighth-century predecessor.
Two views of the mid-fifteenth-century sculptures of R. and his brother St. Lupicinus in the choir stalls of the cathedral of Saint-Pierre, Saint-Paul et Saint-André at Saint-Claude, formerly the abbey church of Saint-Oyend:
Today (28. February), this year not being bisextile, is also the feast day of the following saints of 29. February:
1) Hilarus, pope (d. 468). According to the _Liber Pontificalis_, H. (also Hilarius) was a Sard. As deacon at Rome he was one of pope St. Leo I's legates to the second council of Ephesus (the-called Robber Council) in 449. After the latter's condemnation and deposition of the papally supported bishop of Constantinople, the recently celebrated (17. February) St. Flavian, H. had difficulty in safely getting out of Ephesus. By 455/56 Leo had elevated him to archdeacon. In that year and the next H., assisted by Victorius of Limoges, worked at papal command on a new method of computing the date of Easter, producing a paschal cycle that was accepted in Italy and in Gaul but nowhere else.
H. succeeded Leo as bishop of Rome in 461. During his papacy he opposed the spread of Arianism in Italy, dealt with overreaching bishops in Gaul, and worked on restoring ecclesiastical properties in the Eternal City, then still recovering from the Vandal sack of Rome (455).
H.'s chief monuments are the chapels of St. John the Evangelist and St. John the Baptist added during his reconstruction of the Lateran Baptistery, the former fulfilling of a vow he had made at the Evangelist's great church at Ephesus when he was attempting to leave that city unharmed in 449. One of the images on this page (the one just above the Barberini bee) is a view of H.'s name inscribed on his bronze door to the chapel of St. John the Baptist:
Gillian Mackie's _Early Christian Chapels in the West: Decoration, Function and Patronage_ (Univ. of Toronto Press, 2003), discusses these chapels on pp. 195-211.
2) Oswald of Worcester (d. 992). A leading figure of the tenth-century Benedictine reform in England, O. was a nephew of St. Oda the Severe, archbishop of Canterbury, from whom he received some of his early training, and a more distant relative of Oscytel, archbishop of York, who became his patron after Oda's death. O. made his monastic profession at Fleury-sur-Loire and was a monk there until the very early 960s when he was named bishop of Worcester.
At Worcester, though O. founded a monastery next to the cathedral he seems not to have converted his chapter into a monastic one (as was alleged in the twelfth century). He also founded Ramsey Abbey on an island in the fens in today's Cambridgeshire and re-founded Winchcombe Abbey in his own diocese. In 971 or 972 O. was elevated to the archbishopric of York but kept much wealthier Worcester, which is where he died. A cult sprang up almost immediately. O. has an early Vita ascribed to Byrhtferth of Ramsey (BHL 6374; between 997 and 1002) and a fuller Vita et Miracula by Eadmer (BHL 6375-76; ca. 1115), who was asked to write it by the monks of Worcester. His _dies natalis_ is 29. February.
The fifth item here is an expandable view of a page in the so-called Ramsey Psalter, said by Nicholas Brooks in his Oxford DNB entry on O. (v. 42, pp. 79-84) "likely to have been made for Oswald's own use at York or Worcester":
A page of views of Worcester Cathedral:
This is very largely a twelfth- and thirteenth-century building, restored in the nineteenth century.
A view of the remains of Ramsey Abbey's fifteenth-century gatehouse:
3) Antonia of Florence (Bl.; d. 1472). Today's less well known holy person of the Regno, A. was married young and widowed young. Although she had a son to care for, she opposed her family's insistence that she remarry; instead, influenced by the preaching of St. Bernardino of Siena, she became a Franciscan tertiary in a recently founded monastery in her native Florence. From 1430 to 1433 she was at various Franciscan houses in Umbria and from 1433 to 1447 she was abbess of a Franciscan convent at today's L'Aquila (AQ) in Abruzzo. In the latter year, acting with the assistance of St. John of Capestrano, A. established an Observant-oriented house of Poor Clares in the same city, becoming its abbess and living with even greater austerity than before. Miracles were reported immediately after her death and a cult arose.
Five years after A.'s death, when her body was discovered to be incorrupt, her cult was approved by the local bishop. Papal confirmation followed in 1848. For the last six years or so A.'s body has reposed at the convent of Santa Chiara in L'Aquila's _frazione_ of Paganica. When this photograph was taken she will still have been in the same city's convento dell'Eucarestia:
In this view she's in Paganica's convent church of Santa Chiara, also called that of the Beata Antonia:
Santa Chiara has an early sixteenth-century (1516) choir made by Milanese artisans; the frescoes there are from the later sixteenth century, beyond the remit of this list. The dividing wall between the portion of the church reserved for the Clares and the portion for other faithful is frescoed with a Crucifixion and Saints from the earlier sixteenth century (in the first of these views A.'s tomb is visible along the left-hand side of the dividing wall as one faces it):
More views on this page and the next (left click only):
Although the Haitian earthquake and this morning's / yesterday's (depending on one's time zone) earthquake in Chile have happened since, it is still worth noting that only last April there was a very destructive earthquake in the Aquilano. Paganica was at its epicenter. These views (the first two taken earlier than the others) show structural damage both to the church of Santa Chiara and to the adjacent convent:
For some idea of the destruction that occurred in Paganica's historic center, see the second video on this page:
or this one:
(last year's post revised)
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