medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (17. March) is the feast day of:
1) Patrick (d. 5th cent.). P. is the apostle of Ireland and one of its patron saints. The son of a deacon and the grandson of a priest, he was captured at the age of sixteen from his home town in Britannia by pirates who sold him into slavery in Ireland. He toiled for six years as a herdsman before escaping and returning home. Later he experienced a nocturnal vision in which he was recalled by the Irish to minister unto them. After further divine prompting, P. returned to engage in pastoral activities of that sort (chiefly, it would seem, in Ulster). We have two genuine writings by him, the _Confession_ and the _Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus_. English-language translations of these are here:
By the seventh century, when his Vita by St. Muirchu (BHL 6497) will have been written, P. was already the stuff of legend. Armagh claimed to have his remains and promoted his cult. A notable relic of this activity is the ninth-century Book of Armagh (now Trinity College, Dublin, Ms. 52), which in addition to the Gospels and other New Testament texts contains Muirchu's Vita of P., another by bishop Tirechan (BHL 6496; late seventh- or early eighth-century), and other writings bearing on P. A page of this manuscript is shown here:
The Book of Armagh was long kept in an eighth-century satchel originally crafted for a larger book:
Another relic associated with P. is the very early (late sixth-century?) handbell known as the Black Bell of St. Patrick and now kept, along with its late eleventh- or very early twelfth-century shrine, in the National Museum in Dublin. Views of both the bell and the shrine are here:
Another view of the bell:
P. is the patron saint of Patrick in the Isle of Man, where the remains of an originally tenth- or eleventh-century church dedicated to him are enclosed within the walls of Peel Castle on St Patrick's Isle. In the aerial views shown here, the ruin in question is visible between the round tower and the remains of the cathedral of St. German:
In this view it is the building at top center:
An illustrated account of the several stages of construction of this church is here:
Better views of the cathedral:
A distance view of the islet:
Early matter in a widely read and much translated and adapted later twelfth-century account of the otherworld entitled _Tractatus de Purgatorio Sancti Patricii_ related how Purgatory was revealed to P. Here's P.'s vision of Purgatory as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century copy (ca. 1301-1350), with illuminations attributed to the Fauvel Master, of a collection of French-language saint's lives (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 183, fol. 242v):
P. preaching as depicted in another earlier fourteenth-century copy (ca. 1326-1350) of a collection of French-language saint's lives (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 185, fol. 186v):
In Jacopo da Varazze's later thirteenth-century _Legenda aurea_ the entrance to St. Patrick's Purgatory was through a well. Here are P. and the well as depicted in a late fifteenth-century copy (ca. 1480-1490) of the _Legenda aurea_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 244, fol. 104v):
Still within our time period, the city of Orvieto (TR) in Umbria has a very deep well constructed between 1527 and 1537 at the behest of Clement VII by the architect Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and called locally, as though it were an entrance to Purgatory, the Pozzo di San Patrizio ("Saint Patrick's Well"). This has a fenestrated central shaft around which course two spiral ramps, one for mules descending to the water and the other for mules going back up with a load of water. A page of expandable views:
2) Agricola of Chalon-sur-Saône (d. ca. 580). We know about A. (in French: Agricole, Agrèle, Arègle) chiefly from a brief notice in St. Gregory of Tours' _Historia Francorum_ (5. 45) and from incidental information in the same author's treatment of St. Desideratus of Chalon-sur-Saône in his _In gloria confessorum_ (cap. 85). A. came from a senatorial family, spoke with eloquence though he had little education in the humanities, practiced abstinence from meals, erected many buildings in his city, established just outside it a leprosarium with a church to serve it (into which he translated the aforementioned Desideratus), and died at the age of eighty-three after having been bishop of Chalon for almost forty-eight years. His presence is recorded at several councils. St. Venantius Fortunatus recounts in his Vita of St. Germanus of Paris how A. successfully obtained from the latter the healing of one of his servants.
A.'s cult at Chalon-sur-Saône is first attested from 878, when his relics and those of his city's bishop St. Sylvester were translated from Chalon's church of St. Marcellus to the abbey church of St. Peter in the same city. A later fifteenth-century calendar in a Book of Hours for the Use of Chalon-sur-Saône (København, Det Kongelige Bibliotek, ms. Thott 536) records his commemoration on 28. July.
3) Gertrude of Nivelles (d. 659?). Getrude was a daughter of Pepin of Landen and of his wife, St. Itta; she was thus also a sister of St. Begga. After Pepin's death Itta founded a double monastery at today's Nivelles (prov. de Brabant Wallon) in Belgium and entered it along with G., who became abbess. In about 670 a monk of Nivelles wrote the first of G.'s Vitae (BHL 3490), setting forth her knowledge of Scripture, her works of charity, and her miracles. Her cult spread widely in the Low Countries and in adjacent areas.
G.'s monastery has disappeared without trace. Herewith some views of Nivelles' originally eleventh-century collégiale dedicated to her, now rebuilt after extensive bombing damage sustained early in World War II:
An illustrated, German-language page on the originally later fourteenth-century Pfarrkirche St. Gertrudis in Horstmar (Lkr. Steinfurt) in Germany's Land Nordrhein-Westfalen:
A page of views of the originally late fifteenth-century St. Gertrudiskerk in Workum (Fr) in The Netherlands:
4) Paul of Cyprus (d. ca. 760). We know about P. from the account of his sufferings in the early ninth-century Bios of St. Stephen the Younger (BHG 1666) as well as from brief notices in Byzantine menaia. Cardinal Baronio knew about P only from one or more of the latter. These don't give P.'s place of martyrdom. Baronio, entering P. in the early RM, guessed wrongly that the place was Constantinople. Until its revision of 2001 the RM commemorated P. as Paul of Constantinople.
According to Stephen's Bios, P. was a victim of iconoclastic persecution. Arrested on Cyprus, he is said to have resisted all efforts to abjure holy icons, to have been flayed with iron carding combs, and then to have been burnt to death over a slow flame. In the dramatic economy of the Bios, P. will have predeceased Stephen (d. 764) by several years.
5) Conrad of Bavaria (Bl.; d. 1154, traditionally). Today's less well known holy person of the Regno is said to have been a son of duke Henry IX of Bavaria (Heinrich der Schwarze) and to have been educated at Weingarten abbey (a relatively recent foundation of his Welf family) and later at Köln, where he studied theology under the protection of the archbishop (a paternal cousin). Recruited into the Cistercian Order either in 1125/26 or in 1147, C. (in Italian, Corrado) soon undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land but fell ill either before he could depart from Italy or shortly after his return. C.'s last days were spent near today's Modugno (BA) in Apulia at, it is thought, the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria ad Cryptam, in whose cave church (first recorded from 1189) he is said to have been buried, either in 1126 (recent conjecture) or in 1154 (traditional view).
At some point, seemingly after the suppression of Santa Maria ad Cryptam in 1309, the diocese of Molfetta took possession of C.'s relics and translated them to its then cathedral. With this translation C.'s cult enters history. A fourteenth-century missal from Molfetta preserves a Mass for the feast of the translation of Saint Conrad the Confessor, celebrated on 9. February. That is still the day of C.'s liturgical celebration in the diocese of Molfetta and of his civic festival in Molfetta proper (C. is the patron saint of both jurisdictions). Today is his traditional _dies natalis_, commemorated as such at Molfetta (BA) and in the RM. C.'s cult was confirmed under Gregory XVI in 1832, with the issuance of a new Mass following two years later. The belief in Molfetta (not shared by editors of the RM) is that this confirmation was at the level of Saint.
In 1785 C.'s relics were translated to Molfetta's present cathedral, where his skull is preserved in a seventeenth-century reliquary bust. The latter recently underwent restoration, during which time the skull had to be removed. Photographs of the skull when it was being removed in August 2007 are here:
and a gallery of photographs of the skull's ceremonial return to the reliquary on 9. February 2008 is here (click on the numbers under the view of the cutting of the ribbon):
Molfetta's previous cathedral, built in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, is now dedicated to C. Herewith some illustrated, Italian-language accounts of this structure, a major element of a proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site, Romanesque Cathedrals in Puglia:
An Italian-language site, with plans (some are expandable), section, and views:
At Modugno the ex-monastic site of Santa Maria ad Cryptam morphed over time into today's Santuario di Santa Maria della Grotta. Its cave church was restored in 1974. Here's an Italian-language account noting its medieval remains:
A view of part of the twelfth-century mosaic pavement:
A plan showing the extent of the remaining fragments of the pavement:
A view of a service taking place in part of the grotto:
Another view (not the same occasion):
After centuries of progressive decline as an ecclesiastical property the Santuario was secularized in the 1800s and converted into a villa. In the twentieth century it was bought by its present owners, the Rogationist Fathers. Here's an exterior view (the base of the tower is a medieval survival):
(last year's post revised)
To join the list, send the message: join medieval-religion YOUR NAME
to: [log in to unmask]
To send a message to the list, address it to:
[log in to unmask]
To leave the list, send the message: leave medieval-religion
to: [log in to unmask]
In order to report problems or to contact the list's owners, write to:
[log in to unmask]
For further information, visit our web site: