medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (18. March) is the feast day of:
1) Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 386). The theologian C. became bishop of Jerusalem in about 349 and was soon in conflict with his metropolitan, Acacius of Caesarea, who twice managed to get him deposed for about a year. In 367 his general support of Nicene orthodoxy caused him to be ejected by the Arian emperor Valens (d. 378). Though he again returned to his see, this time his exile lasted longer. C. was present at the First Council of Constantinople (381), where he accepted the term _homoousios_ ("consubstantial") as defining the relationship of the Son to the Father. In his surviving _Catechetical Lectures_, which are much earlier (recently re-dated from 348-50 to 351), C. avoids this word. These doctrinal addresses to catechumens in the period before Easter were probably heard by many others as well. The _Itinerarium Egeriae_ contains an admiring account of such instruction at Jerusalem in the early 380s.
An English-language translation of C.'s _Catechetical Lectures_ is here:
For their re-dating to 351, see Alexis Doval, "The Date of Cyril of Jerusalem's Catecheses", _Journal of Theological Studies_ 48 (1997), 129-32
C. as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century (1330s) frescoes of the church of the Hodegetria in the Patriarchate of Peć at Peć in, depending on one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:
In the late thirteenth century someone eager to give St. Jerome a respectable number of miracles produced fictitious correspondence purportedly written by J.'s disciple St. Eusebius of Cremona, by St. Augustine of Hippo, and by C. (PL, vol. 22, cols. 239-326) that provided just such wonders. A passage in one of these letters (pseudo-Eusebius, _De morte Hieronymi ad Damasum_, cap. 53) underlies the identification of the right-hand scene in this predella panel by Sano di Pietro from his Gesuati Polyptych of 1444, now in the Louvre, as [the spirit of] St. Jerome appearing to C. in a vision:
That identification is given so frequently in Web-based reproductions of this panel painting, including one in the French government's own database Joconde (search for SANO di Pietro)
that I suspect its source to be none other than the Musée du Louvre.
Still, in Cyril's vision C. is said to have been at prayer in his cell. One may rather think that the bishop in this panel is not Cyril but instead Augustine, whose first experience of the just-deceased Jerome, though auditory and not visual, occurred when A. was in his cell engaged in writing a letter to J. (pseudo-Augustine, Ad Cyrillum Ierosolymitanum episcopum, de magnificentiis beati Hieronymi_, passage at PL 22, col. 284). That seems to be the activity shown here. Moreover, the bishop, the bishop's garb, and the writing desk with its impedimenta are identical in this scene and in another from the same predella where the bishop is clearly Augustine. Helen I. Roberts, "St. Augustine in "St. Jerome's Study": Carpaccio's Painting and Its Legendary Source", _The Art Bulletin_ 41 (1959), 283-297, at p. 289 refers to the present panel as "the death of Jerome and his first visit to Augustine."
2) Frigidian of Lucca (d. ca. 588). We know about F. from the _Dialogues_ of St. Gregory the Great. According to G. (_Dialogi_, 3. 9), F. was a bishop of Lucca, a city then menaced by frequent flooding from the river Ausarit (also Ausur or Auser; anciently in two branches, one of which is today's Serchio). F. solved the problem by taking up a small rake and then commanding the river, now miraculously compliant, to follow a new course that he traced with the agricultural implement that has since become his defining iconographic attribute. Early spellings of F.'s name vary considerably. The original form seems to have been Frigidianus, though Frigianus (i.e., "Phrygian") is another possibility. After many centuries the form Fridianus won out. Today F. is known all over Tuscany as San Frediano.
Early medieval uncertainty over F.'s place of origin included a belief that he might have been Irish. Already present in the second version (ninth- or tenth-century) of his Vita, this had hardened to a certainty in the twelfth or thirteenth century, when an already expanded Vita was again enlarged to include material deriving from that of the Irish saint Findian. For consideration of this and many other matters pertaining to F. and his cult see Gabriele Zaccagnini, ed., _Vita Sancti Fridiani. Contributi di storia e di agiografia lucchese medioevale_ (Lucca: M. Pacini Fazzi, 1989). Today is F.'s traditional _dies natalis_. Probably to avoid a major feast in Lent, the diocese of Lucca has long celebrated F. primarily on 18. November (a commemoration of the Inventio of his relics). Until its revision of 2001, that is also where F. was in the RM.
A co-patron of Lucca, F. now reposes in that city's mostly twelfth-century church named after him (seemingly not the first on this site), the basilica di San Frediano. Distance views of this church:
Facade views (the facade and the restored mosaic it supports are both of the thirteenth century):
Baptismal font (twelfth-century; the first and fourth images are expandable):
Sculptures (1419-22) by Jacopo della Quercia in the Cappella Trenta:
Jacopo's tomb slab for Lorenzo Trenta:
Views of F.'s originally eleventh-century church in Pisa:
F.'s miraculous diversion of the river takes up three predella panels of Fra Filippo Lippi's now dismembered Barbadori altarpiece for Santo Spirito in Florence (predella now in the Uffizi; central panel in the Louvre; painting from the 1437-1438):
At left, kneeling (St. Augustine at right) on the central panel:
Amico Aspertini's fresco (ca. 1508-1512) of F. diverting the river, in Lucca's basilica di San Frediano:
3) Braulio (d. 651). The scholarly bishop B. belonged to an ecclesiastically influential aristocratic family in the Visigothic kingdom: his father later became a bishop (probably of Osma), one of his sisters was an abbess, and an older brother was bishop of Zaragoza from 619 to 631. B. was educated at, and became a monk of, his city's monastery of St. Engratia. When he was about thirty he traveled to Seville and there became a student of his future friend St. Isidore, on whose encyclopedia, the _Etymologiae_, he collaborated staring in about 630.
In 631 B. succeeded his brother in the see of Zaragoza. He took part in several Iberian synods, conducted an extensive correspondence some of which has survived, wrote a brief Vita of St. Aemilian of the Cowl and a hymn in honor of the same saint and is the probable author of the Passio of the Martyrs of Zaragoza. The Passiones of other Iberian martyrs have been ascribed to him. At Isidore's request, B. completed and edited Isidore's _Etymologiae_. He also added to Isidore's _De viris illustribus_ a _Renotatio_ containing both a sketch of I. and a catalogue of the latter's works. St. Ildefonsus of Toledo (d. 667) devotes to B. a brief chapter of his own _De viris illustribus_.
B.'s cult appears to have begun with an Inventio of his remains at Zaragoza in about 1120. He is a patron both of Zaragoza and of Aragon as a whole.
B. (at left) as depicted in a later tenth-century copy of Isidore's _Etymologiae_ (Einsiedeln, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. 167):
The former monastery church of Santa Engracia in Zaragoza, now a parish church, was built into a paleochristian necropolis and has been rebuilt several times. Herewith views of two earlier fourth-century, Christian-themed sarcophagi that have been brought up from its crypt:
4) Edward the Martyr (d. 978). The older son of the Anglo-Saxon king Edgar the Peaceable, E. (Eadweard) succeeded to the throne in 975 at about the age of twelve. He was assassinated while on a visit to his half-brother and successor Æthelred at Corfe Castle in Dorset. The archbishop of Canterbury, St. Dunstan, proclaimed his sanctity. On 13. February 979 E.'s body (later said to have been incorrupt) was formally translated to Shaftesbury Abbey, where on 20. June 1001 it was ceremoniously enshrined. In 1008 a law of king Æthelred mandated today as E.'s feast day for the entire kingdom.
The town of Shaftesbury came to be known as Edwardstowe (a designation it lost during the Reformation). In the late eleventh century E. received a Vita (Passio) et Miracula (BHL 2418). Bones pronounced by their discoverer to be those of E. are said to have been found in 1931 in the remains of Shaftesbury Abbey. These are now preserved at St. Edward the Martyr Orthodox Church in Brookwood, Surrey (near Guildford). More universally accepted relics of E. are the coins shown here:
5) Anselm of Lucca (d. 1086). Sometimes called Anselm the Younger to distinguish him from his uncle of the same name who became pope Alexander II (both were bishops of Lucca), A. was a supporter of Gregory VII in the investiture controversy. Designated for his office by his uncle, A. accepted appointment from Gregory in 1073 but contrary to G.'s wishes also accepted investiture from Henry IV. Shortly thereafter he resigned to become a Cluniac monk at the abbey of St. Benedict at Polirone near Mantua. Ordered back to Lucca by Gregory, he continued to live as a monk and attempted to impose a similar lifestyle on his canons, who would have none of it. These sided with Henry and in 1081 they got A. expelled from Lucca.
A. sought refuge with his political ally, Matilda of Tuscany, and spent the rest of his life in papal service. Unsuccessful with human canons, he turned his attention to those of the legal variety and produced an important, pro-reform collection of the latter. Also surviving from his pen are five prayers he wrote for Matilda. A. died at Mantua and was promptly recognized as its patron saint. Though he had arranged to be buried at the abbey at Polirone, on Matilda's command his remains were instead conveyed to Mantua's cathedral, where they are today:
Lucca's cathedral of St. Martin was begun by A.'s uncle Anselm I in 1063. Much of the present structure dates from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries:
But the apse at least could be of the later eleventh century:
Aerial view of the cathedral:
Some further views of the later medieval exterior and views of its reliefs:
More views of the cathedral are at this album on Marjorie Greene's MedievalReligion site:
The abbey of St. Benedict of Polirone, located in today's San Benedetto Po (MN) in Lombardy, was extensively rebuilt in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. But its oratorio di Santa Maria has a partially preserved and recently restored mid-twelfth-century (1151) mosaic floor shown here:
An illustrated, Italian-language page on the abbey and on its church, now the basilica abbaziale di San Benedetto Po:
Late fourteenth- and early fifteenth-century portions of Mantua's cathedral of St. Peter are still visible between elements of more recent construction:
(last year's post revised and with the addition of Braulio)
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