medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (8. March) is the feast day of:
1) Pontius of Carthage (d. later 3d cent.). All we know of P. comes from his own, highly influential Vita of St. Cyprian of Carthage (d. 258) and, assuming that he had a source of information other than that Vita, from St. Jerome, _De viris illustribus_, 68. P. was a deacon of Carthage who shared Cyprian's "exile" during the Decian persecution. The ninth-century martyrologists Ado and Usuard entered him under today's date.
2) Probinus (d. ca. 420). P. (also Provinus) is the traditional second bishop of Como, having in this reckoning succeeded St. Felix and preceded St. Amantius. And that is all we really know about him. The medieval verse catalogue of Como's sainted early bishops from which extracts were used for their feastdays in what the seventeenth-century Bollandist Henschenius called "the ancient breviary of Como" (_antiquum Breviarium Comense_; specimens in the _Acta Sanctorum_ under St. Amantius of Como and St. Abundius of Como) credits P. with quelling enemies but unfortunately fails to elaborate:
Positus in primordio est Felix pontificio,
Post quem sedandis hostibus sanctus Probinus claruit.
Early modern accounts filled the biographical void by saying that P. had been a disciple of St. Ambrose of Milan, that the latter had sent him to Como along with St. Felix, that as bishop he preached and was exemplarily pious, and that he proved his sanctity through miracles.
In 1118 a head believed to be P.'s was translated to Como's church of St. Anthony from the then extramural one of Sts. Gervase and Protase (whose founding local tradition ascribes to P., thus explaining the presence of his relics there and not with other early bishops in Sant'Abbondio, the successor to Como's ancient basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul). P.'s new home changed its name and became today's San Provino, a late eleventh-century church with a twelfth-century belltower. An illustrated, Italian-language account of this building begins here:
A better view of the facade (restored in 1972):
Most of P.'s skull remains in San Provino, where it has been accorded formal recognition intermittently from 1504 onward. A piece of the cranium has long -- since 1096, on one view -- been in the possession of the collegiate church of San Giovanni Battista in Agno (canton Ticino) in today's Switzerland. P. is a co-patron of Agno, which holds a festival in his honor in the second week of March.
3) Felix of East Anglia (F. of Dunwich, F. of Burgundy; d. 647 or 648). The Burgundian Felix was ordained priest in his homeland before undertaking missionary work in England. In 630 or 631 archbishop St. Honorius of Canterbury made him bishop of the East Angles, whose royalty was only recently Christian. F. established his see at a place called Dommoc (perhaps Dunwich, perhaps Felixstowe). According to Bede -- to whom we owe all our knowledge of the historical F. --, he helped king Sigeberht establish a school for boys. F.'s feast today is recorded in pre-Conquest calendars. Ramsey Abbey (founded in the tenth century) claimed to possess his relics.
4) Theophylact of Nicomedia (d. 845). We know about T. (also T. of Constantinople) chiefly from a fairly full Bios written in about 870 (BHG 2451) and from a shorter Bios with somewhat different content written in the late ninth or early tenth century (BHG 2452). A native of Asia Minor, he studied in Constantinople under the future patriarch St. Tarasius, who then sent him along with St. Michael of Synada to a monastery that he had founded. There the ascetic T. proved to be an exemplary monk and is said to have been rewarded with the gift of thaumaturgy. In about 800, Tarasius then being patriarch, T. became bishop of Nicomedia.
As bishop, T. was a paragon of pastoral care, preaching against iconoclastic views, succoring the poor and the lame, and establishing from his funds a hospital with a staff of doctors and attendants in which he himself worked as an attendant one day a week. After the iconoclast emperor Leo V had come to power in 813 T. became the leading spokesman of the iconophile resistance, with the result that he was banished late in 814 or very early in 815 to a fortress in Caria, where he spent the remainder of his life in an exile of varying severity. His body was returned to Nicomedia for burial in about 846.
5) Litifredus (d. 874). The earlier of Pavia's two bishops of this name, L. (also Litefredus, Liutfredus) was in office from 864 until his death. He presided at the translation of St. Honorata, sister of bishop St. Epiphanius, from the latter's church (dedicated to St. Vincent and to E.) to that of the women's monastery of Santa Maria Vecchia, suppressed in 1577. L.'s relics are now kept in Pavia's cathedral in the cappella del Sacro Cuore.
6) Duthac (d. 1065?). D. (also Duthus; Gaelic forms are Dubthach and Dubhthach) is the saint of Tain (Ross and Cromarty) in the Scottish Highlands. Our sources for him are very late and meager. The mostly late fifteenth-century Annals of Ulster record under 1065 the laying to rest in Ard Macha (Armagh) of Dubthach Albanach (i.e. D. of Scotland), chief soulfriend of Ireland and Scotland. His lections, by William Elphinstone, a former bishop of Ross, in the very early sixteenth-century Aberdeen Breviary, say that he came from a noble family of Scotland, call him a bishop and confessor, and relate a few miracle stories. They further aver that D. died on this day, that he is held in especial veneration in the church of Tain, that he continues to perform miracles (especially of the healing kind) there, that when after seven years, six months, and nine days had passed his body was found to be incorrupt, and that when he was then enshrined many healing miracles occurred.
D.'s lections in the Aberdeen Breviary begin here:
If one ignores Elphinstone's assertions about the timing of D.'s enshrinement (these were made at a time when D. had become an important Scottish saint) and posits that we are dealing with one D. and not two, the date of his translation from Armagh to Tain is unknown. From the appearance of the earliest of his three churches there, the now ruined St Duthac's Chapel, it has been conjectured that this will have occurred at some time in the thirteenth century. Some views of the chapel:
D. has had two later churches at Tain: a former parish church said to date from the late fourteenth century, and, adjacent to it, the originally fourteenth-/fifteenth-century St Duthac's Collegiate Church (made collegiate in 1487; restored in 1877). Some views of the now unroofed former parish church (restored in the later nineteenth century):
Some views of collegiate church:
The collegiate church in particular is testimony to the status of D.'s cult in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when several royal visits to his shrine are recorded. For more on this, see the recent (2006/2007) University of Edinburgh dissertation by Thomas Turpie, _Miracles and Power Politics: The Rise and Spread of St Duthac of Tain in late Medieval Scotland_.
We don't get to Ross and Cromarty very often on this list, so herewith an illustrated site (more images accessible from the menu at bottom) on, and some other views of, the remains of the originally later thirteenth-century Fortrose Cathedral, in the later Middle Ages the cathedral church of the diocese of Ross (previously this had been at Rosemarkie):
7) Veremundus of Irache (d. late 11th cent.). V. (in Spanish, Veremundo, Vermundo, Bermundo, Bermudo) succeeded an uncle as abbot of the monastery of the BVM at today's Ayegui (Navarra). He first appears in office in an inscription from 1056. A counselor of Sancho Garcés IV (d. 1076) and of Sancho Ramírez (d. 1094), kings of Navarre, he oversaw significant increases in the abbey's influence and in its wealth. V.'s cult arose not long after his death and spread rapidly within the kingdom. His hagiography, on the other hand, is said to begin only with Irache's lectionary of 1547. In 1583 V.'s remains (since distributed all across Navarra) were translated to a new, historiated chest in the abbey church. Before that he had been buried next to the main altar in the apse.
V.'s relics, still in their later sixteenth-century reliquary chest, are kept on the altar of Our Lady of the Rosary in the parish church (parroquia) of San Emeterio y Celedonio at Dicastillo (Navarra):
The actual relics:
8) Stephen of Obazine (d. 1159). We know about the monastic founder S. (also Stephen of Vielzot), a native of the Limousin, chiefly from a Vita et Miracula (BHL 7916) written by a former disciple. According to this account, while he was still in the womb his mother experienced a premonitory dream in which she gave birth as it were to a lamb that when it had reached adulthood would lead a great herd of sheep. S. was educated for the church and after deliberating on the form of ecclesiastical life he would choose elected to become an hermit. Together with a friend they settled down in the woods of Obazine (today's Aubazine [Corrčze]). They attracted followers and founded the community of Obazine with S. in charge.
In about 1135 S., who by this time was binding himself with iron and wearing mail, traveled to the Grande Chartreuse to learn about the Carthusian way. Returning, he expanded the community, founded on the Carthusian model a church dedicated to Mary the mother of God, and established a house for women a short distance way. The latter had many postulants. In 1142 S. was made abbot by an abbot whom the Vita does not further identify except to say that he had come to Obazine with the bishop of Limoges, whereupon the community changed its form of life from eremitic to monastic under the guidance of monks from Dalon. S. soon founded another house in the Limousin and another in Auvergne. In 1147/48 he and all his houses became Cistercian.
S. was noted for miracles during his time as abbot. Others followed his death. Thus far the Vita. Obazine's cartulary survives and from this it is clear that S.'s women's monastery, which was at Coyroux, was from the start joined with Obazine in a double-house arrangement. S.'s cult was confirmed papally in 1701. He entered the RM in 2001 at the level of Saint.
Some views of the originally later twelfth-century abbey church at Aubazine, now an église paroissiale Notre-Dame:
This church houses S.'s later thirteenth-century tomb. An illustrated, French-language page on this monument and other views thereof:
Some views of the remains of the monastery church at Coyroux:
(last year's post revised and with the additions of Duthac and Stephen of Obazine)
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