medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (10. March) is the feast day of:
1) Gaius and Alexander (d. later 2d or very early 3d cent.). According to Eusebius, _Historia ecclesiastica_, 5. 16. 22, quoting from a report by an unnamed person of strong anti-Montanist persuasion, G. and A. were Christians of Eumeneia in Phrygia who were caught up in a persecution and who were martyred in Apamea on the Maeander (a.k.a. Apamea Cibotus). While they were in prison awaiting execution they quite properly refused to have anything to do with the Montanists who were incarcerated with them. Thus far Anonymous. Guesses as to the persecution in which G. and A. suffered range from that of Marcus Aurelius to that of Commodus to that of Septimius Severus.
2) Macarius of Jerusalem (d. prob. shortly before 334). M. was bishop of Jerusalem during the First Council of Nicaea. According to Eusebius (_Vita Constantini_ 3. 28), he found the Holy Sepulchre and was ordered by Constantine to erect an impressive church on the site. In a late fourth-century legend made canonical by Rufinus of Aquileia, Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret, he assisted St. Helena in the identification of the True Cross.
The Constantinian basilica of the Holy Sepulchre and its adjacent Rotunda over the Sacred Tomb are depicted in the sixth-century mosaic map of Jerusalem shown here:
A plan of the complex in its fourth-century state:
Views of the Rotunda:
Orthodox depictions of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross typically show a patriarch elevating with both hands either that sacred relic or a smaller cross representing it. Modern versions sometimes identify this figure as M. Earlier versions do not, perhaps partly because in some traditions the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross also commemorates a second elevation, in 630, by patriarch Zacharias after the emperor Heraclius had recovered the Holy Cross from the Persians.
The Exaltation of the Holy and Life-giving Cross as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century (betw. ca. 1312 and 1321/1322) frescoes in the monastery church of the Theotokos at Gračanica in, depending on one's view of the matter, either Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija or the Republic of Kosovo:
The same event as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century (betw. 1335 and 1350) frescoes in the narthex of the church of the Holy Ascension at the Visoki Dečani monastery near Peć in, depending on one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:
The same event as depicted in a mid-sixteenth-century icon from the church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Drohobych near Lviv:
3) Simplicius, pope (d. 483). A native of Tivoli, S. succeeded pope St. Hilar(i)us in 468. Although we know of a couple of actions in which he asserted the authority of Rome in the West, the bulk of his extra-Roman activity concerned Eastern matters. S. was a committed defender of Chalcedonian orthodoxy against monophysites, whom he opposed at every turn. But when it came to the twenty-eighth canon of the Council of Chalcedon, which had elevated the patriarch of Constantinople to a position of _primus inter pares_ in the East, S.'s basic position was different. He refused the emperor Leo II's request that he confirm this canon and reproved the patriarch Acacius when the latter acted on his own authority to consecrate a patriarch of Antioch to succeed the murdered Stephen II.
In Rome, S. erected the church of Santa Bibiana (rebuilt in the seventeenth century by Bernini). Columns in the nave are said to be survivors from the building in its late antique form. Some are visible here:
Marjorie Greene provides a clearer view of the base of one of these columns in the first of her Santa Bibiana photographs here:
S. also built today's Santo Stefano al (Monte) Celio, a.k.a. Santo Stefano Rotondo. Originally designed in the form of a Greek cross enclosing within its arms three concentric circles, each higher than the next, in its outline and dimensions this church recalls the Rotunda of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. Considerably modified over time, it is now dedicated to St. Stephen of Hungary. A few illustrated, English-language accounts of it are here:
and an illustrated, Italian-language one is here:
Some exterior views:
Some interior views (fairly recent but preceding the restoration of 2006/07) :
A view of the rotunda from September 2006 (with the restoration underway):
A view from early 2007 (with the restoration completed):
Marjorie Greene's Shutterfly views of this church are here:
The Sacred Destinations main page and photo gallery page for Santo Stefano Rotondo:
4) Droctoveus (d. ca. 580). We know about D. (also Droctovius, Droctonius; in French, Droctovée and Drotté) from a brief poem by St. Venantius Fortunatus to him while he was yet alive (_Carmina_, 9. 11), and from a ninth century prosimetric Vita by Gislemarus, a monk of the abbey of the Holy Cross and of St. Vincent in Paris, that relies on the traditions of that house. He was a disciple of St. Germanus of Paris (or of Autun) while the latter was still head of the monastery of St. Symphorianus at Autun. When Germanus was made bishop of Paris he brought D. with him and in 858 he put him in charge of the newly created Parisian monastery of the Holy Cross and St. Vincent, endowed by Childebert I and Chlotar I and later known as St.-Germain-des-Prés.
Venantius Fortunatus addresses D. as one would a holy abbot (_Vir venerande... ) and speaks of him as intent on following Germanus (d. 576) to heaven. In all probability his cult was immediate. Usuard entered D. in his martyrology under today's date (according to Gislemarus, his _dies natalis_; presumably the date of his feast at the abbey in the ninth century).
5) Attalas (d. 626 or 627). We know about A. from his Vita by Jonas of Bobbio (BHL 742). He was the son of a Burgundian noble who saw to it that he was classically educated by the bishop of Gap in the French Alps. Unhappy with his "worldly" studies, A. stole away from Gap along with two servants and became a monk at Lérins. Finding life there insufficiently strict, he next entered St. Columban's recently founded monastery of Luxeuil. When Columban, having run into difficulty with the Burgundian bishops and with the Burgundian monarchy, was forced to leave Luxeuil, A. joined other members of the community in following him into northern Italy. There, in 614, they established their influential monastery at Bobbio in the Appennines southwest of Piacenza. A. succeeded Columban as abbot and made himself unpopular with some through his insistence on strict discipline.
According to Jonas, A. while abbot raised from the dead a monk slain on the orders of the (still according to Jonas) demonically possessed Lombard king Arioald (an Arian) and followed this up by curing the king of his possession.
6) Wirnto of Vornbach (Bl.; d. 1127). W. had been a monk at St. Blasien in the Black Forest and then prior at Göttweig in Niederösterreich before becoming, in 1108, the second abbot at Vornbach (Vormbach, Formbach) in today's Neuhaus am Inn near Passau. In 1125 he bought from the count of Vornbach a castle that had formerly served as the comital residence. Moving the monastery to this site, he built an impressive basilica which he dedicated to the BVM. According to his late twelfth-century Vita formerly ascribed to Gerhoh of Reichersberg (BHL 8972), W. was a thaumaturge, operating several miracles including turning water into wine. He was beatified in the thirteenth century.
(last year's post revised and with the addition of Gaius and Alexander)
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