medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (3. March) is the feast day of:
1) Cleonicus and Eutropius (d. ca. 306, supposedly). According to their legendary Passio (two versions: BHG 656a and 656b) the brothers C. and E. were companions in arms of St. Basiliscus (said in these texts to have been a nephew of St. Theodore the Recruit), were martyred at Amasea (today's Amasya in Turkey) under Maximian, and were entombed there. Byzantine synaxaries record all three saints jointly under today, as do modern Orthodox churches. The RM followed suit until its revision of 2001, when it dropped from today's commemoration the better attested B. (also and still entered in the RM under 22. May).
E. and C. 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:
B. is depicted on a pendentive of the same dome:
E. and C. (in that order in the upper register; B. beneath) 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:
2) Arthellais (d. ca. 560, supposedly). Today's less well known saint of the Regno (also Artellais and forms with single 'l') has an incident-laden, highly legendary Vita that survives in at least three versions of differing length (BHL 718-720). A high-born, youthful virgin forced to flee her native Constantinople for the safety of her uncle Narses' Italy, she and her retinue of eunuch attendants have a series of adventures en route. After crossing the Adriatic and visiting the sanctuary of St. Michael on Monte Gargano where she makes a generous donation, A. arrives in Benevento, makes a major donation to its central church of the BVM, performs miracles, and in short order dies of an illness.
By the late eleventh century Benevento had a church of St. A. This still existed in 1370. At some point after that A.'s relics were moved to Benevento's medieval cathedral (a later version of the church of the BVM mentioned in the Vita), where in the eighteenth century they were said to repose below the main altar. With any luck they will have survived the terrible bombing of the cathedral by American warplanes on 12. September 1943. The website of the Archdiocese of Benevento omits A. from its section on _Santi, Beati e Testimoni Beneventani_.
3) Winwaloe (d. 6th cent.?). The Breton W. (in French, Guénolé; in Latin, Winwaloëus, Guingaloëus, etc.; in English also Winnol) is the saint and reputed founder of the abbey at today's Landévennec (Finistère). His dates are conjectural; the earliest texts of his hagiographic dossier, most notably three Vitae written in different forms and with different aims by Landévennec's ninth-century abbot Wrdisten (BHL 8957-8959), come from the ninth century. These provide a history of the abbey's founding that is more likely to be accurate in its reference to Landévennec's adoption of the Benedictine Rule in 818 than it is in its portrayal of W. as a disciple, in what would be the fifth century, of St. Budoc and a contemporary of king Gradlon (Grallon), both by this time very largely figures of legend.
Still in the ninth century, an abridgment of Wrdisten's longer prose Vita of W. reached the abbey of Sts. Flora and Lucilla outside of Arezzo in Tuscany and W. was entered in that house's litanies.
In 914 the abbey was sacked by Northmen. It seems quickly to have recovered and W.'s cult continued to spread beyond Brittany: directly from the abbey into Cornwall, via Blandigny near G(h)ent/Gand in today's Belgium into various places in southern England in the tenth century, and via Montreuil-sur-Mer in the Pas de Calais to Norfolk in the wake of the English regime change of 1066.
Here's an illustrated, French-language page on the abbey at Landévennec:
Images of Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Auct. D. 2. 16, a late ninth-/early tenth-century Gospels executed at Landévennec and given in the eleventh century by bishop Leofric of Worcester to Exeter Cathedral:
A page on W.'s cult in Brittany:
Views of the originally fifteenth-century Church of St Winwalloe in Gunwalloe (Cornwall):
A page, with a greatly expandable view, on the originally twelfth(?)-century, much rebuilt St Wynwallow's (Winwalloe's) Church at Landewednack (an anglicisation of a Breton form of Landévennec) on Cornwall's Lizard peninsula:
An aerial view of this church, said to be the southernmost parish church in mainland Britain:
A page on the history of the originally twelfth-/early thirteenth-century, much rebuilt St Winwaloe's Church in East Portlemouth (Devon):
Views of the church and its fifteenth-century rood screen (the latter restored in 1934):
Details of the rood screen:
W. (at left, obviously):
4) Anselm of Nonantola (d. 803). We know about A. chiefly from Paul the Deacon's _Historia Langobardorum_. Duke of Friuli and brother-in-law of the Lombard king Aistulf, he became a cleric and with Aistulf's support founded, a couple of years after the Lombard conquest of Ravenna in ca. 750, a monastery in southern Emilia near Bologna along the main road from the Lombard capitals in the north. This later became the great abbey of (pope) St. Sylvester at today's Nonantola (MO), whose reconstruction of its early history included an imagined papal donation of S.'s remains to abbot A.
A.'s abbatial tenure saw the creation of several dependencies. It was interrupted for the entirety of the reign of king Desiderius, when another abbot was appointed and A. lived in exile at Montecassino. A. was restored after Charlemagne's conquest of the Lombard kingdom in 774. He assisted in reconciling the count and the bishop of Brescia (both nephews of Desiderius) with their new overlord, the king of the Franks.
This panel from the twelfth-century sculptures of the main portal of the abbey church, the basilica di San Silvestro, at Nonantola seems to show Aistulf endowing A. with the possession of the land on which his monastery would be built:
This one shows the completed monastery with a founder's portrait of the now tonsured and beardless A. (looking a great deal like a more recent _duce_):
Here A. receives the pope's blessing:
Other views of sculptures on this portal are here:
The Italia nell'Arte Medievale pages on the abbey church are here (or would be, were this site not down again):
An illustrated, English-language page on the abbey and its church:
The abbey's Italian-language page on its church:
5) Kunigunde of Luxemburg (d. 1033 or 1039). Daughter of count Siegfried I of Lützelburg (Luxemburg), K. was married in about the year 1000 to duke Henry III of Bavaria (the future emperor Henry II). In June 1002, six months after the death of his cousin Otto III, Henry had himself crowned king of the Germans at Mainz. A separate coronation of K. as queen took place in early August in the cathedral of Paderborn. In 1014 they were jointly crowned as emperor and empress by Benedict VIII. Most of K.'s official acts have to do with support for churches and monasteries. In 1017, the imperial couple used her dowry to found the diocese of Bamberg. After Henry's death in 1024 K. exercised a brief regency. In 1025, after the accession of Konrad II, she retired to the monastery of Kaufungen near Kassel and lived there until her death as a simple nun.
A black-and-white view of a charter of Henry II from 1019 granting properties to the monastery at Kaufungen:
The monastery is gone but its church remains. Herewith some views:
K.'s cult seems to have begun after Henry's canonization in 1146. A partly legendary Vita surviving in several versions (BHL 2001-2002b) preceded her canonization in 1200 by Innocent III; in 1201 her remains were translated to the cathedral of Bamberg. In 1513 the pair was translated within that church to the great tomb sculpted by Tilman Riemenschneider (K. at left):
K. (at right) in a relief on the same tomb, showing an incident from her Vita in which she is said successfully to have defended herself, by walking barefoot over red-hot ploughshares, against an accusation of adultery:
Herewith two illustrated, German-language pages on the cathedral:
And one in English:
K. and Henry may be seen, in recent replacement copies (mounted, 2002), on the cathedral's Adamspforte (Adam's Portal; variously dated to ca. 1225 or to ca. 1237). The original statues are now in the diocesan museum.
They are shown as founders in this representation of them on the fourteenth-century tomb (1340) of bishop St. Otto of Bamberg (d. 1139) in the crypt of Bamberg's St. Michelskirche:
K. (at right) and H. in the upper register of an originally early fifteenth-century (ca. 1414) window from the Andreaskapelle in the cathedral cloister, now in the diocesan museum:
Here, from the website of the Diocese of Bamberg, are expandable views of panel carvings of them, each holding half of the Bamberger Dom:
They, and that building, are united in this representation of them in the Beloit College copy of the _Nuremburg Chronicle_:
The Antependium of Basel, a piece of early eleventh-century gold repoussé work now in the Musée National du Moyen Age (Musée Cluny) in Paris, shows Henry and K. at the feet of its central figure of Christ (for a better view of them, click on the thumbnail over "Altar Face of"):
A better view of the piece as a whole:
Detail (Christ, with H. and K. in proskinesis):
K. and H. in statues from ca. 1290 on Basel's ex-cathedral, the Basler Münster, whose rebuilding Henry initiated and which later medieval tradition in Basel held had been consecrated in the couple's presence in 1019:
Here they are again, flanking the BVM in a sculpture of ca. 1511 on the facade of Basel's city hall:
And here they are in a window from 1520 in the same building's Saal des Regierungsrates:
6) Peter Geremia (Bl.; d. 1452). The Palermo-born P. belonged to one of the numerous originally knightly families ennobled under Frederick III (the prevalent numeration for Sicily's second monarch of this name) who formed the core of the Sicilian capital's nobility in the fourteenth century. While studying law at Bologna he is said to have been visited one night by the spirit of a deceased relative, also a lawyer, who lamented that his own worldly success had led to sins that cost him entry into Heaven. Thus prompted by an early fifteenth-century predecessor of Marley's Ghost, P. chose a life of religion. In 1424, without informing his father, he entered the Order of Preachers. After a period of training at Fiesole under St. Antoninus of Florence, P. was ordained priest and began a brilliant career of preaching and teaching at the papal court and at various places in the north of Italy.
Sent to Sicily as his order's vicar, P. led a program of Observant reform and encouraged the founding of schools and hospitals by Dominican houses. In 1444 he was in Catania to reorganize the convent of Santa Maria La Grande when lava flowing from Mt. Etna threatened the city. Carrying St. Agatha's funerary veil in the traditional apotropaic procession, P. assisted her in halting the flow at today's Sant'Agata Li Battiati (CT). On 18. October 1445 P. delivered the inaugural address, _De laude scientiarum_, at the opening of Catania's university, the Siculorum Gymnasium. The island's first university, this had been authorized in 1434 by king Alfonso but only began operation now, on the basis of a papal bull issued in 1444 by Eugenius IV and entrusted to Peter for execution.
P. died in Palermo at his Order's convent of Santa Cita (Zita) several years before its completion of a new church of that name that was replaced by yet another in the 1580s. The latter, now bearing a late eighteenth-century facade and rebuilt after suffering severe damage in World War II, houses a spectacular collection of late fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century religious art, including several pieces by Antonello Gagini and the Pietà by Giorgio da Milano shown here:
P.'s cult was maintained by the Dominicans of his province and was confirmed papally in 1784. P. is a civic patron of the city of Palermo.
(last year's post revised and with the addition of Cleonicus and Eutropius)
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