medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (4. March) is the feast day of:
1) Basinus of Trier (d. ca. 705). B. is traditionally the thirtieth bishop of Trier. Because his name appears together with that of his immediate successor bishop St. Liutwinus (d. ca. 713) in diocesan documents dated 698, 699, and 704, it is supposed that by the first of these years B. had associated L. in his rule. Later tradition at Trier, not attested prior to the eleventh century, held that B. had been a monk of that city's monastery of St. Maximinus, rising to abbot there before being elected bishop. Also in the eleventh century, Thiofrid of Echternach in his Vita of St. Liutwinus (BHL 4956) called the latter B.'s _nepos_, a word that may mean no more than younger male relative other than brother or son.
B.'s cult seems to have been immediate, as he is entered under 3. March in the early eighth-century Calendar of St. Willibrord. His celebration today is recorded in a ninth-century copy from Prüm of the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology (now Trier, Stadtbibliothek, ms. 1245) and in medieval calendars from the archdiocese of Trier. B. has a Vita (BHL 1028) that in the _Acta Sanctorum_ is ascribed to Nizo, abbot of Mettlach (i.e. that house's eleventh-century abbot Nithard III) and that continues so to be ascribed at the Bollandist website _Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina Manuscripta_
despite the demonstration by the Bollandist Albert Poncelet early in the last century that this Vita, which is written in Humanist Latin, is really the work of St. Maximinus' early sixteenth-century librarian, Johannes Scheckmann (see Poncelet's posthumously published "L'auteur de la vie de S. Basin, évêque de Trèves", _Analecta Bollandiana_ 31 , 142-47).
2) Appianus of Comacchio (d. 8th cent., supposedly). A. (also Apianus) is a poorly documented saint of the Po delta. According to his brief, undated Vita (BHL 619, preserved in one manuscript of the mid-eleventh to mid-twelfth century), he was a monk at Pavia's San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro, where he was exemplary in his behavior towards monks, clerics, and lay people and where he secretly practiced mortification of the flesh. Made steward, he was an effective and prudent manager of his monastery's goods. A.'s abbot sent him to today's Comacchio (FE) in Emilia-Romagna to acquire salt for his monastery. There he built himself a cell and spent the remainder of his life as a simple hermit, exercising his many virtues (and, as he seems not to have been replaced, presumably continuing to serve as his monastery's agent for the purchase of salt).
When A. died he was buried by the locals. Miracles occurred at his grave, a cult sprang up, and his remains were translated to a church erected in his honor. Much later, people from Pavia who had come to buy salt attempted to steal A.'s relics. But their vessel miraculously halted near a church of St. Maurus; since it would go no farther, A.'s relics were removed and interred in that church. Thus far the Vita. It is unknown what connection, if any, there might have been between A. and the chapel of St. Ap(p)ianus at Pavia's rebuilt San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro in which St. Augustine's relics were said to have been rediscovered in the thirteenth century.
3) Peter I of Cava (d. 1123). Today's less well known saint of the Regno was the third abbot of the monastery of the Most Holy Trinity at today's Cava de' Tirreni (SA) in Campania. According to abbot Peter II of Venosa's collective Vitae of the first four abbots of La Cava (BHL 302, 4840, 6767, 1926; still ascribed by the Bollandists to Hugh of Venosa despite Hubert Houben's convincing re-attribution in _Studi Medievali_, 3a ser. 26 , 871-79), P. was a Salernitan noble and a _nepos_ of the founder, St. Alferius. He entered religion at Cava while still a youth and had made considerable spiritual progress under A.'s immediate successor, St. Leo of Cava, when he left first to become a hermit and later to improve himself at Cluny, where he spent five years. When P. returned to Salerno, prince Gisulf II made him bishop of Policastro, a former East Roman coastal outpost in the south of the principality.
After two years of pastoral service at Policastro P. returned to Cava, where he became the now elderly St. Leo's second-in-command. An attempt to introduce Cluniac reform produced such resistance that P. again withdrew from Cava and founded a community more to his liking in the Cilento (the topographically rugged area between the Gulf of Salerno and the Gulf of Policastro). He was recalled to Cava shortly before St. Leo died in 1079, succeeded him as abbot, introduced reform successfully, and used his connections to enrich the abbey with properties in various parts of the now Norman-ruled south. It is estimated that before he died at the age of eighty-five he had enrolled over three thousand monks in the Cavensian community.
P. was responsible for the rebuilding of the abbey church, consecrated in 1092 by Urban II, whom P. had known at Cluny. Subsequent expansion and rebuilding has vastly altered the abbey's appearance, but in the parts closest to the mountain (Monte Finestre, a.k.a. Monte Pertuso) against one of whose flanks it is built there are notable medieval survivals. Though perhaps slightly later, the east side of the cloister may be from P.'s tenure as abbot:
These views will provide some idea of the position of the cloister vis-a-vis the mountain:
This view of the crypt is much as P. would have seen it (though the lighting is better and those shallow steps are modern):
Most of the dependencies acquired by the abbey during Peter's long tenure have perished without leaving any notable visual trace. An exception is the Greek-rite monastery of Sant'Adriano near San Demetrio Corone (CS) in Calabria, given in 1088 with all its possessions by Roger Borsa, Robert Guiscard's son and successor as duke of Apulia and prince of Salerno. The Italia nell'Arte Medievale page on its monastery church, in continuous use since the Middle Ages and restored in 1979, is here (or would be, were the entire site not off-line again):
An exterior view:
An Italian-language page with links to three interior views:
Further interior views (incl. more of the mosaic pavement):
Expandable views of some of the frescoes are here:
P.'s cult was confirmed papally in 1893. He is the patron saint of Policastro (SA) in southernmost Campania.
4) Casimir of Poland (d. 1484). The very pious C. (Lithuanian: Kazimieras, Polish: Kazimierz, Belarusian: Kazimir)) was a younger son of king Casimir IV of Poland and of his queen, Elizabeth of Austria. After an unsuccessful campaign in 1471 against his fellow claimant for the throne of Hungary, Matthias Corvinus, the thirteen-year-old prince turned to a predominantly spiritual life while holding high official positions. C. is said to have declined marriage in 1481 to a daughter of the emperor Frederick III because he wished to remain celibate. After a stint as regent in Poland proper while his father was in the Lithuanian part of the realm, C. served as governor of Vilnius in 1483. He was at the Lithuanian court at Grodno (also, in a pronunciation spelling for westerners, Hrodna) in today's Belarus when in 1484 he became gravely ill; accounts differ as to whether he died there or, very shortly afterward, at Vilnius.
C. was canonized in 1602. In 1636 Urban VIII proclaimed him Lithuania's patron saint. C., whose remains now repose in Vilnius' cathedral, is also one of Poland's patron saints and the patron of numerous Roman Catholic dioceses in Poland as well as of the Roman Catholic diocese of Grodno. A portrait of C. from 1520 is reproduced here:
Here's his reliquary in the chapel dedicated to him in Vilnius' cathedral:
C.'s portrait under the reliquary chest shows him with an interesting number of hands:
(last year's post revised)
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