medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (28. April) is the feast day of:
1) Vitalis of Ravenna (?). The late fifth- or early sixth-century Inventio/Passio of Sts. Gervase and Protase (BHL 3514) includes a legendary narration of how their parents, Vitalis and Valeria, were martyred at Ravenna as was also the Ligurian physician Ursicinus, then practicing in that city. This tale, dubious in many respects and utterly implausible in some, got V., V., and U. removed from the general Roman calendar in 1969. But the revised RM of 2001 still commemorates Vitalis on this date and does so in a _laterculus_ that not only names Valeria and Ursicinus as saints along with Gervase and Protase but recognizes all five as having had a _cultus ab immemorabili tempore_. Though the true antiquity of their cult(s) is unknown, Vitalis and Ursicinus had dedications in the sixth century and all are depicted among the saints in the mosaics of Ravenna's Sant'Apollinare Nuovo.
V.'s great monument is his sixth-century basilica at Ravenna. A very nice, illustrated, Swedish-language site on that church is here:
That page has links at bottom to subpages on particular details (mostly mosaic). Other, expandable views are here:
Some expandable architectural views, including a plan and sections, will be found here:
2) Aphrodisius of Béziers (?). A. is the legendary protobishop of Béziers (Hérault). His cult there is perhaps as old as ca. 900, the generally accepted date of the crypt beneath the late eleventh- to fourteenth-/fifteenth-century church at Béziers that bears his name and that is located in what had been a late antique necropolis. The date of his feast presumably stems from the listing in the ninth-century martyrologies of St. Ado and Usuard, under this date and without indication of place, of an A. and three named companions. That entry in turn derives from one for today in the perhaps early seventh-century (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology in which the saints in question are a martyred bishop of Tarsus and his companions.
Later medieval legend transformed the Egyptian A. of various Infancy narratives into an early first-century evangelist who accompanies the third-century St. Paul of Narbonne (22. March) in the latter's first-century persona of Sergius Paulus and who is consecrated by him bishop of Béziers. Like so many other apostolic-era protobishops in France, he is said to have been martyred by decapitation and to have been a cephalophore. The three named companions of the aforementioned A. in Ado and Usuard become his also martyred brothers. Another legend brings him to the south of France with Lazarus and the three Marys. Modern legend gives A. a camel whose needs after A.'s martyrdom are looked after by the people of Béziers.
A set of very recent views of Béziers' église Saint-Aphrodise, including one of a display reliquary showing bones purported to be A.'s, is here:
And here's an exterior view, courtesy of the city's Office de tourisme:
3) Pamphilus of Corfinium (?). Today's less well known saint of the Regno has been venerated in Abruzzo since at least the tenth century. According to his probably eleventh-century Vita (BHL 6418-19), he was bishop of Valva (today's diocese of Sulmona and Valva) during a time of dissension between Catholics and Arians. His seat was at Corfinium (in Roman times the chief town of the area in question) and he is said to have incurred papal suspicion for his practice of celebrating Sunday mass at midnight and of devoting the time at daybreak to providing a large meal for the poor. An investigation confirmed his doctrinal orthodoxy and his pastoral practices subsequently received papal approval. After P.'s death his body was removed to the town that had been ancient Sulmo and is now Sulmona (AQ) in Abruzzo.
Corfinium suffered badly from Muslim and Magyar raids in the ninth and tenth centuries, respectively. By the eleventh century its ancient cathedral church of St. Pelinus had come to occupy a semi-rural location. Sulmona, by then the diocese's chief center of habitation, has had a church dedicated to P. since at least 1042. In 1075 abbot Transmundus of San Clemente a Casauria, who was also bishop of Valva, undertook to rebuild both this church and that of St. Pelinus, maintaining both of them as cathedrals of the one diocese (as they still are today). It would seem that P.'s Vita was initially created, either then or sometime earlier in the same century, in order to reinforce Sulmona's newly acquired episcopal dignity.
Sulmona's cathedral of San Panfilo has been rebuilt several times but still retains some of its medieval character. There's a brief, English-language account at the bottom of this page:
Much more detailed accounts in Italian, with expandable views, are here:
An Italian-language Wikipedia page on this church with two expandable views of its originally late fourteenth-century portal:
The saint on the right is P. (the statues date from 1391), while the saint on the left is that worthy co-patron of this honourable list, St. Pelinus (5. December).
The "gothic" statue of P. on Sulmona's originally fifteenth-/sixteenth-century palazzo dell'Annunziata:
In today's Caporciano (AQ) in the same diocese is the marvelous thirteenth-century oratory of San Pellegrino at Bominaco. The walls of the presbytery are decorated with a painted liturgical calendar. Here's a view of its page for April, listing bishop P.:
More views of the calendar:
Dedications to P. occur elsewhere in Abruzzo, e.g. at San Panfilo d'Ocre (AQ), whose chiesa di San Panfilo, documented from 932 when it belonged to the imperial abbey of Farfa, was rebuilt in the sixteenth century:
(NB: San Panfilo d'Ocre is only a few kilometers from the epicenter of the recent major earthquake; it suffered two aftershocks last night and this morning, 26./27. April)
and at Spoltore (PE), whose originally late eleventh-century chiesa di San Panfilo fuori le mura was rebuilt in the 1480s and then greatly modified over the next two and one half centuries:
The portal and the oculus are survivors from the late fifteenth-century state of the church:
In that last view, the facade of the adjacent ex-convent (now a private dwelling) dates from 1912/13 and is merely medievalizing.
4) Prudentius of Tarazona (?). P. (Prudencio, Prudentzio) is first documented from the early eleventh century when he is named as the saint of a small monastery on Monte Laturce near Clavijo (La Rioja) that had been founded, probably shortly after 923, with a dedication to St. Vincent and that in 950 had become a dependency of the nearby abbey of San Martín of Albelda. In 1058 the monastery of San Prudencio passed into the protection of a family of local lords; in 1181 it became Cisctercian as a daughter of Morimond. Shortly after that last change in the monastery's status there begins to be documented an assertion by the church of Santa María at Nájera that the body of St. P., bishop and confessor, had been translated thither in the 1050s by king Sancho Garcés IV of Pamplona. The Cistercians of San Prudencio of course claimed that P.'s body was still with them and added that an attempted translation in 1181 had been miraculously prevented.
The now standard Vita of P. (BHL 6981), which also presents him as a bishop, associates him with the diocese of Tarazona in Aragón, an ancient see re-founded in the early twelfth century. This makes P. a native of Armentia (in the diocese of Álava, an eleventh-century foundation) who at some unspecified time before the Muslim conquest 1) at the age of fifteen joined a hermit at his cave near Osma in Old Castille, 2) left after seven years and evangelized idolaters in and about Calahorra, where he performed healing miracles and where the bishop made him a canon of his church, 3) moved on to Tarazona where in time he became bishop, 4) died at Osma after having gone there to resolve a dispute, and 5) was buried in a cave at an undisclosed location known to the Vita's supposed author, the archdeacon of Tarazona, and to other clergy of that church.
Since this text both counters any supposition that P. had been bishop of Calahorra and implies that Calahorra didn't know where P.'s resting place was, it seems likely to have been written in response to Nájera's claim to have P.'s relics (as well as in response to some tradition on the part of Osma?). Since it says nothing at all about the monastery on Monte Laturce, it seems likely that it was written at a time when San Prudencio's claim was no longer actively pressed. Can anyone give the age of its oldest witness?
An illustrated, Spanish-language page on the abbey of San Prudencio on Monte Laturce is here:
Eight views of the ruins begin here:
Putative relics of P. survive in the diocese of Calahorra and La Calzada's co-cathedral of Santa María La Redonda in the Riojan capital of Logrońo. Here are views of his reliquary chest and of his reliquary bust of 1461:
In the País Vasco P. is the patron saint of Lazkao (Spanish: Lazcano), where an originally medieval _ermita_ is dedicated to him:
and of Álava (Basque: Araba), where at P.'s reputed birthplace at Armentia an originally twelfth-century church dedicated to St. Andrew was rebuilt in the eighteenth century and was rededicated to P. in 1970. Parts of the older church remain there, as do also sculptural fragments from it. Some illustrated, Spanish-language accounts:
Expandable views of the sculptures in the portico:
Plan of the twelfth-century church inside the eighteenth-century rebuild:
(last year's post very lightly revised)
PS: Prior to 2001 today was also the day of commemoration in the RM of a fictitious saint of the Regno, Mark of Atina, a Galilean disciple of St. Peter who became the protobishop of today's Atina (FR) in southern Lazio. This M. was a creation of the twelfth-century Cassinese hagiographer, chronicler, and forger Peter the Deacon, who during a period of exile from Montecassino engaged in all three occupations to fabricate for the nearby town of Atina, in which he was then living, an ancient and even relatively recent episcopal history that it had not in fact experienced. The texts so created, including the _Passio beatissimi Marci Atinae civitatis episcopi_ (BHL 5298; written in 1128), are edited by Herbert Bloch in his _The Atina Dossier of Peter the Deacon of Monte Cassino: A Hagiographical Romance of the Twelfth Century_ (Cittŕ del Vaticano: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1998; its Studi e testi, no. 346).
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