medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (1. April) is the feast day of:
1) Venantius of Dalmatia (d. 257?) and companions (d. at different times). The bishop V. and his companions in this commemoration (Anastasius, Maurus, Paulinianus, Telius, Asterius, Septimius, Antiochianus, and Gaianus) are martyrs of Dalmatia and Istria whose remains were translated by pope John IV (640-42), a Dalmatian, to the Lateran Baptistery (San Giovanni in Fonte) in Rome and re-interred there in a chapel that has come to be known as that of V. Though the chapel has been rebuilt, it preserves substantial amounts of its seventh century mosaic decor.
Distance views of the mosaics in the Lateran Baptistery's cappella di San Venanzio:
V. is depicted second from left in the lower register of the apse mosaic:
The companions flank the apse at left (Paulinianus, Telius, Asterius, Anastasius [of Salona]) and at right (Maurus [of Parentium/Poreè], Septimius, Antiochianus, Gaianus):
Several views of the mosaics are here (last two rows):
More detail views of the mosaics start here:
2) Agape and Chionia (d. ca. 304). A. and C. (also Chione) are said to have been martyrs of Thessalonica (now Thessaloniki). In their surviving Acta they are presented as sisters who had converted to Christianity. Their faith was discovered during the Great Persecution when they refused to partake of food that had been offered in sacrifice to the gods. Hauled before a governor of Macedonia named Dulcetius or Dulcitius, they denounced idolatry and refused to offer sacrifice. A. and C. were executed by being burnt alive.
These saints' Passio (BHL 118; includes their sister Irene, now commemorated separately on 5. April) is incorporated in the greatly synthetic one of Anastasia of Sirmium/Rome. The latter brings together in a single fiction a number of cults from the upper Adriatic and, in the case of these sisters, excites suspicion both by making them residents of Aquileia sent by Diocletian himself all the way to Thessalonica for trial and by having it be Anastasia who is responsible for their sepulture.
Aldhelm's recounting of these martyrs' Passio in his verse _De virginitate_ is BHL 119. The parallel account in Aldhelm's earlier prose _De virginitate_ doesn't seem to have a BHL number. BHL 120 is Hrotsvit of Gandersheim's play _Dulcitius_, whose formal title is _Passio sanctarum virginum Agapes Chioniae et Hirenae_ ("The Martyrdom of the Holy Virgins Agape, Chionia, and Irene").
3) Mary of Egypt (d. 5th cent.?). The earliest known form of M.'s story occurs in Cyril of Scythopolis' sixth-century Bios of St. Cyriacus (BHG 463). There M. is a former singer in a church in Jerusalem who withdrew into the Judean desert to avoid being an incitement to men's lusts, who subsisted there for eighteen years on some water and some legumes that she had taken with her, who was then discovered by the monk John, to whom she told her story, and who was dead when John revisited her. John buried her in the cave in which she had lived. A similar version, in which the desert solitary M. is an unnamed former nun of Jerusalem, occurs in the early seventh-century _Leimon_ of John Moschus.
The standard account (BHG 1042) also dates from the seventh century and is attributed in some witnesses to St. Sophronius, the earlier seventh-century patriarch of Jerusalem (and friend and traveling companion of John Moschus). In it M. is a former sex-crazed prostitute from Alexandria who, having traveled to Jerusalem, there underwent a religious conversion. She then became a solitary in Judean desert and lived there in extreme asceticism for forty-seven years without meeting anyone else until she was found by her narrator, now a monk named Zosimas (in Latin texts, Zosimus). Z. promised to M. the Eucharist annually, which he did. On his second return he found M. dead and buried her with the miraculous assistance of a lion who seems to many to have wandered in from St. Jerome's Vita of Paul of Thebes.
M. has an extremely rich dossier in many languages. In the west, Sophronius' (or pseudo-Sophronius') Bios was translated into Latin by the Neapolitan Paul the Deacon (later ninth-century); later highlights include a metrical Vita by Hildebert of Le Mans and an account in Jacopo da Varazze's _Legenda Aurea_.
M.'s former church in Rome was dedicated in 872. Deconsecrated in the 1920s, it is now better known as the Temple of Portunus or the Temple of Fortuna Virilis. Picky classicists, the sort who like to refer to the Colosseum as the Flavian Amphitheatre (in Rome), recognize the iffiness of such identifications and prefer to call this building "the oblong temple in the Foro Boario" ("oblong" because there's a circular one there as well). Here are two views of the church of Santa Maria Egiziaca as it will have appeared in the eighteenth century (the second, at least, is from an engraving by Piranesi):
Some more recent views (note the walled-up windows and the parklike surround):
A page of views:
Some visual representations of M. and Z.:
M. receiving the Eucharist from Z. as depicted in a twelfth-century copy of M.'s Bios (Paris, BnF, ms. Supplément grec 1276, fol. 95r):
M. and Z. in late twelfth-century (1192) frescoes in the church of the Panagia tou Arakou in Lagoudera (Nicosia prefecture), Cyprus:
M. and Z. in the early thirteenth-century (ca. 1205-1215) Mary of Egypt window in Chartres cathedral:
Detail views (M. standing; Z. burying M.), the last being much the clearest:
M. receiving the Eucharist from Z. as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century (1330s) fresco in the church of the Hodegetria at the Patriarchate of Peæ at Peæ in, depending on one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:
M. receiving the Eucharist from Z. as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century fresco (betw. 1335-1350) in the Visoki Deèani monastery near Peæ in, depending on one's view of recent events, the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's Kosovo province:
Z. clothing M. as depicted in two earlier fourteenth-century (betw. 1301-1350; 1348) illuminations in copies of the _Legenda aurea_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, mss. Français 183, fol.69r and Français 241, fol. 96v):
M. and Z. as depicted in two later fifteenth-century (1463) illuminations in a copy of Vincent de Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 51, fols. 198v and 200v):
Z. and M. as depicted in early sixteenth-century (1502) frescoes by Dionisy and sons in the Virgin Nativity cathedral of the St. Ferapont Belozero (Ferapontov Belozersky) monastery at Ferapontovo in Russia's Vologda oblast:
Some visual representations of M. alone:
Miniature (at left; at right, St. Ambrose of Milan) in the early fifteenth-century (ca. 1410) Hours of René d'Anjou (London, British Library, MS Egerton 1070, fol. 89v):
Miniature (betw. 1436 and 1450), Hours of Jean Dunois (London, British Library, MS Yates Thompson 3, fol. 287r):
Wall painting (fifteenth-century) in the cappella di Santa Maria at the abbey of Novalesa:
Same, showing location in the chapel (center: St. Mary Magdalene):
Panel painting by Hans Memling (Triptych of Adriaan Reins, 1480):
Polychromed statue, Burgos Cathedral, Chapel of the Constable of Castile, Altarpiece of St. Anne (very late fifteenth-century):
4) Walaricus (d. ca. 620). According to his closely posthumous Vita (BHL 8762) W. (also Gualaricus, Walric, Valéry, and many more) was a native of Auvergne. In about 611 he settled as a hermit on the headland of Leuconay in the Somme estuary. W. attracted disciples and these founded a monastery in whose primitive church W. was buried. In 627 Chlotar II funded new buildings on the site, which became a popular pilgrimage destination and survived several raids by Northmen. Known by the name of its saint, its town is now Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme (Somme). In 1066 a duke of Normandy who had assembled a fleet in the immediate vicinity is said to have had G.'s remains publicly exposed in order to obtain a fair wind for his nautical enterprise.
The first view in this set of expandable thumbnails is of Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme's mostly sixteenth-century église saint-Martin, said to have twelfth- and thirteenth-century construction in older sections:
That gabled porch-like extension has some interesting gargoyles. Here's a detail:
Better views of the church are here (in the menu at left, select Picardy; when the new matter loads, in the box at upper right select Photos, then in Somme select Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme):
5) Hugh of Grenoble (d. 1132). H. was a canon of Valence of reforming temperament who when still a young man was elected bishop of Grenoble. Disdaining as a simoniac the then archbishop of Vienne, H. chose instead to be consecrated at Rome by pope St. Gregory VII. Intermittently successful at reforming his diocese, he twice tried monastic life instead, first as a Cluniac at La Chaise-Dieu and later with St. Bruno at the Grand Chartreuse, in whose foundation H. had assisted as the local bishop. On the first occasion he was recalled by Gregory and on the second Bruno told him that he really should return to his diocese. At least, that's how prior Guigo I of the Grand Chartreuse relates these events in his Vita of H. (BHL 4016), an important document for early Carthusian history.
Grenoble's église de Saint-Hugues is an essentially thirteenth-century church on a twelfth-century base, adjacent to the cathedral of Notre-Dame. In this view Saint-Hugues is at left and the church with the belltower over the porch is the cathedral:
In this view they are both at center left:
Further views of the cathedral:
These churches were renovated relatively recently. Here's a page of expandable pre-renovation views of the cathedral (curiously called "Saint-Jean" here), showing the lamentable and now vanished facade added in the nineteenth century:
In 1101 H. gave Benedictines permission to found in his diocese the monastery of Chalais, near Chartreuse. It is now a convent of Dominican sisters. Many views of its church (esp. sculptural details) can be accessed from this page:
(last year's post revised)
To join the list, send the message: join medieval-religion YOUR NAME
to: [log in to unmask]
To send a message to the list, address it to:
[log in to unmask]
To leave the list, send the message: leave medieval-religion
to: [log in to unmask]
In order to report problems or to contact the list's owners, write to:
[log in to unmask]
For further information, visit our web site: