medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (7. April) is the feast day of:
1) Hegesippus (d. later 2d cent.). H. was a convert from Judaism who preached orthodoxy against the Gnostics and whose impulse to collect authentic Christian traditions took him from the East, where he had been based, to Corinth and to Rome during the papacy of St. Anicetus (ca. 155 - ca. 166). Eusebius preserves fragments of his _Hypomnemata_ ('Memorabilia') including a lengthy passage on the death of James the Just.
2) Theodore, Irenaeus, Serapion, and Ammonius (?). This group of martyrs from the Libyan Pentapolis consists, in the order named, of a bishop, a deacon, and two lectors. They (sometimes A. is not named and sometimes several unnamed companions are added) are entered under 6. April in some manuscripts of the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology and in others under 26. March. The latter is also their date of commemoration in the martyrologies of St. Ado of Vienne and of Usuard. Some modern potted accounts add, without indicating a source, that they had their tongues cut out and that their suffering did not encompass their deaths. The year of their Passion is sometimes given as 310, presumably on the basis of an identification of this T. with the martyr bishop of Cyrene recorded in various menaea for 4. July and formerly commemorated in the RM on that date.
3) Calliopius (d. ca. 305). Calliopius is a poorly attested martyr of Pompeiopolis in Cilicia. According to his legendary Passio (BHG 290, 290e; there's also a version in Armenian), he was a Christian of senatorial family at Perge in Pamphylia who during the Great Persecution refused at Pompeiopolis, in the presence of the governor, to sacrifice to the pagan gods. Wishing to save a social equal, the governor offered C. his only daughter in marriage if only he would perform the required rites. But C. preferred to remain celibate and to accept his fate. He then freed his slaves and distributed his remaining possessions among his family. After being severely beaten he was crucified head down at the request of his also Christian mother, who had come to Pompeiopolis to die along with her son. Today is his _dies natalis_. Thus far C.'s Passio.
4) George of Mytilene (d. probably 820). We know about G. from a Bios preserved in a manuscript of the tenth century and from brief synaxary notices first occurring in witnesses from that century. According to the Bios (BHG 2163), G. was born to a rich but pious family in Asia Minor whom he left at the age of seventeen in order to enter a monastery. After two years of monastic life he fled to Mytilene (the chief city of Lesbos) where for six years he lived very austerely as an hermit before being elected bishop by the local clergy. After about eight years as bishop G. was in Constantinople defending the rights of his church when Leo the Armenian (Leo V) came to power in 813 and reinstituted iconoclasm as official policy. G.'s resistance earned him a beating and exile to an island in about 815. He died there on this day some six years later.
G.'s Bios first came to widespread scholarly attention in the 1950s. Prior to that time the only generally known narrative source for G. was the fourteenth-century Bios of Sts. David, Symeon, and George of Lesbos (BHG 494), said to have been active in G.'s time and supposedly persecuted under Leo the Isaurian (Leo III; r. 717-741). Since it was not unusual after the passage of time for the less well known persecutor Leo V to be misidentified as the much more famous persecutor Leo III, it is now supposed that this has happened here and that G.'s dating as reported in his own much earlier Bios is the correct one.
5) Aybert of Crespin (d. 1140). According to his closely posthumous Vita by Robert, archdeacon of Ostrevant (BHL 180), A. (also Aibert) was born near Tournai; his father was knight. After a childhood marked with indications of his great holiness and an early youth in which he began to live ascetically, A. became a disciple of a hermit who when on a journey had been a guest in his father's house. This hermit was also a priest and a monk of the nearby Benedictine abbey of Crespin in Hainaut whose abbot had permitted him to live apart. The abbot chose the two of them to be his companions on a pilgrimage to Rome. When he had to journey further to Benevento to take care of some business with the pope (Urban III) the companions were given permission to return sooner. Not long afterward and prompted by a vision, A. made his monastic profession at Crespin.
For twenty-five years A. took part in the ordinary life of the monastery and served in several important offices. Then, with abbatial permission, he withdrew to an hermitage he had prepared in the wild and lived there for another twenty-five years, for twenty-two of which did without bread and for twenty of which he did without drink. A. had always devoted himself to repeated prayer but now, having had himself ordained priest, he celebrated two masses daily, one for the living and one for the dead. In his hermitage A. would also sing the entire psalter, fifty psalms at a time, each group of fifty followed by three lessons. He would say one hundred fifty Ave Marias daily, one hundred from a kneeling position and fifty while prostrate. On top of all this he heard confessions and imposed penances and was visited not only by common folk but also by all manner of religious, even including abbots and bishops, and also by lay lords.
After his death on this day A. was buried before the entire monastic community of Crespin at the place where he had maintained his cell. Lifetime miracles were recorded and others took place at his grave. Thus far A.'s Vita. His cult probably was immediate.
In the division of Hainaut in 1830, Crespin fell on the French side of border; it's situated in the département du Nord. Views of the remains of its abbey of Saint-Pierre (later, Saint-Landelin) are here:
For more on the abbey, see Anne-Marie Helvétius, _L’abbaye de Crespin des origines au milieu du XIIIe sičcle_ (Mémoire, Université libre de Bruxelles, 1986).
There are modern churches dedicated to A. in former territories of the abbey both in French and in Belgian Hainaut. The village of Saint-Aybert (Nord), not far from Crespin, is said to owe its name to the belief that this was the site of A.'s hermitage.
6) Hermann Joseph (d. 1241). H. is said to have been a native of Köln who at an early age developed an exceptionally strong devotion to the BVM and who spent a lot of time at his city's church of St. Maria im Kapitol. According to his later thirteenth-century Vita (BHL 3485), on one occasion the the young H., who had been praying before an image of the Virgin, offered her an apple he was carrying. Whereupon the Virgin, not wishing to disappoint, extended her hand and took the present gratefully. Herewith some views of St. Maria im Kapitol (consecrated, 1065; very badly damaged in World War II):
Three pages with multiple views (expandable):
Santa Maria im Kapitol has a later twelfth-century statue of the BVM said touristically to be the image to which the young H. proffered his apple. Placed in the east apse, it is a fragment of a relief and is thought to have been reworked as a full round figure only in the nineteenth century:
Apropos the BVM and apples, the same church also has this statue from around 1300 (acquired in 1879 and much restored) showing Mary as second Eve holding an apple:
At the age of twelve H. tried to become a canon at the Premonstratensian abbey at Steinfeld (in today's Landkreis Euskirchen in Nordrhein-Westfalen). That offer was declined because of H.'s youth but the young saint was kept on and after the passage of time and his experience of a remarkable vision he was allowed to make his profession. With the exception of a brief and early stint in Frisia he spent the remainder of his life first at Steinfeld and later as spiritual advisor to a convent of Cistercian nuns at nearby Zülpich, experiencing all the while yet more visions and making himself beloved through his mildness of spirit and his acts of charity. H. is also said to have been exceptionally chaste and for that reason to have been called Joseph by some of his fellows. H. didn't care for this at first but accepted the name once it had been confirmed to him by the BVM in an apparition.
H. was canonized in 1958. His relics are kept in a tomb in the middle of the abbey church:
Here's an expandable view of a statue of J. from ca. 1500 in the same church:
An illustrated (black-and-white), German-language history of the abbey (Salvatorian since 1923) and of its church is here:
(last year's post revised)
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