medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (12. April) is the feast day of:
1) Vissia (?). The early modern tradition of Fermo (FM) in the Marche records two virgin martyrs of whom nothing of substance is known: St. Sophia of Fermo (30. April) and today's V. They have very similar baroque reliquaries containing cranial fragments and at Fermo they are now celebrated jointly on this day along with two other local saints. In the RM, whose pages they have graced since cardinal Baronio placed them there, each has her own day.
While we're in Fermo, here's a view of the facade and belltower of its originally early thirteenth-century cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta:
Virtually every other part of this building is of the eighteenth century or later. Underneath the church, though, one can see bits of a sixth-century predecessor built over second century fragments of Roman walls whose bricks are said to bear stamps dating from the reign of Antoninus Pius (138-161):
2) Julius I, pope (d. 352). J. became bishop of Rome, his native city, on 6. February 337. For most of his pontificate he was in conflict with Arian and Arian-leaning bishops, primarily in the East: two well known instances are his support of the exiled bishop St. Athanasius of Alexandria, who under Constantius II had been replaced by an Arian, and his calling the anti-Arian council of Sardica/Serdica in 343. J. is credited in the _Liber Pontificalis_ with the erection of the church that later became Santi Apostoli as well as of two buildings bearing the name of Julius: the _basilica Iulii_, a ceremonial hall later demolished to create space for the erection of_Aula concilii_ in front of the Lateran palace, and the _titulus Iulii_, later Santa Maria in Trastevere. During J.'s pontificate, Christmas came to be celebrated in Rome on 25. December. Today is J.'s _dies natalis_. He was buried in the cemetery of Calepodius on the Via Aurelia.
In this view of the twelfth-century apse mosaic of Rome's Santa Maria in Trastevere, J. is the second pope on St. Peter's left:
Here's J. (second from right, receiving a message sent by Athanasius of Alexandria) as depicted in an early fifteenth-century copy (ca. 1410-1412) of Marco Polo's _Devisement du monde_ (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 2810, fol. 178r):
3) Zeno of Verona (d. ca. 371). Well educated and seemingly from a Latin-speaking part of northern Africa, Z. became bishop of Verona in 362. He is the author of a body of sermons of some literary polish and, as Verona's principal patron saint, a fixture in the city's historic folklore.
Today is Z. of Verona's feast day in the general Roman Calendar. In his own diocese he has since 2004 been celebrated liturgically on 21. May, the anniversary of his translation in 807 to what is often thought to have been a predecessor of the former abbey church in Verona dedicated to him and is now known as San Zeno Maggiore. This newer church, built from ca. 1138 to 1178 and incorporating some elements of a tenth-century predecessor, is one of Italy's major "romanesque" monuments. It is also noteworthy for some later ornamentation. Some exterior views:
Facade and main portal:
Z. in the lunette over the main portal:
Flanking portal reliefs (first left, then right):
Various detail views of the reliefs may be seen in the Italian-language account on this page (though the first image is of the cathedral of Ferrara):
A Thais page on the reliefs:
Forty-eight bronze panels survive on the door. Slightly expandable views of a number of these, as well as expandable views of the portal reliefs and of other features, will be found on the five pages starting here:
Some interior views:
The locally famous "San Zen che ride" ("Smiling Saint Zeno"), a polychrome marble statue from the thirteenth century:
San Zeno Maggiore's frescoes include this set, with a well known George and Dragon:
As its name implies, San Zeno Maggiore is not the only Veronese church dedicated to Z. Here's a view of the facade of the originally twelfth-century San Zeno in Oratorio, otherwise known as San Zenetto ("Little Saint Zeno"):
An Italian-language account of this church:
Inside is this fourteenth-century statue of Z.:
Z.'s abbey at Verona promoted his cult throughout its dependencies. One of these was, until the eighteenth century, the originally twelfth-century chiesa di San Zeno at today's Maguzzano di Lonato (BS) in Lombardy. This replaced a smaller, eleventh-century church on the same site (but quite possibly of a different dedication, as Veronese influence in this area is first attested from 1145). Herewith a scholarly, Italian-language account with expandable views:
4) Sabas the Goth (d. 372). We know about S. (Sabbas, Sava, etc.) from a closely posthumous Passio (BHG 1607). According to this account, S. was a poor villager who stubbornly insisted on asserting his Christianity at a time when others, including the pagan village elders, were attempting to shield their relatives and friends from anti-Christian persecution. One such public assertion lead to a temporary banishment and another to his being released as a person of no consequence by soldiers of the persecuting Gothic prince. A few years later S. was seized again, refused to eat meat that had been sacrificed to a Gothic deity, miraculously survived a javelin blow, and was racked. A village woman freed him. Instead of trying to escape S. stayed on to help her with her housework and was soon re-arrested and was executed by drowning. Today is his _dies natalis_.
Three of St. Basil the Great's letters (155, 164, 165) deal with his requested transfer of relics of S. to Cappadocia. Orthodox churches celebrate S. on 15. April.
5) Damian of Pavia (d. 697). According to Paul the Deacon (_Historia Langobardorum_, 6. 4), Damian bishop of Pavia was the author of a highly praised doctrinal letter sent to Constantinople by a synod of Milan under its bishop St. Mansuetus in 679 for consideration by the Sixth Ecumenical Council. Whereas Paul's attribution of that letter to D., who at the time was not yet bishop of Pavia, has been contested, the letter itself survives to show that, regardless of who actually wrote it, Italy still had polished and effective writers even in the later seventh century when the general quality of its surviving literary production is not high.
D. is one Pavia's sainted early bishops. The _Liber de laudibus civitatis Ticinensis_ (ca. 1330) notes the presence of his remains in the church of Sts. Cosmas and Damian and, seemingly incorrectly, attributes to him the institution of a formal procession of the cathedral canons when they changed from their winter choir to their summer one. Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century antiquaries and church historians produced brief accounts of D.'s doings whose documentary foundation, if any, is not apparent. D. entered the RM under Pietro Galesini (cardinal Baronio's predecessor).
6) Erkembode (d. 742). E. entered the abbey of Sithiu/St.-Bertin at today's Saint-Omer (Pas-de-Calais) after 707 and became its abbot in 717. He is credited both with completing his house's conversion from Columbanian to Benedictine and with effecting a significant increase in its territorial holdings. In 723 E. became the fifth bishop of Thérouanne but continued to hold his abbey in plurality. Today is his _dies natalis_. E.'s brief Vita (BHL 2599) by a fourteenth-century historian and abbot of St.-Bertin, Jean LeLong, is refreshing in its avoidance of invention and pragmatic in its sketch of the importance of E.'s cult for the history of St Omer's church dedicated to the BVM, an abbatial possession where E. was buried.
According to LeLong, who was informed on this point by the tradition of his abbey, E.'s cult was immediate. An Elevatio is recorded for the year 1052. Miracles at E.'s tomb stimulated so many donations that in the later twelfth and thirteenth centuries the monks were able to rebuild the church housing it. That church is gone now, having been replaced in later Middle Ages by Saint-Omer's present cathédrale Notre-Dame. But the latter (a co-cathedral, presumably, of the diocese of Arras) still keeps E.'s tomb. Offerings are still made there; in his modern construction (there's not a word of this in LeLong), E. was a near-paralytic at the time of his death and his intercession is sought especially by those who have difficulty in walking. A view of the tomb is here:
and a much better one is on p. 34 of the issue of _Peregrinations_ accessible here (fig. 9 in the article by Jim Bugslag):
7) Alferius (d. 1050). Today's less well known saint of the Regno was a noble of the principality of Salerno who in the early years of the eleventh century founded the initially rupestrian abbey of the Santissima Trinità at today's Cava de' Tirreni (SA) in coastal Campania. Our chief source for A.'s life and doings is the later twelfth-century _Vitae quatuor priorum abbatum Cavensium_ by abbot Peter II of Santissima Trinità at Venosa, a daughter house of Cava. A. and his three immediate successors are all considered saints. Their cults were confirmed papally in 1893.
(last year's post lightly revised)
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