medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (30. April) is the feast day of:
1) Quirinus of Rome, venerated at Neuss (?). Q. is a Roman martyr of the cemetery of Praetextatus on the Via Appia, where his probable epitaph by pope St. Damasus I, making him out to have been a soldier, has been recovered in a very fragmentary state (ICVR, no. 13874). The very legendary Passio of pope St. Alexander, Eventius, and Theodulus (BHL 266; not earlier than the sixth century) makes him a military tribune and the father of St. Balbina, has him decapitated on 30. March, and records his burial in the cemetery of Praetextatus. Q.'s grave there in a large underground opening is recorded in the seventh-century pilgrim itineraries for Rome. St. Ado of Vienne, Usuard, and the RM until the its revision of 2001 entered Q. under the Passio's date of 30. March.
The RM now assigns Q. the day given in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology for a confessor of the same name and the same cemetery. In many German dioceses this was already Q.'s feast day in the later Middle Ages. With the promulgation of the new RM, the archdiocese of Köln designated today as the feast of Q.'s (supposed) translation to Neuss (see below) and kept 30. March as Q.'s local feast day.
Around the year 1000 there was a church dedicated to a St. Q. at today's Neuss am Rhein in Nordrhein-Westfalen. Later medieval texts purvey a story that in 1050 pope St. Leo IX gave Q.'s remains to the then abbess of a Benedictine monastery for women at Neuss (supposedly founded in 825 and later known as the Qurinusstift, it transformed itself in the twelfth century into a house of noble canonesses). Henceforth Neuss had a military martyr to go with others in the region (e.g., Gereon at Köln, Cassius and Florentius at Bonn, Victor at Xanten). Q.'s cult spread widely in Germany and the Low Countries, where he was credited with protecting Neuss during the Burgundian siege of 1474/75 and where from the late fifteenth century through the seventeenth he was invoked as one of God's Four Holy Marshals.
A German-language page on Q.'s former Stiftskirche at Neuss, the Quirinus-Münster (expandable views):
2) Maternianus of Reims (d. later 4th cent.). M. is traditionally reckoned the sixth bishop of Reims, having succeeded St. Aper in about 351. He was one of the addressees of St. Hilarius of Poitiers' letter _De synodis_, written from exile in 358.
M.'s brief, legendary Vita (BHL 5677; hesitantly ascribed to the eleventh century) adds nothing reliable to the very little that is known about him. Miracles accompanied his birth, when still an infant he was saved miraculously from a fire that was threatening his crib, and after becoming a priest at Reims he was famous for his miracles. When the clergy of Reims were seeking a replacement for the recently deceased Aper a miraculous nocturnal light surrounded his dwelling, other miracles occurred, and M. was chosen by acclamation.
As bishop, M. healed a leper, excommunicated a magnate who had been unjustly oppressing a poor widow, and overcame a challenge to his authority by an African magus named Ireneus, whom he then cured of diabolic possession. M. joined with Hilarius at Poitiers in combating heretics, magi, sorcerers, and the like and was with H. at the latter's death. Returning to Reims, he himself died not long afterward. Three days later M. appeared to his sorrowful disciples, comforting them with the news that he was in heaven. Thus far the Vita, which in the form printed in the _Acta Sanctorum_ does not furnish a _dies natalis_ for M.
According to Flodoard of Reims (_Historia Remensis ecclesiae_, 1. 5), archbishop Hincmar of Reims conducted a formal recognition of M.'s remains before giving a portion of them to Louis the German (r. 817-876). Archbishop Ebbo of Reims (d. 851) gave relics of M. to archbishop St. Ansgar of Hamburg-Bremen who in turn deposited them at today's Heiligenstedten (Lkr. Steinburg) in Schleswig-Holstein. In 882 Ansgar's successor St. Rimbert founded the abbey of Sts. Maternianus and Nicholas at today's Bücken (Lkr. Nienburg/Weser) in Niedersachsen. Its relics of M. presumably came from Heiligenstedten. Herewith an illustrated, German-language page on the originally eleventh- to fourteenth-century Stiftskirche St. Materniani et St. Nicolai in Bücken:
Other exterior views of the church:
The church has some restored earlier thirteenth-century windows. Here's a view of its window of St. Maternianus:
An illustrated German-language page with links to views of individual items of this church's furniture and decoration:
This illustrated, German-language Wikipedia page on the originally later thirteenth-century St.-Materniani-Kirche in Westochtersum, an _Ortsteil_ of Ochtersum (Lkr. Wittmund) in Niedersachsen
asserts that that church is dedicated to bishop St. Maternus of Köln (feastdays in September and October). Whereas that may be the understanding now, the area in which the church is located belonged in the later Middle Ages not to the diocese of Köln but rather to that of Bremen where, as we have seen, relics believed to be of today's M. had been venerated since the ninth century. In all probability today's M. was this church's original titular. Further views are here:
In the later Middle Ages North German dioceses celebrated M. on 7. July. In Reims he was celebrated today; this is also his day of commemoration in some Orthodox churches. M. has yet to grace the pages of the RM.
3) Mercurialis (d. later 4th cent.). M. is an historically attested bishop of Forlì in Emilia-Romagna (he took part in the Council of Rimini in 359) who medievally became its apostolic-era protobishop. His cult is first attested from the ninth century; in the tenth it had spread to Ravenna and to Pistoia. In the later eleventh century a monk who was not of Forlì wrote the first of M.'s Vitae (BHL 5932), combining praise of a model bishop with narrative elements derived from paintings in M.'s originally extramural late antique basilica. One of the latter depicted M., assisted by St. Rufillus of nearby Forlimpopoli, slaying a dragon that was infesting the area between their two towns. In 1173-81 Vallombrosans erected at Forlì the monastery church dedicated to M. now known as the basilica di San Mercuriale. A few views of this structure and its adjacent cloister, badly damaged in World War II and since rebuilt:
In the diocese of Forlì-Bertinoro M. is celebrated liturgically on 26. October.
4) Pomponius (d. 6th cent.). Today's less well known saint of the Regno is recorded for today in Naples' earlier ninth-century Marble Calendar. According to the late ninth- and early tenth-century Neapolitan ecclesiastical chronicler John the Deacon, P. was the city's twenty-first bishop. He is credited with having built Naples' church of Santa Maria Maggiore, known since early modern times as the Pietrasanta. This occupies the site of an ancient temple, pieces of which may still be seen in its seventeenth-century rebuilding by Cosimo Fanzago. In Neapolitan legend, the ruined temple was by night the haunt of demons, the chief of whom (in one version) assumed the form of a giant boar that greatly terrified nearby residents with its sinister grunting. The BVM appeared to P. in a dream vision and instructed him to erect a church on the ruins. This he did, dedicating the building to her, and the demons troubled the area no more.
P.'s late antique church is gone. Its much later belltower (tenth-/twelfth-century) survives and is the oldest such structure in the city. A distance view is here (the building in the center is the late fifteenth-century cappella Pontano, modeled on a tomb on the Via Appia near Rome):
The marbles and even the original brick in the base are spolia. Higher up, in the later portions, this is not so:
5) Erkenwald (d. 693). E. (Earconwald) was the the brother of St. Æthelburh of Barking Abbey, which latter he founded for her. He also founded the abbey of Chertsey in Surrey and was its abbot from ca. 664 until his death. In 675 or 676 St. Theodore of Canterbury made him bishop of London. St. Bede tells us that bits of wood from the litter in which E. was carried when ill worked miracles. E.'s feast on this day is attested in later Anglo-Saxon calendars. In 1148 he was translated to a shrine east of the high altar of St. Paul's; shortly thereafter, a collection of his miracles appeared. From then until the Reformation he was London's principal patron saint. In the Middle English alliterative poem _Saint Erkenwald_ (late fourteenth-century) E. obtains salvation for a just pagan judge.
A mediocre reproduction of Wenceslas Hollar's seventeenth-century engraving of E.'s shrine in Old St. Paul's:
There's a much crisper one here (in ch. III, about a quarter of the way down the page):
Some expandable views of Chertsey Abbey's early fourteenth-century breviary (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Lat. liturg. e. 6), with E.'s feasts in April and in May:
An illustrated, English-language page on Chertsey Abbey:
Two photographs from an archaeological campaign at Chertsey Abbey in 1865 and one of the abbot's seal start here:
6) Adjutor of Vernon (d. 1131). According to his Vita (BHL 81) by his younger contemporary, archbishop Hugh III of Rouen, A. was born to a noble family at Vernon in Normandy and was educated at Tiron in the Perche by its St. Bernard (14. April). As a young man A. took part in the First Crusade. He was taken prisoner by Saracens and spent seventeen years in captivity before being released miraculously with the aid of Sts. Mary Magdalene and Bernard of Tiron and then miraculously transported to his homeland, bearing with him the chains with which he had been bound. On his return he became a monk of Tiron. Later, wearing the chains and manacles of his former imprisonment, he became an hermit, tending a chapel he had constructed near Vernon. In Hugh's presence A. closed a dangerous whirlpool in the Seine by having the archbishop utter a blessing and sprinkle holy water at the site and by then throwing into the vortex some part of the aforementioned chains.
Today is A.'s _dies natalis_. His cult was immediate and was confirmed by further miracles.
While we're here, an illustrated, French language page on, and another expandable view of, the late eleventh- to seventeenth-century église collégiale de Notre-Dame at Vernon (Eure):
7) Ventura of Spello (d. not long before 1265). V. is a poorly documented saint of today's Spello (PG) in Umbria. A Hospitaller of St. John of Jerusalem, he established at his native Spello a hospital with a church dedicated to the Holy Cross. V. was buried in the church, which is now named for him. Miracles were reported at his tomb and in 1346 a miraculous apparition of a second cross over that on Spello's municipal fortress signalled the end of a local armed conflict. V.'s very plain tomb is still in the church of San Ventura, where it forms the lower part of the altar; his remains underwent recognitions in 1625 and again in 1778. V. has yet to grace the pages of the RM.
The thirteenth-century fresco (a _Maria lactans_) over the altar in Spello's church of San Ventura:
The altar / V.'s tomb:
(last year's post lightly revised and with the addition of Maternianus of Reims)
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