medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (20. April) is the feast day of:
1) Anicetus, pope (d. ca. 166). A. was the tenth bishop of Rome after St. Peter, According to the _Liber Pontificalis_ he came from Emesa (today's Homs) in Syria. According to Eusebius, he was bishop for eleven years. Early in his pontificate he hosted the elderly St. Polycarp of Smyrna. A. must have had contact with St. Hegesippus when the latter came to Rome and it would be surprising if he had not known St. Justin Martyr, who had been teaching in the Eternal City during the pontificate of his immediate predecessor, St. Pius I. A. may well have been the pope (the LP says it was Anacletus) who built the martyrium for St. Peter on the Vatican. Herewith two views of his portrait (1480 or 1481) in the Sistine Chapel:
2) Secundinus of Córdoba (?). We know nothing about S. other than his name and that he was martyred at Córdoba. The ninth-century martyrologer Usuard entered him under 21. April. According to its tenth-century calendar, the church of Córdoba was then celebrating him on 20. April. Today's RM follows the later but more local indication.
3) Marcellinus of Embrun (d. 374, supposedly). M. has a Vita (BHL 5227) of undetermined date that makes him an African who arrived at Rome in the brief pontificate of pope St. Eusebius and whom E. sent into today's France with two companions. Arriving at Nice, they evangelized in the Alpes Maritimes and later in the Dauphiné. E. was consecrated bishop of Embrun in about 365. The Vita credits him with being a thaumaturge; Gregory of Tours informs us of a perpetually burning lamp at his tomb whose oil had miraculous healing powers. In the tenth century M.'s putative relics were translated to Digne, where later they were burned during the Revolution.
Here are some views of the "romanesque" belltower of the mostly late fifteenth-century église Saint-Marcellin (et Saint-Pélade) variously said to be at Névache (Hautes-Alpes) or in adjacent La Salle-les-Alpes in the same département:
Several expandable views of the same church occur towards the bottom of this page:
4) Cćdwalla (d. 689). C. was the violent king of an Anglo-Saxon tribal group, the Gewisse, who extended his rule over other kingdoms south of the Thames, killing their rulers and many others and treating the survivors very harshly. In his first campaign against Sussex he encountered St. Wilfrid, then in exile and ministering to the South Saxons. It is said that C. was so impressed by Wilfrid that he started spreading Christianity and enriching the Church from the proceeds of his conquests. Badly wounded in his conquest of the Isle of Wight (the last "pagan" kingdom), the still young C. (he was only about thirty at his death) abdicated in 688 and went as a pilgrim to Rome. He is the first Anglo-Saxon king known to have gone there.
Pope Sergius I baptized C. on Easter Sunday of 689, giving him the name Peter. Today is is his _dies natalis_. C./P. was buried in St. Peter's; Bede (_Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum_, 5. 7) gives the verse epitaph on his tomb, a rare specimen of literary craft from the Eternal City in the century following the death of St. Gregory the Great.
5) Wiho (d. early 9th cent.). W. (also Wicho, Wilho; in Latin, also Viho) was the first bishop of Osnabrück, appointed by Charlemagne ca. 800 to serve in that strategically located population center in newly conquered Saxony. The late fifteenth-/early sixteenth-century north German historian Albertus Krantzius declared him to have been Frisian; recent scholarship regards this as a guess. W.'s cathedral (the city's first, consecrated by a bishop of Ličge/Lüttich who died in 787) is long gone, except for some foundation walls discovered during recent excavations. Herewith a few views of its present successor, the originally very late eleventh- or early twelfth- through late thirteenth-century cathedral of St. Peter (northwest tower expanded in the fifteenth century), restored in the years 1995-2004:
A sequence of views, incl. several of the interior, begins with the third photo in this set (which also has views of other medieval churches in Osnabrück):
6) Heliena of Laurino (d. before 915, supposedly). This less well known saint of the Regno (in Italian, Eliena) is the patron saint of Laurino (SA) in the Cilento in southern Campania. Marguerite of Burgundy, going to Naples in 1267 to marry Charles I, is said to brought with her from Auxerre remains believed to be those of H. These in turn are said to have been given by their son, Charles II, to St. Elzear, who brought them to his comital city of Ariano (today's Ariano Irpino in Campania's Avellino province).
A brief fifteenth- or sixteenth-century Vita (BHL 3800) in three lections from the diocese of Capaccio (now the diocese of Vallo della Lucania) makes H. a native of Laurino who at a young age became a solitary in a cave on Monte Pruno, where she lived very ascetically, made cowls for the monks at a nearby monastery, assisted local shepherds, and died on 20. April. According to this text, the monks wished to make her the saint of their own church but an angel forbade that; instead she was buried by the bishop of Paestum (Capaccio's predecessor) in his cathedral. H.'s date, which is pure guesswork, reposes on this datum about the bishop and upon there having been a Muslim sack of Paestum in 915 (shortly after which, it is thought, the see was relocated to the more defensible Capaccio). Explanations of how H.'s relics got from Paestum or Capaccio to Auxerre strain belief.
Laurino got some of H.'s relics from Ariano in 1713 and the remainder in 1882. H. entered the RM in its revisions of 2004. At Laurino her feast is kept on 22 May.
7) Hildegund of Schönau (Bl.; d. 1188). H. (also Hildegundis) has a dossier of several Vitae of Cistercian origin from the very late twelfth- and early thirteenth centuries (BHL 3936-3940), ending with an account in the _Dialogus miraculorum_ of Caesarius of Heisterbach (1. 40).
According to Caesarius, H. was born at today's Neuß am Rhein (others merely place her origin in the vicinity of Köln). Her mother is said to have died giving birth to her. Her father made a vow that if H. lived he would undertake a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. When she was old enough to travel he fulfilled his vow. H., with her hair cut and dressed as a young man, accompanied him, taking the name of Joseph. The father died at Tyre on the way back and after a year H./J. returned to Germany, where, still passing for male and still using the name Joseph, she entered the now mostly vanished Cistercian abbey of Schönau in the Odenwald near Heidelberg. There she resisted diabolic temptation and reported at least one vision. Her true sex and after that her original name were discovered only after her death.
H. was included in sixteenth-century expanded editions of Usuard. She is absent from the RM of 2001 but is entered under today in the sanctoral calendar of the diocese of Münster's widely used site www.Kirchensite.de at the level of Saint. The also widely used site www.heilige.de (used, e.g., in the diocese of Köln), which does not employ the distinctions Saint and Blessed, also enters her under today. According to Marie-Anselme Dimier's entry on her in the _Bibliotheca Sanctorum_ (vol. 7 , cols. 767-68), where she is entered as a Beata, her cult has never been papally approved. But 1966 was a long time ago. Does anyone know what the present status of her cult is in the eyes of Rome?
This page shows three late sixteenth-century drawings of the abbey of Schönau, including one of H. hard at work on the construction of a dormitory:
It is claimed that these actually document the twelfth-century state of the abbey and that they must therefore derive from medieval antecedents.
A set of computer-generated images purporting to be a virtual reconstruction of the abbey church and cloister is here (use menu at left):
8) Agnes of Montepulciano (d. 1317). At the age of nine A. entered a Dominican convent where, it is said, she immediately displayed an extraordinary piety. After barely five years she was selected to found, along with her mistress of novices, a new house in the diocese of Acquapendente and at the age of sixteen she was named its superior. In 1306 A. founded another Dominican convent at her native Montepulciano (SI) in southern Tuscany. She spent the remainder of her life at this house, where she operated miracles and where again she was viewed as very pious.
In 1365-66 Bl. Raymond of Capua wrote a Vita of A. (BHL 155). Raymond later became confessor to (and biographer of) St. Catherine of Siena, who in 1377 had visited the convent at Montepulciano to pray at A.'s tomb and who while there had experienced a vision of A. performing again her most famous miracle: covering the church's altar with manna. A. was canonized in 1726. Her relics remain in her former convent church, now dedicated to her, at Montepulciano. An illustrated, Italian-language account of that building, begun in 1306 and much rebuilt, is here:
A better view of the facade ("restored" 1926-1935; the portal is a late medieval survival):
A less flattering exterior view from the rear:
Views of A. at rest in her church and of the church's Renaissance cloister are here:
(last year's post lightly revised and with the addition of Heliena of Laurino, previously noticed under 22. May)
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