medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (24. April) is the feast day of:
1) Mary of Cleophas and Salome (d. 1st cent.). In the "new" RM of 2001, a joint commemoration of two saints previous commemorated separately on 9. April and 22. October.
1a) Mary of Cleophas (or Clopas). John (19:25) names this M. as one of the women standing with the BVM at Jesus' crucifixion. She has been identified with other New Testament figures, named and unnamed. Because John calls her the "sister" of Mary mother of Jesus, literal commentators, treating the "of Cleophas" as a patronymic (it could easily denote a spousal relationship), made M. the daughter of St. Anne by an assumed later marriage with someone named Cleophas or Clopas. A tradition as old as Papias in the early second century makes M. the wife of Alphaeus and the mother of James the Less and Joseph, of Simon, and of Jude Thaddeus (cf. Mark 6:3; Matthew 13:54-57).
In one legend, M., along with Salome (on whom see below) and Mary Magdalen, is reported to have been transported miraculously by boat to the coast of southern France and to have aided in that region's evangelization. Her alleged remains (and those of Salome; here the two are called Marie Jacobé and Marie Salomé) have been venerated since at least the fifteenth century at the late eleventh- or twelfth-century fortified church at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (Bouches-du-Rhône) in the Camargue:
Some exterior views of the church:
An interior view:
M. and her four children appear in such fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century depictions of the Extended Holy Family as those on the chancel screen of St. Helen's, Ranworth (Norfolk), in this view just right of center:
and (with her husband too) in the lower left of this window from ca. 1470 in York's Holy Trinity, Goodramgate (image by Gordon Plumb):
details (images also by Gordon Plumb):
and Quentin Massys' St. Anne altarpiece (1507-1508):
1b) Salome. Mark (15:40) names S. (also present at Mark 16:1), along with Mary Magdalen and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joseph, as being among the women standing with the BVM at Jesus' crucifixion. The parallel passage in Matthew (27:56) while not referring to S. by name notes the presence (again along with Mary Magdalen and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joseph) of the mother of the sons of Zebedee (James the Great and John). The latter, also present at Matthew 20:20-23, is commonly taken to be S. Tradition makes S. a Mary too (e.g. as one of the Saintes Maries of southern France -- see above).
Among S.'s various legends is one associated with her cult at Veroli (FR) in southern Lazio. An Inventio of 1209 (BHL 5519, 5519) tells how together with two saints named Blasius and Demetrius S. undertook a lengthy pilgrimage that brought her as far as the outskirts of Veroli, where, wearied by her long journey, she halted at the home a pagan named Maurus. B. and D. went on into Veroli proper and were promptly martyred. S. converted Maurus, who buried her when she too died some six months later on the third day of June. On 25. May 1209 her remains were miraculously discovered outside of Veroli. Three days later they were solemnly translated to that town's cathedral. A small oratory was built on site where her relics had been found; some of these were brought back from the cathedral and placed there. 25. May is now the date of S.'s patronalia at Veroli.
The cathedral treasury at Veroli houses both a tiny sarcophagus said to have contained S.'s relics when these were found in 1209:
and a thirteenth-century reliquary bust said to contain her head:
S.'s oratory has since been expanded into the basilica di Santa Salome. Originally a thirteenth-century church, this was rebuilt after an earthquake in 1350 and after further rebuilding is now mostly early modern:
But it retains its thirteenth-century apses and some thirteenth- and fourteenth-century frescoes. In this fresco in the crypt, the person to Jesus' immediate left has been said to be S. (image expands considerably):
It seems more likely that that image, which seems to be bearded, represents S.'s companion St. Blasius and that the person to _his_ left is S.
In the late middle ages an oratory was also built on the supposed site of Maurus' dwelling. Now the church of the Madonna degli Angeli, it boasts frescoes attributed to Antoniazzo Romano (1430-ca.1508).
S. and family as depicted in the aforementioned window in York's Holy Trinity, Goodramgate (image and accompanying note courtesy of Gordon Plumb):
2) Alexander of Lyon (d. 177, traditionally). A. and his supposed fellow sufferer Epipodius (22. April) are early martyrs of Lyon who according to St. Gregory of Tours (_In gloria martyrum_, 49) were entombed in the crypt of that city's church of St. John on either side of the altar containing the relics of St. Irenaeus of Lyon. A late antique sermon (BHL 2575d) seemingly written for delivery at Lyon likens these saints to Peter and Paul and claims that the dust of their tombs is miracle-working.
E. and A. (the customary order of their naming) have a brief, legendary Passio (BHL 2574, 2575; earliest witness is twelfth-century) making them martyrs of the persecution under the emperor Antoninus Verus (Eusebius' name for Marcus Aurelius; cf. his _Historia ecclesiastica_, 4. 18). According to this, they were friends residing in Lyon who went into hiding together and who were betrayed, arrested, and imprisoned. E., the younger of the two, was interrogated first. Neither blandishments nor torture could persuade him to abandon his faith; he was then further tortured publicly and finally was executed by a sword blow. E.'s death increased A.'s thirst for martyrdom; his turn came two days later. The two were buried secretly and later were given a martyrial church, where they operated many miracles. Thus far this Passio.
The Carolingian successor of that late antique church of St. John with the tombs of E. and A. was dedicated to St. Irenaeus. Though Lyon's present église Saint-Irénée is of the nineteenth century, it preserves at least one structural fragment from the late antique church and the apse of its crypt is a rebuilding from 1635 of the Carolingian one. The saints' tombs were destroyed in 1562 but their altars remain. Here's a view of the present crypt (restored in 1863):
An illustrated, French-language history of the building:
3) Anthimus of Nicomedia (d. 303 or 311/12). A. was bishop of Nicomedia in Bithynia (today's İzmit in Turkey). He was put to death either under Diocletian just after the start of the Great Persecution (so Eusebius, _Historia ecclesiastica_, 8. 6 and 13) or under Maximinus (so St. Lucian of Antioch in a fragment preserved in the _Chronicon Paschale_). Justinian erected a basilica over his tomb. In Orthodox churches he is celebrated on 3. September. The probably early seventh-century (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology lists A. for 27. April. That is also where A. was in the RM until its latest revision (2001), which follows the later fourth-century Syriac Martyrology in placing him under today's date.
A. as depicted in the later thirteenth-century (either ca. 1263-1270 or slightly later) frescoes of the monastery church of the Holy Trinity at Sopoćani (Raška dist.) in southern Serbia:
A. as depicted (in the roundel at left; the standing figure at center is Antipas of Pergamum) in the earlier fourteenth-century (1330s) frescoes of the church of the Hodegetria in the Patriarchate of Peć at Peć in, depending on one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:
A. as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. 1335-1350) of the altar area in the church of the Pantocrator at the Visoki Dečani monastery near Peć in, depending on one's view of recent events, the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's Kosovo province of Kosovo and Metohija:
4) Mellitus (d. 624). Abbot M. was the leader of a group of clerics sent in 601 by pope St. Gregory the Great to England in support of the mission of St. Augustine of Canterbury. M. brought the pallium for A., along with vessels, altar cloths, priestly vestments, and many books. One of the latter may have been the Gospels of Saint Augustine (now Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 286), views of which are here:
Prior to Augustine's death in 604 M. became bishop of the East Saxons, with his seat in London where king Æthelberht erected for him that city's first St. Paul's. In 609 and 610 M. was in Rome. In 619 he became archbishop of Canterbury. According to St. Bede the Venerable (_Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum_, 1. 2. 7), M. suffered from gout. We learn from his brief Vita by Goscelin of Saint-Bertin (BHL 5896) that eleventh-century pilgrims to Canterbury who suffered from this disease were directed to his tomb.
5) Wilfrid of York (d. prob. 710). A scion of lesser nobility in Northumbria, W. was spent much of his early life at the royal courts of Northumbria and Kent with a few years' training at Lindisfarne in between. In the 650s he went as a lay pilgrim to Rome where, according to his Vita by Stephen of Ripon (BHL 8889), he daily visited shrines of the martyrs, was instructed in Roman liturgical practices by the archdeacon of Rome, was presented to the pope, and left with a collection of relics. Reaching Lyon, W. halted there, made his monastic profession, and studied for several years. When he returned to England royal patronage made him abbot at Ripon. W. was ordained priest in 663. In 664 he helped to secure the victory of the Roman party at the Synod of Whitby. Shortly thereafter W. was named bishop of Northumbria.
Making sure that his consecration would be both splendid and perfectly canonical, W. traveled to the Merovingian capital at Compiègne, where in the royal palace he was enthroned in a ceremony attended by twelve bishops. But he stayed too long abroad. When W. returned in 666 he found that he had lost favor at court and had been replaced as bishop by St. Ceadda. He withdrew to Ripon and with the help of friendly kings acted as bishop in Mercia and in Kent until archbishop St. Theodore restored him to his see in 669. Over the course of the next decade W. restored the cathedral of York, founded new churches and the monastery of Hexham, and extended his episcopal influence across the north of England.
In 678 W. again lost royal favor; between then and 706 he was twice deposed and twice restored to a considerably smaller diocese. During the interims he again functioned as bishop in other kingdoms and had a leading role in the conversion of Sussex to Christianity. He seems to have been both outspoken and genuinely committed to missionary activity. W.'s cult, immediate in the North, spread slowly elsewhere. Today, his probable _dies natalis_, is the day of his earliest known feast. One on 12. October is recorded from the tenth century onward.
W.'s daily visits to the martyrs in Rome bore fruit in his construction of the surviving dressed stone crypts for his now vanished abbatial churches at Ripon and and Hexham. Herewith some views of the one beneath the much later cathedral at Ripon, North Yorkshire:
And an amateur video that has the merit of showing the crypt in darkness:
Some views of W.'s crypt beneath the much later St Andrew's Church at Hexham in Northumberland:
The second and third views in this set:
Three expandable black-and-white views:
St Andrew's church (which calls itself Hexham Abbey though its buildings are those of an Augustinian priory) has an informative but not altogether reliable page on the crypt at Hexham:
Caution: the nearby Roman town that is now Corbridge was anciently Corstopitum. When the "Abbey"'s page calls it Coria, that is a misuse of the acronym for a project promoting the site, CORIA:
When the same page earlier refers to the same Roman town as Carla, that is probably because someone has misread a handwritten 'Coria' and the error was not caught later (despite 'Coria' in the following paragraph).
6) Egbert of Northumbria (d. 729). The Anglo-Saxon E. (Ecgberht) undertook voluntary exile as a pilgrim in Ireland, where he studied and where he later became a priest at the abbey of Rath Melsigi. In 716 he moved to Iona, where he instituted both the tonsure and the Roman method of calculating the date of Easter. From his days at Rath Melsigi onward E. was also a leading figure in promoting the first Anglo-Saxon missions to continental Europe. Our principal source for E. is Bede (_Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum_, 3. 27; 4. 3, 26; 5. 9–10, 15, 21–2).
(last year's post revised and with the addition of Alexander of Lyon)
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