medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (12. June) is the feast day of:
1) Basilides of Rome (?). The _Itinerarium Malmesburiense_, one of the seventh-century guidebooks for pilgrims to Rome, records a martyrium for a Basilides, celebrated on 12. June, at the twelfth milestone on the Via Aurelia. Roman liturgical sources from the seventh century onward have a single B., celebrated on this day. But the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology has two listings for a Basilides on the Via Aurelia: one, at the fourteenth milestone, entered under 10. June and one, at the fifth milestone, entered under 12. June.
The ninth-century martyrologist St. Ado of Vienne, followed in this respect by his near contemporary Usuard, enters a B. under both dates, giving each a distinct set of companions. The companions for 10. June (Tripos and Madalis) are place names that have been misunderstood as the names of persons. Those for today (Cyrinus and Nabor) are presumably interlopers too. Cyrinus may render the recently celebrated Quirinus of Siscia; Nabor is surely the Milanese saint of this name who has crept in from whatever source Ado drew on for his preceding entry for the Milanese Nazarius and Celsus. Adding to the merriment, Nazarius and Celsus join Cyrinus and Nabor in later medieval breviaries as companions of B. With the exception of Celsus, all were named in what prior to its revision of 2001 was the RM's elogium for B. and companions.
B. and his companions Cyrinus, Nabor, Nazarius, and Celsus (B. oddly shown as a bishop and with an additional saint beyond the named companions) as depicted in an early fifteenth-century (ca. 1414) breviary for the Use of Paris (Châteauroux, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 2, fol. 190v):
Companions, in various numbers and with various names, also show up in three undated medieval Passiones (BHL 1018-20), each of which proclaims its ignorance of the historical B. by having this martyr of the Aurelian Way undergo martyrdom under a Roman official named Aurelius or Aurelianus and in a town or province called Aurelia. Of these, BHL 1018 is noteworthy for being prosimetric, embedding in its prose two small prayers in verse that resemble those in various Italian _passiones_ of the tenth and eleventh centuries. It comes to us through the _Sanctuarium_ of the Milanese humanist Bonino Mombrizio, does not include the companions named by Ado and Usuard, and in all probability is Italian in origin.
Two late antique or early medieval churches honoring B. are known: the one on the Via Aurelia cited by the _Itinerarium Malmesburiense_ and one on the Via Merulana rebuilt by pope St. Leo III (no. 3, below) and cited in the latter's Life in the _Liber Pontificalis_. These have not survived but we do have, albeit much rebuilt, B.'s originally very late eleventh- or early twelfth-century church at San Michele Cavana, a _frazione_ of Lesignano de' Bagni (PR) in Emilia. The abbey to which it belonged (Vallombrosan from its founding until 1485) is attested from 1115 onward but its dedication to B. seems not to be mentioned prior to 1257, thus leaving us in the dark as to when B.'s relics now in the little crypt below the altar of the church actually arrived there. An illustrated, English-language account is here:
Illustrated, Italian-language accounts:
A distance view of the complex:
2) Onuphrius (d. 4th cent.). We know about the Egyptian hermit O. (Onouphrios, Onnofrius, Nofer, Onofre, Humphrey, etc.) from his Bios (BHG 1378, 1379, etc.) by St. Paphnutius the Ascetic, who claims to have encountered O. in the desert and to have heard from O. the gist of his (P.'s) account. This makes O. a monk from a very severe monastery near Egyptian Thebes who was moved to imitate the life of St. John the Baptist and who, enduring many temptations, had lived to old age as a solitary, covering his body only with his own hair plus a wrapping of leaves sewn together about his loins. In P.'s presence an evening meal appeared miraculously before them. On the following day P. learned from O. that he had been divinely appointed to bury the saint, now on the point of death. O. died, P. buried him, and the grave vanished immediately, leaving no trace of where it had been.
Paphnutius' Bios of O. was translated into many tongues, with O. becoming a very popular saint in parts of the West as well as in the East. Herewith a few images:
a) O. as depicted in the eleventh-century frescoes of the Yılanlı Kilise (Church of the Serpent) at Göreme in Turkey:
b) O. as depicted in the probably eleventh-century frescoes of the Grotta dei Santi at Calvi Risorta (CE) in northern Campania:
c) O. as depicted in the late twelfth-century frescoes (1192) of the church of the Panagia tou Arakou in Lagoudera (Nicosia prefecture), Republic of Cyprus:
d) O. as depicted (at right) in the earlier thirteenth-century (1230s) frescoes in narthex of the church of the Ascension in the Mileševa monastery near Prijepolje (Zlatibor dist.) in southern Serbia:
e) O. as depicted ca. 1300 in a fresco attributed to Manuel Panselinos in the Protaton church on Mt. Athos:
f) O. as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century (1330s) frescoes in the nave 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:
g) O. as depicted (at right) in the later fourteenth-century frescoes of the monastery of church of St. Andrew at Matka in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia:
h) O. as depicted (at far right) in Beato Angelico's Compagnia di San Francesco altarpiece (ca. 1429) in Florence's Museo nazionale di San Marco:
i) O. as depicted in a fifteenth-century fresco in the chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore in Assisi:
j) O. as depicted in a fifteenth-century fresco in the baptistery adjoining the basilica di San Pietro at Agliate (MI) in Lombardy:
Context for that fresco:
Since those shots were taken O. has had a touch-up:
k) O. as depicted in a fifteenth-century fresco in the chiesa di Santa Brigida at Santa Brigida (BG) in Lombardy's Valle Brembana:
l) O. as depicted in a panel from a window designed by Bartolomeo Caporali (1481) for the newly commissioned cappella di Sant'Onofrio in the cathedral of Perugia and now in the Tesoro del Sacro Convento at Assisi:
m) O. as depicted (at lower left) in Luca Signorelli's Sant'Onofrio altarpiece (1484) created for the same chapel in Perugia's cathedral and now in the Museo capitolare di San Lorenzo in Perugia:
Some views of O.'s originally thirteenth-century church at San Giovanni Rotondo (FG) on the Gargano peninsula in northern Apulia:
O.'s hermitage outside of Sulmona (AQ) in Abruzzo:
Better views of the hermitage's montane surround are at the bottom of this page:
At the time of his election to the papacy in 1294, the future Celestine V (St. Peter Celestine) was residing in a grotto here. What one sees is a reconstruction of a later building destroyed by German artillery in 1943. Probably because of another hermitage dedicated to him there, O. is the patron saint of Paterno di Avezzano in the same province of Abruzzo.
In medievally Greek-settled areas of the Italian south, O. is the patron saint of Petina (SA) in southern Campania, where a monastic settlement dedicated to him is first attested from the twelfth century (with a donor named Niceforus), of Sant'Onofrio (VV) in Calabria, and of Casalvecchio Siculo (ME) in Sicily.
3) Leo III, pope (d. 816). L., a native of Rome and cardinal priest of Santa Susanna, was elected swiftly and unanimously to succeed Hadrian I after the latter's death on Christmas day 795. He followed his predecessor's policies of maintaining good relations with the papal state's earthly protector, the king of the Franks, and of restoring martyrial churches, instances from L.'s pontificate including the church of St. Basilides of Rome on the Via Merulana and the basilica of St. Agapitus of Praeneste at Praeneste. An attempted coup fomented by two of Hadrian's nephews in 799 caused L. to flee briefly to the king at Paderborn; the upshot was that L. was reinstated and that the king, when he visited Rome in the following year, was crowned emperor by L. L. was canonized papally in 1673. In 1963 his feast was removed from the general Roman Calendar. He remains on at least one particular calendar (that of the Italian Capuchins) and retains his entry in the RM.
A partial view of Federico Fuga's copy of 1743 of Leo III's Triclinium mosaic (798/99) at the Lateran with St. Peter investing L. with the pallium and the king of the Franks with a banner:
L. at left, with Bl. Charlemagne at center and bishop Turpin of Reims at right, on the emperor's shrine (1215) in the cathedral of Aachen:
L. (right of center) at Charlemagne's coronation, as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century (1301-1325) copy of the _Grandes Chroniques de France_ (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 2615, fol. 85v):
The failed coup of 799 was reported to have involved an attack on L.'s person in an attempt to disqualify him, through mutilation, from further rule. This illumination from a later fourteenth-century (ca. 1375-1380) copy of the _Grandes Chroniques de France_ (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 2813, fol. 95v) depicts that attack:
L. crowning Charlemagne in a very bare Old St. Peter's as depicted in an earlier-to-mid- fifteenth-century copy of the _Grandes Chroniques de France_ (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 6465, fol. 89v):
4) Eskil of Strängnäs (d. 11th cent.). E. was an eleventh-century missionary in Södermanland south of Sweden's Lake Mälaren, martyred at Strängnäs. Medieval legend makes him an Englishman and has him stoned to death on 11. June 1080. In view of references to numerous small churches existing in Södermanland in the late eleventh century, some would place E.'s activity rather earlier, in the 1030s. E. was held to have been buried at his church at Tuna (part of today's Eskilstuna); until its dissolution in the sixteenth century an originally later twelfth-century monastery there received pilgrims at his shrine. E.'s cult was important enough regionally that his feast was in most places moved to today so as not to be trumped by that of St. Barnabas.
E., holding the stones that killed him, as depicted in the fifteenth-century vault paintings of Överselö kyrka in the diocese of Strängnäs:
E., in Fors kyrka (same diocese), at center in a group of figures from 1475:
While we're here, an illustrated, English-language page on Strängnäs cathedral:
5) Placidus of Roio (Bl.; d. 1248). According to his Vita by Paul of Celano, a monk of Santa Maria di Casanova (BHL 6865), today's less well known holy person of the Regno (also P. of Ocre) was born at a place called Rodium near Amiterno (i.e. today's Roio in Abruzzo's L'Aquila province). Poor and illiterate, humble and exceptionally good-hearted, as a young man he undertook a pilgrimage to Compostela, stayed there for a year, returned only to fall gravely ill, was bedridden for five years, got better, went on pilgrimage to Rome and to the sanctuary of St. Michael on the Gargano, was briefly an hermit, entered a nearby monastery and received the habit, transferred to another monastery, served at a priory church, withdrew when the prior's sister fell in lust with him, spent twelve years as a hermit high on a mountain near today's Ocre (AQ) in Abruzzo, and moved to a lower-lying woodland retreat after a priest had died of a fall while trying to reach him.
P. attracted disciples and in 1222 he founded, on land given to him by Berard of Ocre, count of Alba, the monastery of Santo Spirito in Ocre. With divine assistance the increasingly ascetic P. became an effective abbot. In 1248, with his health failing, he turned his house over to the Cistercians of Casanova (filiation: Clairvaux). Today is his _dies natalis_. P. was considered a Saint in the _Acta Sanctorum_ and in the _Bibliotheca Sanctorum_; in the RM and (to judge from numerous websites) in contemporary estimation he is a Blessed. Here's a view of what is now said to be his mountain cave:
P.'s monastery went into decline quickly; it was suppressed in 1692. After various uses and total abandonment it has now been restored as a tourist hotel whose website is here:
Many of the site's pages have views of the place. Here's one of a restored thirteenth-century fresco of the Madonna between Sts. Peter and Paul, with two donor figures identified as the count and countess of Ocre:
(last year's post revised)
To join the list, send the message: join medieval-religion YOUR NAME
to: [log in to unmask]
To send a message to the list, address it to:
[log in to unmask]
To leave the list, send the message: leave medieval-religion
to: [log in to unmask]
In order to report problems or to contact the list's owners, write to:
[log in to unmask]
For further information, visit our web site: