medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (2. June) is the feast day of:
1) Pothinus, Blandina, and companions (d. 177). Eusebius (_Historia ecclesiastica_, 5. 2) preserves a report, addressed to the churches of Asia, of these martyrs of Lyon and Vienne under Marcus Aurelius. Pothinus (in French: Pothin, Photin) was the nonagenarian bishop of Lyon. He continued to govern his flock while in prison and died there from ill treatment. The young slave Blandina is said to have been tortured, to have been exposed to wild beasts that did not molest her, and finally to have been burned alive in the amphitheater of Lyon. A view of the remains of that structure is here:
The pillar near the top left is a memorial to the martyrs.
P. imprisoned (rear) and P.'s martyrdom as depicted in a copy from 1463 of Vincent of Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 50, fol. 387r):
2) Erasmus of Formiae (d. 303?). Today's somewhat well known saint of the Regno appears in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology as follows: _In Formiis in Campania Herasmi_ ("At Formiae in Campania, Erasmus"). In a letter of October 590 pope St. Gregory the Great had noted that E.'s body reposes at Formiae (today's Formia in southernmost Lazio). In the sixth century there was a monastery named for E. at Rome. His Latin _Passio_ (BHL 2578-2585d) exists in three late antique and early medieval recensions whose texts make him a bishop of Antioch on the Orontes tortured almost to death under Diocletian, guided by an angel to Formiae, and received thence into heaven very shortly thereafter. A Greek version (BHG 602), once thought to be the original text upon which this Latin tradition depended, has been shown instead to be a translation from the Latin.
E. thus has a form of the standard Campanian legend of a bishop (variant: holy virgin) coming from abroad, usually with angelic assistance, and often dying soon afterwards (variant: already dead en route). Recension B of his Passio includes a sparkling prosimetric version now attributed to the tenth-century Neapolitan hagiographer Peter the Subdeacon; recension C is distinguished by the later eleventh-century work of the Cassinese prose stylist John of Gaeta, later papal chancellor and ultimately pope (as Gelasius II). Texts that make E. bishop _of_ Formiae and combine this with the testimony of (ps.-)HM and its successors to make him martyred there are later and alien to this tradition. Later too, after E. had become a patron of sailors, comes the tale of the winding out his innards with a windlass.
Since the eleventh century E. has reposed at Gaeta, the south Italian port once the chief town of the early medieval duchy to which Formiae belonged. He and St. Marcian of Syracuse are Gaeta's principal patron saints. On 5. June 2008 their remains and those of others kept under the main altar of the cathedral crypt were accorded a formal recognition and E.'s relics were translated from a compartment in a small carved sarcophagus to a stone reliquary container of his own (an apparently ancient, but freshly cleaned, Roman ossuary chest). In the first of these views, E.'s relics are in the third compartment from left:
and in this view they are the second set from left:
Here they are in their new resting place:
Those views come from this page, which also has views of the transfer of E.'s relics to the new reliquary and of their subsequent visit to Formia (where E. is also a patron saint):
E.'s cathedral at Gaeta, consecrated in 1106, has been much rebuilt. Herewith a view of its recently restored twelfth-/thirteenth-century belltower:
Belltower entrance, with spolia:
The cathedral has a wonderful late twelfth- or early thirteenth-century Paschal candlestick historiated in relief with scenes from E.'s Passio:
more details here:
The Italia nell'Arte Medievale page on this church has a number of detail views of the features indicated above:
In the early and central Middle Ages E.'s cult spread across today's coastal Campania and southern Lazio. It was from ports there that E. became thought of more widely both as a seaman's saint and as a patron of harbor boatmen, often under the name form 'Elmo' (a typically Campanian pronunciation of his hypocorism 'Ermo'; in southern and central Italy he's also called 'Eramo'; by false division he's also known, especially in Spanish, as San Telmo). In addition to forts and fortification towers bearing his name in various seaports there are chapels and other churches dedicated to him around much of the western Mediterranean.
But it would be a mistake to think of E. as purely a maritime saint. He is also the patron and eponym of today's Santeramo in Colle (BA), situated in the Murge of central Apulia and first attested from 1136. Further north, and at a much higher elevation, here's a view of what's thought to be the remains of the church dedicated to E. in the now abandoned village of Sant'Eramo (both the church and the village are said to be attested in a papal bull of 1215) in today's Lucoli (AQ) in Abruzzo:
A distance view of the village:
Those views were posted to the Web in 2007. The _comune_ of Lucoli in which Sant'Eramo is situated lies within a few kilometers of the epicenter of the terrific earthquake of 6. April 2009 in the Aquilano; its inhabited portions were severely damaged in that seismic event. The possibility exists that what had been left standing of the church at Sant'Eramo is now just a heap of stones.
From at least the thirteenth century onward E. was also regarded as a healing saint and hospices were named for him. Herewith an illustrated, Italian-language page on the much rebuilt church of one of these, Sant'Erasmo at Legnano (MI) in Lombardy, associated with the Milanese author Bonvesin de la Riva (ca. 1240-ca. 1315):
In the late Middle Ages and beyond E. was one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers venerated especially in German-speaking parts of the empire. He was invoked for maladies of the stomach and bowels and to aid women experiencing labor pains.
Over and above his many other distinctions E. is co-patron of this honorable list, which latter was founded on 2. June 1995. Happy Birthday to medieval-religion!
Here's a rare early medieval image of E. (undergoing flagellation in Diocletian's presence), a dismounted eighth-century fresco from Rome's chiesa di Santa Maria in Via Lata, now in the Museo Nazionale Romano - Crypta Balbi:
Shown on this page are a later tenth-century coin from the duchy of Gaeta and another of the late tenth- or early eleventh-century, both bearing facial representations of E., as well as an early twelfth-century Gaetan coin bearing E.'s name:
A few late medieval and early Renaissance depictions of E.:
a) E. (at left, first figure in the upper register) in a May/June calendar composition in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. 1335 and 1350) in the narthex of 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 province of Kosovo and Metohija:
b) Church of Saint Andrew, Hempstead (Norfolk), detail of rood screen, E. with windlass and entrails:
c) Mariakyrkan, Båstad (Skåne län), fifteenth-century wall painting:
d) E.'s martyrdom, in a copy from 1463 of Vincent of Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 51, fol. 53r):
e) Dieric (Thierry) Bouts, Triptych of the Martydrom of St. Erasmus (between 1457 and 1475; kept in Leuven's/Louvain's Sint-Pieterskerk/église Saint-Pierre), center panel:
f) Detail (E.), Vierzehn-Nothelfer-Altar (1498), Münster St. Marien und Jakobus, Heilsbronn (Lkr. Ansbach), Bavaria:
The altar in full:
g) Matthias Grünewald, _The Meeting of St. Erasmus and St. Maurice_ (ca. 1520-1524), now in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich
3) Marcellinus and Peter (d. 304). M., a priest, and P., familiar to some from their presence in the canon of the Roman Mass, are Roman martyrs buried in that portion of the cemetery _Ad duas lauros_ that was later named for them. They have an epitaph in verse by pope St. Damasus I (Ferrua no. 28) recounting both their execution and their later Inventio and a legendary Passio (BHL 5230, etc.; originally late sixth-century?). The emperor Constantine erected over/near their graves a basilica connected to his mausoleum that ultimately was used for St. Helena. This was a fixture in the seventh-century guidebooks for pilgrim to Rome. In 827 pope Gregory IV sent their relics to Charlemagne's biographer, Einhard, for his monastery at Seligenstadt. E.'s account of this translation and the saints' metrical Passio ascribed to him are BHL 5233 and 5232, respectively.
The first illustration on this page is of a fragment of Damasus' epitaph for M. and P. as erected at their resting place:
Rome's early modern church of Santi Marcellino and Pietro occupies a site in the vicinity of these martyrs' graves on which there had been a church since the fourth century. Only in 1256 did it receive its present relics of M. and P.
M. and P. as depicted in an early fifteenth-century (ca. 1414) breviary for the Use of Paris (Châteauroux, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 2, fol 185r):
The martyrdom of M. and P. as depicted in a copy from 1463 of Vincent of Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 51, fol. 67v):
4) Nicephorus of Constantinople (d. 828 or 829). We know about the patriarch and historian N. chiefly from his closely posthumous Vita by the future metropolitan of Nicaea Ignatius the Melode (a.k.a. Ignatius the Deacon; BHG 1335) as well from his own writings and from those of other anti-iconoclast writers. The son of an imperial secretary who under Constantine V had been exiled twice and tortured at least once for venerating icons, he himself served as imperial secretary in the later eighth century, then quit and founded several monasteries on the Asiatic shore of the Bosporus. An emperor (probably Nicephorus I; r. 802-811) recalled N. and put him in charge of Constantinople's largest poorhouse.
In 806 while still a layman N. was elected patriarch of Constantinople at the behest of his imperial homonym and over the objections of the clerical party led from the Stoudios monastery. On Palm Sunday of that year (5. April) he put on monastic garb and received the tonsure, on 9. April he was made deacon and on 10. April priest, and on Easter Sunday he was consecrated bishop in Santa Sophia. In 814 N. opposed the renewed iconoclasm of emperor Leo V and in the following year he was forced to resign. N. spent the remainder of his life in monasteries he had founded, writing iconophile treatises, an anti-iconoclast history of his times, and a very popular set of tables of universal history.
The icons were restored in 843 and in 847 N.'s body, said to have been found incorrupt, was returned to Constantinople by the patriarch St. Methodius I. Glorified in Santa Sophia on 13. March (the anniversary of his going into exile) and re-interred in the church of the Holy Apostles, he has been celebrated ever since either on that date or on today's, his putative _dies natalis_. As ecumenical patriarch he is Nicephorus I.
N., depicted as trampling on the iconoclast patriarch John VII (r., 837-843), in the mid-ninth-century Chludov Psalter (Moscow, State Historical Museum, ms. D.29):
N. (at right, upper register) as depicted in a March calendar composition in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. ca. 1312 and 1321/1322) of the monastery church of the Theotokos at Gračanica in, depending on one's view of the matter, either Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija or the Republic of Kosovo:
N. as depicted in the June calendar portraits in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. ca. 1312 and 1321/1322) of the monastery church of the Theotokos at Gračanica in, depending on one's view of the matter, either Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija or the Republic of Kosovo:
N. as depicted (lower roundel) 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:
N. (at left, second figure in the upper register) as depicted in a May/June calendar composition in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. 1335 and 1350) in the narthex of 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 province of Kosovo and Metohija:
5) Guido (Wido) of Acqui (d. 1070). G. belonged to a wealthy noble family, became a cathedral canon of Acqui -- today's Acqui Terme (AL) in Piedmont --, and was elected its bishop in 1034. His Vita (BHL 8873), written around 1260 and ascribed to one Laurentius Calceatus (or Lorenzo Calciati), sounds the chimes on his various virtues, tells us that he had been a student at the university of Bologna (not founded until 1088, some eighteen years after G.'s death), has some seemingly factual information about his family, and notes the one thing for which he is still remembered at Acqui: completing construction of the present cathedral. It goes on to add a few postmortem miracles underscoring G.'s sanctity. G.'s cult was confirmed papally in 1853. He is Acqui Terme's patron saint.
Acqui's cathedral, consecrated in 1067, has been rebuilt several times. Its transept and apses preserve their early, "romanesque" form. The belltower is originally of the thirteenth century. A few exterior views:
Expanable views of the chevet:
Acqui's cathedral, consecrated in 1067, has been rebuilt several times. Its transept and apses preserve their early, "romanesque" form. The belltower is originally of the thirteenth century. A front view:
The cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin of the Assumption. A sculpture from 1481 in the lunette over the main portal illustrates this subject:
Expandable views of the chevet (the last has been taken without acknowledgment from www.thais.it, where it's <http://www.thais.it/architettura/romanica/schede/scm_00047.htm>:
The Italia nell'Arte Medievale page on this church (and on Acqui Terme's chiesa di San Pietro; the last six views are of the latter):
Inside, fragments of a late eleventh- or early twelfth-century mosaic floor (very similar to the twelfth-century one in the cathedral of Novara) have been found in the presbytery. Views of four of these, including one naming Guido, are here (top two; the bottom two are parallels from Novara):
A sculpted portrait of G. next to the cathedral's main portal:
Another representation of him, from 1400, on the Bishop's Palace:
Whereas today is both G.'s _dies natalis_ and his day in the RM, in the diocese of Acqui the practice is to celebrate him on the second Sunday of July.
6) Nicholas the Pilgrim (d. 1094). This less well known saint of the Regno was a teenaged monk from mainland Greece who undertook a pilgrimage to Rome. But he never proceeded beyond Apulia, where he spent a few years wandering around its central and southern ports (all of which had Greek-speaking residents), proclaiming the Lord in Greek, attracting followers, and dying young at the Adriatic port of Trani. Miracles were reported at his tomb. N. was canonized in 1098 during the Council of Bari. In the early twelfth century a dossier on him was put together for use at Trani, containing a translation from the Greek of an account of N.'s life before his arrival in Apulia, Adelferius of Trani's account of N.'s doings in Apulia, and Amandus of Trani's account of N.'s canonization and of his translation to Trani's cathedral (BHL 6223-6226).
Trani's mostly twelfth-/early thirteenth-century cathedral of San Nicola Pellegrino is always worth a look. A few images (all exterior) are here:
An illustrated, Italian-language page with a good selection of views:
For more, go here:
and keep clicking on "successiva" (near the bottom)!
(last year's post revised and with the addition of Nicephorus of Constantinople)
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