medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (21. August) is the feast day of:
1) Cyriaca of Rome (d. 258, supposedly). C. is the saint of a Roman cemetery named for her and a supposed martyr of the Via Tiburtina absent from the _Depositio martyrum_ of the Chronographer of 354 and lacking any indication of veneration prior to the seventh century. In the Passio sancti Polychronii (BHL 4753; earliest version, late fifth-century?) she is a widow associated with St. Lawrence but not in this text treated as a saint. The Life of pope St. Sylvester in the _Liber Pontificalis_ has Constantine donating to what's now San Lorenzo fuori le Mura a property called _Veranum fundum_ that during a time of persecution had been seized from a religious woman named Cyriaca. Seventh-century itineraries for pilgrims to Rome mention her tomb near that of St. Lawrence. The Life of pope St. Hadrian I (d. 795) in the _Liber Pontificalis_ calls C. _beata_; Sergius II (844-47) translated relics believed to be hers to today's San Martino ai Monti.
C. has a legendary Passio (BHL 2055) whose earliest witness is of the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century. This gives 23. August as her _dies natalis_ and has her buried on her property in the _ager Veranus_, not far from the grave of St. Lawrence. That she is entered in the RM under today is apparently down to Cardinal Baronio. Inscriptions from the cemetery of Santa Ciriaca are mounted on cloister walls at San Lorenzo fuori le Mura:
2) Euprepius (d. 3d cent.?). By all indications (some of which are old enough to go back to late antiquity), E. (also Euprepis) was the first bishop of Verona. His date is calculated from that sixth bishop, Lucilius, attested from around 340. E.'s first surviving mention comes at verse 40 of the very late eighth- or very early ninth-century _Versus de Verona_:
Primum Verona predicavit Euprepis episcopus ("The first to preach at Verona was bishop Euprepis").
E.'s cult is first recorded in Verona's fourteenth-century martyrology, where he is entered for today. In the very late fifteenth century his putative remains, along with those of other of Verona's early bishops, were found in the city's church of San Procolo. Since 1806 they have resided in the crypt of San Zeno Maggiore.
3) Agathonicus, Zoticus, and companions (?). Z. and unnamed companions are entered under this day in the fourth-century Syriac Martyrology as ancient martyrs (i.e. martyrs who suffered prior to the Great Persecution). Z. also appears among a list of saints entered under this day in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology with a localization at an otherwise unknown Sindofagia. Agathonicus appears in neither source but is linked to Z. in a series of legendary and synthesizing Greek-language Passiones (BHG 39-41b) in which all are victims of persecution at Nicomedia under Maximian, with Z. and his companions arrested and dealt with in one phase after which A. is arrested, is sent to Thrace, has companions martyred en route, and finally is executed along with other companions at Selymbria (today's Silivri in Turkey).
A church at Constantinople dedicated to A. and said to have been founded by Constantine the Great was restored under Justinian and was incorporated into the imperial palace complex under Maurice. A., Z. and companions have a joint feast on 22. August attested in Greek liturgical books from the eighth century onward. Their Office in the Byzantine Rite includes a canon by the ninth-century St. Joseph the Hymnographer. In the year 1200 Anthony of Novgorod saw A.'s putative relics in Constantinople. In the fourteenth century Philotheus, archbishop of Selymbria claimed in his Encomium of A. (BHG 43) that Latins had stolen relics of A. venerated there. Since A. and Z. seem not to have been venerated medievally in the Latin West, one may question the historicity of this purported theft (though not the absence of relics of A. at Selymbria).
A. and companions perishing at Selymbria as depicted in an August calendar scene 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:
A. as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. 1335 and 1350) of the nave in the church of the Holy Ascension at the Visoki Dečani monastery near Peć in, depending on one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:
4) Privatus of Mende (d. early 260s?). According to St. Gregory of Tours (_Historia Francorum_, 1. 32 and 34), when Alamanni led by a king C(h)rocus who had invaded Gaul in the time of Valerian and Gallienus (253-260) got to the territory of the Gabali (today's Gévaudan) they captured the latter's bishop P. at a cave in which he had been praying and fasting. The cave was on the mountain overlooking today's Mende (Lozère) but the locals had taken refuge in the _castrum_ of Grèzes. Given the opportunity to betray his flock, P. refused; he also rejected vigorously an order to sacrifice to demons. For this he was administered a severe beating that caused his death a few days later. Thus far Gregory. The Alamannic incursion in question is often dated to 260; how long it lasted is not known. Conjectures as to the actual circumstances and date of P.'s death vary considerably.
P. is entered under today in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology and in the historical martyrologies of the ninth century. He has two legendary Passiones, a longer one -- though still brief -- whose earliest witnesses seem to be in manuscripts of the eighth century (BHL 6932) and a shorter one (BHL 6933) appearing in the _Speculum historiale_ of Vincent of Beauvais. Both are essentially elaborations on Gregory's account. P.'s putative relics are said to have been found in 1169/1170 by Mende's bishop Adalbertus III who enshrined them in the cathedral _non sine miraculis_ (BHL 6936-6941).
The canon lawyer and liturgist Guillaume Durand the Elder (d. 1296) was bishop of Mende; his tomb in Rome's Santa Maria sopra Minerva is adorned with a mosaic depicting P. (at left):
Scenes from P.'s Passio as depicted in a later fifteenth-century (1463) copy of Vincent of Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 51, fol. 25v):
The originally fourteenth- and fifteenth-century cathédrale Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Privat of Mende was largely destroyed by Huguenots in 1579. Though most of what one sees now is early modern rebuilding with nineteenth-century neo-gothic adornments, the two towers are still mostly medieval. Herewith an illustrated, French-language page on this church and two single views of the towers:
P.'s cult spread widely in France, especially in the south and centre but also in the diocese of Metz. Herewith a few other dedications to him:
a) The originally twelfth-century église paroissiale Saint-Privat in Saint-Privat-des-Prés (Dordogne):
b) The originally twelfth(?)-century église Saint-Privat in Saint-Privat-d'Allier (Haute-Loire):
c) The originally fourteenth- or fifteenth-century église Saint-Privat in Vittel (Vosges):
5) Luxurius (d. ca. 304, supposedly). L. (Sardinian: Lussurgiu; Italian: Luxorio, Lussorio; also Ruxurius, Ruxorius, Rossore) is entered in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology both under today, where the earliest text reads _In sardinia luxurii. traiani_ and under 26. September, where the corresponding text is _Et in sardinia. Luxurii_. Modern scholars, aware that 21. August is also given as L.'s _dies natalis_ by the sixth-century inscription noted in the next paragraph, resolve the doublet in today's favor. _traiani_ is thought to be the textual remnant of a reference to ancient Forum Traiani in central western Sardinia, today's Fordongianus (OR), specified in L.'s probably eleventh-century Passio (BHL 5092-5092c) as his place of martyrdom. The Passio makes L. a Christian soldier decapitated during the Great Persecution.
L.'s cult is of considerable antiquity. In the late sixth century pope St. Gregory the Great, writing to the bishop of Cagliari (_Ep._ 9. 197), refers to a Sardinian monastery dedicated to saints Gabinius and Luxurius but does not give a location for it. L.'s originally early twelfth-century church at Fordongianus is built over a late antique (fourth-/fifth-century) crypt with an attached U-shaped burial passage that in the sixth century received a surviving memorial inscription proclaiming it the place of L.'s martyrdom; a supplementary line records a renovation of the seventh century or slightly later.
A view of that inscription is reproduced on the upper cover of the dust jacket of P. G. Spanu, _Martyria Sardiniae. I santuari dei martiri sardi_ (Oristano: S'Alvure, 2000), whose pages 97-114 discuss the archaeology of this crypt in some detail and with copious illustrations. Spanu, whose introductory matter offers a valuable survey of the documentation for all the martyrs treated in his book, reprints at pp. 189-92 the three versions of the Passio that have been published thus far (the relatively early one in Vat. lat. 6453, fols. 81-82, remains largely unpublished). Toponymic evidence of uncertain validity has been used to support the view that L.'s cult was widespread on Sardinia by the year 1000.
An Italian-language account (with good views) of L.'s church at Fordongianus is here:
One should take with several grains of salt the statement that this church was built by the Victorines of Marseille.
Other illustrated, Italian-language accounts:
Expandable views of the crypt and of details of the church above it start towards the bottom here:
The last three views on this page (all expandable) are also of the crypt:
The Passio gives L. two companions in martyrdom, the boys Cisellus (in Italian, Cesello as well as Cisello) and Camerinus. In the 1080s the putative remains of all three saints were translated to Pisa and placed in a newly founded monastic church outside of Pisa dedicated to either to them or to L. alone (the monastery was once called that of San Luxorio and the place is now the Pisan _frazione_ of San Rossore). A Pavian inventory of 1236 records the presence of all three bodies in that city's church of San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro (famously the resting place of St. Augustine of Hippo, said in the later Middle Ages to have been translated from Sardinia by king Liutprand in the eighth century).
The usual view is that C. and C. are part of a fiction connecting L.'s martyrdom with Cagliari (where according to the Passio all three were arrested and the boys were executed). C. and C. were dropped from the RM in 2001 but are still venerated in the archdiocese of Cagliari.
In the early seventeenth century, during the _corpi santi_ episode on Sardinia, the archdiocese of Cagliari recognized an originally later twelfth-century rural church at today's Selargius (CA) in the Campidano as the site of the martyrdom of L., C., and C. Septenary and plenary indulgences granted by Paul V in 1614 and 1619 for worshiping at this church confirmed its previously undocumented importance. All three saints are venerated there. Some views of this church (now often called simply that of San Lussorio):
6) Sidonius Apollinaris (d. late 5th cent.). A native of Lyon, Gaius Sollius Modestus Apollinaris Sidonius came from a Gallo-Roman family of senatorial rank. His father-in-law Avitus became emperor in 455 (in the West only and not recognized by the Eastern emperor Marcian). S., who accompanied Avitus to Rome, survived both A.'s downfall in 456/57 and the subsequent revolt in Lyon, and was on terms of friendship with A.'s immediate successor Majorian. In 471 he was elected bishop of today's Clermont-Ferrand, undertook the defense of Auvergne against the Visigoth Euric, and -- with the exception of a brief and troubled period of exile in Rome and in Milan -- lived under Visigothic rule once the emperor Julius Nepos had sold Auvergne to Euric. We know about him chiefly from his own extensive correspondence.
S.'s cult seems to have been immediate, both at Clermont and on his estate of Avitacum. The originally eleventh-century église Saint-Sidoine at the latter's successor, today's Aydat (Puy-de-Dôme), had some of his remains until their dispersal in the French Revolution. Other relics, said to have been in Provence since at least 1093, are at Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume (Var). Here's a page on S.'s much rebuilt church at Aydat (zooming on the thumbnail brings up a different view!):
Other views of this church:
S. as depicted in the later thirteenth-century ambulatory windows of Clermont-Ferrand's cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption:
An expandable view of a thirteenth-century arm reliquary thought probably to be of S. Formerly at the priory of Saint-Saëns at Gournay (Seine-Maritime) in Normandy, it is now in Rouen's Musée départemental des antiquités de la Seine-Maritime:
(last year's post lightly revised and with the additions of Privatus of Mende and Agathonicus, Zoticus, and companions)
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