medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (29. August) is also the feast day of:
1) Sabina of Rome (?). During the pontificate of St. Celestine I (422-32) a priest from Illyricum erected on the Aventine a basilica that in documents of the fifth century is known as _titulus Sabinae_, perhaps because it replaced a nearby titular church of that name. By the time of the Gelasian Sacramentary (mid-eighth century with a Roman component of about a century earlier), the dedication feast of this basilica (today's Santa Sabina) was celebrated on 29. August. By this time too, there had appeared the legendary _Passio sanctarum Serapiae virginis martyris et Sabinae martyris_ (BHL 7407, 7586) making S. a virgin martyred, exactly one month after her friend Serapia, on 29. August in some city or town whose identity the Passio does not make altogether clear.
To judge from her _dies natalis_, the S. of the Passio is the saint of the church on the Aventine. Who she really was or if she ever existed in the flesh is unknown (Rome's early titular churches were named after their founder-owners, not after saints venerated on the premises). Early medieval historical martyrologies make the S. of 29. August a martyr at Rome and specify (from Florus onward) a location on the Aventine. St. Ado of Vienne, copied by Usuard, added to his account elements drawn from the Passio.
In 1218 the church of Santa Sabina on the Aventine was given by Honorius III to St. Dominic of Caleruega for his new Order of Preachers. Early twentieth-century renovation stripped it of most of its late medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque added elegances and returned the building to a semblance of its fifth- to thirteenth-century self. For some brief, illustrated accounts of this late antique gem, see:
Another view of the panels of this church's fifth-century wooden door:
Further views (interior):
A couple of videos:
Of course, S. has been venerated at other places. One of these is Silanus (NU) in Sardinia, the circular central portion of whose originally later eleventh-century church of Santa Sabina echoes the shape and interior dimensions of the adjacent prehistoric _nuraghe_:
Another is San Benedetto dei Marsi (AQ) in Abruzzo, successor to the late antique and early medieval _civitas Marsicana_ (formerly Marruvium). Its church of Santa Sabina, thought to have had a predecessor of the fifth or sixth century, is documented from 964 onward. Throughout the Middle Ages this was the cathedral church of the diocese of the Marsi (since 1915, diocese of Avezzano). Badly damaged in the conflict between the papacy and Frederick II, this Santa Sabina was rebuilt for the visit in 1287 of Honorius IV but was again in poor condition when the diocesan seat was transferred to Pescina late in the sixteenth century. Herewith a couple of illustrated, Italian-language accounts of this church, which collapsed in the great earthquake of 1915:
Views of its reconstructed thirteenth-century portal:
http://tinyurl.com/lfs2jm [left click only]
A Cistercian monk returning in the earlier twelfth century from Rome to the abbey of La Bussière at today's La Bussière-sur-Ouche (Côte-d'Or) in Bourgogne with the head of S. is said to have died at the church of St. Martin in the village of Lassey in the Auxois. The relic stayed there and by 1151 both the church and the village had come to be known by the saint's name. Herewith some views of the originally thirteenth-/fourteenth-century église Sainte-Sabine at today's Sainte-Sabine (Côte-d'Or):
S. as depicted in a breviary of ca. 1414 for the Use of Paris (Châteauroux, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 2, fol. 310v):
Scenes from S.'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 50, fol. 379v):
2) Adelphus (d. 5th cent.?). A. (also Adelfus, Adolfus; later, Adelfius and Adelphius) is traditionally the tenth bishop of Metz. He is first documented in a metrical catalogue of that see's bishops composed in ca. 776, inserted shortly thereafter in the Sacramentary of Drogo (Paris, BnF, ms. Latin at. 9428), and followed by Paul the Deacon in his _Liber de episcopis Mettensibus_ (betw. 783 and 791; a.k.a. _Gesta episcoporum Mettensium_, though this is really the title of a twelfth-century continuation). Paul, who claims for the church of Metz an apostolic foundation, places A. in the third century. Modern historians think that is far too early for this diocese, whose first reliably attested bishop is said to be one Sperus or Hesperus recorded from the year 535.
A. has two legendary Vitae: 1) the anonymous and highly legendary BHL 76, mostly of the earlier ninth century, first published in 1506, since re-published in the _Acta Sanctorum_, and shown relatively recently to be calqued on the seventh-century Vita of St. Arnulf of Metz, and 2) Werinharius' more sober BHL 75v, edited by Guy Philippart in _Analecta Bollandiana_ 100 (1982), pp. 431-442. Both are credible only in their latter portions, where they treat bishop Drogo of Metz' early ninth-century translation of A. to the Alsatian abbey of Sts. Peter and Paul at Neuwiller (once also Neuvillers), where he enjoyed a significant cult and where in the eleventh century his putative relics were translated to a pilgrimage church dedicated to him, today's église Saint-Adelphe at Neuwiller-lès-Saverne (Bas-Rhin). Herewith an illustrated, French-language page on that church:
At some point during the Reformation A.'s relics were returned from his church, which though divided in 1563 between Catholics and Protestants soon was given over entirely to the latter, to the abbey church of Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul <http://tinyurl.com/378n6cr>. They now reside there in the seventeenth-century reliquary shown here:
The église abbatiale of Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul at Neuwiller-lès-Saverne also keeps four tapestries from ca. 1500 illustrating scenes from A.'s legendary ninth-century Vita. Herewith a few partial views of them:
3) Sæbbi (d. 693/694). We know about S. (also Sebbi) from St. Bede the Venerable's _Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum_ (3. 30; 4. 11). In 663 the converts Sigehere and S. succeeded to the rule of the East Saxons, apparently partitioning the kingdom between them. After a great plague in 664 Sigehere and those under him reverted to paganism, whereupon the East Saxons' new overlord, king Wulfhere of the Mercians, sent bishop Jaruman of the Mercians to re-establish Christianity. S., an enthusiastic Christian, supported J. in this endeavor. In his private life he is said to have behaved as though he were in religion, a state that he might have entered earlier had his wife not refused to be divorced from him but that actually embraced only when close to death.
Bede, who refers to S. as a man of God, offers as a common opinion among S.'s contemporaries the view that he should have been a bishop, not a king. The dying S. is said to have received a vision correctly foretelling the day of his passing and announcing that it would be both painless and glorious. When he was about to be buried in the early St. Paul's in London his stone sarcophagus reportedly lengthened of its own accord in order to accommodate him. S. is not known to have enjoyed a medieval cult. Cardinal Baronio entered him in the early RM.
4) Medericus (d. 700, supposedly). M. (in French: Médéric, Merri, Merry) is first heard from in the later ninth century, when he has an entry under today in the martyrology of Usuard and when, in 884, he was accorded a formal Elevatio by the bishop of Paris at a chapel near the extramural oratory of Saint-Pierre-des-Bois. In the tenth century he received a legendary Vita (BHL 5875-5876) presenting him as a nobly born native of Autun who entered a monastery there, became its abbot, was effective in banishing demons, gained unwanted fame, after some difficulty persuaded his bishop to allow him to retire, and became an hermit in the woods outside of Paris, where he died.
In 1005 the chapel housing M.'s putative remains became a collegial church subordinate to the cathedral chapter of Paris. A new church dedicated to M. was built in the thirteenth century and was replaced, starting in 1500, with the present église Saint-Merry (or Saint-Merri). Herewith some views of the latter structure, which underwent considerable modification in the eighteenth century and which is said to preserve most of the relics of this unofficial patron of the rive-droite:
Plan with expandable interior views:
Other interior views:
(matter from last year's post revised and with the additions of Adelphus and Sæbbi)
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