medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (30. August) is the feast day of:
1) Felix and Adauctus (d. ca. 304). F. and A. are Roman martyrs of the cemetery of Commodilla. We first hear of them in their epitaph by pope St. Damasus I (_Epigrammata Damasiana_, ed. Ferrua, no. 7). This tells us that at Damasus' behest the priest Verus arranged their tomb (the verb is _composuit_ and is open to several interpretations). But it tells us nothing about F. and A. themselves other than that they were martyrs. In the seventh century this defect in knowledge was repaired by means of a legendary Passio (BHL 2878, etc.) in which F. is a priest who as he is being led off to execution under Diocletian is joined by someone who proclaims himself a Christian, who (in a demonstration of the famous ancient Roman practicality) is swiftly martyred along with F., and who, his name not having been recorded, comes to be known as "the Added One" (Adauctus; actually, a fairly common Roman name in late antiquity).
Damasus' immediate successor, pope St. Siricius (384-99) transformed these saints' martyrial crypt into a small basilica that later was restored by the sainted popes John I (523-26) and Leo III (795-816). Here's a view of the basilica (restored in 1903):
A different view in black and white is here (Google Books; from Virginia Burrus, _Late Ancient Christianity_ [Fortress Press, 2005], p. 166):
Several late antique paintings in this cemetery depict figures identified inscriptionally as F. and A. The principal saints of this site, they came to have a standard iconography in which F. is represented with white hair and A. as a younger man, as in the early sixth-century example shown here:
A smallish view of the painting of F. to the right of the apse as one views it:
The cemetery is close to San Paolo f.l.M.; while it remained open in the early Middle Ages it was visited by numerous pilgrims.
An expandable view of the martyrdom of F. and A. as depicted in a late thirteenth-century copy of French origin of the _Legenda aurea_ (San Marino, CA, Huntington Library, ms. HM 3027, fol. 116v):
Pope St. Leo IV (847-55) gave what are said to have been relics of F. and A. to Ermengard of Tours, wife of the emperor Lothar I. These are reported to have been brought in 1361 to Vienna, where they are housed in the cathedral of St. Stephen. Rome's chiesa di Santa Maria in Cosmedin's is said to have A.'s head. F. and A. are the patron saints of Massignano (AP) in the Marche, where their now mostly seventeenth-century church in the _frazione_ of Villa Santi preserves an eleventh-century apse:
In the fourteenth century in the Wawel Castle in today's Kraków a tenth- or early eleventh-century chapel formerly dedicated to the BVM that had been converted into part of the fortification was re-dedicated to F. and A.; it continued to serve a religious function until 1517. The Rotunda, as it is called, of Sts. Felix and Adauctus was rediscovered early in the twentienth century and was then partly rebuilt. Here's a view of one of its apses:
Still in Poland, F. and A. are depicted in the center panel of the St. Barbara Altar of 1447 from the church of St. Barbara in Wrocław, now in the National Museum in Warsaw (both views expandable):
F. has been a saint of the Regno since 1673, when pope Clement X presented bodily remains said to be those of this saint to the then duke of Montecalvo, Carlo Pignatelli. Authenticating this transfer of relics is a bull of donation preserved in the parish archives of today's Montecalvo Irpino (AV) in Campania; the relics themselves are kept in the case shown here above F.'s altar in the town's principal church of Santa Maria:
2) Fortunatus, Caius, and Anthes (d. ca. 304, supposedly). These less well known saints of the Regno have been venerated at Salerno since at least the ninth century, when relics believed to be theirs were housed in an extramural church at the reputed site of their martyrdom. Reported as having been brought into the city in the first half of the tenth century, these relics were deposited in March of 1081 by archbishop Alfanus I in the crypt of Salerno's then newly built cathedral, where they remain today in the central apse. In addition to hymns in their honor by the same Alfanus of Salerno, F., C., and A. have a probably later eleventh-century legendary Passio (BHL 3085t) preserved as readings in their Office. This makes them associates of Sts. Felix and Adauctus (no. 1, above) who were taken to Salerno and were tried and executed there.
Saints named Fortunatus are about as common as saints named Donatus in the local cults of southern Italy; like the latter, they sometimes occur in groupings seemingly put together from what had originally been separate cults with feasts on the same day or on adjacent ones. It is possible that today's F. originally had nothing to do with C. and A. and that, as Lanzoni has suggested, C. and A. are the very shadowy Gaiamis and Anthimeus or Anthineus recorded for 31. August in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology. F., C., and A. were entered in the RM (under 28. August) until its revision of 2001. Today is their feast day in Salerno.
Here's a view of the marble column (also in the crypt of Salerno's cathedral) on which F., C., and A. are said to have been decapitated:
3) Fiacre (d. 7th cent.?). F. is a popular saint of northern France, Belgium, and (formerly, at least) the Rheinland. We first hear of him in seemingly already legendary anecdotes in ninth- and tenth-century Vitae of Sts. Faro of Meaux (where F.'s name is given as Fefrus) and Kilian of Würzburg (the latter also being a saint of northern Francia), where he is said to have been a hermit with an oratory at a place called Brogillum (vel sim.; in French, le Breuil). He also appears in a tenth-century addition to the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology in a manuscript from Sens, where he is said to have been a bishop, to have died in the territory of Meaux, and to be celebrated today. As the Vita of St. Faro makes F. an Irish monk who had come to Francia and as his name is most frequently given in Latin as Fiacrius, thus corresponding to the Irish name Fiachra, he is widely believed to have been of Irish origin.
In his developed legend (Vita: BHL 2915t, etc.) F. is both the founder of the former monastery at today's Saint-Fiacre (Seine-et-Marne) in Brie and the creator there of an hospice with an extensive garden for vegetables and for medicinal plants. As a healing saint, he was/is invoked especially for goiters and for skin cancers. His association with hired carts and carriages (later, with taxis) is early modern, deriving from the proximity of a Parisian firm of this nature to a church dedicated to him. In Brittany, dedications to the local saint Briac (also said to be of Irish origin) have been re-named as those of F. Most of F.'s putative relics at Saint-Fiacre were translated to the cathedral of Meaux in the sixteenth century and are said still to be there, less some -- housed in Saint-Fiacre's originally seventeenth-century église Saint-Fiacre -- that were returned in the seventeenth century and others that were returned in 1791.
F. (at right; at left, the decollation of John the Baptist) as depicted in the early fifteenth-century (ca. 1410) Hours of René of Anjou (London, BL, MS Egerton 1070, fol. 100v):
F. as depicted in an early fifteenth-century (ca. 1414) breviary for the Use of Paris (Châteauroux, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 2, fol. 313v):
A fifteenth-century statue of F. in the église Saint-Taurin at Évreux:
A fifteenth-century statue of F. at the abbey church of Saint-Germain d'Auxerre in Auxerre, formerly in the church of Sacy (Yonne):
F. as depicted in a later fifteenth-century (ca. 1470) Hours for the Use of Paris (Chambéry, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 1, fol. 188r):
F. (at left; at right, St. Faro of Meaux) as depicted in a later fifteenth-century (ca. 1470) French-language version of the _Legenda Aurea_ (Mâcon, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 3, fol. 193r):
F. as depicted in the late fifteenth- or very early sixteenth-century frescoes in the église Saint-Martin at Sillegny (Moselle):
4) Fantinus the Younger (d. later 10th cent.). We know about this less well known saint of the Regno principally from his late tenth-century Bios kai politeia (BHG 2366z, olim 1509 b; between 986 and 996) as well as from mentions in the Bioi of Sts. Nilus of Rossano and Anastasius the Athonite. A Calabrian disciple of St. Elias of Enna, he was a hermit for many years before becoming leader of a monastic community in the rugged area known as the Merkourion (today usually located along the headwaters of the river Lao). At some point after the Muslim raids into this area in the early 960s F. and two companions left Calabria for Greece proper, where he traveled widely and died at Thessalonica. A noted ascete and thaumaturge, he is said to have cured bodily illnesses as well as those of a spiritual nature.
F.'s cult seems to have been medievally popular in Greek-speaking areas of southern Italy, though evidences of it are often complicated by matter deriving from that of his homonym F. the Elder (F. of Tauriana). His cult was also maintained on Mt. Athos and, with a synaxary notice under today, in Constantinople as well.
5) Peter of Trevi (d. 1052 [traditionally] or latter half of the twelfth century [recent scholars]). This less well known saint of the Regno was born in today's Abruzzo but spent most of his life in rural Lazio, eventually becoming the patron saint of a small town in that region. According to his anonymous Vita (BHL 6783, probably late twelfth- or early thirteenth-century), he left home to escape an arranged marriage, entered religion at Tivoli, and then became a wandering preacher and hermit. After spending some time at Subiaco he settled at today's Trevi nel Lazio (FR), where he died and was buried.
Miracles both lifetime and posthumous attested to P.'s sanctity. In one of the posthumous ones he appeared, holding wolves in chains, to a resident of Trevi who had been sleeping out in the countryside at a time of year when fear of being killed by these animals was highest. P. asked this person about his apparent lack of fear and was told that before lying down to sleep he had put himself in the care of God and of the most holy Mary. Satisfied with this response, P. poured holy oil on a stone, causing the latter to liquefy, and promised his interlocutor that if the people of Trevi would keep the Lord's Day he would likewise dissipate the rage of the local wolves and so protect the people from them. Informed by their fellow townsman, the people of Trevi began to observe the Lord's Day, whereupon dead wolves were found at crossroads.
P. was canonized in 1215 during the run-up to Lateran IV. His remains are preserved in Trevi nel Lazio's church of San Pietro Eremita (1483; since redone neoclassically), the lower church of the town's originally thirteenth-century collegiate church of Santa Maria Assunta:
The earlier seventeenth-century reliquary bust shown here being carried through the streets of Trevi nel Lazio on the vigil of P.'s feast is said to contain part of his skull:
P. is also the patron saint of his natal town of Rocca di Botte (AQ), whence for centuries some of its inhabitants have traveled each year to Trevi nel Lazio to take part in his festivities there. Rocca di Botte has a house traditionally identified as the one in which P. was born. Herewith an Italian-language account of this structure, one of whose rooms has long been a small church dedicated to P. (traditionally, since shortly after his canonization):
A better view of the building's exterior:
Rocca di Botte's principal medieval monument is its originally twelfth- and thirteenth-century church of San Pietro Apostolo:
A page of views (left-click only) of this church's cosmatesque ciborium and cosmatesque ambo:
Those views, though, were taken before the ambo was vandalised this past January by thieves who dismantled most of its upper portion in order to remove its tortile columns (which latter seem not to have been recovered this far). Here's a view of the piece released some days after the vandalism and theft had taken place:
It is presumably to differentiate P. from his homonym the apostle that at both Trevi nel Lazio and Rocca di Botte he is known as Pietro (l')Eremita ("Peter the Hermit"). Only the odd medievalist would think first of the identically named instigator of the First Crusade (in Italian also Pietro l'Eremita).
(last year's post revised)
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