medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (5. August) is also the feast day of:
3) Cassian of Autun (d. mid-4th cent.?). According to St. Gregory of Tours (_In gloria confessorum_, 74), C. succeeded St. Reticius (d. earlier 4th cent.) as bishop of Autun and was succeeded as bishop by Hegemonius. Gregory, who saw C.'s tomb in a cemetery at Autun, reports (_In gloria confessorum_, 73) that it had been heavily scratched, almost to the point of perforation in places, by people who, being ill, sought some of this object's wonder-working dust. The latter, according to Gregory, had an immediately powerful effect on those who purified themselves with it. In a statement that seems to have had consequences for C.'s subsequent hagiography, Gregory adds that some say that bishop Simplicius of Autun (d. earlier 5th cent.) was buried in the same cemetery.
By the tenth century C. had received a legendary Vita (versions: BHL 1630-1632). According to the text of BHL 1630 printed in the _Acta Sanctorum_, C. was the offspring of a wealthy noble family in Alexandria in Egypt, was raised in the church there by a bishop Zonis, worked courageously for the church during the persecution of the emperor Julian, and when the latter had been succeeded by Jovian (late June 363-early February 364) was made bishop of an Egyptian town named Orta, where he performed admirably in all respects. Later, after Zonis had been martyred at the outbreak of a new persecution, C. was divinely instructed to proceed to Gaul and to preach the Lord's word there. Arriving at Marseille, he proceeded to Autun, where within a few years he succeeded bishop St. Simplicius, ruled for twenty years, and was buried in the same cemetery as his predecessor.
Thus far C.'s Vita, which concludes with an account of a miraculous conversation at C.'s tomb between St. Germanus of Auxerre and the dead C. By the tenth century too the Vita had received an expansion in quantitative Latin hexameters (BHL 1633; printed in MGH Antiquitates, PLAC, 4. 1). This account, now only partly preserved, appears to have been in much better shape when it was seen by the Bollandist Conrad Janning (d. 1723); its mostly lost second book probably dealt at length with postmortem miracles attributed to C. It seems to have been written at the abbey of Saint-Quentin, whither C.'s putative remains had been translated in 840 and where some five years later they received a place of honor in the abbey's crypt, _non sine miraculis_ (described in a Translation account, BHL 1634). This Vita metrica is preserved in a manuscript from Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Paris, BnF, ms. latin 12958), whose interest in it will have centered on C.'s post-mortem colloquy with St. Ge
rmanus. The latter has an expansion of its own in BHL 1635a.
Herewith a French-language account, with expandable views, of the originally mid-fifteenth-century église Saint-Cassien de Savigny-lès-Beaune (Côte-d'Or), dedicated to today's C.:
4) Paris of Teano (d. 4th cent., supposedly). Today's less well known saint from the Regno is the legendary first bishop of Teano (CE) in nothern Campania, once the ancient Teanum Sidicinum and an important crossroads town on the Via Latina. P.'s Vita (BHL 6466) is a melange of familiar topoi featuring an evangelist of foreign origin (Athenian), a giant serpent fed rich meals in a pagan sacred well, a bear and a lion who become tame when each in turn is set upon our intrepid saint, and pope St. Sylvester I hiding from Constantinian persecution on Mount Soracte.
P.'s cult seems to be at least early medieval in origin. His church, the recently restored San Paride ad Fontem, is an eleventh- or early twelfth-century structure that replaced a paleochristian church. Situated outside the medieval city and built over an ancient cistern (the sacred well of the legend, no doubt), this is believed to have been Teano's first cathedral. It retains an early episcopal throne. Whereas P. was said to have been buried here, his putative relics are in Teano's cathedral of San Clemente, a seventeenth-century replacement for an earlier cathedral built about the same time as the present San Paride in Fontem.
Always essentially a local saint, P. seems to have been venerated from at least the early modern period onward in other locales in northern Campania. At present he is co-patron of the diocese of Teano-Calvi, sharing that distinction with the equally shadowy Castus of Calvi (one of Campania's several episcopal saints of that name).
Here's a view of San Paride in Fontem dating from before the restoration of 1988-2004:
Some more recent exterior views of the same church:
A set of recent views (2008-2010):
Another set of recent, expandable views:
T.'s putative remains now repose in an altar in a rococo chapel in Teano's cattedrale di Sant'Anna e Maria:
A medieval survival in the cathedral is this cosmatesque ambo:
The ambo's present parapet (a replacement for the orginal, which had been badly damaged by fire in 1608) is composed of panels taken from a fourteenth-century funerary monument decorated with images of P. and of other bishops of Teano.
5) Oswald of Northumbria (d. 642). Most of what we know about O. comes from St. Bede the Venerable's _Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum_. The second son of a Christian king of Northumbria who had lost his throne to pagan opponents, O. spent seventeen years in exile in Scotland and Ireland before returning upon the death of a brother and securing his kingdom against Welsh invaders at the battle of Heavenfield in the early 630s. Both St Adomnán in his Vita of St. Columba and Bede present O. as a divinely assisted Christian victor over a pagan host (Adomnán has St. Columba appear to him in a vision and promise him victory; Bede has him erect a great wooden cross on the eve of battle). Memorably generous to the poor, O. was instrumental in establishing the Christian religion in Northumbria.
O. was killed in battle against an old enemy, the pagan king Penda of Mercia, who had the fallen king's head, arms, and hands shown publicly on stakes. These relics were later recovered by O.'s brother and successor Oswiu, who donated the head to Lindisfarne. Miracles were attributed to O. and a cult arose. One of O.'s hands was said to be undecayed; in the late eighth century it was still displayed in a silver reliquary in the palace church at Bamburgh.
O.'s relics later were dispersed still further. In the early tenth century some wound up at St Peter's Priory in Gloucester, which soon became St Oswald's Priory instead. A page on that site is here:
Both Durham Cathedral and that of Hildesheim have heads said to be those of O. (O. the Polycephalous, perhaps?). Here's a view of his late twelfth-century head reliquary at Hildesheim:
For more on O.'s posthumous journeys, see:
The eleventh-century Fleming Drogo of Saint-Winnoc penned three sermons on O. (BHL 6362-6234), treating him not only as a Christian hero but also explicitly as a martyr. As a saint of Durham, O. has an impressive Vita in three books by Reginald of Durham (BHL 6365). In the 1220s the poet Henry of Avranches produced a Vita of O. in hexameters (BHL 6365d).
O. at Heavenfield as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century collection of French-language saint's Lives (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 183, fol. 78v):
(matter from an older post revised and with the addition of Cassian of Autun)
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