medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (9. August) is the feast day of:
1) Secundianus, Marcellianus, and Verianus (d. 250 or 251, supposedly, or 258, supposedly). S., M., and V. are martyrs of Tuscia in today's northwestern Lazio and southern Tuscany. The oldest witness to the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology, which records them under today, places their death simply in Tuscia. Some later witnesses specify a place that has been interpreted as the former Castrumnovum near today's Santa Marinella (RM) as does also the third of the three sequential versions of their originally sixth- or seventh-century legendary Passio (BHL 7550-7552). The first version locates their martyrdom at Centumcellae, i.e. today's Civitavecchia (RM), while the second gives only a milestone indication on the Via Aurelia that matches neither of the other two specified locales.
In the Passio the three saints are well-educated pagan persecutors of Christians under Decius. Observing their victims' willingness to die painfully rather than to live easily and considering the (supposed) Christian prophecy in Vergil's Fourth Eclogue (five of whose verses are quoted in the Passio), they convert, are baptized by a priest Timotheus, and are confirmed by pope Xistus (i.e., the recently celebrated Sixtus II, whose martyrdom the highly influential late antique _Passio sancti Polychronii_ incorrectly places under Decius rather than under Valerian). S. is arrested; M. and V. identify themselves as his co-religionists and are arrested as well. Brought before a magistrate, they spit on an idol that then topples over and breaks. Whereupon the martyrs are first tortured and then executed by decapitation.
S., M., and V. were entered in the second edition of Usuard's Martyrology with an elogium based on their Passio. From Usuard they entered the RM, remaining there until 2001. They continue to be celebrated at various locales in Tuscia where their cult was strong medievally, e.g. at Chiusi (SI), where a co-cathedral of the diocese of Montepulciano – Chiusi – Pienza is dedicated to S. and has relics believed to be his, at Tarquinia (VT), where S. is the city's patron, and at Tuscania (VT), whose church of San Pietro is named as their cult site in the third version of their Passio and where all three, said to be buried there, are the local patron saints. Herewith three illustrated, Italian-language pages on the originally eleventh- and twelfth-century chiesa di San Pietro in Tuscania:
2) Romanus of Rome (d. 258, supposedly). R. is a martyr of the Via Tiburtina, where his grave is first recorded with certainty in the seventh-century guidebooks for pilgrims to Rome. Its location near that of tomorrow's St. Lawrence facilitated the view, reflected in the not entirely reliable _Liber Pontificalis_ and in the synthesizing and highly unreliable _Passio sancti Polychronii_, that he was that saint's companion in martyrdom. In the _Liber Pontificalis_ R. is one of several named ecclesiastics said to have been arrested with L. That part of the aforementioned Passio that deals with R. (at least three versions: BHL 7309d-f) makes him instead a soldier who is assigned to guard the captive L., converts to Christianity, is baptized by L., proclaims his faith before Decius, and is promptly executed. In the ninth century St. Ado and Usuard entered R. under this day in their martyrologies in his persona as a soldier.
L. baptizing R. as depicted in a panel of the earlier thirteenth-century St. Lawrence window in the cathédrale Saint-Étienne in Bourges:
R. being executed before Decius as depicted in a panel of the earlier thirteenth-century St. Lawrence window in the cathédrale Saint-Étienne in Bourges:
R. as depicted in an earlier fifteenth-century (ca. 1414) breviary for the Use of Paris (Châteauroux, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 2, fol. 269v):
L. baptizing R. as depicted in a later fifteenth-century (after 1482) Roman breviary of French origin (Clermont-Ferrand, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 69, fol. 504v):
The originally thirteenth-century (ex-)chiesa di San Romano in Lucca, consecrated in 1281, secularized in 1866, and now a civic auditorium, succeeded an oratory first attested from 792. Herewith an illustrated, Italian-language account of this church, which once housed relics believed to be those of today's R.:
Other views :
Another former home of relics believed to be those of today's R is the tenth- to fifteenth-century (ex-)chiesa di San Romano in Ferrara, now the home of the cathedral museum:
3) Falco of Palena (Bl.; d. early 11th cent., supposedly). This less well known holy person of the Regno is said in the new edition (2001) of the Roman Martyrology to have been an hermit who died at Palena in Calabria. But there does not seem to be a Palena in Calabria and the Palena where F. has been venerated since at least the fourteenth century is situated in Abruzzo's Chieti province.
F. in included in the cult of the Sette Santi Fratelli ('Seven Holy Little Brothers') whose individual members are venerated in different Abruzzese towns. Brief Italian-language accounts of them are here:
They are local holy men -- traditionally viewed as hermits -- whose cult (confirmed in 1893) was promoted by Franciscans of Abruzzo who honored them as their predecessors in this region.
According to the _Croniche ed antichità di Calabria_ of Fra Girolamo Marafioti (Padova, 1601), who drew on accounts furnished by correspondents in Benevento, F. and his colleagues in the cult were Greek-rite monks from Calabria who moved to today's Abruzzo as a community under a hegumen called Hilarion (one of the 'Seven', who in some accounts are as many as nine) and who after the latter's death in the pontificate of Eugenius IV (1431-47) became hermits in separate locations along the great chain of central Appennine peaks now known as the Maiella. But at least some were venerated earlier than this.
Twentieth-century scholars resolved the difficulty by positing that Marafioti had confused Eugenius IV with the earlier Sergius IV (1009-1012) and by then hypothesizing that F. and his colleagues had come from Greek-rite monasteries in Calabria that had been abandoned in later tenth century in consequence of Islamic raids. Were there any earlier documentation for the belief that F. et al. were Greeks from the south, this view would be more plausible.
The chances are excellent that these are local saints whom subsequent community memory first adapted to the paradigm of hermits of the Maiella (of whom there were a great many) and later to the well-known paradigm of The Saint Who Has Come to Us from Afar. F.'s original cult locus appears to have been a now vanished settlement near Palena called Sant'Egidio. A church dedicated to Sant'Egidio and to San Falco is said to have existed there at least as early as 1358. In 1383 F.'s putative remains were translated to Palena's church of Sant'Antonino, which later came to be known as that of Sant'Antonino e San Falco. Its successors have been known as as San Falco and, most recently, as San Falco e Sant'Antonino (according to the Diocese of Sulmona-Valva, the parish is that of Sant'Antonino Martire). Some of F.'s relics are now preserved in the bust shown here:
More relics, including clothing F. is said to have worn (the apparel of an earlier cult statue?) are here:
Until relatively recently F. was also celebrated liturgically on 13. January, his traditional _dies natalis_. Did today's feast originally commemorate his translation in 1383?
4) Maurilius of Rouen (Bl.; d. 1067). Our chief sources for M. (in French, Maurile) are a nearly contemporary account in the _Gesta archiepiscoporum Rotomagensium_ and mentions in the _Historia ecclesiastica_ of Ordericus Vitalis. He is said to have been a native of the diocese of Reims. After study at Liège M. was head of the cathedral school at Halberstadt before becoming (by 1030) a monk of Fécamp. From there he went to Tuscany, where he was an hermit at Vallombrosa and then abbot of a Benedictine house in Florence.
Having returned to Fécamp, the by now broadly experienced and well traveled B. was made archbishop of Rouen in 1055. In that capacity he held synods condemning simony and nicolaism, worked for civic peace in his region, encouraged St. Anselm in 1060 to become a monk of Bec, and presided at the dedications of both the cathedral of Rouen (1063; almost completely destroyed by fire in 1200) and the abbey church at Jumièges (1067). Two sites on the remains of the latter (at the second, for more views click on "Abbey Church of Notre-Dame"):
M.'s cult seems never to have been confirmed papally. He is entered under today (his _dies natalis_) in the Benedictine Martyrology.
5) John of Salerno (Bl.; d. after 1231). Our principal sources for this less well known holy person of the Regno are his late fifteenth-century Vita (BHL 4434) by Giovanni Caroli, a priest of Florence's Dominican convent of Santa Maria Novella, and additional documentation compiled in 1756 and 1757 for possible papal recognition of his cult. According to Caroli, J. was born at Salerno to a noble family of Norman origin. At the age of fifteen he was sent to complete his studies at Bologna. In 1219, having probably already obtained his doctorate and having been ordained priest, he made his profession as a Dominican there. Sent in the same year to Florence with eleven companions to establish a convent there, he worked from various locations until in 1221 he received the then little church of Santa Maria Novella (previously known as Santa Maria delle Vigne) from cardinal Ugolino dei Conti di Segni, a relative of Innocent III and a promoter of the work of both St. Francis a
nd St. Dominic.
At Florence J. was both an effective fund-raiser and an effective preacher, especially against "Patarene" heretics who had organized a sort of counter-church. After cardinal Ugolino had become pope Gregory IX he appointed J. papal inquisitor for Florence and further charged him and two fellow Dominicans with the reformation of Benedictine abbey of Sant'Antimo near Montalcino (SI) in southern Tuscany. Probably shortly after this J. founded in the vicinity of Santa Maria Novella the first Dominican house in Florence, San Jacopo a Ripoli. J. is recorded as prior through 1232; the year of his death is unknown. He now reposes under the main altar of Santa Maria Novella <http://tinyurl.com/2afg69x>. J.'s cult was confirmed at the level of Beatus in 1783.
The formerly Benedictine abbey of Sant'Antimo near Montalcino is dedicated to St. Anthimus of Rome (11. May). Already in existence in 814, it was greatly enriched early in the twelfth century, entering upon a fairly brief "golden age" in which a huge abbey church was built right next to its much smaller Carolingian predecessor. An English-language account of its history is here:
and collections of views are are here (in the menu at right click on "maxifoto"):
and here (not expandable):
For those who wish to spend more time learning about the place (now serviced by Premonstratensians), illustrated, English-language historical and artistic tours of the abbey begin here:
Florence's present basilica di Santa Maria Novella, replacing J.'s _chiesetta_, was begun in the later thirteenth century. Herewith illustrated English-language and Italian-language pages on this monument (familiar to many because it's opposite Florence's main train station):
6) Richard Bere (Bl.; d. 1537). Said to have been a nephew of the Richard Bere who was abbot of Glastonbury (d. 1525), B. (also Beer) studied law before becoming a priest. He was a choir monk of the London Charterhouse when it was dissolved in 1537 and was one of the English Carthusians imprisoned in May of that year for refusing to subscribe the Oath of Supremacy. Within a few months he had died of illness or starvation. B. was one of fifty-four English martyrs beatified together in 1886.
The fabric of London's Carthusian priory of the Salutation of the Mother of God, founded in 1371, was greatly transformed following this house's dissolution. The Norfolk Cloister, shown here, was built in the early 1570s. But the rubble wall at left is a survivor from the medieval Charterhouse:
The one remaining entrance from the cloister to a monk's cell of later fourteenth-century construction (excavation following the fire-bombing of 1941 led to the discovery of the cell's original layout):
(matter from an older post revised and with the additions of Bl. John of Salerno and Bl. Richard Bere)
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