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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  August 2010

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION August 2010

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Subject:

saints of the day 2. August

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 2 Aug 2010 15:18:41 -0500

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text/plain

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (2. August) is the feast day of:

1)  Rutilius (d. early 3d cent.).  We know about the presumably African martyr R. only from Tertullian, _De fuga in persecutione_, 5, where he is brought up as an example of the futility of fleeing from persecution (if God wills you to suffer, fleeing is useless).  According to Tertullian, the saintly R. moved many times and bought transient security with money but was nonetheless denounced, brought before a magistrate, tortured, and put to death by fire.

The persecution in which R. perished is unknown.  It was probably a local one close to Tertullian's time of writing.  Several popularly written English-language sanctoral listings available on the Web promote the untruth that, according to Tertullian's account, R. died in the Decian persecution (250-251).  Tertullian says no such thing.  _Pace_, e.g.,  the learned editors of _Our Sunday Visitor's encyclopedia of saints_ <http://tinyurl.com/28blrzj>, even an inference that this is the persecution referred to is rendered a tad unlikely by the commonly accepted view that Tertullian died in the 220s.  

R.'s commemoration on 2. August is down to cardinal Baronio, whose rationale for choosing this particular day for his entry in the early RM is unknown.


2)  Stephen I, pope (d. 257).   S., a native of Rome, was a priest there when he succeeded pope St. Lucius in 254.  He is known primarily for his latitudinarian view on the validity of baptisms performed by heretics or schismatics, in which he was opposed by St. Cyprian of Carthage and others.  According to St. Augustine of Hippo, S. threatened to excommunicate those who disagreed with him on this matter (this included the entire church of church of Carthage, which had gone on record three times as stipulating that, to be admitted to the church, persons so baptized had to be re-baptized by someone in good standing) but refrained in the interest of church unity.

The Valerianic persecution began in the year of S.'s death.  Whereas there is no evidence that S. died other than as a confessor (he's absent, for example, from the _Depositio martyrum_ of the Chronographer of 354), a perhaps sixth-century Passio (BHL 7845-7847) has him martyred after being arrested while celebrating Mass.  One would think that it was his reputation as a martyr that placed him on so many medieval liturgical calendars.  Still, the early ninth-century Marble Calendar of Naples enters him for today without employing either of its customary designations of a martyrial commemoration.

An expandable view (at lower left) of S.'s martyrdom as depicted in a late thirteenth-century copy of French origin of the _Legenda aurea_ (San Marino, CA, Huntington Library, ms. HM 3027, fol. 90r):
http://tinyurl.com/24lqdjl

S.'s martyrdom (at right; at left the Seven Maccabees) as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century (ca. 1326-1350) collection of French-language saint's Lives (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 185, fol. 239r):
http://tinyurl.com/2brbj9r

S. with a martyr's palm as depicted in a Roman Missal of ca. 1370 (Avignon, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 136, fol. 258v):
http://tinyurl.com/6ccpjg

S.'s martyrdom as depicted a late fifteenth-century Roman Breviary (Clermont-Ferrand, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 69, fol. 493v):
http://tinyurl.com/57l7lt


3)  Centolla (?).  C. (also Centola) is a poorly documented saint of the countryside outside of Burgos with a cult site at today's Siero de Valdelateja (Burgos) that is dated inscriptionally to the year 782 and that was restored in the ninth century by a count of Santander and Castille.  A church dedicated to her at Villariezo (Burgos) is attested from 969.  Mozarabic calendars record C. under today's date and without indication of particular sanctoral status.  Later medieval local tradition made her a virgin martyr and gave her a companion in martyrdom, Helena (Elena).  In 1317, when their putative remains were translated to Burgos' cathedral, that city's bishop Gonzalo (Gundisalvo) de Hinojosa drew upon such tales to create a legendary Passio (BHL 1724) in which C. is a Christian virgin of Siero martyred during the Great Persecution and H. a matron of the same town who is so moved by C.'s suffering that she joins her first in imprisonment and then in death.

In Burgos' martyrology of 1330 and in its fifteenth-century breviaries C. and H. are entered under 4. August.  Following Alfonso de Villegas' late sixteenth-century _Flos sanctorum_, Baronio entered C. and H. in the early RM under 13. August.  That is where they remained in the RM until its revision of 2001, when H. was dropped altogether and C.'s commemoration was moved to its earliest documented day, 2. August.  Burgos too has now dropped H. from its calendar; it continues to commemorate C. on 13. August.

Some views of the restored ermita de Santas Centola y Elena at Siero de Valdelateja with its rectangular apse:
Distance:
http://tinyurl.com/2agctbq
Exterior:
http://tinyurl.com/2egbo52
http://tinyurl.com/27f6lym
http://tinyurl.com/2c8dnb5
http://tinyurl.com/27fc3jg
Interior:
http://tinyurl.com/295xgrf
http://tinyurl.com/2es45g5

As C.'s putative companion Helena is apparently no longer celebrated liturgically or commemorated in any current martyrology with official status, it seems appropriate to add here a link to two illustrated, Spanish-language pages on her originally twelfth-century church at Revilla Cabriada (Burgos):
http://tinyurl.com/363zlcb      
http://tinyurl.com/22kbatx


4)  Eusebius of Vercelli (d. 371).  A Sardinian by birth, E. was a lector at Rome who in the early 340s became the first bishop of what is now Vercelli (VC) in today's Piedmont.  Because he is known to have prescribed a form of community life for the clergy of his diocese Augustinian Canons honor him as one of their founders.  An upholder of Nicene orthodoxy against the Arian beliefs promoted by the emperor Constantius II, E. was exiled in 355 to Scythopolis in Palestine and was later in Cappadocia and then in Egypt, where he remained for some time after Julian had restored the exiled bishops in 362.  Returning to Italy, he continued to oppose Arianism and died in his diocese on 1. August 371.

We have a few letters by E., several others directed to him, and testimonies from such important figures as Sts. Hilarius of Poitiers and Ambrose of Milan.  E.'s translation into Latin of Eusebius of Caesarea's commentary on the Psalms, mentioned in St. Jerome's notice of E. in the _De viris illustribus_, is lost.

E.'s cult was widely diffused in northern Italy and in Gaul; St. Gregory of Tours owned a relic of him.  Although the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology enters E. under 1. August as a confessor, by the beginning of the eighth century he was believed to have been martyred in a renewed Arian persecution (so his legendary _Vita antiqua_ [BHL 2748-49] and the historical martyrologies from St. Bede onward).

Roman-Byzantine Scythopolis, E.'s initial place of exile, is today's Beth Shean (Beit She'an) in Israel.  It seems to have been quite a place.  See:
http://tinyurl.com/6qbbqa

Vercelli's cathedral of Sant'Eusebio was rebuilt in the later sixteenth century.  It possesses this crucifix from about the year 1000:
http://www.vercellicentro.it/dett_news.asp?id=6818
http://tinyurl.com/26vq8bm
http://tinyurl.com/27dc7r6
http://tinyurl.com/383swlb
And its belltower is originally of the twelfth century:
http://tinyurl.com/2fgvob7

Vercelli's Biblioteca Capitolare has many significant books, e.g. the Vercelli Gospels, the oldest extant Latin gospel book:
http://www.30giorni.it/foto/1083242122943.jpg
A later fourth-century north Italian production traditionally believed to have been written by E. himself, this offers an Old Latin text with the gospels occurring in the following order (said to be that of frequency of use in the liturgy): Matthew, John, Luke, Mark.  The volume was restored to its present state in 1910.

Some other treasures of Vercelli's Biblioteca capitolare and of its Museo diocesano, including (last on this page) a page from the so-called Vercelli Book, a monument of religious literature in Old English:
http://www.archeovercelli.it/duomo.html
Another view of the Vercelli Book:
http://tinyurl.com/3xy9htf
Expandable views of the same manuscript's pages containing _The Dream of the Rood_ are here (in the menu at left, click on Manuscript Images):
http://www.dreamofrood.co.uk/

Elsewhere in Italy, Pavia's cripta di Sant'Eusebio, rebuilt in the eleventh century and frescoed in the twelfth, remains from what had been the city's originally seventh-century cathedral:
http://tinyurl.com/2a6gxau
A larger version of that view:
http://tinyurl.com/2bror2d
An illustrated, Italian-language page on the cripta's capitals:
http://www.paviamusei.it/mcivici7.html

A view of the thirteenth- or fourteenth-century polygonal apse of the originally eleventh- or twelfth-century (but since much rebuilt) chiesa di Sant'Eusebio at Perti, a _frazione_ of Finale Ligure (SV) in Liguria:
http://tinyurl.com/288s32n
An English-language account of this church:
http://tinyurl.com/22rn6sz

E. as depicted in a thirteenth-century niche fresco in the cappella dei Santi Martiri at Cimitile (NA) in Campania:
http://tinyurl.com/2dtnlms

An expandable view of E.'s martyrdom as depicted in a late thirteenth-century copy of French origin of the _Legenda aurea_ (San Marino, CA, Huntington Library, ms. HM 3027, fol. 87v):
http://tinyurl.com/2avl3gn

E.'s martyrdom as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century (ca. 1326-1350) collection of French-language saint's Lives (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 185, fol. 238r):
http://tinyurl.com/2e4awft

Scenes of E. 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. 149v):
http://tinyurl.com/2bz4cwr

TAN: Vercelli's patron saint, E. is also the principal patron of the ecclesiastical region of Piedmont and Valle d'Aosta.  His feast has moved around a bit since the Middle Ages.  In 1573 Pius V approved for the Augustinians of Toul an Office for E. celebrated on 15. December (traditionally thought to have been the date of E.'s consecration as bishop).  In 1602 Clement VIII extended this feast to the Roman church as a whole (hence E.'s absence from the _Acta Sanctorum_, which lacks the saints of December).  Benedict XIII (1724-30) moved it to 16. December to avoid conflict with the Octave of the Conception of the BVM.  With the recent revision (2001) of the RM, E.'s feast now falls today for the Roman church as a whole.  But since 1961 it has by papal permission been celebrated in Piedmont on E.'s _dies natalis_, 1. August.


5)  Betharius of Chartres (d. early 7th cent.).  According to his early ninth-century Vita (BHL 1318, 1319), the nobly born B. (also Boetharius; in French, Béthaire or Bohaire) was a native of Rome who served as chaplain to Chlothar II before being made bishop of Chartres a little after 595.  During the war waged by the Burgundians Theudebert II and Theuderic II against Chlothar he led Chartrain resistance when the town was under siege from Theuderic's forces.  Captured when the city was taken, he was brought to Theuderic as a prisoner, was released with other prisoners and with church goods that had been seized in the sack, and returned with many presents from the Burgundian king and his court.  Among his miracles were his healing of a deaf man, of a girl who was possessed by an evil spirit, and of two blind men.  B. died in old age and was taken up into heaven.  Thus far the Vita.

The town of Saint-Bohaire (Loir-et-Cher) grew up around a church dedicated to B.  The present one is said to be originally of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.  Here's an old-postcard view of it:
http://tinyurl.com/5fjxa9
The originally twelfth- and thirteenth-century church of Bazoches-les-Gallerandes (Loiret) is dedicated to the BVM and, it is sometimes said, to B., whose cranium was reportedly deposited in its predecessor.  Herewith a brief history of the church and one view:
http://tinyurl.com/5bt99r
http://ecoledebazoches.free.fr/Bazoches/images/eglise1.jpg

Best,
John Dillon
(an older post revised and with the additions of Rutilius and Centolla)

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