medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (13. August) is the feast day of:
1) Pontianus of Rome and Hippolytus of Rome (d. ca. 236). Little is known about P. other than that when he became pope there was an ongoing schism in the church at Rome. The leader of the opposing faction was the well-known theologian H. The emperor Maximinus Thrax exiled both of them to Sardinia, where, according to the _Liber Pontificalis_, P. at least was put to work in the mines and where, apparently, they both soon died. The _Depositio martyrum_ of the Chronographer of 354 tells us that on 13. August of some year in his pontificate (236-50) pope St. Fabian gave them honorable burial in different catacomb locations, P. in the "chapel of the popes" in the cemetery of Callistus and H. on the Via Tiburtina, where in the later fourth century it received two inscriptions from pope St. Damasus I calling H. a martyr (_ICUR_, 7, 19932, and 19936).
In the late fourth century a memorial basilica to a martyr named H. was erected at Portus Romanus (later Porto, near today's Fiumicino airport). Since our H.'s tomb on the Via Tiburtina continued to be well known through at least the seventh century, either this H. of Porto was originally a different saint or else the basilica there was located at a reputed site of our H.'s martyrdom. The late fourth-/early fifth-century poet Prudentius seems to have considered them one and the same saint when he celebrated our H. in a poem that has him dismembered near the Tiber's mouth by being drawn in opposing directions by wild horses (_Peristephanon_, 11).
H.'s grave on the Via Tiburtina was close to that of St. Lawrence (d. 258). This had consequences for the nature of H.'s subsequent construction. In his legendary treatment of Lawrence the author of the synthesizing _Passio sancti Polychronii_ (first version, late fifth-century?) presented H. as a soldier converted by Lawrence when the latter was in prison and as L.'s coadjutor in the burial of the martyred St. Sixtus II. before being martyred in his turn on 13. August.
By the time of (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology H. was being celebrated on several days: 13. August as the martyr associated with Lawrence and 22. August and 5. September as a martyr of Porto. Prior to its revision of 2001 the RM used 13. August for the legendary H. of the _Passio s. Polychronii_ and 22. August for our H., characterized as a bishop of Porto. Pontianus used to be celebrated separately on 19. November. Herewith a views of a head reliquary said to be of P. at an unspecified church in Agreda (Soria), Castilla y León:
Sorting out the various martyrs named H. is not a task for the faint-hearted. There is a good overview of the problem in Part I, "Hippolytus in Christian Tradition" of J. A. Cerrato's _Hippolytus between East and West. The Commentaries and the Provenance of the Corpus_ (Oxford Univ. Pr., 2002). A .pdf of that discussion is available at:
Cerrato's chief aim, though, is to distinguish among the authors of the various third-century theological writings attributed to an Hippolytus, all or almost all of which at one time or another have been attributed to our H. On that aspect, see this summary by Eugene V. Afonasin in the _Bryn Mawr Classical Review_:
Some of the "western" H.'s writings are listed, and his paschal formula is inscribed, on an ancient statue of a seated figure discovered in 1551 near San Lorenzo fuori le Mura (and thus near our H.'s recorded burial location on the Via Tiburtina). When found, this sculpture had lost its head and the upper part of its torso. These were then restored to produce the figure shown here, long identified as St. Hippolytus bishop of Portus:
The statue has recently been shown to have been originally a female figure.
Some views of the remains of the originally late fourth-century basilica di Sant'Ippolito at Porto (re-worked under Callistus III in the earlier twelfth century) and of the adjacent originally twelfth-century belltower (restored in 1579):
A brief video:
An expandable view of H.'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. 100v):
H.'s martyrdom as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century French-language collection of saint's Lives (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 183, fol. 213v; illuminations attributed to the Fauvel Master):
H.'s martyrdom as depicted in a mid-fourteenth-century (1348) copy of the _Legenda aurea_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 241, fol. 202v):
H.'s martyrdom as depicted by Dieric (Thierry) Bouts the Elder in his St. Hippolytus Triptych (after 1468) in the cathedral museum at Brugge/Bruges:
2) Cassian of Imola (?). Our first testimony to this martyr's existence is Prudentius' _Peristephanon_, 9, in which the late fourth- and early fifth-century poet recounts his visit to C.'s shrine at Forum Cornelii (today's Imola in the Romagna) and describes the picture there of the saint's martyrdom. According to P.'s account, C. was a teacher who endured a slow and painful martyrdom at the hands of his non-Christian students who stabbed him repeatedly with their styluses. Later legend made C. the apostle of Sabiona in the Tirol, subsequently exiled to his place of martyrdom. C.'s cult spread widely in north central Italy. St. Peter Chrysologus, Ravenna's first bishop (d. 450), had a special devotion to this regional martyr. Imola's first cathedral is said to have been built over C.'s tomb; it and its successors have always been dedicated to him.
Perhaps the best known of the many other medieval dedications to C. is the originally eleventh-century church of San Cassiano in Pennino at Predappio (FC) in the Romagna:
This church's fame, such as it is, derives from Benito Mussolini's resting place there in his family's tomb in the adjacent burial ground.
Also worth a look are:
a) the thirteenth-century former Benedictine priory church of San Cassiano in Valbagnola in an outlying section of Fabriano (AN) in the Marche:
b) the originally eleventh(?)-century abbey church of San Cassiano at Narni (TR) in Umbria, radically rebuilt in the early fourteenth century shortly before the construction of the present fortification wall:
c) the twelfth-century Pieve dei Santi Cassiano e Giovanni at Settimo (PI) in Tuscany, also known as a church of Santi Ippolito e Cassiano or simply San Cassiano (many views towards the foot of the page):
d) -- just for fun -- the recently restored remnant of the church of San Cassiano at Trescore Balneario (BG) in Lombardy, first documented from 1105:
3) Cassian of Todi (d. 304, supposedly). C. has a relatively late, highly legendary Passio (BHL 1637) that makes him an early bishop of today's Todi (PG) in Umbria who, imprisoned during the Great Persecution, refused to apostasize and was finally martyred. His medieval cult, centered upon the diocese of Todi, is first documented from the twelfth century. Both the coincidence of his feast day with that of the much better known Cassian of Imola and the re-appearance in his Passio of details drawn from Prudentius' account of that saint have led to the supposition (paralleled in the case of the recently noticed Cassian of Benevento) that this C. is in origin C. of Imola re-imagined at Todi as a local bishop.
In 1198 altars to C. and to Todi's St. Fortunatus were consecrated in an oratory dedicated to them in a former Roman-period cistern near the predecessor of today's Tempio di San Fortunato at Todi. In 1301 their putative relics were translated to the latter church, then newly built, and deposited under its main altar. In the later Middle Ages Todi also had a separate chapel dedicated to C. This was _not_ the oratory in the former cistern, in which other altars were dedicated in 1242 and 1263, and which at some point came to be thought of as the prison in which C. had been immured after his arrest. Here's a view of the entrance to the oratory (the so-called _carcere di San Cassiano_):
Since 1596 C. has resided in the crypt of San Fortunato. Links to views of that church were recently in the notice of Digna of Todi (11. August). Here are a few other views showing San Fortunato's location near the highest point on the hill of Todi:
4) Radegund, queen of Franks (d. 587). R. (also R. of Poitiers, R. of Thüringen; in Latin, Radegundis) was a daughter of a king of the Thuringian Franks who had been killed by, and succeeded by, one of his brothers only to be slain in his turn by Chlotar I in 531 before R. was twelve. Chlotar brought the young princess back with him to Neustria and, intending to marry her at some time in the indefinite future, had her educated according to her station at his villa near Athies in the Vermandois. Despite reluctance on R.'s part (this is sometimes considered to have been an early indicator of her attraction to a monastic vocation), the intended nuptials took place probably a little before 540. About ten years later, after Chlotar had murdered R.'s brother, she fled the court and had herself consecrated deaconess at Noyon by its bishop St. Medard.
Now under the protection of the church, R. withdrew to a villa in Poitou and soon founded a monastery for women in the vicinity of Poitiers, installing her adopted daughter, St. Agnes of Poitiers, as its abbess. Probably to evade supervision by the local bishop, R. and Agnes affiliated their house with the community of St. Caesarius of Arles and adopted a version of the latter's rule forbidding sisters to leave a convent once they had entered religion there. It is not clear when R. actually entered her monastery at Poitou (she may have waited until Chlotar's death in 561). In 567 she acquired a lifelong acolyte in the form of the North Italian poet St. Venantius Fortunatus, who had come on pilgrimage to St. Martin and who stayed on to enjoy R.'s patronage. One of her early Vitae (BHL 7048) is by him; the other is by one of her nuns, Baudonivia (BHL 7049). Both are discussed briefly by Jane Schulenburg, starting here (for those with access to Google Books):
(Jane Tibbetts Schulenburg, _Forgetful of their Sex: Female Sanctity and Society, ca. 500-1100_ [Univ. of Chicago Pr., 1998], pp. 42-46).
St. Gregory of Tours officiated at R.'s funeral. She was laid to rest in an extramural church subsequently named for her. Her cult was immediate and her tomb drew many pilgrims. In the ninth century both R. and St. Agnes of Poitiers were canonized by Elevatio. Her cult spread widely in the Latin West. R. is the patron saint of Jesus College, Cambridge (founded on a convent dedicated to her).
R.'s writing desk in the musée Sainte-Croix at Poitiers:
Three expandable views of scenes from an illuminated, eleventh-century copy of Venantius Fortunatus' Vita of R. (Poitiers, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 250) will be found here:
Two more scenes from the same manuscript:
Expandable views of R. as depicted in various manuscript illuminations from the twelfth to the early sixteenth century:
R. (at right) as depicted in a window of ca. 1340 in the cathedral of Gurk (Kärnten):
R. as depicted in the early fifteenth-century (ca. 1410) Hours of René of Anjou (London, BL, MS Egerton 1070, fol. 98v):
R. (at right; at left, St. Medard) removing her royal vestments before adopting religious garb as depicted in a later fifteenth-century copy of Vincent of Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 310, fol. 222v):
An illustrated page on the originally eleventh-century église Sainte-Radegonde in Poitiers, replacing the church in which R. was first entombed:
Illustrated, French-language pages on the originally eleventh-century église de Sainte-Radegonde at Bon-Encontre (Lot-et-Garonne):
Views, etc. of the originally late eleventh-century église Sainte-Radegonde at Talmont-sur-Gironde (Charente-Maritime):
An illustrated, French-language page on the originally thirteenth-century fortified église Sainte-Radegonde at Sainte-Radegonde (Aveyron):
Views of the originally early fifteenth-century Pfarrkirche St. Radegund at Sankt Radegund (Oberösterreich):
5) Maximus the Confessor (d. 662). After service with Sophronius of Jerusalem the theologian M. became secretary to the emperor Heraclius. A prolific writer and an opponent of the imperially imposed doctrine of Monotheletism, M. supported pope St. Martin I in 649 and was exiled by Constans II first to Thrace and then to Lazica (part of today's Georgia), where he died. Today, his day of commemoration in the RM, is in Orthodox churches the feast of the translation of his relics to Constantinople. M.'s principal feast in Orthodox churches falls on 21. January.
M. as depicted in the mid-eleventh-century mosaics of the Nea Moni on Chios:
M. as depicted in a thirteenth-century menaion from Cyprus (Paris, BnF, ms. Grec 1561, fol. 87r):
M. as depicted in a fresco of ca. 1300, attributed to Manuel Panselinos, in the Protaton church on Mt. Athos:
6) Wigbert of Fritzlar (d. 738). The Englishman W. (in German, also Wipert) was from about 735 onward one of St. Boniface's missionary coadjutors in what is now central Germany. He was abbot at Fritzlar in today's Landkreis Schwalm-Eder Kreis in Hessen, where one of his disciples was St. Sturmius (17. December), the future abbot of Fulda. Boniface later made W. abbot at Ohrdruf in Thüringen. When W. was ill and close to death Boniface allowed him to return to Fritzlar, where he died, where his sanctity was later said to have been confirmed by miracles at his tomb, and where his cult will have been immediate.
In 774 W.'s remains were moved for safety to nearby Buraburg and a few years after that to Hersfeld (now Bad Hersfeld; W. is its patron saint). During the year 836 Servatus Lupus (a.k.a. Lupus of Ferrières), then a monk of Fulda, wrote at the behest of the abbot of Hersfeld a Vita of W. (BHL 8879) that unfortunately tells us very little about this saint (who at the time of S.'s writing had been dead for almost a century).
W. is a co-titular of Quedlinburg's twelfth-century church (with a seemingly early eleventh-century crypt) of Sts. Wipert and James, a rebuilding of a church founded in the ninth century from Hersfeld. Views of the crypt:
The church's own website, with downloadable German-language .pdfs on the church's history and that of the building, is here:
Also dedicated to W. is the Wigbertikirche in Erfurt (consecrated, 1473). Some views:
7) Stephen of Rossano Calabro (Bl.; d. 1001). We know about this less well known holy person of the Regno chiefly from the Bios of St. Nilus of Rossano (BHG 1370). One of Nilus' earliest disciples, he learned obedience and self-discipline at Nilus' lavra in the Mercurion and then was a leading member of the community first at the monastery of St. Adrian at today's San Demetrio Corone (CS) in Calabria and then in its successive homes in the Latin West at Capua, at Valleluce in southern Lazio, and at Serperi in the duchy of Gaeta. When S. died at Serperi Nilus had him buried in a double tomb whose empty space he intended to have filled with his own body after his death.
It is not known whether S.'s remains were later brought to the community's new foundation at Grottaferrata, where Nilus, who died a few years later, is buried. S. is the subject of eleventh-century liturgical hymns from Grottaferrata. That abbey's hagiographical calendar records him jointly with Nilus on the latter's feast (26. September).
(matter from older posts revised)
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