medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today, January 19, is the feast day of:
Agricius/Agritius (d. c330) is supposed to have been named to the bishopric
of Trier by the empress Helena. He certainly attended the Council of Arles
in 314. Agricius built a strong foundation for the church in Trier,
apparently founding the church of St. Maximin, as well as joining Helena in
bringing the relics of the apostle Matthias to Trier and also the robe of
Christ that is still kept in Trier cathedral.
Albert of Cashel, bishop (seventh century?) - described as "natione Anglus,
conversatione angelus", he renounced his bishopric and went on a pilgrimage
to Rome in the company of St Erhard.
Andrea Gregho da Peschiera (1485) was a Dominican preacher in the Valtelline
area of Switzerland and northern Italy. When heretics once produced a book
to confute him, Andrea told them to open it, and an enormous viper came out
Andrew of Peschiera (blessed) (d. 1485) became a Dominican at the age of
fifteen. Soon he went to northern Italy, where he began a mission among the
poor and the many heretics of the region that lasted for 45 years. In the
process, Andrew worked many miracles, won many heretics back to Catholicism,
and raised money to build an impressive series of churches, hospitals,
schools, and orphanages.
Arsenius of Corfu (d. c953) Our chief source for the life of the Corfiote
bishop and hagiographer Arsenius is an apparently credible synaxary account
(BHG 2044; there's said to be a translation into Latin in BAV, ms.
Barberinianus Latinus 2663). According to this he was born at Bethany in
Palestine in the reign of Basil I (867-86), entered religion at age twelve,
completed his studies at Seleucia in Syria (Seleucia Pieria), was ordained
priest, made a pilgrimage to the Holy Places in Palestine, and then became
an associate in Constantinople of the future patriarch Tryphon (928-31). In
933 Tryphon's successor Theophylact made Arsenius bishop of Corfu.
We are poorly informed about Arsenius' episcopate. During this time he
wrote his surviving sermons on Sts. Andrew the Protoclete, Barbara, and
Terinus (a Corfiote martyr) and, if it is his, the poem on Palm Sunday that
has been attributed to him. A witty epigram in Arsenius' honor by the
earlier thirteenth-century imperial notary, diplomat, and poet John of
Otranto (Joannes Grassus), an Italo-Greek subject of Frederick II, praises
the immaterial virtues through which Arsenius participated in the Holy
Spirit and implies that it was thanks to these that he eluded Ethiopian
(i.e. Muslim) pirates who sought to waylay him at sea.
Arsenius is said to have died near Corinth while returning from a mission
to the emperor Constantine VII on behalf of the island's notables. His body
was taken to Corfu, where it was buried in a church of Sts. Peter and Paul.
A relic believed to be his was turned over by the island's Franciscans in
1943 to the metropolitan of Corfu and is now preserved in the latter's
cathedral church of the Panagia Spiliotissa.
Bernard of Corleone (1667) was a shoemaker reputed to be the finest
swordsman in Sicily. He had a conversion experience while taking sanctuary
in a church after wounding an officer of the law and became a Capuchin
lay-brother, with a special power of healing sick animals.
Blathmac of Iona (d. c823) is the subject of a praise poem by Walahfrid
Strabo. According to Strabo, Blathmac was an Irishman of royal family who
gave up the throne to become a monk. He was an abbot in Ireland, but gave it
up to go to Iona. There he was acting abbot when word came of an impending
viking raid. Blathmac had the shrine with the relics of Columcille hidden,
then gave the monks the choice of whether to flee or stay. Blathmac and all
the other monks who stayed were killed when they refused to reveal the
hiding place of the shrine.
Branwalader (6th century) was a Celt of some variety, perhaps Welsh,
although one martyrology describes him as the son of a Cornish king.
Branwalader worked with St. Samson in Cornwall and the Channel Islands.
Perhaps he made it to Brittany; at least in the tenth century the English
King Athelstan obtained some relics of B from Breton clerics who were
refugees from the vikings.
Fillan/Foelan, abbot (eighth century) Immediately after his birth, his
father threw him into a lake but he was kept alive by angels. He became
abbot of a Scottish monastery, then retired to a mountainous part of
Glendochart in Perthshire.
Germanicus (d. c155 or c166) According to the Martyrium sancti Polycarpi
(BHG 1556-1557), Germanicus was a youth of Smyrna who perished shortly after
St. Polycarp. Exposed to beasts along with other Christians, he is said
both to have encouraged his fellows to behave well when meeting their end
and, wishing to get it over with (er, wishing to enter Heaven as soon as
possible), to have successfully incited one of the animals to attack him. In
his martyrology Florus of Lyon entered Germanicus along with Polycarp on
January 26. St. Ado of Vienne gave him his own entry on this day.
Laudomarus/Laumer (6th century) is listed in Butler for this day. According
to Butler, as a lad he kept his father's sheep, and while so doing not only
maintained a rigorously ascetic existence but, under the guidance of a
priest, learned to read and pray. After being ordained, he was made a canon
and cellerer of Chartres Cathedral, but later retired to a hermitage,
perhaps on the site of Bellomer, a later monastery of the order of
Fontevrault. In c575 he founded the monastery of Corbion (currently called
Moutier-au-Perche) to house all the followers who had been attracted to him.
He died at Chartres in the bishop's palace on Jan. 19, 593. Before the
French Revolution, various relics were scattered about: at Perly in
Auverne; his head at the Priory of Saint-Laumer at Maissac (Moissac?); and
in an Abbey of St Laumer at Blois. Many elements of his life seem to be
shared by other Chartrain saints, such as St Lubin, also 6th century, who
also learned to read among the sheep and became a cellerer, before becoming
bishop (as can be seen in a window in the south nave aisle).
Nathalan, bishop (678) believed farming to be the activity most conducive
to divine contemplation. During a terrible spring, at which time there was
no seed for grain, he planted sand that miraculously grew into a great crop.
Remigius of Rouen (d. probably 772) was a son of Charles Martel. He entered
the Church at an early age, and from 755 until his death was bishop of
Rouen. He introduced the Roman liturgy to his diocese, and is supposed to
have convinced Charlemagne to do the same throughout the kingdom of the
Wulfstan/Wulstan/Wolstan/Vulstan/in the Latin of the Bollandists, Vulstanus
(1095) was born in c1008/1012 to a noble Anglo-Saxon family at Itchington in
Warwickshire, then an estate of Worcester Cathedral; his father, a priest,
may have been of the bishop's household. At some time in the 1030s Wulfstan
too became a secular priest. But he soon entered monastic life, making his
profession at Worcester Cathedral Priory. There Wulfstan was successively
novice master, precentor, sacrist, and (c1055) prior. Personally ascetic, he
insisted on strict monastic discipline while at the same engaging in works
of charity in the town and in public preaching. In 1062 Wulfstan was elected
bishop of Worcester; he was consecrated in that year by the archbishop of
York. He was noted especially for his care of the poor, and is the first
English bishop known to have made visitations of his diocese, and he
promoted clerical celibacy, built churches and encouraged Worcester's
position as a center of literature and culture. He engaged in an active
pastorate, tended to the landed wealth of his diocese, and, in the 1080s,
started work on a new cathedral (the present one), whose crypt he completed
and into which he oversaw the translation of St. Oswald. During his time
Worcester continued to maintain traditional English liturgical and scribal
practices and to translate useful books from Latin into Old English.
His efforts suppressed the practice of certain people of Bristol, who would
kidnap men into slavery and ship them over to Ireland. Wulfstan was among
the first clerics to submit to William the Conqueror after Hastings, and one
of the few Englishmen to keep high church office until the end of William's
reign. When people complained of being oppressed by the Normans, he would
say, 'This is a scourge of God for our sins, which we must bear with
patience'. Miracles were reported soon after his death and a cult began. An
Old English Life was composed by the monastic chancellor Coleman a few years
later. This does not survive but its expansion by William of Malmesbury (BHL
8756; written sometime between c1124-c1142) does. Wulfstan was canonized by
Innocent III in 1203. King John took Wulfstan as his personal patron and at
his request reposes near him in Worcester Cathedral.
Today is Wulfstan's feast day in the Church of England. In the Roman
Catholic Church, his feast falls on January 20. Worcester Cathedral's page
on him.: http://worcestercathedral.co.uk/index.php?pr=Wulfstan
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