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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  January 2011

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION January 2011

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Subject:

Feasts and Saints of the Day - January 22

From:

Terri Morgan <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Sat, 22 Jan 2011 00:44:18 -0500

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today, January 22, is the feast day of:

Irene of Rome (d. 288) The widow Irene appears in hagiography as the woman who cared for St. Sebastian after he had been shot full of arrows, nursing him back to health.

Vincent of Zaragoza/Saragossa (d. 304?) is the official protomartyr of Spain. A popular martyr of early Christian Iberia, Vincent was born in Huesca and became archdeacon at Zaragoza, performing a lot of preaching for his bishop, Valerius. The latter (in some accounts) had a speech impediment. At the outbreak of the Diocletianic persecution they were both arrested and hauled off to Valencia, where they were imprisoned pending a hearing. When that hearing came, Vincent did most of the talking and spoke so ably that the presiding magistrate concluded that the really dangerous one was the deacon, not the bishop. Consequently, Valerius was exiled but Vincent remained in prison, where he was starved for a while, then when he refused to sacrifice was racked and roasted on a gridiron before being thrown back in prison, where he died. The body of Vincent was thrown upon a marshy field, where a raven defended it from scavenging birds and animals; a sermon attributed to Leo the Great states that his body was eventually put in a sack and thrown into the sea, but that it was carried back to the shore and revealed to two Christians.
   Early witnesses to Vincent's cult include St. Paulinus of Nola, Prudentius, and St. Augustine of Hippo (who eulogized Vincent annually on this day and from whom we have no fewer than six sermons celebrating him). Augustine reports that V''s cult was known throughout the Empire by his time. Vincent's Passio in its standard form (BHL 8631) was in existence by the middle of the sixth century. A briefer text (BHL 8638) may be close in content to a Passio that circulated in the fifth century. A strong cult developed at his grave in the early Middle Ages, which spread from there to France and Germany. According to (at least German) folk belief, the weather conditions on the feast of Vincent are supposed to foretell those of the rest of the year. There's an old saying that runs, "If on St. Vincent's Day the sky is clear, more wine than water will crown the year."
   Until the latest revision of the Roman Calendar, Vincent had a joint feast with Anastasius the Persian.  
   The church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris is a successor to a Merovingian basilica dedicated to the Holy Cross and to Vincent. It is said to have been founded in the sixth century by Childebert I, who gave it Vincent's stole (and perhaps his dalmatic as well). Herewith some views of the thirteenth-century window of V. from Saint-Germain-des-Prés, now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York: http://tinyurl.com/3cb48a
   Vincent's martyrdom as depicted in the c1285-1290 Livre d'images de Madame Marie (Paris, BnF, ms. Nouvelle acquisition française 16251, fol. 78r): http://tinyurl.com/yj8su7y
   Vincent preaching and his martyrdom as depicted in a c1326-1350 copy of a collection of French-language saint's lives (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 185, fol. 101v): http://tinyurl.com/yd8s4pf
   Note that in these paintings we seem to have evidence of that rare figure in church annals, the mitred deacon.  In the first of these, the figure robed in blue is thought to depict Vicent's actual bishop, the confessor St. Valerius of Zaragoza (see above).
      Vincent’s martyrdom as depicted in a (1348) copy of the Legenda aurea in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 241, fol. 46v): http://tinyurl.com/y8snjlq 
      Vincent's martyrdom as depicted in a (1463) copy of Vincent de Beauvais' Speculum historiale in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 51, fol. 83v): http://tinyurl.com/yhbmbt3
   Vincent’s martyrdom as depicted in a c1480-1490 copy of the Legenda aurea in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 244, fol. 54v): http://tinyurl.com/ydw94le 

Valerius of Zaragoza (d. early 4th century) Vincent of Zaragoza's bishop, he survived to take part in a synod at Elvira. This Valerius (San Valero) has a cult in his own right. Zaragoza celebrates Valerius on January 29. Relics said to be those of Valerius repose in the mostly eleventh- and twelfth-century ex-cathedral of San Vicente at Roda de Isábena (Huesca) in Aragon, consecrated in 1067 and modified in the eighteenth century. Views of this church are here: http://www.romanicoaragones.com/2-Ribagorza/990361-RodaIsabena00.htm
   In the first of the two illuminations shown here from a c1326-1350 copy of a collection of French-language saint's lives (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 185, fol. 101v), the blue-robed figure at the far left is thought to depict Valerius, while the red-robed (and mitred!) figure standing before him is his deacon, the martyr St. Vincent of Zaragoza: http://tinyurl.com/yd8s4pf
   Valerius' head reliquary given by Benedict XIII (Pedro de Luna) in 1397 to the cathedral of Zaragoza:
http://www.cortesaragon.es/fileadmin/imagenes/Histo51.jpeg

Blaesilla of Rome (d. 384) was a patrician, daughter of St. Paula. She followed in her mother's footsteps, leading such a stringently ascetic life that she died, already widowed, at the age of 20. Paula was almost mad with grief; St. Jerome rebuked her and promised to glorify Blaesilla by writing about her.

Theodelinde (d. 627) was a daughter of the duke of Bavaria, married to the Lombard king Aethari (and after she was widowed, she married Agilulf, who became king by right of marriage). Theodelinde is credited with winning the Lombards from Arianism - her son was their first Catholic king. She corresponded with Gregory the Great, who dedicated four books to her, and also gave Columbanus the land on which he founded the monastery of Bobbio.

Anastasius the Persian (d. 628) According to his Passio, Anastasius, whose Persian name is said to have been Magundat, was a soldier in the army of Khusrow (Chosroes) II when the latter seized the Holy Cross and brought it back to Persia in 614.  Impressed with power of this relic and with the observed behavior of many Christians, Anastasius left the army and converted to Christianity. After a period as a monk in Jerusalem he returned to Persia as a missionary and was soon arrested. He had to endure the martyrdom of some seventy companions before he himself was executed by strangling.    Anastasius' cult was widespread in both East and West. A noteworthy early example in the West is furnished by St. Bede the Venerable, who had access to a Passio of Anastasius and who in 725  summarized it in his Chronica maiora.   His relics went from Bethsaloe to a monastery known as Sergiopolis (near Rasapha, Iraq) to Palestine to Constantinople to Rome, where they were placed in the church of St Vincent (see Vincent, below).
   Until its latest revision, Anastasius was celebrated jointly with Valentine in the RM.
   This portrait in fresco in the diaconicon of the originally eleventh-/twelfth-century and now ruinous chiesetta di Sant'Anastasio in Fossato Jonico, a frazione of Montebello Jonico in extreme southwestern Calabria, has been identified as one of Anastasius: http://www.fossatoionico.it/A/affresco.php . The church is said elsewhere by the same author to have been dedicated to the Resurrection (in Greek, Anastasis). If so, its association with Anastasius may be recent only.  But the iconography fits. This and another fresco were discovered over ten years ago. I have no idea how old the photograph is.  As of late last year nothing concrete had been done to protect the ruin. [This entry was written by John Dillon.]
   Rome's originally twelfth-century church of Santi Vincenzo ed Anastasio alle Tre Fontane is said to hold relics of Anastasius. It succeeded an earlier seventh-century dedication to Anastasius alone, Sanctus Anastasius ad Aquam Salviam. A couple of views: http://tinyurl.com/yr5nwo , http://www.romeartlover.it/Vasi43f2.jpg
   Anastasius' martyrdom (lower register; St. Timothy above) as depicted in the (1335-1350) frescoes of the narthex in the church of the Holy Ascension at the Visoki Dečani monastery near Peć in, depending on one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija: http://tinyurl.com/yb35ttg
   Anastasius (at right; St. Timothy at left) as depicted in a thirteenth-century menaion from Cyprus (Paris, BnF, ms. Grec 1561, fol. 89v): http://tinyurl.com/yeehx6a

Dominic of Sora (d. 1032) is one of Italy's fairly numerous crop of monastic reformers from the late tenth and early eleventh centuries. Said to have been born in Foligno, he made his profession as a Benedictine at that Umbrian city's monastery of St. Sylvester. Dominic was active primarily in central Italy, founding monasteries in today's Lazio, Abruzzo, and Molise. His last foundation, the monastery of Santa Maria between today's Isola del Liri and Sora in southern Lazio, was renamed to include Dominic by Paschal II in 1104 and is generally referred to as that of San Domenico at Sora. He died at about age 80.
      Dominic was buried in the abbey's church (today's parish church of San Domenico Abate). And there he has remained, with the exception of a brief interlude from 1799 to 1810, when he was a guest of Santa Restituta in Sora.
      Dominic's tomb in the crypt: http://tinyurl.com/2nbehg
      Dominic's stone relic-chest in the tomb: http://tinyurl.com/37dv4p , http://tinyurl.com/2ws3g2
      The abbey's abbatial cross and and a ring displayed with it are traditionally said to be those of Dominic: http://tinyurl.com/ak2koc , http://tinyurl.com/d7tzg5
   A thirteenth-century portrait of Dominic in the frescoes of the santuario della Santissima Trinità at Vallepietra in Lazio: http://tinyurl.com/2w8vjn
   Revered as a protector against snakebite, Dominic is famously celebrated in the Abruzzese town of Cocullo at a popular festival that takes place in early May, the Festa dei Serpari. Whereas this celebration is not attested medievally, the church at Cocullo (Santa Maria delle Grazie) from which Dominic's statue is brought out for the celebrations is said to be originally of the twelfth or thirteenth century. Like other saints with winter feast days (e.g., the recently commemorated Efisio, patron saint of Sardinia and especially of Cagliari), his popular festival takes place in early May. The reptilian aspect of this celebration has been linked to earlier pagan practices from this region (one thinks of Angitia, the snake goddess of the ancient Marsi, and of the Lombard snake cult opposed by S. Barbato of Benevento); the connection with Dominic is, however, controversial.

Berhtwald, bishop of Ramsbury (1045)- the last bishop of this place before the diocese came under the control of Old Sarum, he was known for his visions and prophecies (including one linking St Peter to Edward the Confessor's rise to the throne).



  
Terri Morgan
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