medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
On Thursday, March 10, 2011, at 11:01 pm, Terri Morgan sent:
> Gorgo, martyr (date unknown) At Tours, on this day is celebrated the
> festival of S. Gorgo the martyr, whose body, found at Rome, on the Appian
> Way, near that of S. Cecilia, was transported to the great monastery of
> Tours in 847, and on the way worked many miracles of healing.
In this notice everything following the parenthesis was written originally by Sabine Baring-Gould (d. 1924), whose _Lives of the Saints_ Bill East used for his notices of "Interim Saints" posted in 2000. As _Gorgo_ is at least anciently a feminine name (bearers include a rival of Sappho in late seventh-century BCE Lesbos, the late fifth-century BCE wife of king Leonidas I of Sparta -- in _300_ she's played by Lena Headey --, and one of the fictive Syracusan interlocutors of Theocritus, 15), it is perhaps worth noting that the saint in question bears in his medieval documentation the masculine name Gorgonius and that the latter form is his accepted name form among the Bollandists. Can anyone indicate a known or probable reason for Baring-Gould's apparently having engaged here in a bit of onomastic gender-bending?
Our principal source for the Gorgonius venerated at Tours is a translation account (BHL 3622) narrating how in 846 an abbot of St. Martin at Tours led a mission to Rome to bring back the body of a martyr to hallow his newly rebuilt monastery and how in the following year he and his party returned with the body of the glorious martyr Gorgonius, the latter operating numerous miracles during the course of this journey.
A reference in the account's prologue to Gorgonius' mercy, powers, and fame in Western parts (_in Occidentis partibus_) might be taken to imply that its author did not conceive of this Gorgonius as an originally western saint. And an explanatory note at the end of the account identifies G. as one of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste whose bodies had been brought to Rome by a bishop of Sebaste named Agabus and had been buried in the cemetery _ad duas lauros_ off the Via Appia next to a church of St. Cecilia. Evidence that these martyrs' bodies were otherwise thought to have been brought to Rome is lacking, though some supposed relics of them may have hallowed their late antique and early medieval oratory off the Roman Forum.
The cemetery _ad duas lauros_ is in reality off the Via Labicana (now the Via Casilina) next to the basilica of Sts. Marcellinus and Peter; its true location was well known in the early Middle Ages. One of its saints was a Gorgonius. St. Chrodegang of Metz had him translated in the eighth century to today's Lorraine and in the ninth century he was identified by St. Ado of Vienne with St. Gorgonius of Nicomedia, a palace official martyred under Diocletian (this is the Gorgonius of 9. September). No ancient or early medieval church of St. Cecilia is reported from the vicinity of this cemetery.
A Gorgonius appears in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology under 10. and 11. March. Under the former date his place of suffering is given as Nicaea. He is now thought to be in all likelihood the aforementioned Gorgonius of Nicomedia. But a body said to have been his seems to have come, in 846/847, into the possession of these monks from Tours. The chances are excellent that the monks were looking for a saint celebrated on 11. March to serve as a counterpoint to St. Martin (11. November), that they had already identified as a candidate the Gorgonius entered in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology under 11. March, and that to suit their needs (the martyr of Nicomedia being already in Francia) he was identified by/for them as the Gorgonius of the Sebastean Martyrs (according to Ado, these were saints of 11. March), whose relics were now said to have found a Roman resting place similar to that of Gorgonius of Nicomedia.
TAN: When in the seventeenth century the early Bollandists came to deal with Gorgonius venerated at Tours his cult had fallen into obscurity; they became aware of its former existence only through the discovery of two manuscript copies of G.'s translation account.
> Pionius (d. c250/251) was a priest of Smyrna martyred during the Decian
> persecution. According to Eusebius, he was vigorous in defending his faith
> and his community. He had nails driven through him and then - like St.
> Polycarp of Smyrna in the previous century - was burned alive.
Of course, Polycarp wasn't burned alive. According to the standard account of his suffering (_Martyrium Polycarpi_ [BHG 1556-1560]), he survived unscathed an attempt to burn him alive and then was stabbed to death. In 2009, the author of the original of this notice of Pionius having become aware of its error in this particular, the last sentence was changed to read "...had nails driven through him and then was burned alive, a death to which the second-century St. Polycarp of Smyrna had also been sentenced."
> Euthymius of Sardis (d. c829) Euthymius was a monk and bishop of Sardis
> (Asia Minor). He was a defender of icons, for which he was exiled for
> years… after which he was cast into a noisome dungeon, and by the emperors’
> orders, was brought out and stretched on the ground, with his hands
> and feet
> attached to posts, at the utmost distention possible, and then was cut
> lashed with cow-hide scourges, till he died.
This prominent victim of Byzantine second iconoclasm has an earlier ninth-century Bios by patriarch St. Methodius of Constantinople (BHG 2145) and a ninth- or tenth-century Panegyric by a writer called Metrophanes (BHG 2146). Here's his suffering as depicted in the twelfth-century manuscript of John Scylitzes' _Synopsis Historiòn_ commonly known as the Madrid Scylitzes (Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid, Vitr. 26-2):
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