medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (27. July) is the feast day of:
4) Symeon Stylites the Elder (d. 459). We know about the Syrian ascetic S. from an account by Theodoret of Cyrus/Cyrrhus written while the saint was yet alive (_Philotheos historia_ [a.k.a. _Historia religiosa_], 26), from a closely posthumous Bios by a disciple called Antonius (BHG 1682-1683e), and from a Life in Syriac (BHO 1121) composed in the year 472/73. The first of the famous pillar saints, he had been given to extreme ascetic practices first as a monk and later a recluse before mounting the first of several pillars built for him at at today's Qalat Seman some forty miles from Antioch on the Orontes. On these, the last of which is said to have been more than sixty feet in height and on which he spent the last thirty years of his life, he stood exposed to the elements, ate very sparingly, prayed mightily, fasted throughout Lent, operated miracles, and communicated to the world through disciples who formed a monastic community at the pillar's base.
S. was vastly famous and celebrated as a saint his lifetime; his post-mortem cult was immediate. Shortly after his death his body was translated with great pomp to Antioch, where he was venerated by numerous pilgrims. S.'s tower likewise became a pilgrimage destination; in ca. 480-490 a huge church was built around it. The Sacred Destinations description of its still impressive remains and many views of these are here:
Another set of views begins here:
a) A silver plaque, dated to the later sixth or early seventh century, now in the Louvre, bearing an image of a pillar saint with a serpent coiled about the pillar, and said to bear an inscription in Syriac thanking God and a St. Symeon (often taken to be today's S., though Symeon the Younger is also a possibility):
b) S. as depicted in the late twelfth-century frescoes (1192) of the church of the Panagia tou Arakou in Lagoudera (Nicosia prefecture), Republic of Cyprus: :
c) S. as depicted in a thirteenth-century icon at (or from?) the monastery of St. Catherine, Sinai:
d) S. as depicted in a thirteenth-century mosaic in the narthex of the basilica di San Marco in Venice:
e) S. as depicted ca. 1300 in a fresco attributed to Manuel Panselinos in the Protaton church on Mt. Athos:
f) S. as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. ca. 1312 and 1321/1322) in the nave of the monastery church of the Theotokos at Graèanica in, depending on one's view of the matter, either Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija or the Republic of Kosovo::
g) S. as depicted in a fourteenth-century fresco in the church of the Timios Stavros at Pelendri (Limassol prefecture), Republic of Cyprus:
5) Ecclesius (d. 532?). According to Agnellus of Ravenna's ninth-century _Liber pontificalis ecclesiae Ravennatis_, E. was that city's twenty-fourth bishop and ruled for ten years. One of pope St. John I's fellow emissaries to Constantinople in 525/26, he is not known to have suffered king Theodoric's displeasure over the mission's failure to persuade the emperor Justin to cease his persecution of T.'s fellow Arians in the East. He built Ravenna's church of Santa Maria Maggiore (rebuilt in the later seventeenth century) and founded its basilica di San Vitale.
E. as depicted in a sixth-century mosaic in Ravenna's Sant'Apollinare in Classe:
A four-page, illustrated, English-language site on Ravenna's San Vitale (at least mostly built after E.'s death) begins here:
The Italia nell'Arte Medievale pages on that church:
6) Anthousa of Mantineon (d. later 8th cent.). We know about A., a victim of Byzantine First Iconoclasm, chiefly from a brief notice in the Synaxary of Constantinople. Inclined to monasticism from an early age and given to binding herself with iron and to wearing a hair shirt, she was the founding abbess in the earlier eighth century of the double monastery of Mantineon at/in a small lake near Claudiopolis in Paphlagonia (today's Bolu in Turkey). The nuns lived on an island in the lake where they wove cloth for the habits of the monks who lived on the nearby mainland and who in turn provided them with food.
According to the synaxary notice (thought to derive from a lost Martyrion), for their resistance to iconoclasm A. and a nephew were tortured by flogging under Constantine V (r. 741-775); A. was also exiled for a while. Later she won imperial favor by predicting that Constantine's third wife, Eudokia, would successfully come through a difficult pregnancy that she was then experiencing. The empress endowed the double monastery with numerous villages and the emperor ceased to harrass A. A. was also a thaumaturge who attracted many in search of cures. She died on the feast of St. Panteleimon (Pantaleon), was buried in her cell, and continues to operate miracles. Thus far the synaxary notice.
The Georgian-language Passio of St. Romanus the Neomartyr (a monk of her establishment; d. 780), presents A. as still alive in 771. The site of her monastery is undetermined; no medieval image of her is known to exist.
7) Clement of Ohrid (d. 916); also Gorazd, Naum, Sava, and Angelarius (d. early 10th cent.; G. perh. d. 885/886). These Slavonic-speaking disciples of Sts. Constantine/Cyril and Methodius are generally considered the founders of the organized church in Bulgaria. Their grouping comes from C.'s late eleventh-century Bios by St. Theophylact of Ohrid (BHG 355). The two best known are C. and N., who were among Methodius' earliest missionary companions in Great Moravia and whose later work was based on Pliska and on Ohrid in today's Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. C., a prolific commentator and translator, has also been viewed traditionally as the deviser of the Cyrillic alphabet (probably a product of the Pliska Literary School directed by N. after C.'s move to Kutmichevitza in 886). C. and N. founded monasteries at/near Ohrid that have survived and preserved their memory; both have Lives in Old Church Slavonic.
English-language summaries of these saints' achievements are here:
Remains of C.'s late tenth-century monastery church of St. Panteleimon at Ohrid have been found beneath its much rebuilt successor dedicated both to C. and to P.:
C.'s present tomb in the latter church:
Remains of N.'s monastery church at today's Sveti Naum, some thirty kilometers south of Ohrid, have been found beneath that institution's much photographed early modern buildings:
An illustrated, English-language page on Ohrid's originally late thirteenth-century church of Sv. Bogorodica Perivlepta (Sv. Kliment):
Four detail views of older parts of the exterior start here:
C. as depicted in a late thirteenth-century fresco in this church:
C. as depicted in a thirteenth-century relief icon in the Gallery of Ohrid Icons in Sv. Bogorodica Perivlepta at Ohrid:
C. as depicted in a fourteenth-century icon in the same collection:
C. as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (ca. 1313-ca. 1320) of the altar area in the King's Church (dedicated to Sts. Joachim and Anne) in the Studenica monastery near Kraljevo (Ra¹ka dist.) in southern Serbia:
N. as depicted in two fourteenth-century icons in the Gallery of Ohrid Icons in Sv. Bogorodica Perivlepta at Ohrid:
8) Berthold of Rachez (Bl.; d. 1142). According to his two closely posthumous Vitae (BHL 1274-1282; 1283), the Austrian noble and monastic reformer B. (also B. of Garsten; in Latin, Bertoldus and Perhtoldus) entered the great abbey of St. Blaise in the Black Forest at a very young age and rose there to occupy positions of responsibility before becoming, in about 1105, prior of the abbey of Göttweig in today's Niederösterreich. In 1111 B. became the first abbot of Göttweig's former priory at Garsten in today's Oberösterreich. There he introduced the Cluniac-inspired reforms promoted by the abbey of Hirsau in today's Baden-Württemberg, opened both a hospice and a guest house, and made Garsten a center of spiritual retreat that attracted numerous wealthy visitors including the emperor Conrad III. His cult was immediate; the Vitae that followed ascribe to him powers of prophecy and thaumaturgy.
B.'s cult was officially permitted by the bishop of Passau in 1236. Austrian Benedictines kept it alive. B.'s Office was approved for the diocese of Linz in 1883 and for the diocese of Passau in 1892. His cult is said to have been confirmed papally 1951. Another papal confirmation of B.'s cult in 1970 (the one in 1951 must have been more restricted in scope) recognized him as a Beatus, the status he enjoys in the revised RM of 2001.
9) Nevolone (Bl.; d. 1280). Most of the little that is known about the pious Romagnol N. (in Latin Nevolonus and Novolonus), a layman of Faenza, derives from matter in the late thirteenth-century _Chronicon_ of Pietro Cantinelli and from late medieval and early modern hagiographic writing of dubious reliability; these include an abbreviated Vita (BHL 6069) and some miracle accounts (BHL 6068d and 6068e), and at least one vernacular _lauda_. Faenza's shoemakers having claimed him as their patron in 1331, it is thought that he may have been one of them (as the undated abbreviated Vita, quite possibly making a similar inference, asserts that he was). On the other hand, since Cantinelli says that N. made eleven pilgrimages to Compostela as well as pilgrimages to other sites, he may instead have been an exceptionally frequent customer.
N. is said to have been a Franciscan Tertiary, to have lived very prayerfully and very ascetically, to have increased his self-mortification after the death of his wife, and to have died at the cell of his brother, a Camaldolese hermit. His cult was immediate; he was buried in the cathedral, _non sine miraculis_. Starting in 1282, a special overseer was provided for his tomb. By 1351 N. had an altar in the cathedral. Astorre (Astorgio) I Manfredi, Faenza's lord from 1377 to 1404, struck coinage bearing N.'s name and image. N.'s cult was confirmed papally in 1817.
(last year's post revised)
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