medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
We seem not yet to have had a "Feasts and Saints of the Day" for 8. July this year.
Today (8. July) is the feast day of:
1) Aquila and Prisca (d. 1st cent.). A. was Jew, a tentmaker, and a native of Pontus; P. (also Priscilla) was his wife. They had lived in Rome but after an expulsion of Jews from that city were living in Corinth when they took another Jewish tentmaker, St. Paul, into their house and into their lives (Acts 18:1-3). If they were not then Christian, they were when Paul left for Syria, for they accompanied him as far as Ephesus and there instructed the Jew Apollos, who had received baptism from disciples of St. John the Baptist (Acts 18:18-19, 24-26).
Later A. and P. moved to Rome, where Paul (Rom. 16:3-5) thanks them for having risked their lives to save his (the incident in question is not further identified; the riots in Ephesus of Acts 19:23-41 are a likely candidate) and greets as well the church that they maintain in their house. In 57 they were again in Ephesus ad hosting a church (1 Cor. 16:19). Writing to St. Timothy from prison in Rome, Paul send greetings to A. and P. (2 Tim. 4:19).
In Acts A.'s wife is called Priscilla; in her mentions in the Pauline epistles she is Prisca. In the eighth century Rome's _titulus [S.] Priscae_ was known as the church of the holy martyrs Aquila and Prisca. But the standard Western medieval view of their fate is that of the ninth-century martyrologists St. Ado and Usuard, who in entering A. and P. under today place their deaths simply in Asia Minor and who do not identify them as martyrs. In the East, the Synaxary of Constantinople calls them both apostles (which in the broader Orthodox use of that term they certainly were) and martyrs.
2) Pancras of Taormina (d. ca. 107, supposedly). P. is the legendary protobishop of the northeastern Sicilian port of Taormina. His legendary Bios kai Martyrion (BHG 1410-1410b; probably late seventh- or early eighth-century), supposedly written by his disciple Evagrius, makes him a native of Antioch whose father took him as an adolescent to Jerusalem, where he saw Jesus with his own eyes. Back in Antioch, P. was later converted to Christianity by St. Peter. Peter consecrated P. bishop and sent him as a missionary to Sicily along with St. Marcian of Syracuse. When P. arrived at Taormina a pagan temple collapsed at the very sight of him. He soon converted and baptized the Roman prefect and many others, destroyed idols, built a church in what had been a temple of Isis, and established a diocese united with that of Syracuse. P. lived to a great age; arrested during Trajan's persecution, he was tortured and then stoned to death. Thus far the legend.
P.'s cult spread widely in the Byzantine commonwealth. His traditional relics, which St. Elias of Enna is said in his Bios to have venerated in Taormina at what will have been the end of the ninth century or the very beginning of the tenth, are presumed to have been lost after the Aghlabid capture of that city in 902 (Taormina reverted to permanent Christian rule only in 1079). He has an early ninth-century encomium by Gregory the Pagurite (BHG 1411) and is the subject of a homily by the earlier to mid twelfth-century Siculo-Calabrian preacher Philagathus "of Cerami" (BHG 1412). P. is Taormina's patron saint and the patron or protector of several other places in eastern Sicily.
P. as depicted in the earlier twelfth-century mosaics (by 1143) of Palermo's chiesa di Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio (a.k.a. chiesa della Martorana):
3) Glyceria (d. later 2d cent., supposedly). G. is a popular saint of Thracia and Moesia mentioned in several Bioi and Martyria of other saints of the region. Her late antique and early medieval cult center was at the Thracian metropolis of Heraclea (today's Marmara Ereğlisi in Turkey). She is entered under 8. July in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology and under 13. May in Byzantine synaxaries.
We know nothing about the historical G. Her legendary Martyrion (several versions: BHG 699-699b), a tissue of hagiographic commonplaces, makes her an aristocrat -- her Christian father is said to have been consul three times -- who in the reign of an emperor Antoninus (this is commonly taken to mean Marcus Aurelius) proclaimed the superiority of her Christian faith by going into a pagan temple during a festival at her native Traianopolis (today's Traianoupoli in Greece's Evros prefecture) and there destroying the idols with a single sign of the Cross. Condemned to death, she overcame numerous forms of torture and execution both at Traianopolis and at Heraclea before being gently dispatched at the latter venue by a lioness. Heraclea's bishop obtained her corpse and buried it outside the city. Thus far G.'s legend.
G. as depicted perishing by the sword in a May calendar scene in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. ca. 1312 and 1321/1322) of the monastery church of the Theotokos at Gračanica in, depending on one's view of the matter, either Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija or the Republic of Kosovo [the site is off-line just now but its URLs for individual images are stable, so when the site comes back this link should work once more]:
4) Disibod (d. 7th cent.?). The hermit D. (in Latin, Disibodus and Dysibodus) is a saint of the archdiocese of Mainz. First recorded in the tenth-century martyrology of St. Rabanus Maurus, he was venerated in that century at the abbey of St. Alban at Mainz. In the twelfth century he was held to have been the founder of what had become a Benedictine abbey on a mountain named for him (the Disibodenberg or Diessenberg) near today's Odernheim (Lkr. Bad Kreuznach) in Rheinland-Pfalz.
In the mid-twelfth century Bl. Jutta of Sponheim was living at the abbey as an anchorite; she had a few female oblates in her care, one of whom was St. Hildegard of Bingen. After Hildegard had moved the little community of women to the Rupertsberg near Bingen she was asked by the abbot to compose a Vita of D. According to this text (BHL 2204; ca. 1170), which seems to be wholly legendary, D. was an Irish bishop who having failed at preaching traveled to the continent with three companions, established the monastery, and from there successfully preached among the locals.
Some views of what remains of D.'s abbey:
Materials for D.'s feast (antiphon; collect) occur near the bottom left of these pages in an earlier thirteenth-century breviary of Rhineland provenance, perhaps from the Disibodenberg itself but thought more likely to have been written at Sponheim (Engelberg, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. 103, fols. 139r, 190v):
D.'s name occurs near top left in a litany in the same manuscript (fol. 71r):
An edition (by Christopher P. Evans) and an English-language translation (by Hugh Feiss) of Hildegard's Vita of D. will be found in Hildegard of Bingen, _Two Hagiographies_ (Paris and Walpole, MA: Peeters, 2010; Dallas medieval texts and translations, no. 11).
5) Kilian of Würzburg (d. later 7th cent.). We first hear of K. (also Chilianus, Cilianus, Chillenus) from 752, when that city's first bishop, the Englishman St. Burkard, is said to have translated his putative relics into the city's first cathedral. Probably from about this time comes the first of his several Passiones (BHL 4660, etc.). This makes him an Irish bishop who traveled to the continent with several companions, evangelized in Würzburg, and was murdered by a local chieftain whom he had converted. K.'s cult was promoted by Bl. Charlemagne; later versions of his Passio have him active at various places in northern Francia.
Some views of Würzburg's originally later eleventh-century cathedral of St. Kilian, starting with an aerial view:
West front and north side, ca. 1900:
At some point in the early Middle Ages relics of K. were given to Paderborn, whose cathedral is now dedicated to the BVM, to K., and to St. Liborius (whose relics came to Paderborn from Le Mans in the ninth century). In these views of that cathedral's Paradise Portal (before 1240), the saint on the door at the viewer's left is K.:
6) Hadrian III, pope (d. 885). H. (also Adrian) was elected pope in 884. We know little of his brief pontificate. He died in Emilia while on his way north to a council in Francia and was buried at the abbey of Nonantola. The cult in his honor that developed there has left us a prose Vita (BHL 3738) based upon matter in the Liber Pontificalis but adding an account of H.'s sepulture at the abbey and some details drawn from a Vita of pope St. Hadrian I. H.'s chief literary monument is a brief, perhaps mid-eleventh-century Vita in leonine hexameters (BHL 3739). His cult was confirmed papally in 1891.
The abbey of St. Sylvester (pope St. Sylvester I) at Nonantola (MO) in Emilia, founded in the mid-eighth century by a brother-in-law of the Lombard king Aistulf, was one of medieval Italy's great monasteries. In 1117 the church was severely damaged by an earthquake; what one sees today is an imaginative modern restoration (1913-21) of the structure as rebuilt in the twelfth century plus its better preserved eleventh-century crypt. A few views in color:
A view of the crypt:
Capitals in the crypt:
A view of the rear prior to restoration:
Two pages of black-and-white views from the Courtauld, mostly details of the famous sculptures on the portal:
More views of the portal sculptures:
H. as depicted on an early fifteenth-century polyptych by Matteo Lambertini now in the Museo diocesano in Nonantola:
7) Eugenius III (Bl.; d. 1153). The Pisan priest Bernardo Pignatelli who in 1138 under the inflience of St. Bernard had become a monk of Clairvaux was abbot of Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio at Tre Fontane near Rome when he was elected pope in 1145, succeeding Lucius II and taking the name Eugenius. The first Cistercian pope, he wore his order's habit throughout his reign and strove to raise standards of behavior among both monks and secular clergy.
E. continued with only limited success his predecessor's campaign to re-impose papal authority in the Eternal City and consequently spent much of his pontificate elsewhere. His proclamation of the Second Crusade in 1145 was followed by his presence in France and in the western Empire in 1146-1148. During this time he convened synods at Paris, Trier, and Reims. E. held another at Cremona on his return to Italy; on this occasion he excommunicated the radical reformer Arnold of Brescia. His interest in church affairs in eastern territories presumably underlay his commissioning of Burgundio of Pisa's translations into Latin of writings by Sts. John Chrysostom and John of Damascus. E. was beatified in 1872.
(last year's post revised)
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