medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (31. July) is the feast day of:
1) Democritus, Secundus, and Dionysius (d. 1st or 2d cent.). D., S., and D. are entered martyrs of Synnada in Asia Minor (today's Þuhut in Turkey) entered under 30. July in the later fourth-century Syriac Martyrology and under today in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology. The Syriac Martyrology classifies them as older martyrs, i.e. martyrs who suffered before the outbreak of the Great Persecution.
2) Calimerus of Milan (d. later 2d cent., supposedly). C. (also Calimerius) is an early saint of Milan. His modern church there goes back through several predecessors to a small structure already dedicated to him and described by the poet Ennodius as early and aged when it was expanded in the early sixth century. During a recognition of his remains in the eighth century the tomb containing them was found to be waterlogged. That is now explained by reference to seepage from one of Milan's numerous underground canals. But it gave rise to a legend, enshrined in the C.'s medieval Passio (BHL 1522) in the Milanese church's eleventh-century _Datiana historia_, that preserved his traditional identity as a bishop but gave him a Greek origin and had him martyred in the second century with his body then being thrown down a well. It was presumably C.'s status as an early Milanese martyr that got him his place in the Ambrosian Canon of the Mass.
C.'s traditional second-century date accords with the purported apostolic foundation of the church of Milan by St. Barnabas. Whereas this early dating is now widely viewed as fiction, with Milan's first bishops being assigned to the third century, the archdiocese maintains it in its marble chronotaxis of Milan's bishops mounted in the cathedral of Milan (C. is no. 4; the incumbent, cardinal Tettamanzi, is no. 143):
The crypt of today's basilica di San Calimero <http://tinyurl.com/5k3rx3> is said to occupy the footprint of the sixth-century church. On display in the crypt is -- and who could doubt this? -- the very well that received C.'s corpse:
Mounted on a wall down there is this roundel portraying a bishop (some think it a representation of C.):
Upstairs, remains said to be those of C. are housed behind the main altar of the church, some exposed to public view:
and others in this box next to C.'s footwear:
3) Tertullinus (d. 257 or 258, supposedly). Our information about the historical T. (also Tertulinus) comes from the legendary Passio of pope St. Stephen I (BHL 7845-47; sixth-century?). There he is said to have been arrested in the Valerianic persecution two days after Stephen had ordained him priest, to have been subject to various tortures and then decapitated, and to have been laid to rest on this day at his place of execution in the pozzolana crypts at the second milestone of the Via Latina. Seventh-century pilgrim itineraries record a memorial basilica dedicated to T. on the same road (precise location not given). The cemetery in this vicinity now known as the Catacomba di Tertullino, though not fully explored, appears to be no earlier than the fourth century.
T. enters the martyrologies with St. Bede the Venerable (a brief notice, based on the aforementioned Passio). St. Ado of Vienne, who has a much fuller extract from the same Passio, lists T. under 4. August, which is where Usuard also put him, as did the RM until its revision of 2001. The calendar in a late thirteenth-century missal from Austria now at Yale (Marston Ms. 213) shows the continued influence of Stephen's Passio by entering T. on 31. July, a datum consistent with entries for T. under this date in calendars of Brixen, Freising, Regensburg, and Salzburg.
T.'s basilica on the Via Latina was rebuilt by pope St. Hadrian I (772-95). In the early Middle Ages the monastery of Schlehdorf (in today's Landkreis Bad Tölz-Wolfratshausen in Oberbayern) claimed to have T.'s relics, presented by Hadrian to its founding abbot Atto. Atto's election in 783 as bishop of Freising led to Schlehdorf's becoming a possession of the latter's bishops and, in time, to the spread of T.'s cult to the dioceses named at the end of the previous paragraph. In the tenth century T.'s putative relics were forcibly removed from Schlehdorf to Benediktbeuern by count Adalbero I of Ebersberg; some of these were soon given back after a protest from Schlehdorf but Benediktbeuern still had others early in the reign of its abbot Ratold (997?-1003), who promised their return to the bishop of Freising (the monastery at Schlehdorf is thought to have been destroyed by marauding Huns some years earlier).
Relics of T. are said to have been included among those translated by pope St. Paschal I (817-24) to Rome's church of Santa Prassede. In 1624 a printed edition of the propers of Le Puy-en-Velay in Auvergne asserted that T.'s relics were at the high altar of its cathedral of Notre-Dame; the early Bollandists were unable to locate anything that would substantiate this claim. Relics said to be those of T. are housed at a side altar in Schlehdorf's early modern Pfarrkirche St. Tertulin; perhaps these came from Freising when the monastery was re-established in the twelfth century as a house of Augustinian canons (it is now a Dominican convent):
4) Fabius of Caesarea in Mauretania (d. 303 or 304, supposedly). We know about F. from his undated Passio (BHL 2818), whose earliest witness is of the tenth century. According to this account, he was a military standardbearer who refused to participate in religious ceremonies connected with an assembly called by the Roman governor of Mauretania towards the outset of the Great Persecution. Thus revealed to be a Christian, F. declined to apostasize, was condemned to death, and was martyred by decapitation at Caesarea in Mauretania, the seaport where the assembly had taken place. His head and the remainder of his body were cast into the sea and later washed up, miraculously rejoined, at F.'s native Cartenna (whose successor is today's Mostaganem in Algeria), where he was given an honorable interment. Some think that only the latter part of this narrative is legendary.
5) Germanus of Auxerre (d. 448). According to his late fifth-century Vita by his disciple Constantius of Lyon (BHL 3453; interpolated versions: BHL 3454, 3454b), G. was a Gallo-Roman from Auxerre who had studied law in Rome before being appointed governor of a Gallic province (probably Armorica). In 418 he was chosen to succeed St. Amator (1. May) as bishop of Auxerre, where he sought to improve the educational level of his priests and in whose immediate vicinity he founded a monastery dedicated to Sts. Cosmas and Damian. G. twice went to southern Britain to combat Pelagianism there; in one of the interpolations in his Vita he is also reported to have visited the shrine of St. Alban. G. died at the imperial capital of Ravenna; Galla Placidia and Valentinian III saw to it that his body was returned to Auxerre for burial.
Constantius doesn't tell us where the citizens of Auxerre laid their holy bishop to rest. G.'s body later reposed at Auxerre in his monastery, which latter had come to be named for him. Herewith one view and a few illustrated accounts of Auxerre's abbaye de Saint-Germain (NB: the last of these does not interface well with Firefox):
G.'s former sarcophagus in the crypt:
Various views (Wikipedia):
The identity of the saint after whom St Germans in Cornwall was named in pre-Conquest times is unclear. But the originally twelfth- and thirteenth-century priory church of St German there is certainly dedicated to today's G. Herewith a few accounts of it and of its history:
Some views of the chiefly fifteenth-century église Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois in Paris:
This church's fifteenth-century polychrome wooden statue of G.:
G. consecrating St. Genovefa (Geneviève) of Paris a virgin as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century (1326-1350) collection of French-language saint's lives (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 185, fol. 191v):
G. presenting to the young St. Genovefa (Geneviève) of Paris a small coin that he had found marked with a cross and asking that she consecrate herself to Christ, as depicted in a later fifteenth-century (1463) copy of Vincent of Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 51, fol. 378r):
6) Neot (d. before 879). N. (in Latin, Neotus and Neothus) is the saint of today's St Neot in Cornwall and, by translation, of St Neots in the former county of Huntingdonshire (now a district of Cambridgeshire). He is first recorded in chapter 74 of Asser's late ninth-century _Life of Alfred_, where it is said that at some time before the battle of Edington in 878 the king paid a visit to another saint's church in Cornwall where, according to Asser, St. Niot (Asser's spelling of N.'s name) now reposes as well.
N.'s legendary, pre-Conquest _Vita prima_ (BHL 6052), written at some time between the late tenth and late eleventh century by a person perhaps a native of Cornwall, presents N. as an English-born monk of Glastonbury who established first an hermitage on Bodmin Moor at a place called Neotestoc (very probably today's St Neot) and later, after a trip to Rome, a monastery there, who was visited by king Alfred and reproached him for his evil-doing before giving him his blessing, and who died on this day in an unspecified year. This Vita then goes on to narrate the translation by inspired _furtum sacrum_ of N.'s relics to Neotesberia (later Eynesbury, now St Neots) and the founding there of a church dedicated to N. where he continues to operate miracles and where his Translation is celebrated on 7. December.
N.'s translation to Huntingdonshire is thought to have occurred in the late tenth or early eleventh century. In the early eleventh century Croyland also claimed N.'s relics. In the early 1080s St. Anselm of Aosta and Bec but not yet of Canterbury visited Bec's newly founded dependency of St Neots at the manor of Eynesbury and brought to Bec a small relic said to be of N. Post-conquest hagiography of N. in England further developed N.'s legendary encounter with Alfred, while a probably twelfth-century Vita of N. from Bec (BHL 6054) added incidents taken from the Lives of Irish saints.
An illustrated, English-language account of the originally fourteenth- to sixteenth-century parish church of St Neot at St Neot (Cornwall) is accessible from the menu at left here:
This church has noteworthy glass windows from the earlier sixteenth century (one showing episodes matching those in N.'s _Vita secunda_) that were restored shortly before 1830. Gordon Plumb's views of these are here:
7) Helen of Skövde (d. c. 1160) According to her late thirteenth-century Passio (BHL 3793), H. (in Swedish, Elin), was a noblewoman of Västergötland who married, had children, was widowed, resided on a farm at Götene, used much of her property to fund construction of the church at Skövde, and went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. While she was away her son-in-law was murdered by his servants. His relatives blamed H. and, after she had returned, had her murdered while she was on her way to the consecration of the church at Götene.
H. was buried at the church at Skövde in today's Skövde kommun (Västra Götalands län), where her cult was immediate and drew pilgrims until the Reformation. Alexander III is said to have authorized her canonization in 1164. Skövde was destroyed almost completely in a fire in 1759; H.'s reputed burial chamber lies beneath her church's mostly eighteenth-century replacement:
That church also preserves a capital from its medieval predecessor:
H. is connected legendarily to nearby Våmb (also in Skövde kommun). Here's a view of the latter's originally early twelfth-century church:
H. as portrayed on a later fifteenth-century altarpiece in Töreboda kyrka, Töreboda kommun (Västra Götalands län):
The altarpiece as a whole:
H. as portrayed on a late fifteenth-century altarpiece from Gräsmark (Värmlands län), now in the Statens historiska museum, Stockholm:
The altarpiece as a whole:
H. (at right) as portrayed on a late fifteenth-century altarpiece in Rudskoga kyrka, Kristinehamn kommun (Värmlands län):
The altarpiece as a whole:
H. (at right) as portrayed on a late fifteenth-century altarpiece in Norra Ny Kyrka, Torsby kommun (Värmlands län):
The altarpiece as a whole
8) Giovanni Colombini (Bl.; d. 1367). Our information about the life of the founder of the Apostolic Clerics of St. Jerome (better known as the Gesuati or Jesuates) comes chiefly from his own surviving letters and from an apparently still unprinted Vita (BHL 4384) by Bl. Giovanni Tavelli (John of Tossignano; d. 1446), whose own work on the Jesuates' written constitutions was fundamental to this body's transformation from a lay society into a mendicant order. Tavelli's Vita was re-worked in 1449 by the Florentine poet Feo Belcari (who also drew directly on the letters) into a spiritually edifying vernacular Life that has colored subsequent accounts of C.
In brief, C. was a wealthy Sienese merchant who in the 1350s began to operate works of charity to the poor from his home. Some years later he separated from his wife, fixed a portion of his property upon her, and, living in poverty, used the remainder to support charitable foundations and his own charitable endeavors; the latter had come to include popular preaching. C. attracted disciples from prominent Sienese families. These also contributed financially to their cause, which by this time extended to burying abandoned corpses and to succoring the dying in public hospitals. In 1359 C. was appointed prior of Siena's hospital of Santa Maria della Scala.
Exiled from Siena in about 1361 as a corrupter of youth, C. traveled with a band of followers to other Tuscan cities where they propagated their mission and attracted further adherents. On their return to Siena C. sought papal approval for his congregation, obtaining this only in the year of his death. Today is C.'s _dies natalis_. He entered the RM in the later sixteenth century under Pietro Galesino (Baronio's predecessor as editor).
Sano di Pietro's Gesuati Polyptych of 1444, now in the Pinacoteca nazionale in Siena and recently restored, shows a barefoot C. kneeling at the Virgin's right:
Pietro Perugino and Luca Signorelli's painting of the Crucifixion (betw. 1483 and 1495), now in the Uffizi in Florence, was likewise painted for a Jesuate convent and depicts C., wearing his congregation's habit, between Sts. Mary Magdalen and John the Baptist:
(The saints at left are Jerome and Francis of Assisi.)
(last year's post revised)
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