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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  January 2015

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION January 2015

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Subject:

FEAST - A Saint for the Day (January 29): Constantius of Perugia

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Sat, 31 Jan 2015 16:54:57 -0600

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text/plain

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Constantius of Perugia (d. ca. 170-180, supposedly). Constantius is the very largely legendary protobishop of Perugia (PG) in Umbria. In the oldest witness of the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology he appears under 29. January as Constantinus, is identified neither as a bishop nor as a martyr, and is said to have died in Tuscia, a toponym whose scope in antiquity included a large part of Umbria but not Perugia. According to his Passio (several versions: BHL 1937-1940; no witness older than the eleventh century), Constantius was Perugia's bishop when he underwent a martyrdom in several stages eventuating in death by decapitation at a crossroads near Foligno (which _was_ in Tuscia). All of this is said to have occurred during a persecution under an emperor Antoninus; although persecutions took place under several emperors so named, some identify this worthy specifically as Marcus Aurelius. But such precision may have been beyond either the reach or the inclination of Constantius' initial hagiographer. Developed versions of his originally sketchy Passio make him more Christ-like by having him chosen to be bishop when he was about thirty (the age at which Jesus is said [Luke 3:23] to have begun his public ministry). A constant in the varying accounts of Constantius' travails is a savage clubbing delivered shortly after one or another of his arrests. 

Perugia's originally extramural church dedicated to Constantius (San Costanzo) is said to be documented from the eleventh century onward and, though almost completely rebuilt in the nineteenth century, to preserve twelfth-century work in its apse. Along with the sixth-century martyr-bishop St. Herculanus of Perugia and with St. Lawrence of Rome, to whom Perugia's cathedral is dedicated, Constantius is a co-patron of that city (the three were so designated jointly in 1316). Perugia's candlelight procession in his honor is first attested from 1310 and is one of four such processions dealt with in its statutes of 1342. In collective representations of Perugia's saints Constantius is often portrayed as being rather younger than Herculanus. 

Some medieval images of Constantius of Perugia:

a) Lawrence, Herculanus, and Constantius (left to right in that order) as portrayed by statues in the lunette above the ornamental entrance of 1346 to Perugia's Palazzo dei Priori (these are slightly augmented replicas of the fourteenth-century originals now kept within, where they form part of the collection of the Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria):
http://www.flickr.com/photos/_yann_/2716447537/lightbox/
http://tinyurl.com/q9myzll
The originals (in an old photograph from Fratelli Alinari):
http://www.fondazionezeri.unibo.it/foto/160000/142400/142385.jpg
A reduced image of the original of Constantius' statue (for at least the past several years the city of Perugia has been using this image on its annual program of events for his patronal celebration on 28. and 29. January):
http://tinyurl.com/psc9l6h

b) Constantius (at far right, after Sts. Herculanus, Anthony of Padua, Francis of Assisi, and Louis of Toulouse) as depicted by Taddeo di Bartolo in a pentaptych, now in the Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria, from his dismembered early fifteenth-century altarpiece (1403) for the high altar of the church of San Francesco a Prato in Perugia (grayscale view):
http://catalogo.fondazionezeri.unibo.it/foto/40000/22800/22722.jpg
For those with access to JSTOR, a larger and clearer view will be found at Gail E. Solberg, "A Reconstruction of Taddeo di Bartolo's Altarpiece for San Francesco al Prato, Perugia," _The Burlington Magazine_, no. 1075 (Oct. 1992), 646-656, fig. 18 (on p. 647).

c) A grayscale view of a later fifteenth-century ballot box from Perugia, also in the Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria, with portraits (left to right) of Herculanus, Lawrence, and Constantius:
http://fe.fondazionezeri.unibo.it/foto/80000/49600/49595.jpg
Detail view (Lawrence and Constantius):
http://fe.fondazionezeri.unibo.it/foto/80000/49600/49597.jpg

d) Constantius (at left foreground; behind him, St. Herculanus) as depicted by Pietro Perugino in a late fifteenth-century panel painting (1495-1496) of the Madonna and Child with Perugia's four holy protectors (those at right are St. Lawrence of Rome and St. Louis of Toulouse) now in the Pinacoteca Vaticana:
http://tinyurl.com/qd2zv4o

e) Detail views of Constantius and Herculanus as portrayed by Pietro Perugino on a predella panel, now in the Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria, from his dismembered San Pietro altarpiece (betw. 1496 and 1500):
Constantius:
http://tinyurl.com/nx92nsy
Herculanus:
http://tinyurl.com/7kbk8vb

f) Lawrence, Herculanus, and Constantius (left to right in that order) as depicted by Giannicola di Paolo, a.k.a. Giannicola di Paolo Manni, in the early fifteenth-century vault frescoes (ca. 1511-1518) of the Cappella di San Giovanni in Perugia's Collegio del Cambio:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/28357894@N06/2973573019/
A popular misconception identifies the bishop in the center as Constantius, probably because Perugia's late January festivities in the latter's honor have elevated his profile beyond that of the now comparatively obscure Herculanus (though in the fourteenth century both had candlelight processions, Herculanus' has ceased long since). For the proper identification of these three figures see the caption to this old photograph from Fratelli Alinari:
http://catalogo.fondazionezeri.unibo.it/foto/80000/70800/70672.jpg
Alas, when the Fondazione Federico Zeri in Bologna put that photograph on its website it re-identified the three saints (seemingly through a purely mechanical error) as St. James the Less, St. Philip and St. Thomas (who occupy the corresponding panel on the opposite end of the vault in the Cappella di San Giovanni; in what again has to have been a mechanical error, the Fondazione Zeri identifies its photo of this panel as a depiction of the Erythraean Sibyl!):
http://tinyurl.com/p252tad
Getty Images, using a photograph in which it's clear from the vestments that the image shows a deacon and two bishops, continues to promote the Fondazione Zeri's utterly implausible identifications of the saints in question:
http://tinyurl.com/qhe3rla

Best,
John Dillon
(matter from older posts revised)

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