medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Faustinus and Jovita (d. early 2d cent., supposedly). These two patron saints of the city of Brescia in Lombardy have a cult that seems to have been unknown to bishop St. Gaudentius of Brescia (d. ca. 410), who never mentions them in his sermons and who hallowed his church called _Concilium Sanctorum_ with relics obtained in the Holy Land. Their first attestations come in a later sixth-century reference by pope St. Gregory the Great (_Dialogi_, 4. 54) to a church at Brescia dedicated to Faustinus and in a garbled entry for both, under 16. February, in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology.
A translation of these saints' relics at Brescia from an extramural martyrial church (the future San Faustino ad Sanguinem, now rededicated to St. Angela Merici) to an intramural one is said very dubiously to have occurred between 720 and 730. Also in the first half of the eighth century St. Petronax, the second founder of Montecassino, brought thither from his native Brescia an arm relic of Faustinus, depositing it in his newly built abbey church. By the early ninth century Verona had relics of Faustinus and Jovita; others were given in 828 by the patriarch of Aquileia to a church in that city. Brescia's Benedictine monastery of San Faustino was founded in 841 and in 843 relics said to be those of Faustinus and Jovita were solemnly translated into its church of St. Faustinus (the later San Faustino Maggiore, now the basilica dei Santi Patroni) from a church of the BVM _in Silva_. Both this house and Montecassino were instrumental in diffusing the cult; from the central Middle Ages onward it was widespread in Italy.
Faustinus and Jovita have a seemingly late eighth- or early ninth-century legendary Passio (BHL 2836; several later versions) that makes them brothers (Faustinus a priest and Jovita a deacon) who were arrested at Brescia, exposed to the beasts and tortured in various ways at various places, and finally decapitated in Brescia on this day in some year in the principate of Hadrian (117-138). Usuard of Saint-Germain, who entered them under today in his later ninth-century martyrology, appears not to know their story and, seemingly thinking him female, characterizes as Jovita a virgin.
In 1187 the canons regular of Brescia's San Faustino ad Sanguinem discovered two skeletons under a pavement in their church and proclaimed them to be the mortal remains of Faustinus and Jovita. The Benedictines of San Faustino Maggiore, who had had their own bodies of these saints for over three hundred years, protested. The issue was settled in their favor in 1223, shortly after control of San Faustino ad Sanguinem had been transferred to the Dominicans: clergy of both churches participated that year in a solemn recognition of the relics in San Faustino Maggiore. At some point afterward the location of those relics must have been forgotten, for on 11. December 1455, to great civic jubilation, relics proclaimed to be those of Faustinus and Jovita were found under an altar in the then old (disused) crypt of the same church. The anniversary of this Inventio became a secondary feast for Faustinus and Jovita in the diocese of Brescia. Two bones, one described as being Faustinus' and the other as being Jovita's, were removed from the saints' tomb during a recognition of the remains in 1923 and may be seen here in a modern display reliquary:
In later medieval Brescia Faustinus and Jovita were represented as knights; images of them in this role were placed on city gates. In their military capacity they were credited with saving Brescia from a Milanese invading force on 13. December 1438. But they continued to be thought of as priest and deacon and are so represented in the city's later thirteenth- and earlier fourteenth-century coinage as well as on the tomb of bishop Berardo Maggi (d. 1308) in the Duomo Vecchio and in fifteenth-century paintings and sculpture. Herewith some medieval images of these saints (chiefly from Brescia):
a) Faustinus as portrayed in a relief first documented from 1254, when it was used in the reconstruction of Brescia's Porta delle Pile, and now in that city's Museo di Santa Giulia (photographs courtesy of Genevra Kornbluth):
b) Faustinus (at right) and Jovita (at left) as portrayed on a later thirteenth-century _denaro_ (after 1254) from Brescia:
c) Faustinus (at right) and Jovita (at left) as portrayed on an early fourteenth-century _grosso_ (after 1302) from Brescia:
d) Faustinus (at left) and Jovita (at right) as portrayed on the early fourteenth-century sarcophagus of bishop Berardo Maggi (d. 1308) in Brescia's Duomo Vecchio:
e) Faustinus and Jovita exposed to the beasts as depicted as in an earlier fourteenth-century copy (ca. 1335) of Vincent of Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Arsenal 5080, fol. 135v):
f) Faustinus and Jovita as portrayed in mid-fourteenth-century sculptures (1349) from the Duomo Vecchio in Brescia, now in that city's Museo di Santa Giulia:
g) Faustinus and Jovita exposed to the beasts as depicted in a later fourteenth-century copy (ca. 1370-1380) of Vincent of Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Nouvelle acquisition franšaise 15941, fol. 25v):
The illumination alone (larger view):
h) Faustinus (front row, at far right) and Jovita (front row, second from right) being led to their execution as portrayed in an earlier fifteenth-century relief (after 1438?) in Brescia's Museo di Santa Giulia:
i) Faustinus (at left) and Jovita (at right) flanking bishop St. Honorius of Brescia as portrayed in a later fifteenth-century relief (betw. 1455 and 1475) originally in Brescia's chiesa di San Faustino Maggiore and now in that city's Museo di Santa Giulia:
j) Faustinus (at left) and Jovita (at right) flanking the BVM and Christ Child as depicted by Vincenzo Foppa in a late fifteenth-century panel painting in Brescia's Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo:
TAN: Thanks to their feast's coming on the day following that of St. Valentine of Rome, in Italy (at least) Faustinus and Jovita have been adopted as patrons of singles groups holding counter-celebrations of their own.
(matter from an older post revised)
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