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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  February 2015

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION February 2015

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Subject:

FEAST - A Saint for the Day (February 17): St. Flavian of Constantinople

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Wed, 18 Feb 2015 03:29:23 -0600

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text/plain

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Flavian, bishop of Constantinople (d. 449 or 450). Prior to his elevation in 446 Flavian had been scevophylax of that city's Great Church (Hagia Sophia). In 448 he presided over a synod that condemned the monophysite theologian Eutyches. The latter, influential at court, was soon rehabilitated by the so-called Robber Council of Ephesus (449). That body deposed Flavian, who died shortly afterward (his supporters said that this was from mistreatment). In 451 Flavian was rehabilitated by the Council of Chalcedon and declared a martyr. His name, at least, was known in the medieval Latin west from his being the addressee of pope St. Leo I's doctrinal letter known as the _Tome_ of Leo, adopted at Chalcedon.

In the central and southern Marche and in northern Abruzzo there has long been devotion to a saint named Flavianus, chiefly venerated on 24. November. Although that Flavian has also been thought of as a local bishop, from at least the later Middle Ages onward he has been identified at times as the bishop of Constantinople. It is not known when remains believed to be those of Flavian of Constantinople arrived at today's Giulianova (TE) in Abruzzo, a place that in the early Middle Ages had been called Castrum Novum but that was known as Castel San Flaviano prior to its refounding in 1470 by a grandee of the mostly mainland kingdom of Sicily (_vulgo_ kingdom of Naples), Giulio Antonio Acquaviva, duke of Atri and count of Teramo and of Conversano (d. 1481 fighting Turks from Otranto).

In 1478 these relics, which had been kept in the town's principal church, were brought to the crypt of its then unfinished successor, now Giulianova's chiesa di San Flaviano, initially built as a free-standing octagon (1472-ca. 1530), rebuilt and given its dome after the Spanish sack of 1596, and restored in 1926 and in 1948ff.:
http://www.darnick.com/scoala/date/italia/turnx.jpg
http://www.seripubbli.it/ChieseGiulianova/Images/SanFlaviano/DSC09887.htm
http://foto.inabruzzo.it/provincia%20Teramo/D-M/Giulianova-San-Flaviano/index.html
The relics are still there, kept in a later fifteenth-century reliquary chest.

In addition to Giulianova, Flavian is the patron saint of another former Acquaviva possession, the town of Conversano (BA) in southern Apulia, where though his feast is kept on 24. November he is identified as Flavian of Constantinople. And just to make things even more confusing, at Recanati (MC) in the Marche, which has purported relics of a saint of this name and whose originally medieval cathedral is so dedicated, that Flavian is celebrated on 22. December (the feast day of the legendary martyr Flavian of Rome) but is identified locally as Flavian of Constantinople.

A few medieval images of Flavian of Constantinople:

a) Flavian of Constantinople (almost certainly) as depicted in an early fourteenth-century fresco (1312) in the katholikon of the Vatopedi monastery on Mt. Athos (he's not wearing a polystavrion but neither, in the same set of portraits, is St. Eustathius, metropolitan of Thessaloniki): 
http://tinyurl.com/3p8u2n4

b) Flavian of Constantinople as portrayed on his later fifteenth-century reliquary chest in the chiesa di San Flaviano in Giulianova:
http://foto.inabruzzo.it/provincia%20Teramo/D-M/Giulianova-San-Flaviano/foto-SFlavianoT01.html
Detail view: 
http://foto.inabruzzo.it/provincia%20Teramo/D-M/Giulianova-San-Flaviano/foto-SFlavianoT02.html
On one view <http://tinyurl.com/o7nz7sb> this object dates from the 1470s. But if the donors figured on it are correctly identified as Andrea Matteo III Acquaviva d'Aragona and his wife Isabella Todeschini Piccolomini d'Aragona and if those figures were not added later, then its commission is not likely to have occurred before 1481, the year in which Andrea Matteo III succeeded to the duchy of Atri and the county of Teramo. 

c) A putative relic of Flavian of Constantinople is preserved in this later fifteenth-century reliquary in the cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta in Conversano:
http://tinyurl.com/kqop7rl 

d) Flavian of Constantinople (at right; at left, St. Thomas Aquinas) as depicted in a panel of Lorenzo Lotto's early sixteenth-century Recanati Polyptych (betw. 1506 and 1508) in Recanati's Museo civico Villa Coloredo Mels (view is expandable):
http://tinyurl.com/6nd76gl

Best,
John Dillon
(matter from an older post lightly revised)

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