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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  November 2015

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION November 2015

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Subject:

FEAST - A Saint for the Day (Nov. 25): St. Peter of Alexandria

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Wed, 25 Nov 2015 21:42:27 +0000

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

The hieromartyr Peter of Alexandria (d. 311) succeeded Theonas of Alexandria as pope (bishop) of the metropolitan see of Alexandria in Egypt in about 300. At some point after the outbreak of the Diocletianic persecution in 303 he went into hiding. During Peter's absence bishop Meletius (Melitius) of Lycopolis took it upon himself to consecrate bishops for sees whose occupants had been imprisoned, thus laying the groundwork for a schism that troubled the church in Egypt for some time; he also moved to Alexandria, where he replaced church officials whom Peter had appointed. Peter, who continued to exercise authority from his undisclosed location, then excommunicated Meletius; he also issued a set of surviving canons that dealt mildly with _lapsi_ who wished to re-enter the church.  In the numeration of the bishops of Alexandria he is Peter I. In the context of the Coptic Orthodox Church, where all but the most recent of its bishops of Alexandria (later styled pope and patriarch), including all eight popes named Peter, are considered saints, the expression "St. Peter of Alexandria" without further specification is hopelessly ambiguous.  The practice in that church is to call him Pope St. Peter I or else St. Peter, 17th Pope of Alexandria.  Thanks to a tradition that makes him the last martyr of the Great Persecution he is also known as St. Peter, Seal of the Martyrs. 

On 30. April 311 the emperor Galerius lifted the persecution of Christians in the East, whereupon Peter resumed his public role in Alexandria. In November of the same year Maximinus Daia renewed the persecution in those parts of the empire under his control. An early victim, Peter was arrested by imperial officials and swiftly executed. A few homilies and letters by him survive, as do also fragments of theological works. Our chief sources for Peter are Eusebius of Caesarea and other late antique church historians. His numerous Passiones in Greek, Latin, Syriac, and Coptic are relatively late; where they add new material they are either legendary or conjectural. Certainly legendary is the vision that Peter is said to have received, while awaiting execution, of a very youthful Christ whose linen tunic was rent in two and who foretold the Arian schism.


Herewith a few period-pertinent images of St. Peter of Alexandria:

a) as depicted (portrait) in the later eleventh or late twelfth-century frescoes (the dating is controversial) in the ossuary church of the Bačkovo monastery near Asenovgrad in south central Bulgaria's Plovdiv oblast (for a slightly clearer view, click on the image):
http://tinyurl.com/9f24l3j

b) as depicted (second from right; full-length portrait) in the late twelfth-century apse mosaics (ca. 1182) of Monreale's basilica cattedrale di Santa Maria Nuova:
http://tinyurl.com/oajgqn3

c) as depicted (portrait) in a late twelfth-century fresco (1199) in the church of the transfiguration of the Savior at Nereditsa near Veliky Novgorod:
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3414/3446558003_12436e97d2.jpg
Detail view:
http://tinyurl.com/7gz5kdy

d) as depicted (lower register, second from left; his vision) in the thirteenth-century frescoes of the rupestrian church of the Nativity of the Theotokos in Kališta (Struga municipality) in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia:
http://montenegro-for.me/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/lo2.jpg

e) as depicted (his vision) in the late thirteenth- (so E. C. Constantinides; 1992) or earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (1320s; the usual dating) of the church of the Panagia Olympiotissa in Elasson (Larisa prefecture) in Thessaly:
http://tinyurl.com/22rozdd
Detail view (Peter of Alexandria):
http://tinyurl.com/28cgajw
Detail view (Christ):
http://tinyurl.com/29md4rm

f)  as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. ca. 1312 and 1321/1322) in the monastery church of the Theotokos at Gračanica in, depending upon one's view of the matter, the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija: 
1) In the parecclesion of the Theotokos (his vision):
http://tinyurl.com/bwa9tao
Detail view (Peter of Alexandria):
http://tinyurl.com/bopd7mn
Detail view (Christ):
http://tinyurl.com/cppeby5
Detail view (Arius):
http://tinyurl.com/c4huujd
2) On the north wall of the altar area (portrait):
http://tinyurl.com/ns9lyhm

g) as depicted (bottom register, in the niche; portrait) in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. 1313 and 1318; conservation work in 1968) by Michael Astrapas and Eutychios in the church of St. George at Staro Nagoričane in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia:
http://tinyurl.com/nnaezp8

h) as depicted (at right in panel at upper left; martyrdom; at left, pope St. Clement I) in an earlier fourteenth-century pictorial menologion from Thessaloniki (betw. 1322 and 1340; Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Gr. th. f. 1, fol. 18v):
http://image.ox.ac.uk/images/bodleian/msgrthf1/18v.jpg

i) as depicted (his vision) in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (1330s) in the prothesis of church of the Hodegetria in the Patriarchate of Peć at Peć in, depending upon one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:
http://tinyurl.com/y9e767e
Detail view (Christ):
http://tinyurl.com/y8g3ugs

j) as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. 1335 and 1350) in the church of the Holy Ascension at the Visoki Dečani monastery near Peć in, depending upon one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:
1) In the prothesis (at left; nearly full-length portrait):
http://tinyurl.com/72nvdjb
2) In a calendar composition in the narthex (at right; martyrdom; at left, pope St. Clement of Rome):
http://tinyurl.com/yjvkroz

k) as depicted (his vision) in a fourteenth-century fresco in a small church in the rupestrian monastery of St. Michael the Archangel at Ivanovo in Bulgaria's Ruse oblast:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/65296793@N00/472316252/
http://i18.servimg.com/u/f18/09/04/27/32/vision10.jpg

l) as depicted (in lower left margin; his vision) in a later fourteenth- or earlier fifteenth-century abridgement of Godfrey of Viterbo's _Pantheon_ (Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 4935, fol. 44r):
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b8455934w/f97.item.r=.zoom

m) as depicted (his vision) in the earlier fifteenth-century frescoes (betw. 1406 and 1418) in the church of the Holy Trinity at the Manasija monastery near Despotovac (Pomoravlje dist.) in Serbia:
http://www.orthphoto.net/photo.php?id=72428&id_jezyk=1
Detail view:
https://kb.osu.edu/dspace/handle/1811/40931

n) as depicted (imprisonment and martyrdom) in a later fifteenth-century copy (1463) of Vincent of Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 51, fol. 100r):
http://tinyurl.com/l62tgaz

o) as depicted (his vision) by Philippos Goul in a late fifteenth-century fresco (early 1490s) in the church of the Timios Stavros tou Agiasmati at Platanistasa (Nicosia prefecture) in the Republic of Cyprus (in this image Peter's features are remarkably -- and probably designedly -- similar to those encountered in the standard portraiture of St. Peter the Apostle):
http://tinyurl.com/7472qzg

p) as depicted (at right, through the arch; his vision; does anyone have a better view?) in an earlier sixteenth-century fresco (1527) by Theofanis Strelitzas-Bathas (Theophanes the Cretan) in the katholikon of the monastery of St. Nicholas Anapafsas in the Meteora district in northern Greece:
http://tinyurl.com/6sc35j7

q) as depicted (his vision) in an earlier sixteenth-century fresco (1546/47) by George / Tzortzis the Cretan in the katholikon of the Dionysiou monastery on Mt. Athos:
http://tinyurl.com/32mtm4h 

Best,
John Dillon
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