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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  December 2015

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION December 2015

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Subject:

FEAST - A Saint for the Day (Dec. 11): pope St. Damasus I

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Fri, 11 Dec 2015 07:18:02 +0000

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture



Damasus (d. 384) was a Roman deacon who succeeded pope Liberius in 366.  His election was followed by violence between his supporters and those of a rival candidate whose adherents were ejected from the last of their churches only in the following year.  Damasus spent much of his pontificate putting his personal stamp on the church of Rome by combating heresy, building churches, and erecting numerous inscriptions bearing his name both within the city and at martyrs' burial sites along major roads leading into it.  He promoted internal concord and Roman primacy through the cult of Sts. Peter and Paul, appointed the first papal vicar of Illyricum, and encouraged St. Jerome to produce a freshly translated Latin Bible.  It was probably on his watch that the Roman church began using prescribed prayers in the Latin language.



Damasus' name survives in that of the early modern successor to his basilica dedicated to St. Lawrence, San Lorenzo in Damaso ("_in_ Damaso" because it was in a complex of buildings Damasus had erected, one of which housed the archives of the Roman church).  His keenness to identify and to memorialize the resting places of martyrs resulted in the erection of some sixty tablets with verse inscriptions of his composition, many carved in a special letter form designed by the calligrapher Furius Dionysius Filocalus.  Here's a view of Damasus' epitaph for St. Agnes of Rome (_Epigrammata Damasiana_, ed. Ferrua, no. 37), inscribed in Filocalian letters and set up at the basilica di Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura:

http://www.santagnese.org/fotoHR%5Ccarme_11-01-04.jpg



Some period-pertinent images of pope St. Damasus I:



a) as depicted (at right; at left, St. Jerome) in a later eleventh-century gospels from northern Italy (Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 325, fol. 14r):

http://tinyurl.com/y9xspbo



b) as depicted (at right; at left, St. Jerome) in the eleventh- or twelfth-century Second Bible of Saint-Martial in Limoges (Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 8 (1), fol. 4v):

http://tinyurl.com/nwooq7t 



c) as depicted (at left; at right, St. Jerome) in an early twelfth-century bible from the abbey of Cîteaux (ca. 1109-1111; Dijon, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 15, fol. 3v):

http://www.enluminures.culture.fr/Wave/savimage/enlumine/irht6/IRHT_093765-p.jpg



d) as depicted (at left, receiving  from Jerome's messenger biographies of the popes who had preceded him) in an earlier twelfth-century copy of the _Liber pontificalis_ (betw. 1113 and 1133; Rouen, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 31, fol. 9r):

http://www.enluminures.culture.fr/Wave/savimage/enlumine/irht6/IRHT_100200-p.jpg



e) as depicted (upper right; at lower left, St. Jerome) in a later twelfth-century bible (ca. 1175-1200; Bourges, Bibliothèque patrimoniale et d'étude des Quatre-Piliers, ms. 3, fol. 307r):

http://www.enluminures.culture.fr/Wave/savimage/enlumine/irht8/IRHT_146685-p.jpg



f)  as depicted (at left; at right, St. Jerome) in the later thirteenth-century Brantwood Bible (ca. 1260; London, British Library, Yates Thompson ms. 22), a manuscript of northern French origin:

http://tinyurl.com/yh6nub



g)  as depicted (second from right among the seated figures) in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. 1335 and 1350) in the narthex of the church of the Holy Ascension at the Visoki Dečani monastery near Peć in, depending on one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:

http://tinyurl.com/yjm8dha

The fresco portrays the Second Ecumenical Council (First Council of Constantinople; held in 381), which latter Damasus did not attend in person.



h) as depicted by the Master of Montefloscoli in a later fourteenth-century panel painting (ca. 1375-1400) in the Museo diocesano di Santo Stefano al Ponte in Florence:

http://tinyurl.com/zeh6cfj 



i) as depicted (left margin, second from top; above, pope St. Sylvester I) in a pen-and-ink drawing in a later fourteenth- or earlier fifteenth-century abridgement of Godfrey of Viterbo's _Pantheon_ (Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 4935, fol. 64v):

http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b8455934w/f140.item.r=.zoom



j) as depicted (at right, defending himself against a charge of adultery) in a mid-fifteenth-century copy of Giovanni Colonna's _Mare historiarum_ (betw. 1447 and 1455; Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 4915, fol. 268v):

http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b6000905v/f606.item.zoom



k) as depicted among the portraits of the popes (1480-81) in the Sistine Chapel (grayscale view):

http://tinyurl.com/ppg6nrb



l) as depicted (right margin, second from top) in a hand-colored woodcut in the Beloit College copy of Hartmann Schedel's late fifteenth-century _Weltchronik_ (_Nuremberg Chronicle_; 1493) at fol. CXXXIv:

http://www.beloit.edu/nuremberg/book/6th_age/left_page/35%20%28Folio%20CXXXIv%29.pdf



Best,

John Dillon



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