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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  December 2015

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION December 2015

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Subject:

FEAST - Saints for the Day (Dec. 15): Sts. Eleutherius of Illyricum and Anthia

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Tue, 15 Dec 2015 23:43:57 +0000

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text/plain

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture



Today (15. December) is the feast day of, among others, Eleutherius of Illyricum (or of Illyria) and Anthia (d. ca. 125, supposedly).  An Eleutherius commonly celebrated on this day in Byzantine-rite churches since at least the early Middle Ages has a legendary sixth- or seventh-century Passio in Greek (BHG 568-571b) that presents him as a native of Rome who after having been sent to Illyricum as a bishop was returned to the Eternal City for trial during a persecution under Hadrian.  After a colloquy with that emperor and after an impressive series of failed execution attempts, Eleutherius was finally put to death by decapitation.  Sharing his fate was his mother, the highly born matron Anthia.  Pious Christians from Illyricum gave them honorable burial at Rome, where they continue to serve as a remedy for diseases and for evil spirits.  Thus far the Passio in its tenth-century Metaphrastic version.



In the Latin west these saints' chief festal date was different and their hagiography is more complicated.  Eleutherius and his mother Anthia, martyrs of Rome, are entered in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology under 18. April.  Eleutherius alone (but perhaps signifying in short form a feast that also included Anthia) is entered under that day in the earlier ninth-century Marble Calendar of Naples and Eleutherius and Anthia are entered together under that day in Mozarabic calendars and in the ninth-century martyrologies of Florus of Lyon, St. Ado of Vienne, and Usuard of Saint-Germain.  Several versions of their Passio exist in Latin.  One of these (BHL 2450) omits Eleutherius' episcopate in Illyricum and has him claimed after death by the bishop and people of Reate (now Rieti in eastern Lazio).  Another (BHL 2452) makes him instead a bishop of Aecae (also Aeca), the ancient predecessor of Troia in northwestern Apulia.  There are corresponding translation narratives: BHL 2453 recounts the transfer of both saints' relics from a former resting place in Rieti to that city's cathedral in 1198, while the early twelfth-century BHL 2453b recounts the recent taking of Eleutherius' remains to Troia by _furtum sacrum_ along with the bodies of pope St. Pontianus and St. Anastasius, confessor.  A smallish view of Eleutherius' and Anthia's eleventh-century sepulchral inscription from their earlier crypt in Rieti will be found on this page (the inscription is now in Rieti's diocesan museum):

http://tinyurl.com/3e2eay



By the end of the twelfth century Eleutherius was also being celebrated on 18. April at what is now Poreč on the Istrian pensinsula, where he shared a tomb with the local martyr-bishop St. Maurus (this is the same Maurus whose presumed remains had by this time lain in the Lateran Baptistery for centuries) and where of course he was remembered as a bis2hop of Illyricum.  In 1354 this tomb and its contents became spoils of the Genoese sack of Poreč; they remained in Genoa until 1933 when they were returned to Poreč (or to Parenzo, as it was then, having been seized by Italy from the Austrian empire at the end of World War I).



A version of the Passio of Eleutherius and Anthia in which Eleutherius is bishop of Aecae seems to have been known to Florus of Lyon, who when entering Eleutherius in his martyrology substituted Messana for Aeca as the name of the saint's Apulian see.  This odd error led to later cults of Eleutherius and Anthia in Messina in Sicily and at Mesagne on the Salentine peninsula in southern Apulia.  Through its copying by Usuard it also led to the Roman Martyrology's giving Messina as these saints' place of martyrdom starting from its late sixteenth-century inception and continuing through to its revision of 2001, when they ceased to grace its pages.  Apart from 18. April, Eleutherius and Anthia were celebrated in the later Middle Ages on 24. November in Rieti and on a variety of dates in towns of southern Italy.  At Troia Eleutherius is now commemorated liturgically on 18. July along with the city's other patron saints.





Some period-pertinent images of Sts. Eleutherius of Illyricum (or of Aecae):



a) as depicted (lower register at right; lower register at left, the prefect Coremon or Corebus, whom he had converted; martyrdom; reduced grayscale image) in the late tenth- or very early eleventh-century so-called Menologion of Basil II (Città del Vaticano, BAV, cod. Vat. gr. 1613, p. 246):

http://tinyurl.com/799xs4n



b) as depicted (upper roundel) in the late tenth or earlier eleventh-century frescoes of the New Church in the Tokalı kilise (Buckle Church) at Göreme in Turkey's Nevşehir province:

http://tinyurl.com/76ec3dp



c) as depicted (at left) in the earlier eleventh-century mosaics (restored betw. 1953 and 1962) in the katholikon of the monastery of Hosios Loukas near Distomo in Phokis:

http://tinyurl.com/7g9yzzb

Detail views (Eleutherius):

http://tinyurl.com/7g9yzzb

http://days.pravoslavie.ru/jpg/im3881.jpg



d) as depicted (at upper left) in the late eleventh-century mosaics in the katholikon of the Daphni monastery in Chaidari (Attika regional authority):

http://www.icon-art.info/hires.php?lng=ru&type=1&id=5406

Detail view (Eleutherius):

http://gerontesmas.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/st-eleftherios.jpg



e) On Troia's originally late eleventh- and earlier twelfth-century cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (1093-ca. 1120) the flanking figures on the lintel or, _sensu italiano_, architrave over the main portal depict two supposed bishops of Aecae, Eleutherius on the viewer's left and Secundinus on the viewer's right.  In this view, Eleutherius can be seen at the far left (NB: the carvings of the lintel are said to have been re-worked in the sixteenth century):

http://xoomer.virgilio.it/guidoiam/arte/guidoiam/porta_centrale.htm

There's a better view of this realization of Eleutherius in the fifth photograph from bottom on this page from Paradoxplace:

http://tinyurl.com/3xwaak



f) as depicted in a later twelfth-century fresco (ca. 1180) in the church of Agioi Anargyroi in Kastoria in northwestern Greece:

Grayscale view:

http://www.icon-art.info/masterpiece.php?lng=en&mst_id=3673

Detail views (in color):

http://www.kastoriacity.gr/files/126/kastoriasimera/agan01.jpg

http://tinyurl.com/7bgxds5



g) as depicted in a later thirteenth-century fresco (either between 1263 and 1270 or slightly later) in the nave of the church of the Holy Trinity in the Sopoćani monastery at Sopoćani (Raška dist.) in Serbia:

http://tinyurl.com/7j7f8ma

Detail view:

http://tinyurl.com/6ts2thy



h) as depicted in mosaic on the later thirteenth-century ciborium (1277) in the Basilica Eufrasiana in Poreč:

http://www.mosaicocidm.it/Mosaico/images/immagini_scheda/pa_be_064-med.jpg



i) as depicted (at right, preceded by Sts. Hypatius [prob. of Gangra] and Blasius / Blaise) in a damaged earlier fourteenth-century fresco (betw. ca. 1312 and 1321/1322) in the nave of the monastery church of the Theotokos at Gračanica in, depending upon one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija (the later placing of an iconostasis beam has deprived us of most of Eleutherius' facial features):

http://tinyurl.com/d2mrvqk



j) as depicted by Michael Astrapas and Eutychios in a somewhat degraded earlier fourteenth-century fresco (betw. ca. 1313 and ca. 1320) on an arch in the King's Church (dedicated to Sts. Joachim and Anne) in the Studenica monastery near Kraljevo (Raška dist.) in Serbia:

http://tinyurl.com/6w5ct22



Best,

John Dillon



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