medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
According to what is practically the only source for Severinus in his lifetime, Eugippius' _Commemoratorium vitae s. Severini_, this future saint of the Regno appeared in Noricum ripense and in eastern Raetia (the Danube valley area of today's Austria and Lower Bavaria) at some time after the death of Attila the Hun. He had been an hermit further to the east (if this is so, then probably in Pannonia) but now he was actively establishing small monasteries in the vicinity of Roman towns and tending to the spiritual and political welfare of a Roman populace no longer protected by the Empire and pressured on all sides by unfriendly and often openly hostile Germanic peoples. He died peacefully at his monastery at Favianis -- the Roman-period predecessor of today's Mautern an der Donau (Niederösterreich) -- in about the year 482.
Personally very ascetic and credited with miracles, Severinus is said to have foretold that the remaining Romans would have to leave the area (under the circumstances, perhaps not such a tough guess). When in 488 Odoacer did organize an evacuation into Italy, the monks of Favianis, one of whom was Eugippius, took their saint's body with them. For a while they resided on a height generally considered to have been in the northern Montefeltro in today's Marche and Emilia-Romagna. During the papacy of Gelasius I (492-96), they moved, taking Severinus with them, to the seaside property of Lucullanum just outside of Naples (as it was then; the place is well within today's city, at the promontory of Pizzofalcone). There Eugippius organized a new monastery and there, in 511, he finished his account of Severinus.
In 902, it is thought, Severinus' relics were translated under the threat of Muslim raids to the safety of a new monastery inside Naples itself. In short order (and after the translation from Misenum of the putative remains of one of St. Januarius' companions in martyrdom), this foundation became known as that of Saints Severinus and Sos(s)ius. Severinus was medievally a patron of Naples and from there his cult spread widely in mainland southern Italy. At least four towns in the territory of the former Regno take or once took their names from him, sometimes indirectly: San Severino Mercato (SA), San Severino di Centola (SA), San Severino Lucano (PZ), and, formerly also a San Severino, San Severo (FG). In 1807, following the secularization of the kingdom's monasteries, Severinus' relics were translated from Naples to their present abode, the thirteenth-century church of San Sos(s)io (now the basilica pontificia di San Sossio Levita e Martire) at the nearby town of Fratta, today's Frattamaggiore, a _comune_ of the Metropolitan City of Naples.
North of the Alps, Severinus is a patron of Bavaria and of the Austrian diocese of Linz. Dedicated to him at Passau is a medieval church built over a late antique one thought to have been the extramural basilica that Severinus is said to have erected here. In its present state it is probably later fifteenth-century with later modifications; remains of Ottonian date are said to exist in the nave.
Some period-pertinent images of St. Severinus of Noricum:
a) as portrayed (at center) in a thirteenth- or fourteenth-century relief on the facade of the fairly recently restored chiesa di San Severino abate (first documented in 1059; reconsecrated in 1224) in San Severo (FG) in northern Apulia:
b) as portrayed in a fifteenth-century polychromed wooden statue in the Filialkirche St. Severin in Passau:
c) as depicted twice in a later fifteenth-century polyptych (ca. 1472) formerly kept on the main altar of abbey church of Santi Severino e Sos(s)io in Naples and whose surviving central portion is in the collections of the Museo nazionale di Capodimonte in that city:
1) as a mitred abbot (in the central panel of the lower register):
2) as a Benedictine monk (at left in the panel at lower right; at right, his fellow titular, St. Sossus / Sossius / Sosius of Misenum):
The polyptych's central portion in its entirety:
d) as depicted (at right, flanking the BVM and Christ Child; at left, St. Sossus / Sossius / Sosius of Misenum) by Protasio Crivelli in an early sixteenth-century panel painting (commissioned, 1506) in the chiesa matrice di San Giovanni Battista in Striano, a _comune_ of the Metropolitan City of Naples:
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