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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  January 2016

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION January 2016

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Subject:

FEAST - A Saint for the Day (Jan. 31): St. Geminian of Modena

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Sun, 31 Jan 2016 21:36:37 +0000

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text/plain

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Though almost nothing is known for certain about the historical  Geminian (d. ca. 396?), it is probable that he was the bishop Geminianus who took part in a north Italian synod in 390 under the presidency of St. Ambrose of Milan.  From the early Middle Ages onward he has been patron of the Emilian city of Modena (initially sole patron, he now shares honors with the twelfth-century lay saint Homobonus of Cremona).  An early Vita (BHL 3296; ca. 900, modeled on that of St. Zeno of Verona) and an expanded longer one (BHL 3297) now thought to be of the mid-eleventh century) are both quite unreliable.

In the final decade of the ninth century, when Modena was under threat of attack from Hungarian raiders, someone there composed two versions, probably drafts of a work undergoing revision, of a Latin verse prayer to Geminian seeking his protection against this new scourge just as he had (legendarily) saved Modena's inhabitants during the time of Attila (incipit: _Confessor Christi, pie dei famule_).  In the Modenese manuscript transmitting them they follow the justly famous Song for the Watchmen of Modena (incipit: _O tu qui servas armis ista moenia_) and a poem in seven hexameters in praise of Modena's bishop Leodoin for having renewed the city's fortifications; all these pieces are known collectively as the _Carmina mutinensia_.  Their classic treatment is that of Aurelio Roncaglia, "Il 'Canto delle scolte modenesi,'" _Cultura neolatina_ 8 (1948), 5-46 and 205-22.  Here's an older text, adapted from one in the _Rerum italicarum scriptores_ [2d series], of the first, more completely preserved version of the prayer to Geminian:
_Confessor Christi, pie Dei famule, / O Geminiane, exorando supplica, / Ut hoc flagellum, quod meremur miseri, / Coelorum regis evadamus grati‚. /Nam doctus eras Attilae temporibus / Portas pandendo liberare subditos. / Nunc te rogamus, licet servi pessimi, / Ab Ungerorum nos defendas jaculis. / Patroni summi exorate jugiter / Servis puris implorantes Dominum._

In 1099 work began on Modena's present cathedral, dedicated to the BVM and to Geminian, noteworthy for its mostly twelfth-century exterior and interior sculptures, and today the cynosure of Modena's Piazza Grande, a UNESCO World Heritage site.  In this panoramic view the cathedral is the second building on the left:
http://www.in-sieme.it/impegno/siti2/modena1.htm
An aerial view:
http://tinyurl.com/yj88fl9
A timeline of the cathedral's history:
http://www.duomodimodena.it/duomo/duomo.html
An Italian-language Wikipedia page with expandable views:
http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duomo_di_Modena
The cathedral's page at Italia nell'Arte Medievale (mostly views of exterior sculptures):
http://tinyurl.com/3yedxc
Other views:
http://tinyurl.com/ztgxncj

On 30. April 1106 Geminian's remains were brought to the cathedral and placed in the crypt.  Which is where they remain today, in a fourth-century sarcophagus and in one of the few portions of the crypt to have been re-worked since the Middle Ages:
http://tinyurl.com/jkceqj7
http://tinyurl.com/7uk5vc3
http://tinyurl.com/cjm6ds
http://i56.tinypic.com/14tks9.jpg
But Geminian doesn't look too healthy:
https://vorreispiegarviohdio.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/reliquie.jpg

On 7. and 8. October of the same year, in the presence of the cathedral's great patron Matilda of Canossa and of various ecclesiastical dignitaries, Paschal II conducted a solemn recognition of Geminian's relics and then consecrated the cathedral's high altar.  A twelfth-century manuscript in Modena (Archivio capitolare, ms. O.II.11) containing an account of this translation offers several illuminations, including this one of Geminian in his tomb:
http://tinyurl.com/dxf2zk
That account (_Relatio translationis corporis Sancti Geminiani_; BHL 3302) was edited by Giulio Bertoni in _Rerum Italicarum Scriptores_, n.s., vol. 6, pt. 1 (1907), where in one of several valuable appendices (another has an edition of the _Carmina mutinensia_) black-and-white versions of the illuminations occur between pages 22 and 23:
http://tinyurl.com/yh2kbr3
Two of the illuminations in color (somewhat reduced):
http://memoesperienze.comune.modena.it/unesco/images/max/unesco009.jpg

The cathedral itself was consecrated in 1184 by Lucius II.  Among its liturgical treasures is the very fine late twelfth- or thirteenth-century verse Office for Geminian edited by Giuseppe Vecchi in his "S. Geminiano nella lirica della liturgia modenese," _Miscellanea di Studi Muratoriani_ (Modena: Aedes Muratoriana, 1951), pp. 524-38.

Geminian's cult spread widely in northern Italy, e.g. to Tuscany, where San Gimignano (SI) and Pontremoli (MS) claim him as their patron saint, and to Umbria, where he is the patron saint of San Gemini (TR).  Back in Emilia, Geminian is the titular of the originally ninth-century chiesa di San Geminiano at Vicofertile (PR) on the Via Francigena, largely rebuilt in the early thirteenth century:
http://tinyurl.com/24mfra
http://ita.romanic.eu/?page_id=449


Some period-pertinent images of St. Geminian of Modena:

a) as portrayed (episodes from the saint's legendary voyage to the East to cure the emperor's daughter, as related in his _Vita longior_) in a set of earlier twelfth-century reliefs on the architrave of the Porta dei Principi of Modena's cattedrale metropolitana di Santa Maria Assunta e San Geminiano:
http://www.mumbleduepunti.it/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Porta_dei_principi.jpg
Detail views:
http://www.medioevo.org/artemedievale/Images/EmiliaRomagna/Modena/Modena332.jpg
http://www.medioevo.org/artemedievale/Images/EmiliaRomagna/Modena/Modena333.jpg
http://www.medioevo.org/artemedievale/Images/EmiliaRomagna/Modena/Modena334.jpg
http://www.medioevo.org/artemedievale/Images/EmiliaRomagna/Modena/Modena335.jpg
http://www.medioevo.org/artemedievale/Images/EmiliaRomagna/Modena/Modena336.jpg
http://www.medioevo.org/artemedievale/Images/EmiliaRomagna/Modena/Modena337.jpg

b) as portrayed in relief (on a narrow end, flanking Jesus Christ) on the earlier twelfth-century Portable Altar of St. Geminian (silver gilt on wood) in Modena's Museo del Duomo:
http://www.opificiodellepietredure.it/getImage.php?id=89&w=800&h=600&f=0&.jpg
Other views of this object:
http://tinyurl.com/zka9cd3
http://memoesperienze.comune.modena.it/unesco/images/max/musei000.jpg
http://tinyurl.com/j3dtor2

c) as portrayed in an originally fourteenth-century statue in the north aisle of Modena's cattedrale metropolitana di Santa Maria Assunta e San Geminiano:
http://tinyurl.com/zbdlnjc
Detail view:
http://www.finetastesofmodena.com/assets/Uploads/S-Geminiano-02.jpg

d) as depicted (panel at left; at right, St. Austine of Hippo) by Simone Martini in a set of earlier fourteenth-century panels in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (ca. 1319 or 1320s; from a dismembered altarpiece once in the chiesa di Sant'Agostino in San Gimignano):
https://www.heiligenlexikon.de/Fotos/Geminianus-ua.jpg
Detail view (Geminian):
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Saint_Geminianus.jpg#filehistory

e) as portrayed in a copy of the _Statuta civitatis Mutine_ of 1327 (Archivio storico del Comune di Modena, ms. perg., fol. 4r):
http://tinyurl.com/zqegu58

f) as depicted (at right, flanking the BVM and Christ Child; at left, St. Bartholomew) in a re-mounted earlier fourteenth-century fresco (ca. 1340; from an exterior wall of Modena's cathedral) in Modena's Museo civico d'arte:
http://tinyurl.com/jtor4qk

g) as portrayed in a later fourteenth-century bronze statue (1376) in Modena's Museo del Duomo (formerly mounted in the loggia over the cathedral's Porta Regia):
http://tinyurl.com/dzo832
http://tinyurl.com/5ht8sr

h) as depicted (second from right in the central register; at far right, St. Anthony of Egypt) by Serafino dei Serafini in his late fourteenth-century altarpiece of the Coronation of the BVM in Modena's cattedrale metropolitana di Santa Maria Assunta e San Geminiano:
https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4084/5066330111_580bd37d6e_b.jpg
Detail views (Geminian):
http://images.alinari.it/img/480/FCP/FCP-S-MOD000-0935.jpg
http://www.finetastesofmodena.com/assets/Uploads/S-Geminiano-04b.jpg

i) as depicted (portrait, holding a model of San Gimignano; scenes) by Taddeo di Bartolo in an early fifteenth-century altar frontal (1401) in San Gimignano's Museo civico d'arte:
http://tinyurl.com/hsms6d3
Detail view (portrait):
http://tinyurl.com/zpvwhfb
Detail views of the other panels are linked to from thumbnails in "Fotografie" here:
http://tinyurl.com/z9nubz8

j) as portrayed in relief (at right; at left, St. John the Baptist) by Michele di NiccolÚ Dini (Michele da Firenze) on his mid-fifteenth-century terracotta Altar of the Statuettes (1440-1441) in the north aisle of Modena's cattedrale metropolitana di Santa Maria Assunta e San Geminiano:
http://images.alinari.it/img/480/FCP/FCP-S-MOD000-0830.jpg
The object as a whole:
http://tinyurl.com/zccvywb 

k) as portrayed (saving a boy said legendarily to have fallen from the cathedral tower) in a mid-fifteenth-century statue (ca. 1442) by Agostino di Duccio in the north bay of the presbytery of Modena's cattedrale metropolitana di Santa Maria Assunta e San Geminiano:
http://tinyurl.com/j6tvq24

l) as portrayed (scenes from a Vita) by Agostino di Duccio in a set of mid-fifteenth-century reliefs (1442) on the south flank of Modena's cattedrale metropolitana di Santa Maria Assunta e San Geminiano:
http://tinyurl.com/hxh7usz
https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4009/4525738377_d74843ea3f_b.jpg

m) as portrayed in relief on earlier sixteenth-century coins of Alfonso I d'Este, duke of Modena in 1505-1510 and again in 1527-1534:
1) saving the boy falling from the tower (a _testone_ from Alfonso's second reign):
http://tinyurl.com/zknzo59
2) enthroned; hand raised in benediction (a _giulio_ or _paolo_; two specimens):
http://tinyurl.com/jclhaeo
http://tinyurl.com/gse7u2k

n) as portrayed in relief on an earlier or mid-sixteenth-century coin (_scudo d'oro_) of Ercole II d'Este, duke of Modena in 1534-1559 (two specimens):
http://tinyurl.com/zs3nzah
http://tinyurl.com/ja7rw6g

Best,
John Dillon
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