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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  January 2016

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION January 2016

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Subject:

FEAST - A Pair of Saints for the Day (Jan. 23): Sts. Clement of Ancyra and Agathangelus

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Sat, 23 Jan 2016 06:24:35 +0000

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

The cult of Clement of Ancyra and Agathangelus (d. early 4th cent., supposedly) is first attested in a fifth-century sermon dubiously ascribed to St. Proclus of Constantinople (_Homilae_, 25).  They have a pre-metaphrastic Passio (BHG 352) and a later tenth-century expanded Passio by St. Symeon Metaphrastes (BHG 353), both highly legendary.  According to the latter, Clement was a native of Ancyra (now Ankara, the capital of the Republic of Turkey).  Orphaned early, as a child he showed a strong inclination to asceticism and to acts of charity.  Having entered the clergy while still very young Clement was only twenty when became Ankara's bishop.  He was arrested in Diocletian's persecution, was jailed for a while in Ancyra, became famous for enduring harsh torments, and was then sent to Rome.  There, still a prisoner, he continued to attract attention for his constancy under duress and managed to make many converts.  Agathangelus was one of these.  He became so devoted to Clement that he smuggled himself aboard a ship that was to take Clement to the emperor Maximian in Nicomedia.  From there the pair was taken from place to place for many years, enduring a succession of trials and tortures and ending up in Ancyra, where Agathangelus was executed by decapitation on a 5. November and where Clement, whom the local Christians had freed so he could celebrate the Theophany with them, was arrested again and along with the deacons Christopher and Chariton suffered the same fate on a Sunday, 23. January.  Clement was laid to rest in the sepulchre already occupied by Agathangelus.  Thus far the Passio.  Still in the realm of hagiography, Clement and Agathangelus are the subjects of an homily in verse by the late ninth- / early tenth-century emperor Leo VI (BHG 354) and of a condensed Passio in the early eleventh-century "imperial" menologion for January in the Walters Art Museum (BHG 354d).

Hippolyte Delehaye called the Passio's narration of these saints' very numerous travails "Le chef-d'oeuvre du genre" of improbably amplified martyrial suffering (_Les légendes hagiographiques_, 2d. ed. [Bruxelles, Bureaux de la Société des Bollandistes, 1906], p. 106-107); his account of it, which extends to p. 108, may be read at <http://tinyurl.com/hmvdb4j>.  In a discussion of BHG 354 Theodora Antonopoulou, who is preparing an edition of the hitherto unedited BHG 352, comments as follows: "The hero of the homily, Clement of Ancyra, appears to have been no more than a double of Clement of Rome, and his Passion is one of the most incredible legends ever,..." (_The Homilies of the Emperor Leo VI_ [Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1997], p. 126, n. 61).

In Constantinople Clement and Agathangelus had a martyrial church on the left bank of the Bosporus and were venerated as well in the church of St. Irene and in a palace chapel built in Clement's honor by the emperor Basil I. The chapel housed what was believed to be Clement's head: Stephen of Novgorod saw it there in 1348 or 1349, as did the Russian deacon Zosima in 1420.  In 907 the metropolitan of Ancyra sent other relics of Clement to patriarch Euthymius of Constantinople, who in turn deposited these in the monastery in the city's Psamathia section.  Byzantine synaxaries show under today a joint feast of Agathangelus and Clement (of Ancyra).  In the Greek church Agathangelus has also been celebrated separately on 5. November.  Probably abbreviating, the entry for today in the earlier ninth-century Marble Calendar of Naples names Agathangelus alone.


Some period-pertinent images of Clement of Ancyra and Agathangelus:

a) Clement as depicted (at left, wearing an omophorion; at right, the deacons Christopher and Chariton) in the earlier eleventh-century "imperial" menologion for January in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore (ms. W. 521, fol. 207v):
http://thedigitalwalters.org/Data/WaltersManuscripts/W521/data/W.521/sap/W521_000059_sap.jpg

b) Clement and Agathangelus as depicted (in the panel at upper right, Clement wearing an omophorion; martyrdom) in an earlier fourteenth-century pictorial menologion from Thessaloniki (betw. 1322 and 1340; Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Gr. th. f. 1, fol. 26r):
http://image.ox.ac.uk/images/bodleian/msgrthf1/26r.jpg

c) Clement (at left) and Agathangelus as depicted in a thirteenth-century January menaion from Cyprus (Paris, BnF, ms. Grec 1561, fol. 95r):
http://tinyurl.com/yhotx7g

d) Clement as depicted (in the foreground, wearing a polystaurion; martyrdom) in the earlier fourteenth-century (betw. 1335 and 1350) frescoes of the narthex in the church of the Holy Ascension at the Visoki Deèani monastery near Peæ 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/yza8h9v
The inscription names Clement and Agathangelus, the honorands of today's feast, but the scene (one of several illustrating the January calendar) seems rather to depict Clement's death along with that of the two deacons.

Best,
John Dillon
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