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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  January 2016

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION January 2016

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Subject:

FEAST: Saints for Today (24. January): St. Babylas of Antioch and his three companions

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Sun, 24 Jan 2016 21:09:38 +0000

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text/plain

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture



Babylas (d. 3d cent.) is revered as a martyred bishop of Antioch on the Orontes (today's Antakya in southwestern Turkey).  According to Eusebius as usually construed (_Historia ecclesiastica_, 6. 39. 4), he died of mistreatment in prison during the Decian persecution (250-251); according to St. John Chrysostom, after a period of imprisonment Babylas was executed on the orders of an emperor whom he had excluded from the church.  Other ancient chroniclers place his death earlier in the same century.  The fourth- and fifth-century ecclesiastical historian Philostorgius as excerpted by the author of the eighth- or ninth-century Passio of St. Artemius dubiously ascribed to a John of Rhodes identifies the emperor as Numerian (283-284); the identification recurs in the sixth-century universal chronicle of John Malalas and in the thirteenth-century _Speculum historiale_ of Vincent of Beauvais.  The later fourth-century Syriac Martyrology and the early medieval (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology enter Babylas under 24. January and give him as companions in martyrdom three male children whom they do not name.  Babylas et socc. have legendary Passiones in conflicting versions and in several languages (BHG 205ff.; BHO 126ff.; BHL 889ff.); in these the children are named and a story is provided for them.  One version is in the _Suda_.  St. Aldhelm includes a section on these martyrs in his early eighth-century verse _De virginitate_.   In the Mozarabic Rite they were formerly celebrated on 25. January.  Byzantine-rite churches celebrate them on 4. September.  In the originally tenth- and eleventh-century Synaxary of Constantinople Babylas of Antioch is entered under 4. September (first entry for the day) and the quite different Sts. Babylas, Timothy, and Agapius are entered under 24. January as martyrs of Sicily (third entry for the day).



In or shortly after 351 the Caesar Constantius Gallus had Babylas' remains translated to a newly built martyrial church in the Antiochean suburb of Daphne (this is considered the earliest recorded translation of a martyr from his/her gravesite).  Daphne was also the home of a famous temple to Apollo.  According to St. John Chrysostom, the emperor Julian, consulting the latter's oracle and receiving no answer, concluded that the area had been polluted by Babylas' presence and had the latter's remains returned to their original burial site.   Shortly thereafter the great temple was destroyed by fire.   A later fifteenth-century copy of Vincent of Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay illustrates these events as well as, at lower right, the unrelated martyrdom of St. Theodosius of Antioch (1463; Paris, BNF, ms. Français 51, fol. 141v):

http://tinyurl.com/ybd9p7s

An English-language translation of Chrysostom's _Sermon on Babylas_:

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf109.vii.iv.html

Chrysostom's _Discourse on Blessed Babylas and Against the Greeks_ goes into the matter at greater length, using it both to exemplify the power of relics (in his view those of Babylas had silenced the oracle) and to condemn Julian's attempt to restore pagan cults.

In 379-381 bishop Meletius of Antioch built on the other side of the Orontes a martyrium into which he translated Babylas' remains.  Here's a ground plan of a cruciform church (situated in what during the French mandate was the suburb of Kaoussie) that since its excavation in 1935 has usually been identified as that structure:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/quadralectics/4313614424/





Some period-pertinent images of Babylas:



a) as depicted (at right; at left, his three companions) in the late tenth- or very early eleventh-century so-called Menologion of Basil II (Città del Vaticano, BAV, cod. Vat. gr. 1613, p. 10; reduced image):

http://tinyurl.com/zlt3q3h



b) as depicted (four scenes, incl. martyrdom and that of his three companions) in an illuminated eleventh- or twelfth-century copy of the September portion of the Metaphrastic Menologion (London, BL, MS Add 11870, fol. 52r): 

http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_11870_f052r



c) as depicted as depicted in the earlier thirteenth-century frescoes (1230s) in the altar area of the church of the Ascension in the Mileševa monastery near Prijepolje (Zlatibor dist.) in Serbia:

http://tinyurl.com/y88ajz6



d) as depicted in the later thirteenth-century frescoes (betw. 1263 and 1270) in the church of the Holy Trinity at the Sopoćani monastery at Sopoćani (Raška dist.) in Serbia:

http://tinyurl.com/ycv3474



e) as depicted (his martyrdom and that of his three companions) in a September calendar scene in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. ca. 1312 and 1321/1322) of the monastery church of the Theotokos at Gračanica in, depending on one's view of the matter, either Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija or the Republic of Kosovo:

http://tinyurl.com/zvlvvhw



f) as depicted (standing; in the dress of an early martyr) by Michael Astrapas and Eutychios in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. ca. 1313 and ca. 1320) in the King's Church (dedicated to Sts. Joachim and Anne) in the Studenica monastery near Kraljevo (Raška dist.) in Serbia:

http://tinyurl.com/ydjuj2a



g) as depicted (lower register in panel at lower left; martyrdom and that of two companions) in an earlier fourteenth-century pictorial menologion from Thessaloniki (betw. 1322 and 1340; Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Gr. th. f. 1, fol. 10v): 

http://image.ox.ac.uk/images/bodleian/msgrthf1/7v.jpg  



h) as depicted (twice) in an earlier fourteenth-century copy of Vincent of Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (ca. 1335; Paris, BnF, ms. Arsenal 5080)

1) Before the emperor Numerian (fol. 206r):

http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b7100627v/f417.item.zoom

2) His martyrdom and that of his three companions (fol. 206v):

http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b7100627v/f418.item.zoom



i) as depicted (his martyrdom and that of his three companions) in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. 1335 and 1350) in the nave 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/ycg8xq2



j) as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. 1335 and 1350) in the prothesis of the church of the Holy Ascension at the aforementioned Visoki Dečani monastery near Peć:

http://tinyurl.com/yenj76o



k) as depicted (at right, preventing the idolatrous emperor Numerian from entering his church) in the later fourteenth-century Breviary of Charles V (ca. 1364-1370; Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 1052, fol. 329r):

http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b84525491/f667.item.zoom



l) as depicted (twice) in a later fourteenth-century copy of books 11-13 of Vincent of Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (ca. 1370-1380; Paris, BnF, ms. Nouvelle acquisition française 15941): 

1) Before the emperor Numerian (fol. 74v):

http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b8449688c/f156.item.zoom

2) His martyrdom and that of his three companions (fol. 75r):

http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b8449688c/f157.item.zoom



m) as depicted (in the dress of an early martyr) in the late fourteenth-century frescoes (later 1380s?) in the nave of the church of the Holy Ascension in the Ravanica monastery near Ćuprija (Pomoravlje dist.) in Serbia:

http://tinyurl.com/27qpyw3



n) as depicted (scenes from a Passio) on a late fifteenth-century altarpiece from the iglesia de San Babilés at Quintanilla del Olmo (Zamora) now in León's catedral de Santa María:

http://tinyurl.com/2fnqxh



Best,

John Dillon



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