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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  May 2016

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION May 2016

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Subject:

FEAST - A Saint for the Day (May 18): St. Venantius of Camerino

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Wed, 18 May 2016 10:33:35 +0000

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text/plain

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Venantius (d. 251 or 253, supposedly) is the principal patron of Camerino (MC) in the Marche.  He has been venerated there since at least the eleventh century and quite possibly since at least the fifth or sixth century, when the predecessor of Camerino's church dedicated to him seems to have been built.  His eleventh- or twelfth-century Passio (BHL 8523; there are later, expanded versions), which makes him a fifteen-year-old native of Camerino martyred under Decius or Valerian, is a very close reworking of the Passio of the similarly youthful Agapetus or Agapitus of Praeneste (BHL 125), so close, in fact, that the Second Supplement to the BHL calls it a copy with the names changed.  Despite what one reads in the old _Catholic Encyclopedia_ (whose entry for him prefers to "Venantius" the name-form "Wigand"), etc., one really doesn't know anything about Venantius prior to his veneration in the central and later Middle Ages.

Venantius' cult seems to have attained significantly increased importance in the thirteenth century, when he begins to be figured artistically as a civic defender holding a sword and/or a standard.  His marble tomb in Camerino's basilica di San Venanzio dates from the earlier fourteenth century.  Venantius is said to have replaced in the fourteenth century Camerino's previous principal patron, the ninth-century bishop St. Ansovinus.  This may have happened earlier: in 1259 troops of king Manfred of Sicily sacked Camerino and brought Venantius' relics, but not Ansovinus', to Apulia where they remained until 1269.  The 117-line Latin poem _Gentibus ut pateat, Venanti sancte, futuris_ recounting Venantius' removal and celebrating his return is an impressive specimen of later thirteenth-century political verse.

Previously celebrated in the general Roman Calendar on 18. May, Venantius was dropped in its revisions promulgated in 1969.  When the corresponding edition of the Roman Martyrology finally appeared in 2001 Venantius was also absent from that much larger catalogue of commemorations.  He continues to be celebrated on this day not only in Camerino but also in Fabriano (AN) in the Marche and in Raiano (AQ) in Abruzzo, in both of which his local veneration is at least as old as the thirteenth century.

Camerino's basilica di San Venanzio, badly damaged by an earthquake in 1799, was rebuilt neoclassically in the nineteenth century:
http://tinyurl.com/3twajb
http://tinyurl.com/2u8keff
But it retains an early fourteenth-century main portal surmounted by a rose window:
http://tinyurl.com/gwty6
https://www.flickr.com/photos/9049083@N04/2800182748
The flanking figure on the left in the lunette portrays St. Porphyry, one of the characters in Venantius' Passio.  The corresponding space on the right once held a statue of Venantius himself; this was destroyed in the aforementioned earthquake:
http://tinyurl.com/6pyvyrr
Venantius' putative remains repose in the crypt in the early fourteenth-century monumental tomb (betw. 1310 and 1327) visible at top here:
http://www.parrocchiasanvenanzio.net/foto/grandi/img_0133.jpg

Venantius appears in dedications and in later medieval calendars from a number of places in central Italy.  A spectacularly scenic instance is the hermitage (_eremo_) named for him that spans the gorge of the Aterno at Raiano (AQ) in Abruzzo.  In view of its physical location, the hermitage may have been dedicated to Venantius in his capacity as patron saint of those in danger of falling from high places (in his Passio, Venantius suffers no harm from having been thrown down from Camerino's high city wall).  Some views:
http://tinyurl.com/jzoea77
http://tinyurl.com/2wcobb
http://tinyurl.com/3awn4k
http://tinyurl.com/29fj4k3
http://tinyurl.com/j2ln3m9
A page of views:
http://tinyurl.com/zp6r8fx


Some period-pertinent images of St. Venantius of Camerino:

a) as depicted (upper register, second from left) by Paolo Veneziano and Giovannino Veneziano in an earlier or mid-fourteenth-century altarpiece in the Pinacoteca civica "P. Tacchi-Venturi" in San Severino Marche:
http://tinyurl.com/hucw8kc

b) as depicted (at right, flanking the BVM and Christ Child; at left, St. Anthony of Egypt) by Puccio di Simone in a panel of a mid-fourteenth-century altarpiece (1354) in the National Gallery of Art in Washington:
http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/Collection/art-object-page.8.html
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jonathanwolfson/9719754974

c) as depicted (at far right, after St. Bartholomew) by Allegretto Nuzi in a later fourteenth-century altarpiece in Fabriano's Pinacoteca Civica "B. Molajoli":
http://tinyurl.com/h4e9beu

d) as depicted (at right, flanking the BVM and Christ Child; at left, St. John the Apostle) by a follower of Allegretto Nuzi in a later fourteenth-century fresco in the portico dei Vasari in Fabriano:
http://www.piazzalta.it/Immagini/vasari.jpg
A distance view showing the painting's protective shield:
http://tinyurl.com/jud8t2u

e) as depicted (lower register at bright, flanking the BVM and Christ Child) by Allegretto Nuzi in a later fourteenth-century fresco (1365?) in the basilica cattedrale di San Venanzio in Fabriano:
http://tinyurl.com/zbbdq7d
Detail view:
http://tinyurl.com/zn7jmgq

f) as depicted (at right, flanking the BVM and Christ Child; at left, St. Anthony of Egypt) by Allegretto Nuzi in a later fourteenth-century altarpiece (1369) in the cattedrale di San Giuliano in Macerata:
http://tinyurl.com/h436nc2

g) as depicted in a fifteenth(?)-century fresco in the eremo / santuario di Santa Maria del Sasso near San Martino, a _frazione_ of Serravalle del Chienti (MC) in the Marche:
http://tinyurl.com/jpunlpk
Detail view:
http://www.turismo.serravalle.sinp.net/10%20bibliografie/libro5/foto21.jpg
g _bis_) A similar image occurs in the late fourteenth- or early fifteenth-century frescoes, sometimes attributed to Cola di Pietro, in the chiesa di San Francesco at Pontelatrave, a _frazione_ of Pietrobovigliana (MC) in the Marche:
http://tinyurl.com/j4onjvb

h) as depicted (at left; at right St. Roch) by Antonio Vivarini in a panel of his mid-or later fifteenth-century altarpiece of Sts. Anthony of Egypt, Sebastian, Christopher, Venantius, and Roch in the Pinacoteca Vaticana:
http://tinyurl.com/h44vy9y

i) as depicted (at lower left) by Girolamo di Giovanni of Camerino in his later fifteenth-century fresco (1463) of the Madonna della Misericordia with Saints Venantius and Sebastian in the Pinacoteca e Museo civico di Camerino:
http://tinyurl.com/jx7eyo2
Detail view (Venantius):
http://images.alinari.it/img/480/SEA/SEA-S-MC1998-0016.jpg

j) as depicted (at right; at left, St. James Major) by Giovanni Boccati in a panel of his later fifteenth-century polyptych of St. Eustace (1468) in the chiesa di di S. Eustachio in Belforte del Chienti (MC) in the Marche:
https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5563/14874169992_4f10e69e54_z.jpg
Detail view (Venantius):
https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrea_carloni/14874517765

k) as depicted (lower register at far left) by Niccolò di Liberatore / Niccolò Alunno in a late fifteenth-century altarpiece (1480) in the Pinacoteca Vaticana:
http://tinyurl.com/z8vqzeg
Detail view:
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4069/4363022564_16e7dec5c7.jpg

l) as depicted (at right; at left, St. Peter Martyr) by Carlo Crivelli in a panel of his late fifteenth-century dismembered altarpiece of the chiesa di San Domenico in Camerino (1482) in the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan:
http://tinyurl.com/m4ury
Detail view:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrea_carloni/14874517765

Best,
John Dillon
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