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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  May 2016

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION May 2016

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Subject:

FEAST - A Saint for the Day (May 21): St. Restituta of Corsica

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Sat, 21 May 2016 06:36:33 +0000

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Restituta (d. 217/18, supposedly) has been venerated at Calenzana (also Calinzana; situated in Haute-Corse) and elsewhere on Corsica since at least the eleventh or early twelfth century and seemingly a lot earlier than that, as excavations beneath the altar in her chapel at Calenzana in 1951 revealed a late antique or early medieval martyrium with a fresco depicting the martyrdom of a female saint.  Also discovered there was an ancient sarcophagus containing twelve human femurs, two of which were determined medically to have belonged to a woman.

These remains coincide remarkably with a Passio (BHL 6466e; preserved in the main portion of BAV, Vat. lat. 6933, dated to the twelfth century) wherein Restituta and five male colleagues fled from persecution in north Africa to Calvi in northern Corsica and were executed in the following year by a newly arrived prefect during the reign of the emperor Macrinus.  According to this text, Restituta was martyred on 21. May at Calvi itself and three of her companions, Paragorius, Parthaeus, and Parthenopaeus, were martyred in Ulmia, the adjacent medieval parish that included Calenzana.  (P., P., and P., saints of 7. September, seem also to have been venerated at La Marana in northern Corsica and were certainly so honored at Noli [SV] in Liguria, where their poorly documented cult, centered on the originally early eleventh-century church of San Paragorio, is reported to have employed a now lost antiphon saying that they had been martyred on Corsica.)

The sarcophagus at Calenzana
http://tinyurl.com/737pu
is seemingly without any ancient inscription.  When it was placed in the space under the altar at Calenzana is not known.  The chapel itself is an originally sixteenth-century structure replacing what is said to have been an eleventh- or early twelfth-century one located in what had been an ancient Roman cemetery.  A reasonable guess would be that documentation (the Passio) for a saint called Restituta venerated at this site was created in connection with the new church, but whether the number of companions was arrived at to fit already existing relics or whether the number and sex of the relics were made to conform with the Passio is not known and perhaps not knowable.  The Passio itself is systematizing: in addition to its inclusion of saints venerated elsewhere there is also the matter of Restituta's _dies natalis_, which just happens to fall just one day before that of the much better known and earlier documented Julia of Corsica.

This English-language page, whose text reflects more recent accounts of Restituta at variance with her medieval Passio, offers a view of the relics as displayed in a chest at the chapel at Calenzana:
http://www.calinzana.corsica-isula.com/st%20restitude.htm

Restituta's name in French is variously given as Restitude (the prevailing local form), Restitute, or Ristituta, the latter being also the customary form in Corsican.  In 1984 the Congregation for Divine Worship declared her the heavenly patron of Calenzana and of all the surrounding region (the Balagne).  For those wishing to try their hand at a probably unfamiliar Romance tongue, a brief and very readable account of Restituta in Corsican will be found here:
http://www.adecec.net/html/SANTI/MAGHJU.htm#Ristituta%20di%20Calinzana

Today is Restituta's feast day in the diocese of Ajaccio.  She has yet to grace the pages of the Roman Martyrology.


Restituta as depicted (scenes from her Passio) in the surviving fragments of a fourteenth-century fresco in the chapelle Sainte-Restitude in Calenzana:
http://peintures.murales.free.fr/fresques/France/Corse/calenzana_restitude.htm

Best,
John Dillon 

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