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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  May 2016

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION May 2016

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Subject:

FEAST - A Saint for the Day (31. May): St. Petronilla

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Tue, 31 May 2016 22:27:45 +0000

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text/plain

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Petronilla (also Petronella) is a Roman martyr of the cemetery of Domitilla on the Via Ardeatina.  Not mentioned in the _Depositio martyrum_ of the Chronographer of 354, she had a burial place behind the apse of the the underground basilica erected by pope St. Siricius (384-99) in honor of Sts. Nereus and Achilleus.  A wall painting in that part of the church, discovered by De Rossi in the early 1870s, shows Petronilla (at right), identified as a martyr, holding the hand of the matron Veneranda
http://www.umilta.net/veneranda1.jpg
http://muvtor.btk.ppke.hu/etalon/316.jpg

If the _Liber Pontificalis_ may be trusted on this point, by the time of pope Paul I (757-67), Petronilla's remains were kept in the aforementioned church in a sarcophagus identifying her as Aur[elia] Petronilla.  She may have been related to the Flavians, some of whom, having become Christian, founded the cemetery and some of whose males bore the cognomen Petro.  The age of the cemetery (late first- or very early second-century) and the similarity of Petronilla's name to that of St. Peter gave rise to the belief that she had been his daughter.  Petronilla, no longer a martyr, appears in this role in the originally late antique Passio of Sts. Nereus and Achilleus (BHL 6058, 6060, 6063, perhaps others), whence she entered the historical martyrologies of the early Middle Ages.  Today is her day of commemoration in the Roman Martyrology.

Petronilla's resting place is included in all the seventh-century catalogues of the burial locations of martyrs in the vicinity of Rome; one of these even refers to the church there as dedicated to her.  In the eighth century, at the behest of king Pepin, Paul I moved her sarcophagus to the Vatican, where it was placed in the circular building near Old St Peter's that became known as the Chapel of St. Petronilla and that was especially significant to rulers of medieval France.  When the present St. Peter's was built, that chapel was demolished and a chapel dedicated to Petronilla was established in the new building.


Some period-pertinent images of St. Petronilla:

a) as depicted (receiving supplications from the sick and the lame) in an earlier fourteenth-century copy of the _Legenda aurea_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (ca. 1326-1350; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 185, fol. 218r):
http://tinyurl.com/2a4lu3z

b) as portrayed in an earlier fourteenth-century polychromed limestone statue from Lleida  (ca. 1330-1340) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York:
http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/471257

c) as twice depicted (in an initial 'R'; below and to the left: receiving communion) in the later fourteenth-century martyrology and obituary of the abbey of Notre-Dame des Prés in Douai (ca. 1376-1400; Valenciennes, Bibliothèque de Valenciennes, ms. 838, fol. 87r):
http://www.enluminures.culture.fr/Wave/savimage/enlumine/irht5/IRHT_092255-p.jpg

d) as depicted (death; her soul received into heaven) in a late fourteenth- or early fifteenth-century copy of the _Legenda aurea_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Rennes, Bibliothèque de Rennes Métropole, ms. 266, fol. 145r):
http://tinyurl.com/zn2wkr9

e) as depicted in a fifteenth-century stained glass clerestory light in the north choir of Winchester cathedral (photograph courtesy of Gordon Plumb):
https://www.flickr.com/photos/22274117@N08/2829130000/

f) as depicted (at right; at left, St. Juliana of Nicomedia) as Peter's daughter with a very large key in the reconstructed early fifteenth-century rood screen at St Mary, North Elmham (Norfolk):
http://tinyurl.com/2gc23o

g) as depicted (martyrdom) in an early fifteenth-century copy of the _Elsässische Legenda Aurea_ (1419; Heidelberg, Universitätsbibliothek, Cod. Pal. germ. 144, fol. 385r):
http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/cpg144/0793
https://www.flickr.com/photos/tonyynot/6905475531/

h) as depicted in the earlier fifteenth-century Breviary of Marie de Savoie (ca. 1430; Chambéry, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 4, fol. 491v):
http://www.enluminures.culture.fr/Wave/savimage/enlumine/irht1/IRHT_035620-p.jpg

i) as thrice depicted ("before and after" images of her being not healed by Peter; serving at table) in a later fifteenth-century copy of Vincent of Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (1463; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 50, fol. 323v):
http://tinyurl.com/2doqm4t

j) as depicted (holding a devil by a leash) by the Master of the Boston City of God in the Suffrages of a later fifteenth-century book of hours from Utrecht (ca. 1470; Den Haag, KB, ms. 131 G 4, fol. 188r):
http://manuscripts.kb.nl/zoom/BYVANCKB%3Amimi_131g4%3A188r_init

k) as twice depicted (being not healed by Peter; serving at table) by Sano di Pietro in a panel of the predella of his later fifteenth-century triptych of the Assumption (ca. 1479) in the Pinacoteca nazionale in Siena:
http://www.scalarchives.com/scalapic/280696/c/0074395c.jpg

l) as depicted in a panel of the originally late fifteenth-century east window (restored, nineteenth century) of the redundant Church of All Saints in Langport (Somerset; photograph courtesy of Gordon Plumb)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/22274117@N08/2829130000/

m) as depicted (right margin, upper image) in a woodcut in the Beloit College copy of Hartmann Schedel's late fifteenth-century _Weltchronik_ (_Nuremberg Chronicle_; 1493) at fol. CVIIv:
https://www.beloit.edu/nuremberg/book/6th_age/left_page/11%20%28Folio%20CVIIv%29.pdf

n) as depicted in an early sixteenth-century book of hours for the Use of Rome (ca. 1510; Tours, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 2104, fol. 178r):
http://www.enluminures.culture.fr/Wave/savimage/enlumine/irht2/IRHT_051239-p.jpg

o) as depicted in a panel of the earlier sixteenth-century winged altar of the BVM (1521) in the parish church of St. Mary in Spišské Podhradie, Slovakia:
http://tarvos.imareal.oeaw.ac.at/server/images/7012568.JPG

Best,
John Dillon
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