medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Ferreolus and Ferrutius (d. 270, supposedly; in French, Ferréol et Ferjeux / Fargeau), priest and deacon, are the traditional apostles of Besançon. According to the earliest surviving version of their legendary Passio (the probably late fifth- or very early sixth-century BHL 2903b) they were sent out as missionaries by St. Irenaeus of Lyon and spent thirty years evangelizing in Besançon and vicinity until someone unhappy over their conversion of his wife reported them to his close friend, the Roman military commander for the region, as enemies of the state religion and as subverters of marriage through their consecration of virgins. The commander authorized his friend to arrest Ferreolus and Ferrutius and to kill them with severe torture. Having refused an invitation to sacrifice to the gods the saints were severely whipped. After a second refusal their tongues were cut out. But Ferreolus and Ferrutius continued to speak, reciting the Beatitudes and addressing their tormentor. They next had many nails driven into their hands, feet, chests, and joints. When they had readily withstood these they were finished off by the sword, emitting as they died a great odor of sanctity. Recent scholarship, finding no independent evidence for there having been a Christian community in Besançon at such an early date, tends to place that city's Christianization in the fourth century after the promulgation of the edicts of Milan. Who Ferreolus and Ferrutius (or Ferrutio, the form inferrable from BHL 2903b's _Ferrucio_ and _Ferructio_) really were is unknown.
An Inventio of these saints' remains at Besançon, said in the surviving relation (of which there are two versions, BHL 2909b and the later BHL 2909) to have occurred under bishop St. Anianus (ca. 370), is now thought to have taken place in ca. 500 under bishop Amantius. In the first quarter of the sixth century a version of their Passio was available in Dijon, where it left traces in the local hagiography. In 556 St. Germanus of Paris is said to have erected in his church there an altar in their honor. A version of their Passio was known to St. Gregory of Tours as was also their continued, wonder-working presence in a martyrial church in that city (_In gloria martyrum_, 70). Their feast today is first attested in BHL 2903b; it recurs in the probably very late seventh-century Missale Gothicum (the roughly contemporary [pseudo-] Hieronymian Martyrology enters them under 5. September, the festal date of their Inventio), in St. Bede the Venerable's earlier eighth-century historical martyrology, and in the ninth-century historical martyrologies of St. Ado of Vienne and Usuard of Saint-Germain. It is still kept in Besançon's cathédrale Saint-Jean in honor of what that diocese, in a bow to tradition, is pleased to call its "Saints fondateurs". Today is also their day of commemoration of the Roman Martyrology.
Some period-pertinent images of Sts. Ferreolus of Besançon and Ferrutius:
a) as depicted in the early fifteenth-century Châteauroux Breviary (ca. 1414; Use of Paris; Châteauroux, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 2, fol. 193v):
b) as twice depicted in a late fifteenth-century breviary for the Use of Langres (after 1481; Chaumont, Mediathèque de Chaumont, ms. 32):
1) fol. 263v:
2) fol. 408r:
c) as twice depicted in a late fifteenth-century breviary for the Use of Besançon (before 1498; Besançon, Bibliothèques municipales, ms. 69)_:
1) p. 612:
2) p. 620:
d) as portrayed, seemingly by Michel Scherrier of Bruges, in a pair of mid-sixteenth-century alabaster statues (commissioned, 1543) forming part of the tomb of archbishop Ferry Carondelet in the cathédrale Saint-Jean in Besançon:
2) Detail view (Ferreolus):
4) as displayed in the cathedral:
Portrayal as a cephalophore is a customary later medieval and early modern form of representation, based on that of St. Dionysius of Paris, of reputed early apostles of Gaul.
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