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FEAST - A Saint for the Day (Jan. 22): St. Vincent of Zaragoza


John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>


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


Fri, 22 Jan 2016 09:07:21 +0000





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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

A popular martyr of early Christian Iberia, Vincent (d. 304?) was a deacon at Zaragoza (a.k.a. Saragossa) who did a lot of preaching for his bishop, Valerius.  The latter (in some accounts) had a speech impediment.  At the outbreak of the Diocletianic persecution they were both arrested and hauled off to Valencia, where they were imprisoned pending a hearing.  When that hearing came, Vincent did most of the talking and spoke so ably that the presiding magistrate concluded that the really dangerous one was the deacon, not the bishop.  Consequently, Valerius was exiled but Vincent remained in prison, where he underwent a series of tortures before being executed.

Early witnesses to Vincent's cult include St. Paulinus of Nola, Prudentius, and St. Augustine of Hippo.  The last named eulogized Vincent annually on this day and we have from his pen no fewer than six sermons celebrating this saint.  Vincent's Passio in its standard form (BHL 8631) was in existence by the middle of the sixth century.  A briefer text (BHL 8638) may be close in content to a Passio that circulated in the fifth century.  On Vincent's early medieval cult in general, with editions of major texts, see Victor Saxer, _Saint Vincent diacre et martyr: Culte et légendes avant l'An Mil_ (Bruxelles: Société des Bollandistes, 2002; Subsidia Hagiographica, vol. 83).

Some period-pertinent images of Vincent of Zaragoza (or, if you prefer, of Saragossa; also V. of Huesca, V. of Valencia, and V. the Martyr) supplementing those already linked to by Gordon Plumb:

a) as depicted (third from left; after Sts. Demetrius and Polycarp) in the heavily restored, later sixth-century mosaics (ca. 561) in the nave of Ravenna's basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo:


b) as depicted in the late tenth- or very early eleventh-century so-called Menologion of Basil II (Città del Vaticano, BAV, cod. Vat. gr. 1613, p. 342):


c) as depicted (two scenes from his Passio) in the early eleventh-century frescoes of the central apse in the basilica di San Vincenzo in Galliano, a _frazione_ of Cantù (CO) in Lombardy:

1) Undergoing torture by hot lead:


2) His corpse guarded by birds and being prepared for burial:


d) as depicted (in the soffit at right, second roundel from bottom) in the earlier twelfth-century mosaics (ca. 1143) of the chiesa di Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio (a.k.a. chiesa della Martorana) in Palermo:


e) as depicted (at right; at left, St. Germanus of Paris) in the frontispiece to a mid-twelfth-century collection of writings by Origen from the abbey of St.-Germain-des-Prés in Paris (Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 11615, fol. 2v):


f) as depicted (center register, second from left, between his fellow deacons Sts. Peter of Marcellinus-and-Peter and Lawrence of Rome) in a probably mid- or slightly later twelfth-century mosaic (restored, 1859) in the choir of the basilica cattedrale della Trasfigurazione in Cefalù (the second view here is greatly expandable):



g) as portrayed (martyrdom scenes) in a perhaps later twelfth-century relief (after ca. 1160) in the Münster in Basel:


h) as depicted (at right; at left, St. Victor of Syria) in the later twelfth-century frescoes (1164) in the church of St. Panteleimon (Pantaleon) at Gorno Nerezi (Skopje municipality) in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia:


In Byzantine-rite churches both Victor and Vincent are celebrated on 11. November (in the Synaxary of Constantinople Vincent also occurs by himself under 22. January). That is also the feast day of St. Men(n)as the Egyptian, whose church in Constantinople is reported from the twelfth century as possessing relics of Vincent and Victor.

i) as portrayed in high relief (scenes) on his late twelfth-century polychromed stone cenotaph in the Basilica de los Santos Hermanos Mártires, Vicente, Sabina y Cristeta in Ávila:



j) as depicted (martyrdom) in one of four panels of a full-page illumination in the late twelfth-century so-called Bible of Saint Bertin (ca. 1190-1200; Den Haag, KB, ms. 76 F 5, fol. 28v, sc. 1B):


k) as portrayed in high relief (birds guarding his corpse at sea) on the left pillar of the left portal of the late twelfth or early thirteenth-century south porch (by 1210) of the basilique cathédrale Notre-Dame in Chartres:


l) as depicted (scenes of his life and martyrdom) in the early thirteenth-century St. Vincent window (bay 12; ca. 1215) in the ambulatory of the cathédrale Saint-Étienne in Bourges:


m) as depicted (scenes from his Passio) in panels from a mid-thirteenth-century glass window (1240s; from the abbey church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris) in the Walters art Gallery and Museum, Baltimore:


Gordon's post has links to other panels from the same window in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

n) as depicted (martyrdom) in a panel of a mid-thirteenth-century ambulatory window (Bay 201, panel A1; ca. 1254) in the cathédrale Saint-Julien, Le Mans:


o) as depicted (scenes of his life and martyrdom) on a later thirteenth-century altar frontal (parchment over wood; from the church of Santa María de Monte at Liesa [Huesca]) in the possession of the Diputación Provincial de Huesca (for better views click on the individual frames):


p) as depicted (sixth from left, after an archangel, St. Peter, the Christ child, the BVM, and St. Paul; the remaining two are St. Ambrose of Milan and St. Augustine's son Adeodatus, venerated in medieval Milan as a saint) in a later thirteenth-century fresco on the parapet of the Gospel ambo in the basilica di San Vincenzo in Galliano, a _frazione_ of Cantù (CO) in Lombardy:


Detail view (Vincent):


q) as depicted (martyrdom) in a late thirteenth-century copy of French origin of the _Legenda aurea_ (San Marino, CA, Huntington Library, ms. HM 3027, fol. 24v):


r) as depicted (martyrdom) in the late thirteenth-century Livre d'images de Madame Marie (ca. 1285-1290; Paris, BnF, ms. Nouvelle acquisition française 16251, fol. 78r):



s) as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. ca. 1312 and 1321/1322) in the monastery church of the Theotokos at Gračanica in, depending upon one's view of the matter, either Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija or the Republic of Kosovo:


t) as depicted (second from right, lower register, in the panel at lower left; martyrdom) in an earlier fourteenth-century pictorial menologion from Thessaloniki (betw. 1322 and 1340; Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Gr. th. f. 1, fol. 24v):


u) as depicted (two scenes: preaching and undergoing martyrdom) 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. 101v):


Note that in these illuminations we seem to have evidence of that rare figure in church annals, the mitred deacon. In the first of these, the figure robed in blue is thought to depict Vincent's actual bishop, the confessor St. Valerius of Zaragoza.

v) as depicted in a panel of the mid-fourteenth-century great window (ca. 1340-1350) in the choir of the Kirche St.-Vinzenz in Segringen (Lkr. Mittelfranken) in Bavaria:


w) as depicted (martyrdom) in an earlier fourteenth-century copy of the _Legenda aurea_, from the workshop of Richard and Jeanne de Montbaston, in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (1348; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 241, fol. 46v):


x) as depicted (portrait; scenes) by the Master of Estopiñán in a later fourteenth-century triptych (ca. 1350-1370) in the Museo Nacional de Arte de Cataluña, Barcelona:


y) as depicted (the finding of his body) 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. 48v):


z) as depicted (his body about to be cast into the sea) in an early fifteenth-century copy of the _Elsässische Legenda aurea_ (1419; Heidelberg, UB, Cod. Pal. germ. 144, fol. 295v):


aa) as depicted (at left, martyrdom; at right, St. Vincent Ferrer) by Bernard (Bernat) Martorell in an earlier fifteenth-century panel painting in the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg:


bb) as depicted (martyrdom) by the court workshop of Frederick III in a mid-fifteenth-century copy of the _Legenda aurea_ (1446-1447; Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, cod. 326, fol. 38v):


cc) as depicted in grisaille by Jean le Tavernier in the mid-fifteenth-century Hours of Philip of Burgundy (ca. 1451-1460; Den Haag, KB, ms. 76 F 2, fol. 257v):


dd) as depicted (scenes) by Nuno Gonçalves on several later fifteenth-century panels (ca. 1451-1475) in the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga in Lisbon:


A closer view of a copy:


ee) as depicted by Jaume Huguet in five mid-fifteenth-century panels from a never-finished altarpiece (ca. 1455-1460; for Barcelona's església de Sant Vicenç de Sarrià) in the Museo Nacional de Arte de Cataluña, Barcelona:

1) Ordained priest by St. Valerius of Zaragoza:


2) Brought before the proconsul Datianus / Dacianus:


3) Martyrdom (torture by fire):


4) Martyrdom (torture on a cross-shaped _eculeus_):


5) Seekers for cures at his tomb:


ff) as depicted by Tomás Giner in a later fifteenth-century panel painting (betw. 1462 and 1466) in the Museo del Prado, Madrid:


gg) as depicted (at left; at center, St. James the Great; at right, St. Eustace) by Antonio and Piero del Pollaiolo in a later fifteenth-century panel painting (ca. 1466-1468) in the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence:



hh) as depicted (martyrdom) in a late fifteenth-century copy of the _Legenda aurea_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (ca. 1480-1490; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 244, fol. 54v):


ii) as depicted (at center, between St. Michael the Archangel and St. Lawrence of Rome) in the central panel of the late fifteenth-century retable in the iglesia de San Vicente Mártir at San Vicente de Labuerda in Labuerda (Huesca):


jj) as portrayed in relief (image at right) on a guldiner of 1493 from Bern:


kk) as depicted (martyrdom) in the earlier sixteenth-century portion (ca. 1540) of a window in the église Saint-Ouen at Pont-Audemer (Eure):



John Dillon


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