medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (12. December) is the feast day of:
1) Epimachus and Alexander (d. 250 or 251). We know about E. and A. from St. Dionysius of Alexandria's report on the martyrs of his city as quoted by Eusebius (_Historia ecclesiastica_, 6. 41-42; these two at 6. 41. 15). They were held in prison for a considerable period of time, during which they were tortured in a variety of ways. Their end came when they were doused with quicklime. E. and A. entered the historical martyrologies with Florus of Lyon, who gave all the Alexandrian martyrs of this persecution a single, lengthy entry under 20. February. St. Ado of Vienne broke that elogium up, entering individuals and small groups under different days. It is down to Ado that this pair is commemorated today. Their feast day in the synaxary of Constantinople is 6. July.
2) Spyridon the Wonderworker (d. 4th cent.). S. was bishop of Trimithous on Cyprus. He is reported as having signed, perhaps three years after its conclusion, the acts of the Council of Serdica (342/43). Late in the same century it was already believed that he had been a shepherd and that he continued in that role even after assuming his episcopate (hence his frequent depiction in a shepherd's hat). S. seems to have fathered a daughter before entering religion. Rufinus of Aquileia (d. 410) records two miracles attributed to him (one involving sheep of the actual rather than the metaphorical kind). S. has two seventh-century Bioi, one by Theodore of Paphos (BHG 1647; completed by 665) and the other possibly by Leontios of Neapolis (BHG 1648a). Both are thought to have drawn on a lost poem by S.'s pupil St. Triphyllius. Known for his miracles, S. is a patron of shepherds and of seafarers.
By the ninth century S.'s cult had reached the West, where he is entered under 14. December in the Marble Calendar of Naples and in the martyrologies of Florus of Lyon, St. Ado of Vienne, and Usuard.
In BHG 1647 S.'s remains are said to be still on Cyprus. But an incorrupt body believed to be his is also said to have been brought to Constantinople at some point in the seventh century (Stephen of Novgorod saw it there in the church of the Holy Apostles in 1348 or 1349) and to have been taken to Corfu in the later fifteenth century. Corfu's late sixteenth-century cathedral is dedicated to S., who as that island's patron saint has in the early modern period saved his people from pestilence, famine, and Turkish conquest.
In his cathedral on Corfu C. ordinarily reposes in the nineteenth-century reliquary shown here:
But four times a year (today not being one of them) he is carried in public procession as the island's protector. On those occasions he travels in this modified sedan chair (okay, it's really a kouvouklion and they're not all shaped like telephone booths):
S. being carried in procession:
Since 1984 S.'s cathedral on Corfu has also kept another putative relic of S., his right hand (previously this had been in the possession of the Oratorians in Rome):
Some views of the originally thirteenth-century fortified church of Ag. Spyridon in the village of Kardamyli in Lefktra (Messenia prefecture) in the southern Peloponnese (in the first view, it's at right in the middle distance):
The originally thirteenth-century church of Ag. Spyridon in Rhodes (Dodecanese prefecture), converted to a mosque after the city's transition to Muslim rule in 1523:
S. (upper register) as depicted in a poorly preserved later twelfth-century fresco (betw. ca. 1160 and ca. 1180) in the altar area of the church of the Holy Apostles at Pera Chorio (Nicosia prefecture) in the Republic of Cyprus:
S. as depicted in a late thirteenth- or very early fourteenth-century fresco, attributed to Manuel Panselinos, in the Protaton church on Mount Athos:
Detail view (S.):
S. as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century fresco (betw. ca. 1313 and 1320) in a window of the King's Church (dedicated to Sts. Joachim and Anne) in the Studenica monastery near Kraljevo (Raška dist.) in Serbia:
S. (detail) as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century fresco (1317-1318; conservation work in 1968) by the court painters Michael and Eutychius in the church of St. George in Staro Nagoričane in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia:
S. as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century fresco (1330s) in the altar area of the church of the Hodegetria in the Patriarchate of Peć at Peć in, depending on one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:
S. (at far right) as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. 1335 and 1350) in the altar area of the church of the Holy Ascension at the Visoki Dečani monastery near Peć in, depending on one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:
Detail views (S.):
S. as depicted in the fourteenth-century frescoes of the monastery of Sv. Ioan Bogoslov (St. John the Theologian) at Zemen in western Bulgaria:
While we're here, an illustrated page on the monastery itself:
and one, with English-language text commencing a little more than halfway down the page, on its frescoes:
S. (at right; at left, St. Blaise) as depicted in a fifteenth(?)-century Novgotod School icon in the State Historical Museum in Moscow:
S. as depicted in 1502 by Dionisy and sons in the Virgin Nativity cathedral of the St. Ferapont Belozero (Ferapontov Belozersky) monastery at Ferapontovo in Russia's Vologda oblast:
3) Corentin of Quimper (d. 5th cent.). C. (in some places also Cury) is a Celtic saint honored in Brittany as the founding bishop of the see of Corisopitum (later, Cornouaille; now the see of Quimper-et-Léon) and in Cornwall as the patron saint of Cury on the Lizard peninsula. He has an unreliable, probably thirteenth-century Vita (different versions; BHL 1953z, 1954). Legendarily, as an hermit before becoming bishop he sustained himself on a fish from which he could cut a portion daily with no diminution of the fish's size. In 1890 a wall painting was found at the church of Breage in Cornwall (Cury's mother church) depicting C. as a bishop and with a fish beside him.
Quimper's mostly thirteenth-/fifteenth-century cathedral (the tower spires are nineteenth-century) is dedicated to C. Herewith some views:
Multiple (all expandable):
Chapels of medieval and early modern origin dedicated to C. occur at places in Brittany adjacent to holy springs identified with locales from his Vita. Herewith an illustrated page on the one at Trénivel (Finistère), seemingly from the mid-sixteenth century and recently restored:
A page of views on St Corentin, Cury (some images expandable, including those with broken thumbnails):
4) Israel of Le Dorat (d. 1014). We know about canon regular I. from his closely contemporary Vita (BHL 4496). He was singing master at the abbey of Le Dorat (Haute-Vienne) in the Limousin and for a while also taught in the cathedral school of Limoges, where he was ordained priest. I. was remembered for his great charity in caring for fellow canons stricken with a serious illness that ravaged the abbey in 989 and 990. In the year 1000 Pope Sylvester II (Gerbert of Aurillac) made him prior of the newly re-organized canons at Saint-Junien (Haute-Vienne). In 1013 I. returned to Le Dorat following a disastrous fire there. When he died in the following year he was buried in the abbey's cemetery.
In the early twelfth century miracles were reported at I.'s grave and at that of the somewhat later Theodore of Le Dorat (d. 1070). The remains of both were translated to the crypt of the abbey church of St. Peter in 1130 but appear not to have been venerated liturgically until the seventeenth century, when their joint tomb was moved to one of the chapels in the choir. Here's a not awfully good view of it:
The building housing that tomb, though, is certainly worth a look. Herewith some views of the originally twelfth-century collégiale Saint-Pierre at Le Dorat, fortified in the fifteenth century and especially notable for its gigantic, Mozarabic-influenced west portal:
Exterior and interior:
Finally, a few views of the originally late eleventh- to fourteenth-century collégiale Saint-Junien at Saint-Junien, replacing an earlier church that I. is said to have in part rebuilt:
For those withgood access to Google Books, a French-language description of this edifice is here:
5) Vicelinus (d. 1154). The missionary bishop V. (in German, Vizelin and Vicelin, also Wissel and Witzel) is known from a closely posthumous letter by Sido, the provost of the abbey of canons regular that V. had founded at today's Neumünster in the Holstein portion of what's now Schleswig-Holstein (BHL 8553), by a Vita metrica ascribed to the same Sido (BHL 8552), and especially by matter in the _Chronicon Sclavicum_ of Helmold of Bosau, a canon of the same house in the next generation who had known both V. and Sido. A native of Hameln, after several years of study at Paderborn he became in 1118 a teacher in the cathedral school at Bremen.
From 1122 until 1126 V. was a student at Paris. In the latter year he went to Magdeburg and was ordained priest by St. Norbert of Xanten. In short order he was entrusted by archbishop Adalbero II of Bremen with the task of preaching to those Obodrites (a Wendish tribal group) living in the area of Liubice / Alt-Lübeck. For the next twenty years V. and other canons working with him from their new monastery at Wippenthorp (soon called Neumünster) enjoyed varied and limited success that was complicated by hostilities between Germans settlers and the Obodrites and by Wendish uprisings against Saxon rule.
The success of the combined German, Danish, and Polish crusade against the Wends in 1147 changed matters. The conquered Wends were obligated to become Christian and missionary dioceses were established or re-founded both to accomplish this and to care for the souls of Christian immigrants. One of these dioceses was the long vacant see of Oldenburg (later Lübeck); in 1149 V. became its first bishop in more than eighty years. Shortly thereafter invading Danes destroyed the settlement at Oldenburg and in 1151/52 the seat of V.'s diocese was moved to the then newly built church of St. Peter at today's Bosau (Lkr. Plön). Herewith an illustrated, German-language page on the much rebuilt St. Petrikirche in Bosau:
Until the earlier seventeenth century this church had a round tower, as do several other churches in Holstein dating from V.'s episcopacy or from shortly afterward. As a type, these are known as Vicelinus churches (_Vicelinskirchen_). An example is the one in Ratekau (Lkr. Ostholstein), begun in 1156:
V.'s church in Bosau will have looked much like this.
In 1150 and/or in 1152 V. suffered what appear to have been one or more partly paralytic strokes. He withdrew to Neumünster, where he died on this day two (or four) years later, where he was buried, and where he was celebrated as a saint. In 1332 the relics of this apostle of the Obodrites followed a slightly earlier northward translation of the canons themselves to Bordesholm in today's Schleswig-Holstein, where they (the relics, that is) were interred in the abbey church of the BVM. Herewith an illustrated, German-language page on the abbey of Bordesholm, focusing on its originally fourteenth- to early sixteenth-century (ehem.) Klosterkirche St. Marien:
(last year's post revised and with the addition of Vicelinus)
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