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FEAST - A Saint for the Day (Feb. 1): St. Tryphon of Phrygia


John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>


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


Mon, 1 Feb 2016 08:24:23 +0000





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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Nothing is known of the historical Tryphon (also anglicized as Trypho; also Tryphon of Campsade, Tryphon of Lampsacus, Tryphon of Apamea, and Tryphon the Martyr; the latter hardly distinguishes him from the homonymous martyr of Alexandria). His legendary Passiones in Greek (late antique: BHG 1856; metaphrastic, BHG 1857) and shorter hagiographic texts make him a gooseherd born and raised at a place near Apamea in Phrygia variously called Kampsade, Kampsados, Sampsados, or Lampsakos (to judge from its location, _not_ the famous Lampsacus in the northern Troad). From childhood onward he exercised a gift of healing humans and their farm animals. Growing fame caused him to be brought before the emperor Gordian III, whose daughter he then cured of demonic possession. While still a young man he was martyred at Nicaea in the Decian persecution (250-251), undergoing various torments and either finally being decapitated or else giving up his soul when he was about to be decapitated. Buried in his native village, his body continued to work miracles. Thus far the legend. Always regarded as a healing saint, Tryphon later became a patron of domestic husbandry, gardening, and viticulture. The agricultural aspect of his cult (in which he is widely viewed as a protector of crops and of harvested grain) can be seen in the prayer to him against insect pests preserved in the eleventh-century glagolitic _Euchologium Sinaiticum_ as well as in the prayers to similar effect transmitted, with accretions over time, in euchologia of the Greek church.

In the early Middle Ages there were at least six churches in Tryphon's honor in Constantinople. In the eighth and ninth centuries (at least) there was a monastery dedicated to him on Cape Akritas near Chalcedon; one of the sermons of emperor Leo VI (d. 912) is devoted to him. Not surprisingly, Tryphon also had a cult in Nicaea; this experienced increased prominence in the thirteenth century when Nicaea was the capital of Lascarid emperors of the Romans. Theodore II Doucas Lascaris (ruled, 1254-1258), who was born in Nicaea, was especially devoted to Tryphon, whom he credited with saving his life during a campaign against the Bulgarians. He erected a new church to him, wrote an encomium in his honor (BHG 1858d) in which the saint illustrates Theodore's programmatic depreciation of the empire's great nobility (the gooseherd Tryphon is noble by nature), and placed the saint and his lilies on imperial coinage (at Nicaea, Tryphon's body, said to have been translated from Apamea, was thought to cause lilies to bloom unseasonably on February 1st, his principal feast day).

Justinian's reconquests seem to have brought Tryphon's cult to the West, where it is attested from about 600 at Sufetula in Byzacena (now Sbeïtla in Tunisia).  At some point in the early Middle Ages he became titular of a church in Rome in the nothern Campus Martius (first attested from what seems to be the mid-tenth century, it was rebuilt in 1006, given to the Augustinians in 1287, and demolished either in the earlier sixteenth century or in about 1750). Also from the early Middle Ages come the first of a series of romance-like Latin versions of Tryphon's Passio (BHL 8336-8340d): these give him a companion in martyrdom, the centurion Respicius, whose putative relics were said to repose along with those of Tryphon in the latter's church in Rome. In Latin-rite and medievally partly Romance-speaking coastal former Illyricum relics of Tryphon are thought to have been brought to the now Montenegrin port of Kotor in 809. Its originally twelfth-century cathedral dedicated to Tryphon was said in 1166 to have replaced a predecessor built to house them after that translation. Remains of a ninth(?)-century church do exist beneath the cathedral. Herewith a few views of the latter structure, rebuilt in part after an earthquake in 1667 and restored relatively recently:


In 1227 a local merchant augmented those relics with the head of St. Tryphon, said to have been brought to Kotor from Constantinople. In 1378 Venice captured Kotor from the kingdom of Hungary but could not keep it; among the spoils brought back to the Serenissima from this exploit was a thigh bone of Tryphon subsequently housed in Venice's chiesa di San Fantino. Elsewhere in Italy, Tryphon has been venerated in farming towns of the south since at least the central Middle Ages. A major witness to the text of his pre-metaphrastic Greek Passio is the eleventh-century codex Vaticanus graecus 1608, an Italo-Greek manuscript formerly at Grottaferrata. In 1515 an arm of St. Tryphon was discovered during the demolition of a ruinous church in Cesarano, a _frazione_ of today's Tramonti (SA) in the hinterland of Amalfi.

In Kotor Tryphon's putative body and head relics are kept in the bazilika-katedrala Sv. Tripuna in the reliquaries shown here:


The body reliquary is said to be from the earlier sixteenth century. The head reliquary is partly fifteenth-century and partly seventeenth-century.

Some period-pertinent images of St. Tryphon of Phrygia:

a) as depicted (martyrdom) in the late tenth- or very early eleventh-century so-called Menologion of Basil II (Città del Vaticano, BAV, cod. Vat. gr. 1613, p. 363):


b) as depicted in a later twelfth-century fresco (ca. 1164; restored after the earthquake of 1963) in the north chapel of the church of St. Panteleimon (Pantaleon) at Gorno Nerezi (Skopje municipality) in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia:


Another view, in poorer resolution but showing the crook of Tryphon's pastoral staff:


c) as depicted in the late twelfth-century mosaics of the basilica cattedrale di Santa Maria Nuova in Monreale:


d) as portrayed in relief (at left, betw. two lilies [fleurs-de-lys]) on a mid-thirteenth-century coin (1255-1256; an aspron trachy) struck by the Nicene emperor Theodore II Doucas Lascaris):


e) as depicted in a later thirteenth-century fresco (betw. 1263 and 1270; alternatively, 1270-1272) in the chapel of St. Symeon Nemanja in the monastery church of the Holy Trinity at Sopoćani (Raška dist.) in southern Serbia:


Detail view:


f) as depicted (at right; at left, St. Procopius of Caesarea) in a later thirteenth-century fresco (betw. 1263 and 1270; alternatively, 1270-1272) in the chapel of St. George in the monastery church of the Holy Trinity at Sopoćani (Raška dist.) in southern Serbia:


g) as depicted (at left; at right, St. Mamas of Caesarea) in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. 1313 and 1318; conservation work in 1968) by Michael Astrapas and Eutychios in the church of St. George at Staro Nagoričane in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia:


h) as depicted (bottom panel, left and center: martyrdom; at right, St. Vendemianus of Bithynia) in an earlier fourteenth-century pictorial menologion from Thessaloniki (betw. 1322 and 1340: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Gr. th. f. 1, fol. 27r):


i) as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century fresco (1330s) 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:


j) as depicted in two successive miniatures in an earlier fourteenth-century copy  of books 9-16 of Vincent of Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ in its French-language vision by Jean de Vignay (ca. 1335; Paris, BnF, ms. Arsenal 5080):

1) curing the emperor's daughter (fol. 176r):


2) martyrdom (fol. 176v):


k) as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century fresco (betw. 1335 and 1350) in the nave 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 view:


l) as depicted (at far right, above St. Paul) in a probably mid-fourteenth-century fresco (1340s) in the nave of the church of the Panagia Phorbiotissa at Asinou near Nikitari (Nicosia prefecture) in the Republic of Cyprus:


m) as portrayed in relief (scenes from his Passio) on the historiated frieze of the later fourteenth-century ciborium (ca. 1362?) in the bazilika-katedrala Sv. Tripuna in Kotor:




n) as depicted in two successive miniatures in a later fourteenth-century copy (ca. 1370-1380) of Vincent of Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Nouvelle acquisition française 15941, fols. 53v, 54r):

1) curing the emperor's daughter (fol. 53v):


2) martyrdom (fol. 54r):


o) as portrayed in relief (at right; at left, king Louis I of Hungary)on two later fourteenth-century dinars (between 1370 and 1382) from Kotor:



p) as depicted in a late fourteenth-century fresco (later 1380s?) in the narthex of the church of the Holy Ascension at the Ravanica monastery near Ćuprija in Serbia:


q) as portrayed in relief (at center, third register from bottom; holding a model of Kotor) by John of Basel and local Montenegrin silversmiths in the great earlier fourteenth-century silver gilt altarpiece (1437) in the bazilika-katedrala Sv. Tripuna in Kotor:


Another view, in poorer lighting but expandable to much higher resolution:


r) as depicted (holding a model of Kotor) by a follower of Antonio Vivarini in a mid-fifteenth-century panel painting (1451) on the upper floor of the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni in Venice (grayscale view):


Distance view, in color (to the viewer's right of the altar):


s) as portrayed (at left, holding a model of Kotor; at right, St. Bernardino of Siena) in a later fifteenth-century relief in that city's Sea Gate (or West Gate):



t) as depicted (curing the emperor's daughter) by Vittore Carpaccio in an early sixteenth-century painting (1507?) on the ground floor of Venice's Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni:


Detail view (Tryphon; demon):


u) as depicted in a sixteenth-century icon in the Dionysiou monastery on Mt. Athos:


v) as depicted (martyrdom) in the mid-sixteenth-century frescoes (1546/47) by George / Tzortzis the Cretan in the Dionysiou monastery on Mt. Athos:



John Dillon


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