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FEAST - A Saint for the Day (July 11): St. Benedict of Nursia and Montecassino


John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>


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


Mon, 11 Jul 2016 08:21:53 +0000





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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

St. Benedict of Nursia (d. ca. 550), the earlier sixth-century founder of the abbey of Montecassino and the author of the monastic Rule that bears his name, needs no introduction to the learned of this list.  Today (11. July) is his feast day in the general Roman Calendar (in the revisions of 1969 it was moved from the very traditional 21. March, a day that always falls during Lent).  

Some period-pertinent images of St. Benedict of Nursia and of Montecassino:

a) as depicted (at right, flanking Christ in a mandorla; at left, St. Gregory the Great) in a pen and ink drawing in a very late tenth- or very early eleventh-century copy of Gregory's Homilia in Ezechiel formerly in the abbey of Fleury (Orléans, Médiathèque, ms. 175, p. 149):


Detail view (Benedict):


b) as depicted (at left; at right: other monks, one holding the Rule) in an earlier eleventh-century Psalms and prayers (prob. before 1023; London, BL, MS Arundel 155, fol. 133r):


Description and detail view:


c) as depicted (curing the boy afflicted with leprosy) in a mid- to later eleventh-century fresco in Rome's chiesa di San Crisogono a Trastevere:


d) as depicted (at left; at right the BVM and Christ Child) in a mid- to later eleventh-century fresco in the lower church of Rome's basilica di San Clemente:


e) as portrayed on two later eleventh- or early twelfth-century capitals in the transept of the abbey church of Fleury at Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire (Loiret):

1) at left, in the miracle of the peasant's dead son:


2) at left, in the incident of his temptation of the flesh:


3) at right, disrobing and entering thorny vegetation in order to avoid that temptation:


f) as depicted (explaining his Rule to St. Maurus) in a full-page illumination at the beginning of a twelfth-century copy of the _Regula Sancti Benedicti_ (Cambrai, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 829, fol. 54v):


A clearer view (grayscale):


g) as thrice depicted in a twelfth-century Benedictine miscellany from the Stift Sankt Lambrecht in the Steiermark (Graz, Universitätsbibliothek, cod. 325):

1) in thorny vegetation; at lower left: portrait (fol. 8r):


2) between Sts. Maurus and Placidus (fol. 9r):


h) as portrayed (at right, in the incident of his temptation of the flesh) on an earlier twelfth-century nave capital (ca. 1125) in the basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine at Vézelay:


i) as depicted (delivering his Rule to St. Maurus and other monks) in an earlier twelfth-century copy of the _Regula Sancti Benedicti_ from the abbaye de St.-Gilles at today's Saint-Gilles-du-Gard (1129; London, BL, MS Add. 16979, fol. 21v):


j) as depicted (between two monks) at the beginning of a mid-twelfth-century copy of the _Regula Sancti Benedicti_ (ca. 1151; Paris, BnF, ms. Nouvelle acquisition latine 214, fol. 116r):


k) as depicted (at table with St. Scholastica during her final visit) 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. 32r):


l) as depicted in a thirteenth-century fresco in the monastero (del Sacro Speco) di San Benedetto in Subiaco (RO) in Lazio:


m) as depicted (at center, betw. Sts. Constantine / Cyril and Methodius) in a retouched, originally thirteenth-century fresco in the chiesa di San Pietro in Assisi:


n) as depicted (portrait and scenes with Sts. Maurus and Placidus) in a set of thirteenth-century frescoes flanking a window in the lower church of the monastero (del Sacro Speco) di San Benedetto in Subiaco (RO) in Lazio:

1) portrait:


2) he receives poisoned bread:


3) he instructs a crow to take the bread away:


The ensemble:


o) as portrayed on a thirteenth-century enameled copper plaque from Limoges in the Czartoryski Museum in Kraków:


p) as depicted in an early thirteenth-century fresco revealed by Allied bombing in 1944 in an apsidiole of the chiesa del Crocefisso in Cassino (FR) in southern Lazio and now in the cappella di Sant'Anna at the abbey of Montecassino:

Before restoration:


As recently restored (at center in this distance image; at left, St. Maurus; at right, St. Scholastica):


q) as depicted (main panel at upper right) by Margaritone of Arezzo in a mid-thirteenth-century panel painting of the BVM and Christ Child Enthroned with Four Saints (ca. 1240-1245) in the National Gallery of Art in Washington:


r) as portrayed in relief (scenes from his life; at center, the Baptism of Christ) on a mid-thirteenth-century altarpiece from the abbey of St. Denis (ca. 1250-1260), now in the Musée National du Moyen Age (Musée Cluny) in Paris:


Detail view:


s) as depicted (instructing monks) at the beginning of a later thirteenth-century copy (betw. 1267 and 1278) of the _Regula Sancti Benedicti_ (Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 12834, fol. 104r):


t) as depicted (at left; at right, St. John the Baptist) in a late thirteenth-century (_aliter_: fourteenth-century) fresco in the rupestrian chiesa di Santa Lucia alle Malve in Matera (MT) in Basilicata:


Detail views (Benedict):



u) as depicted (instructing Caesarius of Heisterbach) at the outset of an earlier fourteenth-century copy of Caesarius' _Dialogus miraculorum_ (Düsseldorf, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek, Hs. C27, fol. 2r):


v) as depicted (upper register, at left) in a March calendar composition in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. ca. 1312 and ca. 1321/22) of the monastery church of the Theotokos at Gračanica in, depending upon one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:


w) as depicted (at table with St. Scholastica during her final visit) in the mid- to later fourteenth-century Breviary of King Charles V (betw. 1347 and 1380; Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 1052, fol. 344v):


x) as depicted (at left; at center, a pope St. Sixtus [probably Sixtus II]; at right, St. Proculus of Bologna) by Simone di Filippo (a.k.a. Simone dei Crocefissi) in a panel from a dismembered later fourteenth-century altarpiece (ca. 1380) in the Museo di Santo Stefano in Bologna:


y) as depicted (at right; at left St. Andrew) by Agnolo Gaddi on a late fourteenth-century altarpiece of the BVM and Christ Child with Saints (shortly before 1387) in the National Gallery of Art in Washington:


z) as depicted (scenes) by Spinello Aretino in his late fourteenth-century frescoes (1388) in the sacristy of the basilica di San Miniato al Monte in Florence:


aa) as depicted 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. 85v):


bb) as depicted (with St. Scholastica at table during her final visit) by a fifteenth-century Umbrian master working in the upper church of the monastero (del Sacro Speco) di San Benedetto in Subiaco (RO) in Lazio:



cc) as depicted (at table with St. Scholastica during her final visit) as depicted in an early fifteenth-century copy of the Legenda aurea in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay followed by the Festes nouvelles attributed to Jean Golein (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 242, fol. 295v):


dd) as depicted (his vision of St. Scholastica's soul ascending to heaven) in an early fifteenth-century fresco in the upper church of the monastero (del Sacro Speco) di San Benedetto in Subiaco (RO) in Lazio:


ee) as depicted (at right, directing St. Maurus to save St. Placidus from drowning) by Giovanni di Consalvo in the earlier fifteenth-century frescoes (later 1430s) of the Chiostro degli Aranci in the Badia di Firenze in Florence:


ff) as depicted by Beato Angelico in a detail of his mid-fifteenth-century fresco of the Crucifixion and Saints (early 1440s) in the chapter room of the convento (now Museo nazionale) di San Marco in Florence:


The ensemble:


gg) as depicted (at left, directing St. Maurus to save St. Placidus from drowning) by Filippo Lippi in a mid-fifteenth-century panel painting (ca. 1440-1450) in the National Gallery of Art, Washington:



hh) as depicted by Andrea Mantegna in a panel of his mid-fifteenth-century St. Luke Altarpiece (commissioned, 1453) in the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan:


The ensemble:


ii) as depicted (at left; deep in conversation with St. Scholastica) in a later fifteenth-century copy, with illuminations by a Flemish master, of the Legenda aurea in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay followed by the Festes nouvelles attributed to Jean Golein (ca. 1470; Mâcon, Médiathèque municipale, ms. 3, fol. 146v):


jj) as depicted by Antonello da Messina in a panel of his later fifteenth-century polyptych of St. Gregory the Great (1473) in the Museo regionale di Messina:


kk) as depicted (right margin at top) in a hand-colored woodcut in the Beloit College copy of Hartmann Schedel's late fifteenth-century _Weltchronik_ (_Nuremberg Chronicle_; 1493) at fol. CXLIIIIr:


ll) as depicted (second from right, presenting one of the founders) by Thomas of Villach in a late fifteenth-century fresco (1493) in the abbey church at Sankt Paul im Lavanttal (Land Kärnten):


mm) as portrayed (at far left; at far right, St. Scholastica) by Michel Erhart in a polychromed and gilt wooden statue in the central compartment of the late fifteenth-century principal altarpiece (1493-1494) in the church of the former Benedictine abbey at Blaubeuren (Alb-Donau Kreis) in Baden-Württemberg:


Detail view (Benedict at left; at right, St. John the Baptist):


The altarpiece as a whole:


nn) as depicted (at left, flanking the BVM; at right, St. Quintinus [Quentin] of Vermand) by Francesco Marmitta in a very late fifteenth- or early sixteenth-century panel painting (ca. 1500-1505) in the Musée du Louvre in Paris:



oo) as depicted (at left; at right, St. Godehard) in an earlier sixteenth-century glass window panel (1527) in the choir of the Kirche St. Maria in Auhausen (Lkr. Donau-Ries) in Bavaria:


pp) as depicted (at left; at right St. Scholastica; at center, the BVM and Christ Child) by the workshop of the Sparapane in a remounted earlier sixteenth-century fresco (1528) in the cattedrale di Santa Maria Argentea in Norcia (PG) in Umbria:



John Dillon


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