medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

At 05:30 PM 5/21/2004 -0700, Phyllis wrote:
>Today (22. May) is the feast day of:
>Julia of Corsica (5th cent.)  A nice legend tells that Julia was a
>Carthaginian noblewoman, sold as a slave by the Vandals.  She was
>being taken to Gaul, but the ship was wrecked on Corsica.  A
>non-Christian religious festival was going on at the time, and J.
>refused to take part.  So they crucified her on the northern tip of
>the island.  She's the patron saint of Corsica.

Julia is one of many saints from Italian coastal areas with a fictive past
in distant Africa.  In her case, the legend appears to originate not in
Corsica but at Gorgona, an island in the Tuscan Archipelago approximately
37 km. distant from today's Livorno: monks here, apprised by mournful
angels of the crucifixion that had just taken place, sailed to the Corsican
shore, took J.'s corpse down from her crucifix, brought her to Gorgona with
miraculous speed in the face of a strong contrary wind, and there embalmed
her and placed her in a tomb.  In one version, the legend itself is
ascribed to angelic authorship.

In the early 760s Ansa, wife of the Lombard king Desiderius (who had
previously been duke of Tuscany and may thus have become aware of local
veneration of this saint), is said to have had Julia's relics translated to
Brescia, where they were interred in the abbey church of San Salvatore at
the time of the latter's consecration by pope Paul I.  This translation in
turn has recently been pronounced fictional, with the start of J.'s major
cult at Brescia being effectively re-dated to the ninth or tenth century
(in the Renaissance the abbey was greatly expanded and became known as
Santa Giulia).  The hymns from her office here are among the monuments of
medieval liturgical poetry from Italy.  J. is also patron of Livorno.

See now Giancarlo Andenna, ed., _Culto e storia in Santa Giulia_ (Brescia:
Grafo, 2001), esp. the articles by Gabriel Silagi on the Passio and hymns
and by Gian Pietro Brogiolo on the history of J.'s cult at Brescia).

Visuals of San Salvatore at Brescia:

>Humilitas (d. 1310)  Humilitas was from Faenza.  She was married off
>at age 15; her husband got religion nine years later when he was very
>ill and the two of them decided to give up marriage and take to the
>religious life.  H. became a hermit near the Vollombrosan monastery
>of St. Apollinaris where her husband was a monk.  Later she was sent
>to found and govern the first two houses of Vallombrosan nuns.  Her
>cult was confirmed in 1720.

Humility's cult was confirmed in 1720 for the Vallombrosans and in 1721 for
the dioceses of Faenza and of Florence (the site of her second Vallombrosan
house).  She was equivalently canonized in 1948.

I don't know where the business of H.'s having been "sent" to found these
houses comes from.  Her Latin Life ascribes these activities to her own
initiative.  See Adele Simonetti, ed., Le Vite di Umilta' da Faenza:
agiografica trecentesca dal latino al volgare_, Per verba: testi
mediolatini con traduzione, no. 8 (Florence: SISMEL - Edizioni del
Galluzzo, 1997).

John Dillon

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