medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

On Sun, 04 Jul 2004 16:50:30 -0700 Phyllis wrote:

>Today (5. July) is the feast day of:

>Dominica (d. c. 303)  Dominica was a martyr of Tropea (Campania).
>Her legend tells that she went around destroying cult statues in the
>town, for which she was sentenced to be thrown to the beasts.  The
>beasts refused to have anything to do with her in the arena, so the
>authorities had her beheaded instead.

On what calendar is D. listed for 5. July?  Has her day been changed recently?  The Italian sources I usually consult (not having a recent edition of the _Martyrologium Romanum_ to hand_) follow D.'s Latin Life in giving her both her _dies natalis_ and her liturgical feast as 6. July.  So do several seemingly current touristic sites from Tropea.

Tropea is in southern Calabria; any source that places it in Campania is simply not credible.  The Latin Life (a brief set of breviary readings from Tropea of uncertain date; first attested to in the work of the 16th-century Messinese hagiographer Francesco Maurolico) makes D. a Campanian by birth and is silent about the place of her martyrdom.  According to this document angels conducted her soul to heaven and brought her body miraculously to Tropea.  The undated but seemingly rather late Greek Life is silent about her place of birth or residence (though it does give her parents Greek names, Dorotheus and Cyriaca, the latter being the Greek equivalent of Dominica) and says nothing about her place of martyrdom but notes, curiously, that the  official who had her put to death was of Campanian origin.  Maurolico placed her martyrdom in Campania; Baronio and Ughelli followed suit.

What legend says that D. "went around destroying cult statues"?  Both the Latin Life and the Greek have her destroying cult idols only once, in a temple where she had been taken to be executed after having refused to sacrifice to pagan gods and after having withstood various torments already.  It is only after this incident that she is thrown to the beasts and that is presented simply as another form of failed execution, D. already being under sentence of death.

Both lives present D. as a young woman who is denounced as a Christian, while her parents either remain free and encourage her to make the required cult sacrifice (Greek Life) or else are sent into exile (Latin Life).  D. declines to do this, is brought before Diocletian, infuriates him by persisting in her refusal of idoloatry, and then is sentenced to death, whereupon the aforementioned round of execution attempts gets under way.  The story's similarity to that of Cyriaca of Nicomedia, together with the similarity of these saints' names, has led many to suspect that this is a latinized version of a cult of someone named Cyriaca for which C. of Nicomedia's acta have been adapted and to which a particular localization in southern Italy has been added.

Medievally, Tropea was a Roman coastal fortress (Belisarius was there in 535, towards the start of the Justinianic reconquest of Italy) until the ninth century, when it fell for a while into Muslim hands (Nicephorus Phocas regained it for the empire in 890) and again until the eleventh century, when it became part of Roger I's domains during the Norman-led conquest of Byzantine Calabria.  It has a twelfth-century cathedral that has been much rebuilt after after various earthquakes and that was restored to a "Norman" appearance in the 1920s.

An Italian-language webpage (with photographs) on the cathedral is here:

The "Mondes Normands" site has four enlargeable photos of the cathedral here (on a page curiously labled "Abruzzes"):

Other photographs of Tropea's cathedral are here:

The last three above are from this collection of photographs of Tropea:

John Dillon

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