medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

On Wednesday, January 5, 2005, at 1:02 pm, Phyllis wrote:

> 8. January is the feast day of:

> Severinus of Noricum (d. c. 480)  Severinus was either a Roman or an
> African.  He spent years as a hermit in the east before going to
> Noricum (Austria) as a missionary.  He was famous for preaching and
> prophecy.

Today's well known saint from the Regno has been in Campania since the
late fifth century, when his younger colleague Eugippius brought his
remains to the vicinity of Naples and laid them to rest in the monastery
he founded here at the Castrum Lucullanum (located at what's now
Pizzofalcone well within the city limits of modern Naples).  E.'s _Vita
sancti Severini_, our base document for what is known or inferred about
S., was written here early in the next century; this, as several
scholars have recently argued (in Walter Pohl und Maximilian
Diesenberger, eds., _Eugippius und Severin: der Autor, der Text, und der
Heilige [Wien: Verlag der
Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2001]), reflects local
ecclesiastical and other concerns and as such is part and parcel of the
history of southern Italy at this time.

E. remained on Pizzofalcone until 902, when local Benedictines
transferred his remains to their newly built monastery on the Monterone
in Naples proper, close to what is thought to have been the site of the
ducal palace.  With the translation hither a few years later of the
local saint Sossius (sometimes also called Sosius; a companion of St.
Januarius previously interred at Miseno), the monastery became known as
that of Saints Severinus and Sossius; for many centuries an important
center of culture, it also helped to spread Severinus' cult within the
region.  Rebuilt under the Angevins, it underwent further major
renovation in the late fifteenth century, at which time was also made
for it the spectacular Polyptych of Saints Severinus and Sossius (now in
Naples' Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte), whose center panel depicting
Severinus is shown here:

An earlier depiction of S. is this (ca. 1300; from an altarpiece now in
Florence), showing him curing a woman afflicted with epilepsy:

In 1806 the monastery was secularized and in 1807 the remains of
Severinus and Sossius were formally translated to nearby Fratta (now
Frattamaggiore [NA]), where they remain today in the thirteenth-century
church of San Sossio, shown here with its baroque facade and
sixteenth-century belltower:
This church, an Italian national monument said to go back in part to the
ninth century, was gutted by fire in 1945 and has been restored in the
interior to a "romanesque" look.

In 1835 the monastery in Naples became the site of the Royal Archives
(now the Archivio di Stato in that city).

At least four towns in the territory of the former Regno take their
names from S., sometimes indirectly: San Severino Mercato (SA), San
Severino Lucano (PT), San Severino di Centola (SA), and San Severo (FG).

San Severino Mercato (previously Rota and then San Severino Rota), the
seat first of a Lombard gastaldate and then of the kingdom's counts of
Marsico, had a castle named after S. from the eleventh century on; a
famous thirteenth-century inhabitant was Thomas Aquinas' sister Teodora,
frequently (if slightly incorrectly) referred
to as the "countess of San Severino."  The name of the castle seems to
have become attached to adjacent Rota in the twelfth century; in due
course it also became the family name of the counts, who in the later
Middle Ages created within the kingdom a San Severino state, one of
whose capitals was San Severino Rota/Mercato.  In the fifteenth century
a branch of the family became princes of Bisignano in Calabria and in
1495 one of the latter gave to a Cistercian house in the Basilicata
territory on which arose a farming village.  Named "San Severino" in
recognition of this donation, this was the nucleus of today's San
Severino Lucano.

San Severo (FG), in the northern Capitanata, appears both as "Sanctus
Severinus" and as "Sanctus Severus" in documents from the twelfth
century onward; it took a long time for the latter to become the
dominant name form.  Its thirteenth-century parish church (once
Benedictine) of San Severino replaced a predecessor by 1224, was
significantly expanded and embellished late in the same century (using
building stone and decor from a nearby former palace of Frederick II),
and in the fifteenth century was briefly a cathedral.  Heavily damaged
by the earthquake of 1627, it was rebuilt in baroque style; starting in
the 1970s it underwent a series of exterior renovations "restoring" its
medieval facades.  Now imperilled by emissions from a
nearby power plant, it is shown here in several views.

Main facade, lower portion said to be early thirteenth-century work:
TinyURL for this:
Transept facade (after 1295):
TinyURL for this:
(That's supposed to be Benedict of Nursia between two angels over the
Also after 1295:
(The sculpture here is variously thought to represent either Severinus
or Frederick II.)
The lower sections of the belltower are also medieval:

San Severino di Centola, in the Cilento, is said to have been a
Norman-period foundation.  Abandoned for some fifty years now, the
modern houses of this so-called "medieval" village are an attractive
tourist destination:
The structure on the far left in these views is the former baronial
palace (early modern).
But the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, whose crypt has been
proposed for restoration, may be medieval in origin.  A front view is here:
And the castle (or what remains of it) is certainly so: 

Bibliographic information on Knoell's CSEL edition of Eugippius' _Vita
sancti Severini_ (1886) and on Mommsen's edition of the same work in the
MGH (1898) will be found here:
On the same page is a translation of a medieval Sapphic hymn in honor of
S. as patron of Naples transmitted in a hymnary that until relatively
recently was thought to have come from the monastery of Saints Severinus
and Sossius at Naples but is now considered to be of central Italian
(Roman-Umbrian) origin.

Happy feast of St. Severinus of Noricum and Naples,
John Dillon

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