medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (4. March) is the feast day of:

1)  Appianus of Comacchio (also Apianus; d. 8th cent., supposedly).  A. is a poorly documented saint of the Po delta.  According to his brief, undated Vita (BHL 619, preserved in one ms. of the mid-eleventh to mid-twelfth century), he was a monk at Pavia's San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro, where he was exemplary in his behavior towards monks, clerics, and lay people and where he secretly practiced mortification of the flesh.  Made steward, he was an effective and prudent manager of his monastery's goods.  His abbot sent him to today's Comacchio (FE) in Emilia-Romagna to acquire salt for his monastery.  There he built himself a cell and spent the remainder of his life as a simple hermit, exercising his many virtues (and, as he seems not to have been replaced, presumably continuing to serve as his monastery's agent for the purchase of salt).

When A. died he was buried by the locals.  Miracles occurred at his grave, a cult sprang up, and his remains were translated to a church erected in his honor.  Much later, people from Pavia who had come to buy salt attempted to steal A.'s relics.  But their vessel miraculously halted near a church of St. Maur; since it would go no farther, A.'s relics were removed and interred in that church.  Thus far the Vita.  It is unknown what connection, if any, A. might have with the chapel of St. Ap(p)ianus at Pavia's rebuilt San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro in which St. Augustine's relics were said to have been rediscovered in the thirteenth century.

2)  Peter of Cava (d. 1123).  Today's less well known saint of the Regno was the third abbot of the monastery of the Most Holy Trinity at today's Cava de' Tirreni (SA) in Campania.  According to Peter (II) of Venosa's Vita of the first four abbots (formerly ascribed to Hugh of Venosa), P. was a Salernitan noble and a nephew of the founder, St. Alferius.  He entered religion at Cava while still a youth and had made considerable spiritual progress under A.'s immediate successor, St. Leo of Cava, when he left first to become a hermit and later to improve himself at Cluny, where he spent five years.  When P. returned to Salerno, prince Gisulf II made him bishop of Policastro, a former East Roman coastal outpost in the south of the principality.

After two years of pastoral service at Policastro P. returned to Cava, where he became the now elderly St. Leo's second-in-command.  An attempt to introduce Cluniac reform produced such resistance that P. again withdrew from Cava and founded a community more to his liking in the Cilento (the topographically rugged area just south of the Gulf of Salerno).  He was recalled to Cava shortly before St. Leo died in 1079, succeeded him as abbot, introduced reform successfully, and used his connections to enrich the abbey with properties in various parts of the now Norman-ruled south.  It is estimated that before he died at the age of eighty-five he had enrolled over three thousand monks in the Cavensian community.

P. was responsible for the rebuilding of the abbey church, consecrated in 1092 by Urban II, whom P. had known at Cluny.  Subsequent expansion and rebuilding has vastly altered the abbey's appearance, but in the parts closest to the mountain (Monte Finestre, a.k.a. Monte Pertuso) against one of whose flanks it is built there are notable medieval survivals.  Though perhaps slightly later, the east side of the cloister may be from P.'s tenure as abbot:

These views will provide some idea of the position of the cloister vis-a-vis the mountain:

This view of the crypt is much as P. would have seen it (though the lighting is better and those shallow steps are of course modern):  

P.'s cult was confirmed in 1893.  He is the patron saint of Policastro (SA) in southern Campania.

3)  Casimir of Poland (d. 1484).   The very pious C. (Kazimierz) was a younger son of king Casimir IV of Poland and of his queen, Elizabeth of Austria.  After an unsuccessful campaign in 1471 against his fellow claimant for the throne of Hungary, Matthias Corvinus, the thirteen-year-old prince turned to a predominantly spiritual life while holding high official positions.  C. is said to have declined marriage in 1481 to a daughter of the emperor Frederick III because he wished to remain celibate.  After a stint as regent in Poland proper while his father was in the Lithuanian part of the realm, C. served as governor of Vilnius in 1483.  He was at the Lithuanian court at Grodno in today's Belarus when in 1484 he became gravely ill; accounts differ as to whether he died there or, very shortly afterward, at Vilnius.

C. was canonized in 1602.  In 1636 Urban VIII proclaimed him Lithuania's patron saint.  C., whose remains now repose in Vilnius' cathedral, is also one of Poland's patron saints and the patron of numerous Roman Catholic dioceses in Poland as well as of the Roman Catholic diocese of Grodno.  A portrait of C. from 1520 is reproduced here:

John Dillon

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