medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (10. March) is the feast day of:

1)  Macarius (d. prob. shortly before 334).  M. was bishop of Jerusalem during the Council of Nicaea.  According to Eusebius (_Vita Constantini_ 3. 28), he found the Holy Sepulchre and was ordered by Constantine to erect an impressive church on the site.  In legend, he assisted St. Helena in the finding of the True Cross.

The Constantinian basilica of the Holy Sepulchre and its adjacent Rotunda over the Sacred Tomb are depicted in the sixth-century mosaic map of Jerusalem shown here:

2)  Simplicius, pope (d. 483).  A native of Tivoli, S. succeeded pope St. Hilar(i)us in 468.  Although we know of a couple of actions in which he asserted the authority of Rome in the West, the bulk of his extra-Roman activity concerned Eastern matters.  S. was a committed defender of Chalcedonian orthodoxy against the monophysites, whom he opposed at every turn.  But when it came to the twenty-eighth canon of the Council of Chalcedon, which had elevated the patriarch of Constantinople to a position of _primus inter pares_ in the East, S.'s basic position was different.  He refused Leo II's request that he confirm this canon and reproved the patriarch Acacius when the latter acted on his own authority to consecrate a patriarch of Antioch to succeed the murdered Stephen II.

In Rome, S. erected a church, no longer extant, to St. Bibiana.  He also built today's Santo Stefano al (Monte) Celio, a.k.a. Santo Stefano Rotondo.  Originally designed in the form of a Greek cross enclosing within its arms three concentric circles, each higher than the next, in its outline and dimensions this church recalls the Rotunda of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem.  Considerably modified over time, it is now dedicated to St. Stephen of Hungary.  A few illustrated, English-language accounts of it are here:
and an illustrated, Italian-language one is here:

Some exterior views:
Some interior views (fairly recent but preceding the current restoration) :
A view of the rotunda from this past September:

3)  Attala of Bobbio (d. 626 or 627).  A. was the son of a Burgundian noble who had him classically educated by the bishop of Gap in the French Alps.  We know about him from his Vita by Jonas of Bobbio  (BHL 742).  Unhappy with his "worldly" studies, A. stole away from Gap along with two servants and became a monk at Lérins.  Finding life there insufficiently strict, he next entered Columban's recently founded monastery of Luxeuil.  When Columban ran into difficulty with the Burgundian bishops and the Burgundian monarchy and was forced to leave Luxeuil, A. joined other members of the community in following him into northern Italy, where in 614 they established their influential monastery at Bobbio in the Appennines southwest of Piacenza.  A. succeeded Columban as abbot and made himself unpopular with some through his insistence on strict discipline.

According to Jonas, while abbot A. also raised from the dead a monk killed on the orders of the demonically possessed Lombard king Arioald (an Arian) and followed this up by curing A. of his possession.

4)  Wirnto of Vornbach (Blessed; d. 1127).  W. had been a monk at St. Blasien in the Black Forest and prior at Göttweig in Niederösterreich before becoming, in 1108, the second abbot at Vornbach (Vormbach, Formbach) in today's Neuhaus am Inn near Passau.  In 1125 he bought from the count of Vornbach a castle that had formerly served as the comital residence.  Moving the monastery to this site, he built an impressive basilica which he dedicated to the BVM.  According to his late twelfth-century Vita formerly ascribed to Gerhoh of Reichersberg (BHL 8972), W. was also a thaumaturge, operating several miracles including turning water into wine.  He was beatified in the thirteenth century.

John Dillon

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