medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

On Thursday, October 11, 2007, at 4:25 am, Henk wrote:

> You wrote:
> >We know practically nothing about the historic Sergius.  The standard
> > account (already present in his probably mid-fifth-century early 
> > Passio, BHG
> > 1624) is that he was beheaded.  The Lance is a "weapon" that is said 
> > to have
> > dropped miraculously from the sky on the night of S.'s martyrdom. 
> But do you mean the lance (or weapon) dropped out of the 
> sky in
> AD 305 or somewhere in the 13th c. Or was it a 13th c interpretation 
> of a
> 4th c lance (or weapon)? I get a bit confused.

The story in Trieste, which of course has variants and which of course I don't believe for a second, is that it dropped out of the sky at Trieste (in at least one anachronistic account, in front of the cathedral) either on a clear day at the moment that Sergius was executed or on the night after his execution.  That would be in ca. 305.

When the story arose is not clear to me.  It _might_ be in the Legendary of Petrus Calo (of Chioggia; d. 1348) but I've only read it in texts of the seventeenth century and later.

The object depicted on the arms of Trieste is called the Lancia di San Sergio in the city's statutes of 1350, where it is also illustrated in a miniature.  This is said to be an illustration of that miniature (after how many redrawings??):
If that drawing is even fairly accurate, it would seem to be a very early illustration of a corsesca.  The physical object kept in the cathedral treasury and variously called the Lancia or the Alabarda of San Sergio is, as far as I know, undated.  From the views I've seen of it, it is shaped rather like its representation on the modern arms of Trieste:
An object very like it is said to be depicted on Tergestine coinage going back to the mid-thirteenth century.

> And why in Trieste? Was he
> born there? Incidentally: Van der Linden (which I mentioned yesterday) 
> does
> not have any connection between Trieste and St Sergius; maybe its size 
> is
> still not large enough to hold information like that.

The story in Trieste (again, I have not seen this documented earlier than the seventeenth century) is that Sergius had served for a long time at Trieste before being transferred to the East, which is where his Passio takes place (mostly, at least, in Syria).  It was not unusual for medieval churches of the northern Adriatic to adopt and to legendarily localize martyrs who previously had had no connection with the city in question.  For example, Trieste produced variants of the legends of St. Euphemia and St. Thecla in which these ladies were said to have been citizens of Trieste; it also claimed to possess their relics.  Similar variants existed for Aquileia and for Rovinj (Rovigno) in Istria.   

I haven't seen the Van der Linden but my guess is that once it gets away from saints of NW Europe (which is where its readership is located) it quickly ceases to be exhaustive.  And even much larger sources such as the 12-volume _Bibliotheca Sanctorum_ are selective in reporting local variants.

> > I put quotes around "weapon" because it's apparently a symbolic one 
> > only:
>  >according to Tamaro, the object preserved in the cathedral treasury of
> > Trieste is likely always to have been ornamental.    
> I'm also curious to know what is meant by an 'ornamental' weapon. A real
> weapon used as a symbol for somethinmg else? A specially made weapon, 
> not
> meant to fight with, but as a symbol for something? Something thatís 
> not a
> weapon at all, but is called a ceremonial weapon?

Tamaro was of the opinion that the shaft and projections of the object in the cathedral treasury were really too slender for it to have been an ordinary weapon.  He therefore concluded that the Lancia (later, Alabarda) di San Sergio was fashioned in the shape of a weapon but was really intended only for display purposes.  I'd have to see other corsesca points from the area before I accepted that.        

And that, I think, is enough on this.

John Dillon

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