medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (3. October) is the feast day of:

Julian of Palermo (Bl.; d. 1470).  The Sicilian Benedictine Giuliano
Mayali (also spelled Majali), a member of a prominent Palermitan family,
was a champion of public health at home, an accomplished diplomat
overseas, and the founder of a hermitage ancestral to one of modern
Italy's many Marian sanctuaries.  J. is credited with both the petition
leading to the establishment of Palermo's central hospital (1429) and
the latter's initial set of regulations (1442).  He also served Alfonso
V (of Aragon) and I (of Sicily) as an ambassador to Tunis five times
from 1438 to 1452.  In his later years he retired to his home monastery
of Santa Maria delle Ciambre at what is now Borgetto (PA), a town west
southwest of Monreale whose upper portion (which is where the monastery
was) overlooks the the Gulf of Castellammare.  From here he retired
further to a nearby hermitage that he built and outfitted with a private

After J.'s death, the monastery (of which the poet Teofilo Folengo
was a sixteenth-century prior) maintained the hermitage as an oratory.
Santa Maria delle Ciambre was closed in 1639; both it and the oratory
are now in ruins.  The latter's successor, the nearby Santuario della
Madonna del Romitello ["Romitello" = "piccolo romitorio", i.e. "little
hermitage"], possesses a painting of the BVM that, according to
tradition, appeared to J. while he was praying in the woods that
formerly covered this site.  More recent events caused the archdiocese
of Monreale to declare the painting miraculous (in 1896).  An aerial view
showing some of the characteristics of the local terrain is here:

J. was beatified in 1970.  He lacks an entry in the _New Catholic
Encyclopedia_, 2d ed. (Detroit: Thomson Gale, copyright 2002). 
Here's a portrait of him antedating his formal beatification but
showing the small, radiate nimbus of a _beato_:

The first home of the hospital with which J.'s name is linked was
Palermo's fourteenth-century Palazzo Sclafani (1330), granted in
run-down condition by the city in 1435.  That building's original south
side still survives.  Here's a view showing its monumental portal with
the arms of the Sclafani counts of Aderṇ surmounted by an eagle
sculpted by Bonaiuto of Pisa:
And here's a view of an upper portion of that facade:

Until 1944 a fifteenth-century depiction of the Triumph of Death graced one
of the courtyard walls of the Palazzo Sclafani.  Here's a view of this at least
regionally famous fresco now preserved in Palermo's Galleria Regionale della
Sicilia di Palazzo Abatellis:

John Dillon
(last year's post revised)

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