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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (28. September) is the feast day of:

1)   Leoba (d. 782).  The Englishwoman L. (also Lioba) was the leading female figure in the mission to Germany conducted by St. Bonaventure (to whom she was related through her mother).  Her name in Old English was Leofgyth.  L. entered the monastery at Wimborne as an oblate and was educated there.  It is not certain when she arrived in Germany: some have taken the order of material in her Vita by Rudolf of Fulda (BHL 4845) to imply that this occurred in 748.  Boniface founded a monastery for her at today's Tauberbischofsheim (Main-Tauber Kr.) in Baden-Württemberg.  There she trained women missionaries (including her relative St. Thecla of Kitzingen and St. Walburga of Heidenheim) and seems to have exercised a supervisory role over all of them as St. Sturm did for the men.

After Boniface's death L. continued to rule her monastery.  She was revered by Pepin the Short and by his sons Charlemagne and Carloman.  According to Rudolf, whose Vita (written between 822 and 836) draws on the recollections of L.'s associates, she was friendly with Charlemagne's wife Hildegard but hated life at the court.  In her old age she withdrew with a few nuns and with her Anglo-Saxon chaplain Torhthat to an estate provided for her at today's Schornsheim (Kr. Alzey-Worms) in Rheinland-Pfalz.  Today is her _dies natalis_.  Her body was translated to Fulda for burial, at first in the crypt of the main church but soon at its west porch, where miracles were reported.  In 836 or 838 L. was translated by abbot St. Rabanus Maurus to a church on the nearby Ugesberg, now the Petersberg in today's Petersberg (Kr. Fulda) in Hessen.

The church of St. Peter on the Petersberg (now also known as the Liobakirche) has been rebuilt several times, most notably in and just before 1479, the year in which the present "gothic" nave was completed and the church was reconsecrated.  Herewith a few exterior views:
http://tinyurl.com/4ue6f4
http://www.st-peter.de/peter.html
Two German-language pages on its history:
http://tinyurl.com/3h32hv
http://tinyurl.com/4l22vd
Lioba's remains were translated back to Fulda during the Peasants' War of the 1520 and were partly returned (the head or some part thereof) to St. Peter's on the Petersberg in 1995.

The Medieval Sourcebook's presentation of C. H. Talbot's English-language translation of Rudolf's Vita is here:
http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/leoba.html
Rudolf was Rabanus' successor as director of the school at Fulda and a very accomplished writer.  For those who wish to sample his Latin here (he's also the author of Rabanus' Vita), his _Vita beatae et venerabilissimae Leobae virginis_ as edited by Georg Waitz is at MGH, SS, vol. 15, pt. 1, pp. 118-131 (text at 127-131).


2)  Wenceslas (d. 935).  The very pious W. (Latin: Wenceslaus; Czech: Václav; German: Wenzel), who is said to have taken a vow of virginity, succeeded his Christian father Wratislaus (Vratislav) as duke of Bohemia.  Generally said to have been a dutiful client of the German king Henry the Fowler, he moved his dominion into the Christian and Germanic orbit of the western empire.  This state of affairs did not sit well with his non-Christian mother, who as regent had opposed the expansion of Christianity in Bohemia, and with other members of his family.  His brother Boleslaus (Boleslav) had him murdered as he was about to hear Mass at an oratory in today's Stará Boleslav (German: Altbunzlau) in the Czech Republic.  W. was buried there but was later moved by B. to a tomb in the predecessor of Prague's present cathedral of St. Vitus.

By the 980s W. was honored as a saint.  W. is a Czech national hero and a patron saint of the Czech Republic.  His hagiographic dossier is extensive.  One of his early Passiones (BHL 8821) was written at the behest of Otto II by bishop Gumpold of Mantua (d. 985).  A later one of some literary merit (BHL 8824) was written by Lawrence of Montecassino (Lawrence of Amalfi, d. 1048).  Here's a view of the dedication portrait of an early copy of Gumpold's _Passio sancti Vencezlai martyris_ now in the Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, showing W. receiving a martyr's crown from Christ while Hemma (d. 1006), wife of duke Boleslaus II, prostrates herself at his feet:
http://www.hab.de/ausstellung/ma-erzaehlt/ma01.htm
Here's a view of an illumination showing W. enthroned, from a late eleventh-century Gospels
(Codex Vyssegradensis) made, probably at Regensburg, for the Bohemian monarchy:
http://tinyurl.com/3n4ccj

Two views of the twelfth-century crypt in W.'s memorial church at Stará Boleslav:
http://tinyurl.com/5x9usy
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/1222512

Various views of W.'s chapel in Prague's cathedral of St. Vitus:
Exterior:
http://www.pbase.com/duncanburt/image/1333156
http://www.pbase.com/duncanburt/image/1333153
Interior (decor is originally of the fourteenth century):
http://tinyurl.com/2s4zxd
http://tinyurl.com/2joblk
http://old.hrad.cz/castle/svvac1v_uk.html
http://users.bigpond.net.au/paulnika/Images/Photos/photo0060.JPG

A panel portrait of W. from a mid-fourteenth-century triptych by Tommaso di Modena in the Chapel of the Holy Cross at Karl¨tejn Castle, Karl¨tejn, Czech Republic:
http://www.volny.cz/ikonaciko/vaclav.htm

Some views of the mostly fifteenth-century Stadtkirche St. Wenzel in Naumburg (Sachsen-Anhalt), a replacement for a church of the same dedication first documented from 1228:
http://tinyurl.com/4xdqcz
http://tinyurl.com/4n7ykz


Today (the last Sunday in September) is the feast day of:

3)  Greca (?).  Santa Greca (Medieval Latin: Sancta Grega; Sardinian: Sant'Arega) is honored at several places in western and in southern Sardinia but especially at Decimomannu (CA), where a monastery dedicated to her is recorded with certainty from 1363; this is probably also the monastery in the diocese of Cagliari revenues from whose abbess are recorded in the _rationes decimarum_ for 1341, 1342, and 1356-60.  A notice of the appointment of a new abbess in 1413 brings with it our first evidence for G.'s veneration as a martyr.  A Greek-language funerary inscription for a nun named Greca (one would think "Greka" but my only source for this is not so specific) is said to have been dated to the ninth century by the well known epigrapher of early Christian burials Antonio Ferrua and to be thought to have come originally from Decimomannu.

If this is so (for what it's worth, I do not find the inscription in Andre Guillou's 1996 _Recueil des inscriptions grecques médiévales d'Italie_), the nun could already have been named for a local saint or, on the other hand, her epitaph -- or that of another Greca -- could have provided the impetus for this cult.  In the early seventeenth century, though, a long-standing conflict between the archdioceses of Cagliari and of Sassari for the primacy of Sardinia led to the discovery through excavation of numerous remains of "martyrs", most of which were those of ordinary late antique Romans whose sepulchral inscriptions were misread in various ways to bring about the desired result.

In the course of this activity the archbishop of Cagliari Francisco D'Esquivel caused excavations to be undertaken in the vicinity of the parish church at Decimomannu (presumably once connected with the now vanished monastery).  These yielded a Roman-period funerary plaque of a twenty-year-old Christian named Greca who had been interred on 12. January of some year.  This perhaps not newly found inscription (it is said to have been known to bishops of Cagliari since ca. 1560) is apparently authentic (though Mommsen, thinking it might be one of the fakes from the hunt for "corpi santi", stigmatized it with an asterisk in the _Corpus inscriptionum latinarum_, where it's X. 1225*).  Still, its initial "B. M." does not signify "Beata Martyr", as D'Esquivel's epigrapher Serafino Esquirro had maintained (the likeliest explanation is "Bonae Memoriae").  And the inscription is hardly proof of this G.'s sanctity, let alone of her status as a martyr.

D'Esquivel, making use of an authority granted to the Spanish church by Gregory XIII (Sardinia was a Spanish possession at this point), entered G. into the liturgical calendar for his diocese, creating for her both an Office and a Mass, and had some of the human bones associated with this find deposited in his magnificent Crypt of the Martyrs beneath Cagliari's cathedral.  The remainder were reinterred in the parish church of Decimomannu, which latter was built anew in the late eighteenth century and is attached to what appears to be the apse of a small paleochristian church (presumably associated with the necropolis where G.'s remains were found).  Here are two views of that apse:
http://www.santagreca.it/img/c03.htm
http://www.santagreca.it/img/cr04.htm

G. was removed from the Calaritan calendar by the Sacred Congregation of the Rites in its purge of Sardinian saints in 1882.  She was, with the title of "martyr", one of those readmitted in the following year for local veneration only.  In 1914 the Sacred Congregation extended this veneration, along with that of all the Martyrs of Cagliari, to all Sardinia.  There have been at least two solemn recognitions of G.'s remains since D'Esquivel's day (1789 and 1928, both at Decimomannu).   Here are two views of what is shown as having been her sarcophagus when found:
http://www.santagreca.it/img/s01.htm
http://www.santagreca.it/img/s02.htm
G. has yet to grace the pages of the RM.

Best,
John Dillon
(Wenceslas and Greca lightly revised from their notices of last year)

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