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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

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

1)  Marinus of San Marino (d. 4th cent., supposedly).  M. (also M. the Dalmatian) is the eponym and patron saint of the Republic of San Marino.  He has a Vita whose earliest witness is in a tenth-century manuscript from Bobbio now in Turin and whose most widely available text is the one printed in the _Acta Sanctorum_ based on twelfth- and fifteenth-century sources (BHL 4830, 4831).

According to this account, M. was an eloquent man from the Dalmatian island of Arbe who together with his compatriot St. Leo arrived at Rimini in the time of Diocletian and Maximian and who, though skilled in all the arts, at the command of these emperors spent three years toiling as a stonecutter on nearby Monte Titano (San Marino's highest mountain). That labor finished, he returned to Rimini and preached the faith until a woman from Dalmatia falsely accused him of being her absconding husband.  Whereupon he returned to Monte Titano and, establishing an oratory in honor of St. Peter, lived there as a hermit.  M. and Leo (who in the interim had been living similarly on one of the other mountains) came to the attention of the bishop of Rimini, who ordained Leo as priest and M. as deacon.  This pair then spent the rest of their lives separately combating idolatry in their adopted homeland.

Eugippius' Vita of of St. Severinus of Noricum mentions a monastery on Monte Titano that will have been in existence in about the year 500.  In 756 a _castellum Sancti Marini_ existed in the vicinity.  Our first surviving testimony to the monastery's being named after M. comes from the year 885.  In the tenth century the surrounding area was being called the parish of Sanctus Marinus and from that the rural commune that became today's republic took its name.

There are few visual medieval remains of M.'s cult.  In this fifteenth-century painting by Luca di Frosino, M. is on the right in his deacon's dalmatic and holding a stonecutter's tool:
http://tinyurl.com/cghfu
The fellow on the right is Leo.  His attire reflects his standing as the legendary protobishop of Montefeltro.

M. is one of those saints who is said to have imposed a punishment of labor service upon a wild beast (in this case, a bear) that had killed his beast of burden (a donkey).  In the absence of medieval images of M. and the bear,
herewith some modern ones:
http://tinyurl.com/7emxf
http://tinyurl.com/9cy8s
http://tinyurl.com/drorv
http://tinyurl.com/89xnz


2)  Boniface I, pope (d. 422).  A native of Rome and the son of a priest (in the literal sense, as opposed to the one in which that phrase substitutes for "son of a b---h"), B. had exercised missions in Constantinople under Innocent I.  Upon the death of pope St. Zosimus in December 418, the archdeacon Eulalius was elected bishop by the deacons and some presbyters and on the following day B. was elected bishop by the majority of the presbyters and with the concurrence of much of the laity in attendance.  The city prefect deciding in favor of Eulalius and so reporting matters to the emperor Honorius at Ravenna, B. was obliged to withdraw from Rome.  His supporters (who are said to have included Galla Placidia) pressed his cause with Honorius, who after other measures had failed ordered both B. and E. to leave Rome to the care of the bishop of Spoleto.  E.'s refusal to comply led to his banishment and to B.'s recognition in April 419 as bishop of Rome.

B. was able to impede temporarily but not to stop permanently the transfer of ecclesiastical jurisdiction over eastern Illyricum (incl. Thessalonica) to Constantinople once that territory had become part of the empire in the east.  He actively opposed Pelagianism in the church and got Honorius to support him in this effort.  Today is his _dies natalis_.


3)  Ida of Herzfeld (d. early 9th cent.).  According to her late tenth-century Vita by Uffing, a monk of Werden (BHL 4143), I. was descended from Pepin of Landen and was the sister of two abbots of Corvey.  The wife of Egbert, duke of Saxony, she lived a pious life and bore him five children.  Of the three who entered religion, one also became abbot of Corvey and another became abbess of Herford.  Two sons stayed in the world, married, and rose to positions of secular prominence.  After Egbert's death I. retired from their castle at Hovestadt on the Lippe to a nearby convent at today's Herzfeld (Kr. Soest) in Nordrhein-Westfalen, where she and her husband had previously endowed a church.

At Herzfeld I. spent her remaining years in prayer and self-denial, engaging as well in works of charity.  She had a marble sarcophagus made for herself but while she lived she had it filled daily with articles of food and dispensed these gladly to people from two nearby villages.  I. was buried next to her husband in a little oratory she had had constructed next to the church.  Postmortem miracles were reported; over time, these made her tomb a pilgrimage site.   In the tenth century, after a period of alleged decay, the monastery became a dependency of the imperial abbey of Werden and, says Uffing, Ida's cult was renewed.

In 980 the bishop of Münster conducted a formal Elevatio of I.'s remains, removing them from her sarcophagus and placing them in a portable shrine upon an altar in the oratory, which now became a chapel.  The annual procession of her relics is said to have conferred a special blessing on pregnant women.

Herzfeld's Sankt-Ida-Kirche is an early twentieth-century replacement of an originally medieval predecessor.   Relatively recent excavation has uncovered the site of I.'s resting place prior to the elevation of 980.  Here's a view:
http://tinyurl.com/2oc3bq
I.'s sarcophagus, said to have been on public display from 980 onward:
http://tinyurl.com/352bwp
This is now displayed in the Confessio (that's I.'s nineteenth-century reliquary shrine above it):
http://tinyurl.com/3yrmfa
An early sixteenth-century engraving of a scene from I.'s shrine as it was then is shown here (Egbert and Ida at the building of the convent church):
http://kirchensite.de/index.php?myELEMENT=72408
The modern church at Herzfeld preserves pieces of a portal from its medieval predecessor:
http://tinyurl.com/26amjj

I.'s head reliquary of ca. 1500 has survived.  Said to have been made at Werden, it was displayed there on festal occasions in the burial church of her contemporary, St. Ludger (Liudger; d. 809), Münster's first bishop.  There are two views here:
http://tinyurl.com/3xhr7o
And another is here:
http://kirchensite.de/index.php?myELEMENT=115369


4)  Rosalia of Palermo (d. ca. 1160, supposedly).  Palermo's famous plague saint and all-around patron has a cult that is very difficult to trace before the year 1603, when an Oratorian priest and native Palermitan, Pietro Pozzo, wrote and transmitted to an Oratorian at Rome a memoir of various of the city's saints: Agatha, Oliva, and the group consisting of Nympha, Mamilianus, and their thirty-four companions in martyrdom.

After these Pozzo added a notice of a S[anta] Rosolea vergine who had owned Monte Pellegrino (a coastal elevation on the city's western edge) and who after her saintly death had been honored by the senate of Palermo with a chapel on the mountain.  This chapel had remained a city benefice for some time but three hundred years before Pozzo's writing the city had ended that arrangement and had taken legal possession of the entire mountain.  Pozzo went on to say that R.'s house in the city had also been converted to a church, that one hundred and fifty years prior to his writing the church of St. Catherine had been built next to it, that its little church of Santa Roseola was now behind the Oratorians' own church of St. Ignatius, and that it was believed that R.'s body reposed either there or in the church on the mountain.

Nothing further seems to have happened with R. until 1624 when, while Palermo was in the throes of an outbreak of pestilence, an Inventio of her putative remains occurred in a cave on Monte Pellegrino just outside the city.  Translated forthwith to Palermo's cathedral, they are kept there in a seventeenth-century reliquary.  While the Oratorians of Palermo are not known to have had a hand in the Inventio itself, by 1629/30 they were certainly promoting her feast on this day in _their_ church next to Sant'Ignazio.  Seventeenth-century accounts of R. elaborating on Pozzo's story made her a member of the royal family who in the reign of William I had retired from the court and had become a hermit residing in the cave where her relics had been found; it was also alleged that hermits had tended her cave until about the middle of the sixteenth century.

Prior to Pozzo's letter the only evidence of a cult of a St. R. at Palermo is the thirteenth-century icon shown here (once in Palermo's Chiesa della Martorana, it is now in its Diocesan Museum):
http://tinyurl.com/29ky99
http://tinyurl.com/yqqfqk
It is unknown how the St. Rusalia of the icon was originally identified.  Some think it likely that she is the St. Rosula of 14. September, a companion in martyrdom of St. Cyprian of Carthage and entered with him in the martyrologies of Florus of Lyon, Ado of Vienne, and Usuard as well as in the _Martyrologium siculum_ of the sixteenth-century Messinese abbot Francesco Maurolico.  

The cave identified as R.'s was certainly present on the mountain throughout out the Middle Ages.  There are expandable views of it on this page on the Santuario di Santa Rosalia presently occupying the site (those interested in modern ex-votos should not miss some of these):
http://tinyurl.com/5fn757   

Best,
John Dillon
(Marinus of San Marino and Ida of Herzfeld lightly revised from older posts)

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