medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (25. December) is the feast day of:

1)  The Nativity of Jesus Christ.  Good cheer to all!

2)  Anastasia of Sirmium (d. ca. 304, supposedly).  A. is a martyr of Sirmium in Pannonia, today's Sremska Mitrovica in Serbia.  Her cult was brought to Rome before the development of her romance-like Passio (BHL 400).  This is a lengthy and complicated attempt to provide a narrative for the dedicatee of Rome's titular and stational church of Sant'Anastasia, where in the sixth century, when it was still just the _titulus Anastasiae_, A. was already celebrated, as she still is, at the second Mass on Christmas (the Mass at dawn).

Here's A. on the extreme left in this view of the heavily restored procession of the virgin martyrs (ca. 561) at Ravenna's church of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo:

The abbey church of Santa Maria in Sylvis, an eighth-century foundation (762) at today's Sesto al Règhena (PN) in Friuli-Venezia Giulia shelters in its crypt a sarcophagus of St. Anastasia.  Herewith a distance view, followed by a close-up:
Considered a masterpiece of Lombard sculpture, it may be a reworked abbatial throne.
While we're here, some illustrated pages on this abbey:
This page has some very nice expandable interior views of the church, showing some of the frescoes: 
This blog post offers other views, also expandable, of the abbey (views of the church mostly towards the end):
Further views, also expandable and mostly of frescoes:

A small Greek monastery dedicated to A. near Matino (LE) on the Salentine Peninsula in Apulia is first attested from 1099; in the later Middle Ages it was a dependency of the larger Greek house of San Mauro near Gallipoli.  The monastery was dissolved in the fifteenth century but its chapel survived until the seventeenth (when it was replaced by a fairly standard rural church).  A fairly recent study is Aldo De Bernart, _Una fondazione bizantina nel basso Salento. Santa Anastasia a Matino_ (Galatina: Congedo, 1990).

A more substantial deep southern dedication to A. is the cathedral of Santa Severina (KR) in Calabria, built from 1274 to 1295 over an early eleventh-century predecessor and repeatedly rebuilt from the seventeenth century to the early twentieth:
The adjacent eighth- or ninth-century baptistery (not its original function) preserves an early medieval baptismal font.  Herewith an exterior and an interior view of this structure, considered the oldest surviving building from Byzantine Calabria (the entrance shown is a late medieval addition):

Santa Severina is perched on a cliff:
and is notable not only for its big church but also for its castle:
The same is true for Motta Sant'Anastasia (CT) in eastern Sicily (that's Mt. Etna in the background):
The 'Motta' part of its name is the equivalent of French 'motte' and has the same basic meaning.  The most probable explanation of the 'Sant'Anastasia' part is that it too once referred to the eminence upon which the town sits and that its original form, in Greek, was Anastasis (in this instance not Resurrection but rather the more generic Upstanding).  In Sicilian Arabic it was Nastasiah.  The conversion to a "saintly" toponym, already attested in the eleventh century, will have been analogous to the development of Santa Severina from ancient Siberene.  Although A. is indeed the town's patron saint, her relic in its Chiesa Madre (now dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary) arrived only in 1703, officially replacing an earlier one dubiously claimed to have been brought to the town in 1408.

The castle is really a Norman keep, constructed between 1070 and 1074 and given to the bishop of Catania in 1091.  In the later Middle Ages it became a baronial possession.  Renovated in the fifteenth century, it was restored in the twentieth and now serves as a hall for gatherings and special events.  Some views follow:
A sequence of views is here:
This is how the building appeared in the early twentieth century, when the town had just acquired it from its former baronial owners:

The chiesa di Sant'Anastasia in Tissi (SS) in northwestern Sardinia is originally of the twelfth century but was expanded in the seventeenth.  Herewith a brief, Italian-language account and some exterior views (most are slightly expandable):

At Zadar (Italian: Zara) in Croatia, A. is the principal patron saint (feast day: 15. January).  The city's italianate cathedral of Sv. Stosija (S. Anastasia), housing a sarcophagus containing A.'s supposed remains (translated from Constantinople), was built in two phases, one in the twelfth century and one in the thirteenth.  The facade, incorporating an earlier rose window under the smaller upper one, dates from 1324; the belltower is chiefly modern.  The church was leveled by bombing in World War II; most of what one sees today is therefore reconstruction.  Herewith a few exterior views:
Apse view (the polygonal church on the left is Sv. Donat): 
Interior view:

Verona's largest "gothic" church is the formerly Dominican pile popularly known as Santa Anastasia after its original dedication as well as that of a predecessor church on the same site.  Begun in the late thirteenth century, since  1307 it has also honored St. Peter Martyr (the official name of the church is San Pietro da Verona in Sant'Anastasia).  Completed (except for the facade) in the fifteenth century, it was restored in 1878-81.  A detailed, Italian-language account of it and of the adjacent San Giorgetto is here:
English-language account with expandable views (mostly details):

Some exterior views (incl. the fifteenth-century belltower):

Front views, with San Giorgetto at left:

Main portal (showing polychrome marbles):
Main portal, sculptural details and faded frescoing:

The portal was once adorned with fifteenth-century reliefs of scenes from Peter Martyr's life; two of these remain:  
And here's a restored Peter Martyr on the trumeau:

Some interior views (most are expandable):

3)  Peter the Venerable (Bl.; d. 1156).  Abbot of Cluny from 1152, he befriended Peter Abelard and through his writings fought heresy, Judaism, and Islam.  In the latter context, he commissioned a Latin translation of the Qur'an.

For visual interest, herewith some views, etc. of what remains of the abbey at Cluny:

4)  Jacopone of Todi (Bl.; d. ca. 1306).  Jacopo dei Benedetti (_Jacopone_ is a nickname; an English-language equivalent would be 'Big Jim') was a lawyer who after the sudden death of his wife gave away his wealth and became a penitent, first on his own and later as a Franciscan tertiary.  An adherent of the Spiritual party, he declared Boniface VIII's election to have been invalid.  For that he was not only excommunicated but also imprisoned for the remainder of B.'s pontificate.  J. is best known for his numerous _laude_ (hymns of praise) written in Umbrian vernacular for the use of his order.  The evidence for the oft-repeated assertion that J. was the author or probable author of the _Stabat mater dolorosa_ is late and unconvincing.

J. died on this day at the Poor Clares' convent of San Lorenzo at the Umbrian town of Collazzone, not far from Todi.  Herewith a distance view of Collazzone:
Here's J. as depicted by Paolo Uccello (d. 1475) in the cathedral of Prato (PO) in Tuscany:
And here's a page with expandable views of an important manuscript of J.'s _laudario_ (Todi, Biblioteca comunale, ms. 194):

John Dillon
(last year's post revised)

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