medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (16. April) is the feast day of:

1)  Optatus and seventeen companions (d. ca. 304).  We know about a group of eighteen named martyrs of Zaragoza (also referred to collectively as The Martyrs of Zaragoza), put to death under Diocletian, from Prudentius, who devotes _Peristephanon_ 4 to them and _Peristephanon_ 5 to one of their number, the deacon Vincent (celebrated separately on 22. January as St. Vincent of Zaragoza).  Because they had companions neither whose names nor whose number are known, this commemoration was once called that of The Innumerable Martyrs of Saragossa (utilizing this formerly standard and still common English-language form of the city's name).

A text of _Peristephanon_ 4 is here:

2)  Turibius of Astorga (d. mid- or later 5th cent.).  T. (also Thuribius, Turribius; in Spanish, Toribio) was a recently elected bishop of Astorga in today's León who in about 446 wrote a surviving letter to two fellow Iberian bishops, Hydatius and Ceponius, identifying Priscillianist writings currently circulating in his _patria_ (from which he had been absent for many years).  A copy of this letter reached pope St. Leo I, whose reply to T. refuting Priscillianist doctrines is also extant.  Opinion is divided on whether T. died before the Gothic sack of Astorga in 457 or whether he were one of the bishops of the Suevic kingdom carried off in exile to France in that year (the Chronicle of Hydatius names several but not T.; a not very reliable entry in a chronicle from perhaps the tenth century gives him a floruit of 458).

From at least the later Middle Ages onward T. has had a cult both at at Astorga and at the nearby monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana, near Potes (Santander).  This has given us a legendary Vita in two forms, the probably thirteenth-century BHL 8344b (a Vita et Miracula from the monastery, which previously had been known under the name of San Martín de Turieno) and the rather briefer BHL 8344 from Astorga.  Both of these attempt to create a biographic framework for the aforementioned correspondence and consequently tell us nothing credible about T.  BHL 8344 gives today as T.'s _dies natalis_.  BHL 8344b blends matter about T. of Astorga with his homonym of Palencia (also 16. April; not in the RM), has him travel to Jerusalem and bring back holy relics, further connects him with the Arca Sancta of Oviedo, and has him translated to the monastery by a (tenth-century) count Alfonso.

Herewith two accounts, one in English and one in Spanish, of the Monasterio de Santo Toribio de Liébana (the English-language one has an expandable view of the monastery's relic of the Holy Cross, said to have been brought from Palestine by T.):
Views of originally thirteenth-century (ca. 1265) monastery church:
More views (incl. one of the interior of the church) are here -- click on the the menu items at bottom:

When searching via Google for citations to T.'s Vitae, I received this response to a search for a form of the title for which Google had no data: "Did you mean: 'historia vitae sancti thurible'?"
My rejoinder is censered.

3)  Paternus of Avranches and Scubilio (d. ca. 565).  P. (Paterne, Paër, Pair) has a largely credible Vita (BHL 6477) written in the following generation by St. Venantius Fortunatus for the abbot of a monastery at today's Normandy where both saints were buried; what we know of S. (Scubilion, Scubillion) comes from the same work.  According to Fortunatus, P. came of a good family in Poitiers and took the habit at a monastery at today's Saint-Jouin-de-Marnes (Deux-Sèvres).  There he was made cellerarius and by his conduct in that office foretold his later effectiveness as a bishop.  When P. was more mature he and the older S., a fellow monk of this abbey, decided to become pilgrims for Christ and wandered off into the world, taking with them only a copy of the psalter and traveling as far as Normandy's Cotentin peninsula.

There P. and S. were urged to evangelize a place called Sesciacum (in French, Scissy; now usually identified as today's Saint-Pair-sur-Mer (Manche).  They established themselves in a cave and warned the locals not to take part in their temple's heathen rites.  When their advice was rejected, these holy men, armed with the banner of the cross, outraged the populace by tipping over cauldrons in which sacrificial food was being cooked and returned to their cave before they could be seized and martyred.  On their way back they were insulted by a woman who denuded herself before them.  She was struck forthwith by a disease that ulcerated her entire body and from which she suffered for a year before asking for forgiveness and receiving both that and a cure.  P. performed other miracles, including causing a spring to appear for the pair's use.

After three years had passed the abbot of their monastery came to them and took S. back with him.  P., whose lifestyle had become increasingly austere, was ordained deacon and then priest at Coutances and then undertook further missionary activity, founding monasteries in several parts of west France.  At the age of seventy he was elected bishop of Avranches and served in that capacity for thirteen years.  He and S., who was now at a nearby monastery, died on the same day and were laid to rest together at Sesciacum/Scissy on 16. April.  Their cult was immediate.  Thus far Fortunatus.  P. is also recorded as a signatory of the acts of a synod held at Paris at some point between 557 and 573.

P. and S. appear on this date in various calendars in west France from Normandy to Poitiers.  Usuard introduced P. alone into his martyrology, entering him for 23. September (which is when he appears in a number of other medieval calendars including those of Coutances, Le Mans, and Paris),  In the "new" RM (2001, rev. 2004) P. is now entered for 15. April, the date under which he appears in some manuscripts of the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology and also, given the reported date of his laying to rest, perhaps his _dies natalis_.  Both P. and S. are celebrated liturgically today in the diocese of Coutances.    

Views of the late eleventh- and early twelfth-century abbatial church of St.-Jean-l'Evangeliste at Saint-Jouin-de-Marnes are here:

4)  Fructuosus of Braga (d. ca. 665).  F. was a monastic founder in Visigothic Spain.  His two surviving rules, one for the "Complutum" at Astorga in today's León and the other for houses that accepted entire families, are strongly ascetic.  In 656 he became bishop of Bracara, now Braga in Portugal.  F. has an originally late seventh-century Vita (BHL 3194, 3194a).  In 1102 his miracle-working relics were removed to Santiago de Compostela, whose bishops claimed primacy over Braga.

Two illustrated, Spanish-language pages on the originally seventh-century funerary church of São Fructuoso de Montelios at Braga are here:

5)  Magnus of Orkney (d. ca. 1116).  Magnus Erlendsson was an apparently peaceable Northman and a pious Christian who ruled Orkney as earl jointly with his cousin Haakon for about ten years until H. had him murdered. A cult sprang up, miracles occurred at his grave, and in 1137 work began at Kirkwall on a stone church to house his remains.  That building is now St. Magnus Cathedral.  Two illustrated, English-language introductions to it are here:
and a gallery of expandable views is here:
Relics believed to be those of M. were discovered here in 1917.

Haki Antonsson, who has written repeatedly on M., is the author of _St. Magnus of Orkney: A Scandinavian Martyr-cult in Context_ (Leiden: Brill, 2007).

6)  Drogo (d. 1189?).  According to his brief, early fourteenth-century Vita (BHL 2337), D. (in French, Drogon, Druon, Dreux) was a young noble of Artois whose mother died in giving birth to him.  Blaming himself for this, D. undertook pilgrimages that gradually restored his self-esteem.  Then he settled down as a shepherd at today's Sebourg (Nord) near Valenciennes, came to be viewed as a holy person, and was famous for bilocation.  The urge to travel overtook D. again and he made nine pilgrimages to Rome before retiring from the world with a frightful and disfiguring hernia.  He lived as a hermit for some forty-five years and was buried in the church of St. Martin at Sebourg where his cult was immediate and where pilgrims experienced healing miracles.  Thus far the Vita.  D. is a patron saint of shepherds and of hernia sufferers.

Some views of Sebourg's originally twelfth-/sixteenth-century église Saint-Martin:

7)  Today was also once (and may yet be) the feast day of St. Turibius of Le Mans (d. 496).  This T. (in French, Turibe, Thuribe) was an early bishop of that city.  Louis Duchesne in his _Fastes episcopaux dans l'ancienne Gaule_, vol. 2, determined that he is its fifth known bishop, that he was consecrated on 30. September 490, and that he died on 16. April 496.  T. is named as one of the early bishops whose remains were translated to Le Mans' cathedral in 836.

A very legendary Vita of T. from Le Mans written prior to that translation (BHL 8346, 8347) makes him a former pagan philosopher who became one of Christ's disciples, who joined Le Mans' protobishop St. Julian on his first-century apostolic mission to Gaul, and who succeeded him directly as bishop of that city.  Still according to this Vita, he made many conversions, operated miracles, died on this day, and was buried on the church of the Apostles outside the city, where healing and other miracles continued to occur at his tomb.

Here's a view of T.'s portrait in the mid-thirteenth-century upper-story ambulatory windows of the cathédrale St-Julien at Le Mans:
A bit of context:

Later tradition made T. the founder of various churches and the miraculous caller-forth of at least one spring, that at today's Evron (Mayenne), of whose abbaye Notre-Dame-de-l'Epine he was one of the legendary founders.  Herewith a few views of its originally tenth-century but much reworked _abbatiale_ (mostly eleventh- or twelfth- to sixteenth-century):
Here's an illustrated, French-language page on the fourteenth- to sixteenth-century église Saint-Martin at Lunay (Loir-et-Cher), whose original predecessor has been thought to have been founded by T. in the fourth century:
A better view of that church:

T. seems never to have graced the pages of the RM.  Does anyone know whether he is still celebrated at Le Mans?

John Dillon
(last year's post revised and with the addition of Drogo)

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