medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (23. August) is the feast day of:

1)  Timothy and Apollinaris of Reims (d. 64 or 65, supposedly).  T. and A. are saints whose tradition has left no documentation prior to the martyrology of St. Ado of Vienne in the ninth century, whose entry for them under today, quickly adopted by Usuard, furnishes no information about them other than that they were martyred at Reims.  Within a century of Ado we get the first witness to BHL 8300, seemingly the oldest of several versions of their quite legendary Passio (BHL 8296-8300), as well as a parallel account in the _Historia Remensis ecclesiae_ of Flodoard of Reims (BHL 8301).  These texts make T. and A. martyrs under Nero, with T. a Christian who had come from Eastern parts and A. an executioner so impressed by T.'s constancy under duress that he converted to Christianity and was martyred with him.

Modern scholarship tends towards the view that T. and A. are really Timothy of Rome (22. August) and Apollinaris of Ravenna (23. July) outfitted in the early Middle Ages with new identities peculiar to Reims' early church of Timothy and Apollinaris (who on this view will initially have been the saints' better known homonyms).  The view in the diocese of Reims-Ardennes, which today celebrates a feast of St. Timothy and his companions, martyrs, seems to be that T. and A. suffered at Reims in the same third-century persecution as did the also poorly attested Maurus and fifty (_aliter_ forty) companions.  The latter are first heard of in Flodoard's account (_op. cit._, 1. 4), where a certain priest named Maurus is said to have baptized many in prison; their cult is first attested in a breviary of 1543 for the Use of Reims and in early modern additions to Usuard.  These saints' move from the first century to the third appears to be the result of modern conjecture.

T. and A. were dropped from the RM in 2001 (as were also Maurus of Reims and companions, formerly entered under 22. August).  Here they are as depicted in a breviary of ca. 1414 for the Use of Paris (Châteauroux, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 2, fol. 295v):

2)  Zacchaeus of Jerusalem (d. earlier 2d cent.).  Eusebius (_Historia ecclesiastica_, 4. 5) names Z. as the fourth bishop of Jerusalem.  Apart from that we know nothing about him.  He is entered for today in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology and in the martyrologies of Ado and of Usuard.

3)  Abundius and Irenaeus of Rome (d. 250 or 251, supposedly).  An entry under this day in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology offers these three names, in the customary genitive: _Habundi Innocenti Mirendini_.  Delehaye's paleographical training and experience with the manuscripts of the (ps.-)HM allowed him to recognize the last of these as a misreading or succession of misreadings of_Herenaei_ (i.e. _Irenaei_).  So understood, the entry thus records the Irenaeus and Abundius entered (in a variety of spellings) in the historical martyrologies from Bede onward under 26. August.  Having no good explanation for the presence here of Innocentius, Delehaye proposed dropping him from this entry as a name that had wandered in from somewhere else (a not uncommon occurrence in this martyrology).

The revisers of the RM in 2001 seem to have accepted Delehaye's position on Innocentius, as they passed up an opportunity to add him back in when, following the (ps.-)HM, they moved A. and I. to today from 26. August and changed the order in which they are named.  Certainly Innocentius does not appear with the other two elsewhere in the historical record, which consists of 1) a statement in the legendary Passio sancti Polychronii (BHL 4753; connects various martyrs with St. Lawrence; earliest version, late fifth-century?) that they perished under Decius by order of the prefect Valerian and 2) indications in the seventh-century guidebooks for pilgrims to Rome that they were buried either near today's San Lorenzo f. l. M. or in it and under the same altar as Lawrence himself.  That A. and I. have been celebrated in late August is presumably down to the connection with Lawrence.  When and how they really perished is unknown.

A. and I. have a Passio in several versions (BHL 4464-4465a) that derives from the aforementioned Passio sancti Polychronii. 

4)  Cyriacus and Archelaus (d. mid 3d-cent., supposedly).  These saints, recorded for today in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology, are the remnant of a larger group (Cyriacus, Maximus, Archelaus and companions) formerly commemorated today in the RM.  The latter, along with Aurea and companions (formerly celebrated on 24. August), all appear as martyrs of Ostia in the legendary Acta of St. Aurea (BHL 808-812) and of St. Censurinus (BHL 1722).  Within this larger assemblage, C. (whose name is also spelled 'Quiriacus'), M., and A. form a cohesive unit as a bishop of Ostia and as a priest and a deacon working under him, whereas the high-born Aurea and members of her family and her household are presented as Romans sent to Ostia for interrogation and, ultimately, execution.

Aurea and a C. who in life may have been distinct from the saint of this name now commemorated today enjoyed separate medieval cults at or near Ostia.  The division of the martyrs of Ostia into groups headed by them and commemorated on 23. and 24. August respectively was the work of cardinal Baronio building upon the evidence of the (ps.-)HM and the aforementioned legendary Acta.  Aurea (until very recently Ostia's patron saint) has survived in the new RM, celebrated by herself under the name form Aura (attested in at least one version of her Acta) on 20. May.  The others have all been dropped from the RM except for C. and A., saved by their presence in the (ps.-)HM.  The new RM calls them martyrs of the Tiber Island.

But wait, there's more!   A late antique/early medieval (sixth-/eighth-century) Christian oratory or chapel at Ostia Antica was excavated in 1910.  One complete sarcophagus and fragments of others were found in the vicinity.  The complete sarcophagus, which has a panel showing Orpheus as the Good Shepherd, bears the legend, HIC QVIRIACVS DORMIT IN PACE ('Here Cyriacus sleeps in peace.').  Although there is no compelling evidence to show that this bearer of a fairly common Christian name was ever venerated as a saint, let alone that he was the C. of the aforementioned legendary Acta, the Internet Group Ostia has elected to treat the Quiriacus of the sarcophagus as though he were certainly identical with C. the martyr of Ostia.  The views shown on its site are quite good.  See:
Another view of the sarcophagus:
Further views of Ostia Antica are at Marjorie Greene's medrelart site on Shutterfly:

5)  Lupus of Svishtov (d. 304?).  The martyr L. (in Greek, Louppos) is first heard from in Theophylact Simocatta, _Historia_, 7. 2. 17, where the East Roman commander Peter (brother of the emperor Maurice) is said to have observed, in late summer 594 and at the request of the local citizenry, his feast at the garrison town of Novae in Moesia Inferior (today's Svishtov on the Bulgarian side of the Danube).  The Synaxary of Constantinople enters him very briefly under today's date.  Though neither the place of L.'s suffering nor its year is known, it seems likely that the former was in or near Novae and that the latter was during the Great Persecution, when martyrs are recorded for the Roman fortress town of Durostorum (now Silistra) further down the Danube.       

6)  Flavianus of Autun (d. early 6th cent.?).  The (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology records under today the laying to rest of an otherwise unrecorded Flavianus, bishop of Autun.  He is presumed to be identical with the bishop Flavichonus of Autun who in the Vita of tomorrow's St. Eptadius (BHL 2576) attempts unsuccessfully to ordain him priest.  Some seem inclined to accept the latter incident as having actually occurred.  Others view it as a fiction based on the adjacency of the two saints' feasts.      

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

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