medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (27. November) is the feast day of:

1)  Facundus and Primitivus (?).  The reputed martyrs F. and P. are first heard from in 652, when relics said to be theirs were placed in the basilica of Acci, the predecessor of today's Guadix (Granada).  By 833 (according to rather later sources), when Muslims are said to have destroyed it, they were the titulars of a church at today's Sahagún de Campos (León).  The church is said to have been rebuilt in 872 by a refugee from Córdoba who established a small monastery at the site.  Destroyed by other Muslims in 883, the church and its monastery were given in the early years of the tenth century by Alfonso III of Asturias to other refugees from Córdoba who rebuilt it.  The new church was consecrated in 935.  In the first half of the tenth century the monastery produced a legendary Passio of F. and P. (BHL 2820-2821) asserting that they had been martyred at the site and that the church was their burial church.

F. and P. also have a Mozarabic hymn, modeled on that of St. Felix of Gerona.  The first calendar in which they appear is one from Córdoba in 961, where they are entered under this day, as they also are in the Mozarabic calendars of the eleventh century.  The detail that they were the sons of St. Marcellus the Centurion (M. of León) first appears in the thirteenth century.

In 1132 the monastery of F. and P. at Sahagún became a Cluniac abbey.  It is one of only three Spanish monasteries other than Compostela named in the twelfth-century guide for pilgrims _Liber Sancti Jacobi_, one of the texts of the so-called _Codex Calixtinus_ (another, the Pseudo-Turpin, ascribes to Charlemagne the building of the church, its dedication to F. and P., and the founding of the abbey).  In time the monastery, which had become very wealthy, gave its name to the town: Sanctus Facundus > Sant Fagun > Safagun > Sahagún.

Here's a view of a roundel in the Charlemagne Window (ca. 1225) in the cathedral of Chartres.  On one view, the church whose building it depicts is that of F. and P. at Sahagún:
Some views of the later medieval remains of the abbey:
Eight views here (fourth and fifth rows from the top; Ruinas de la abadía):
Two more, showing both sides of the entry arch:

Views, etc. of the originally twelfth-century iglesia de San Facundo y San Primitivo at Silió (Cantabria):
Five views at the foot of this page:

Views, etc. of the originally late twelfth-century ermita de San Facundo at Barrios de la Bureba (Burgos):

2)  Laverius (d. ca. 311, supposedly).  This less well known saint of the Regno, the patron of today's Grumento Nova (PZ) and Tito (PZ) in Basilicata, is venerated in that region's diocese of Acerenza and, in southernmost Campania, at Teggiano (SA).  In all these places he is commemorated on 17. November.  L. has a legendary Passio (BHL 713-714) that dates for the most part from 1162 (a final part, dealing with L.'s relics, is early modern).  This has him martyred near ancient Grumentum (an episcopal seat from ca. 370 until the town's abandonment in perhaps the eighth century) under Constantine prior to the latter's (legendary) conversion by St. Sylvester and given a burial church much later destroyed by Muslim raiders.  The also twelfth-century Latin version (BHL 4978) of the now lost Bios of St. Luke of Demenna (or of Argento) has that tenth-century saint erect on the site a smaller church of the same dedication.

Archeological campaigns in 2008 and 2009 at a location near but outside the remains of Grumentum have revealed what appears to be the remains of a masonry necropolis with at least two sarcophagi and indications of many other burials in what is being interpreted as having been L.'s martyrium.  An illustrated, Italian-language journalistic account from this past summer is here:
The sarcophagus discovered in 2008 has been transferred to the Museo Nazionale Archeologico dell'Alta Val d'Agri at the archeological site of Grumentum in the territory of today's Grumento Nova (PZ).

The reliquary shown here, stolen in the 1960s from the originally fifteenth-century chiesa di San Laverio at Tito (PZ), is said to have contained one of L.'s arm bones:

3)  Siffredus (d. 543).  According to his relatively late Vita (two versions: BHL 7703, 7704), S. (in Latin also Sigfredus; in French, Siffred and Siffrein) arrived in southern Gaul as a child, having been brought from Campania by his father to be taught at the monastery of Lérins, then governed by St. Caesarius of Arles.  Had Caesarius ever been abbot of Lérins this story might be more credible and S. might not be, as he now is, a merely putative saint of the Regno.  We are further told that S. studied the trivial arts and that in 503, at the age of thirty, he was made bishop of Venasque, an early designation of the diocese better known by the name of Carpentras.  Here again we run into difficulty, as until 529 this see is known to have been occupied by a bishop Julianus.

The Vita ascribes to S. the founding of at least two churches at Venasque (the Gallo-Roman town in today's Vaucluse that gave its name to the Comtat Venaissin) and one at Carpentras (the central town and later capital of the aforementioned Comtat). Late in life, but before 541 (when Carpentras' bishop was named Clementius) S. retired from office and devoted himself at Venasque to aiding the poor with great generosity.  After his death on this day in 543 he was buried in the church of the Holy Trinity in Venasque.  Later his remains were translated to Carpentras.

One of the churches S. was reputed to have built was the predecessor of today's église de Notre-Dame at Venasque.  The church has been rebuilt many times since and even its enclosed baptistery, a centrally planned structure in the form of a Greek cross terminating in four apses, is mostly of the eleventh century and later. Relatively recent excavation has uncovered a shallow octagonal basin below its floor, suitable for baptism by semi-immersion and thought to be a survivor of the baptistery as it was in S.'s day.  Herewith some views of the church and its baptistery:
An illustrated, French-language page on the baptistery:

The ex-cathedral of the former diocese of Carpentras (Vaucluse) is dedicated to St. Peter and to S. and is commonly referred to as the cathédrale (or église)  de Saint-Siffrein.  Built between 1405 and 1519 and incorporating remains of a late twelfth-century predecessor (some of which are visible next to the chevet), it presents the viewer with a variety of styles (views expandable):
Other views of the facade:
The south flank (in part):
The ornamental south door, the so-called Porte Juive:
Upper portions of the north flank:
Interior view:
Other views of the interior are here (showing medieval construction above and behind later ornament):

For much of the later Middle Ages Carpentras' Jews were vassals of the bishop.  Carpentras' synagogue dates to 1367 and is one of the oldest in France.  It was largely rebuilt from the ground floor up in the eighteenth century but down below it preserves the original ritual baths, bakeries for leavened and unleavened bread, and a prayer room.  These lower areas have been off limits for some while.

4)  Virgilius of Salzburg (d. 784).  The Irishman V. (whose name in Irish will have been Fearghal _vel sim._) had been in Francia for two years at the court of Pepin the Short before P.'s brother in law Odilo, duke of Bavaria invited him to succeed a recently deceased incumbent as abbot-bishop at Salzburg.  The learned V. served at first as abbot only while a fellow Irishman exercised episcopal functions.  But in 749, it is now thought, V. was consecrated bishop and served until his death on 27. November 784.  He is remembered for St. Boniface's attacks upon him for treating as valid a baptism in which the formula had been badly garbled and for some doctrine which Boniface seems to have interpreted as involving a belief in a separate antipodean world.  V. founded several monasteries in Bavarian territory including the newly conquered Carinthia.  He was canonized in 1233.

A thirteenth-century subterranean chapel in Vienna once had an altar in it dedicated to V. and for that reason is known as the Virgilkapelle.  Two views:

The two bishops whose twelfth-century images in the St.Johannes-Kapelle at Pürgg in Pürgg-Trautenfels (Liezen) in Steiermark are linked to below are thought to be V. and St. Rupert (but which is which?):

In the pair of bishops shown here from ca. 1520 originally in the Rupertikirche at Stainach-Niederhofen (Steiermark) but now in the diocesan museum of the Diocese of Graz-Seckau the figure on the right is recognizable from his salt bucket as St. Rupert.  The general assumption is that the figure on the left represents V.:

5)  Apollinaris, abbot of Montecassino (d. 828).  This less well known saint of the Regno is one of Montecassino's early heroes.  Its eleventh-century abbot Desiderius II (as pope, Bl. Victor III) begins his _Dialogi de miraculis sancti Benedicti_ with accounts of two miracles associated with A.: 1) his crossing the river Liri on foot without so much as getting his sandals wet and 2) his revealing to abbot Bassacius in a nocturnal vision that St. Benedict had obtained divine protection for the abbey, threatened by attack from Muslim raiders (in 846).  In the latter story once the abbot, having received his vision, had gone to sleep a sudden heavy rain arose: this downpour caused the Liri to go into flood, thus preventing the raiders from crossing the river and reaching the abbey.

Expanded versions of these miracle accounts occur in Leo Marsicanus' summary of A.'s abbacy (_Chronica monasterii Casinensis_, ed. Hartmut Hoffmann, 1. 18 ad fin. - 22) and in Peter the Deacon's rather more inventive Vita of A. (_Ortus et vita iustorum cenobii Casinensis_, ed. R. H. Rodgers, cap. XXVI).

Desiderius had A.'s remains exhumed and re-interred in the chapel of St. John the Baptist in his rebuilt abbey church; he also had inscribed on A.'s tomb verses of his own composition (PL, vol. 149, cols. 1017-18) that add no lustre to his artistic reputation.  A. has yet to grace the pages of the RM.

Here's a reconstruction of the abbey of St. Benedict at Montecassino in its eleventh-century form:

John Dillon
(last year's post lightly revised)

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