medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (14. November) is the feast day of:

1)  Rufus of Avignon (d. earlier 4th cent.?).  R. (in French, Ruf) is a very poorly documented local saint of Avignon.  In 917 king Louis the Blind restored to the bishop of Avignon a very old church dedicated to R. and situated on a Roman road at a former necropolis on the outskirts of the city.  The necropolis has yielded extensive fifth- and sixth-century remains.  Assuming R. to have been the church's original titular, it is probable that he was a leading figure in the local Christian community at some point in its early years.  In 1039 the then bishop of Avignon gave the church to four of his cathedral canons who founded there a community that spread to other sites and that with papal approval in 1095 became the Canons Regular of St. Ruf, whose mother house was the abbey attached to this church.

R.'s cult flourished locally as the influence of the canons grew.  Already in the eleventh century he appeared in a martyrology of Avignon as a confessor illustrious for many virtues.  In the late Middle Ages he figured in the fictitious hagiography of Provence as a son of Simon of Cyrene who traveled from Palestine with the three Marys and who became the evangelist and protobishop of Avignon.

The abbey of Saint-Ruf flourished in the late eleventh and earlier twelfth centuries.  Prior to his elevation to the cardinalate in 1146 Nicholas Breakspear, the future Hadrian (or Adrian) IV, was successively prior and abbot general there.  In 1158 tensions between the diocese and the canons led the latter to transfer their mother house to what had been a priory at Valence the titular of whose church, formerly St. James, now became R.  Downgraded to a priory, the house at Avignon was retained by the canons until 1763, when the abbot general authorized the demolition of its buildings.  Here's a French-language page with good expandable views of what's left of the former abbatiale Saint-Ruf at Avignon:
An expandable view of a nave capital of ca. 1145 from this church, now in the musée du Petit Palais at Avignon:   

2)  Hypatius of Gangra (d. ca. 360?).  The wonder-working remains of H. were venerated in late antiquity at his grave at Gangra in Paphlagonia (now the Turkish provincial capital of Çankırı).  He was believed to have been its bishop, to have taken part in the First Council of Nicaea, to have rid the emperor Constantius I of a dragon that had taken possession of his treasure, and to have died a martyr at the hands of Novatianist schismatics who stoned him.  These matters and others are related in H.'s originally sixth- or seventh-century Bios (BHG 759) and in his Martyrion (i.e. Greek-language Passio; BHG 760), whose reputations for accuracy are not high.

H. is the patron saint of Tiggiano (LE) in southern Apulia, where his liturgical feast is celebrated on 18. January and his patronal one is celebrated on the following day.  His commemoration under today in the RM is down to Cardinal Baronio, who opted for the date under which H. gets the longest notice in Greek synaxaries.  In Italian H.'s name is ordinarily given as Ipazio; at Tiggiano, he's Ippazio.

3)  John of Trogir (d. 1111?).  According to his early thirteenth-century Vita (BHL 4441), J. (Ivan Ursini, Giovanni Orsini), a member of the prominent Roman family of the Orsini, was born at Rome in 1032.  Sent to Dalmatia to help consolidate the work of a papal legation under Alexander II, he was in 1064 consecrated bishop of Trogir (in Italian, Traù) in today's Croatia.   In addition to leading a life of exemplary holiness, J. guided his church through a period of liturgical and administrative reform and his city through a period of political peril.  He is credited with arranging Trogir's peaceful capitulation to king Coloman of Hungary in 1105, a piece of _Realpolitik_ that was followed by a charter of liberties for which the people of his city remained very grateful.

Lifetime miracles were followed by numerous post-mortem ones.  In 1162 (traditionally, 1171) there was a formal Invention of J.'s remains, followed by the first of his two translations within Trogir's cathedral of Sv. Lovre (St. Lawrence).  A canonization process began in 1192.  The earliest version of J.'s Office at Trogir dates from the twelfth or thirteenth century.  In 1438 a papal indulgence was granted in connection with the observance of his _dies natalis_ (14. November).  Although J. continues to be called 'Blessed' in recent scholarship, both his entry in the _Bibliotheca Sanctorum_ (vol. 6; 1965) and his listing for today in the latest version of the RM (2001) style him 'Saint'.

For J.'s political activity and a critical examination of his Vita, see Ludwig Steindorff, "Die Vita beati Iohannis Traguriensis als Quelle zur Geschichte der dalmatinischen Stadt Trogir im 12. Jahrhundert", _Südost-Forschungen_ 47 (1988), 17-36.  J.'s Office is edited from the version of 1434 (with variants from earlier and later versions) by Antonio Lovato, "L'ufficio ritmico del beato Giovanni Orsini vescovo di Trogir/Traù (1064-1111)", in Stanislav Tuksar, ed., Srednjovjekovne glazbene kulture Jadrana.  Medieval Cultures of the Adriatic Region_ (Zagreb: Hrvatsko Musikološko Društvo / Croatian Musicological Society, 2000), pp. 85-123.

Some views of Trogir's originally thirteenth-century cathedral of Sv. Lovre.

West portal (1240; by a magister Raduanus):



J. is also Trogir's civic patron.  Here he is in a fifteenth-century statue atop the seventeenth-century North Town Gate:

4)  John of Tufara (Bl.; d. 1170).  Today's less well known holy person of the Regno was born at Tufara (CB) in Molise.  He is said to have studied at Paris as a young man and then to have spent at least fifty years of monastic and eremitical life (mostly the latter) before founding in the 1150s the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria di Gualdo Mazzoca in today's Foiano (BN) in northeastern Campania, where his memory was preserved and his feast day was observed on this date (his _dies natalis_).  Several thirteenth-century attempts to have J. canonized were unsuccessful.  His cult survives at Foiano, at Tufara, and at San Bartolomeo in Galdo (BN).

A view of Tufara's originally twelfth-century church of Santi Pietro e Paolo, where J. is said to have served as sacristan:
And a view of (who could doubt it?) the very house at Tufara in which J. was born, later converted into an oratory:

5)  Lawrence O'Toole (d. 1180).  L. (in Irish, Lorcán Ua Tuathail) was abbot of Glendalough before becoming archbishop of Dublin in 1162.  The Anglo-Norman conquest of Leinster and Meath took place some eight years later and L. spent much of his pontificate as a subject of Henry II, with whom he had to negotiate on a variety of matters.  He had a reputation among non-Irish (including Gerald of Wales) for being very zealous for his people; he was also something of a reformer.  By 1176/77 L. had introduced canons regular into that city's cathedral.  In 1179 he took part in the Third Lateran Council, returned to Ireland as the resident papal legate, and held at least one synod to promote its decrees.

In late October or early November L. traveled to Normandy to conduct some business with Henry.  While there he resided with the canons regular of Eu and it was at Eu that he died on this day and was buried.  By 1191 both that house and the church in Ireland were seeking his canonization.  L.'s miracles were collected, petitions for his canonization were laid before a succession of popes, and his cause was successful in 1225 under Honorius III.  Shortly after L.'s canonization the first of his several Vitae was composed (BHL 4743, etc.; all seemingly written at Eu).

A reliquary said to contain L.'s heart is displayed in Dublin's Trinity Cathedral (a.k.a. Christ Church):

Some views of the originally twelfth- and thirteenth-century (1186-1240) église collégiale Notre-Dame et Saint-Laurent at Eu (Seine-Maritime):

L.'s _gisant_ is in the originally twelfth-century crypt (reworked in 1828):

6)  Siard (d. 1230).  We know about the Frisian S. (in Latin, Siardus) chiefly from his thirteenth-century Vita and Miracula (BHL 7697, 7698).  Sent as a young boy to study at the then recently founded Premonstratensian abbey of Mariengaard at today's Hallum (Friesland), he entered religion there while its founder, St. Frederick of Mariengaarden, was yet abbot.  After an interval of three other abbots S. in turn succeeded to the abbacy.  He lived unostentatiously, practiced self-mortification, and shared both the labor and the living conditions of his fellow canons.  Externally, he gained a reputation as a friend of the poor.  Numerous healing miracles are ascribed to him, including the curing of an old friend's blindness.

During the Reformation S.'s relics were moved about for their safekeeping.  In 1617 some of them were brought to Tongerlo abbey in today's municipality of Westerlo in the Belgian province of Antwerp.  They are still there, in a new reliquary made for them in 1619.  Here's a view:
Other of S.'s relics are in the abbey of Leffe in the Belgian province of Namur.

A recent study of S.'s Vita is Ineke van't Spijker, "The _Vita Siardi_: Inwardness, Community and Heavenly Bliss in Thirteenth-century Frisia," _Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik_ 64 (2007), 411–425.

John Dillon
(last year's post lightly revised and with the additions of Rufus of Avignon and Siard)

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