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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (6. March) is the feast day of:

1)  Marcianus of Tortona (d. early 2d cent., supposedly).  M. (also Martianus; in Italian, Marciano, Marziano, and Marzano) is the traditional evangelist and protobishop of Tortona in today's Piedmont.  His seemingly eighth- or very early ninth-century legendary Passio (BHL 5262), part of the Passio of Sts. Faustinus and Jovita, has him martyred under Hadrian (117-138).  Like the Passio of St. Secundus of Asti, which belongs to the same cycle, this makes him an early propagator of the faith but does not call him a bishop.  Walafrid Strabo, celebrating in a poem showing knowledge of the Passio (_Carmina_, 68; ca. 840) the erection by one of Lothar's imperial _missi_ of a church in M.'s honor, does call him that.  A monastery at Tortona dedicated to M. is known from at least 961 onward.

The very brief Vita of the supposedly fourth-century St. Innocentius of Tortona (BHL 4281; expanded in a seemingly quite late Inventio of M. [BHL 5263]), whose earliest witness has been dated to the eleventh century and which also shows knowledge of the legend, relates an angelically prompted discovery at Tortona in I.'s time of the martyr bishop M.'s extramural grave, body, and blood relics, and the building over his tomb of a martyrial basilica consecrated by I. (though the Vita doesn't say so, probably the imagined original form of the church of the aforementioned monastery).  In later hagiographic developments, M. was converted to Christianity by St. Barnabas (the legendary evangelist of Milan) and was confirmed in the faith by St. Syrus of Pavia.  His presumed remains are now in Tortona's originally early modern cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Lawrence.

M. is the eponym of today's San Marzano Oliveto (AT) in Piedmont, whose originally thirteenth-century chiesa di San Marziano is now largely early modern and later.  Not all that far away, though, is the originally later twelfth-century rural chiesa (or chiesetta) di San Marziano at Viarigi (AT):
http://www.ilmonferrato.info/bs/viarig/pieve.jpg
http://www.archaeoastronomy.it/san_marziano.htm
http://tinyurl.com/yh9435m
http://tinyurl.com/yl4a6d6


2)  Fridolin (d. late 6th cent.?).  F. is the legendary founder of the monastery of Säckingen on an island in the Rhine at today's Bad Säckingen (Kreis Waldshut) in Baden-Württemberg.  His lightly regarded Vita by one Balther, a monk of Säckingen (BHL 3170; written ca. 1000), makes him an Irish missionary and a contemporary of Clovis, king of the Franks.  Since there is reason to think that the monastery may have been founded from Luxeuil, it is possible that F. was indeed Irish.  F.'s cult is first attested from the ninth century; from the central Middle Ages onward it has been widespread both along the upper Rhine and in the Swiss canton of Glarus.

F.'s tomb at Säckingen was opened in 1357 for an examination of his putative remains.  These (less pieces since distributed elsewhere) remain in the former monastery church, now Bad Säckingen's parish church of St. Fridolin (the Fridolinsmünster).  Views of this edifice are here (four pages):
http://www.saeckinger-geschichte.de/munster.htm
and here:
http://www.boldts.net/album/D-ch-BadSaeckingen.shtml
The restored original of the statue in the lower view now looks like this:
http://www.saeckinger-geschichte.de/bilder/frid_ur.jpg
The skeleton next to F. represents Ursus, a Glarner whom F. legendarily raised from the dead.  U. is a frequently recurring figure in F.'s iconography.  You can see more of him in the last two views here:
http://www.saeckinger-geschichte.de/fridolin3.htm
F. is the patron saint of Bad Säckingen and of Canton Glarus.  Here are his relics (well, relics believed to be his) in their annual procession in Bad Säckingen on this day:
http://www.saeckinger-geschichte.de/bilder/schrein.jpg


3)  Julian of Toledo (d. 690).  J. was born into a Christian family that had recently been Jewish.  A student of Eugenius II at the cathedral school of Toledo, he succeed E. first as abbot of Agali and later (in 680) as archbishop of Toledo.  His surviving writings include an exegetical commentary on the Old Testament and on the New, other theological works (including at least one, on Messianic prophecies, intended for the conversion of Jews), a Latin grammar, and a Life of king Wamba (in whose poisoning J. has been thought to have been complicit).  An announcement of a recent English-language translation of this last is here:
http://cuapress.cua.edu/books/viewbook.cfm?Book=PISW


4)  Chrodegang of Metz (d. 766).  C. studied at the monastery of Saint-Trond and then served at the Frankish court under Charles Martel and under Carloman.  The latter made him bishop of Metz in 741 or 742.  A notable ecclesiastical reformer, C. wrote a rule for canons that later underwent several revisions and that was influential outside of Francia as well as within it.  Among his monastic foundations are Gorze in Lorraine and Lorsch in today's Hessen.  For the former he procured the relics of the Roman martyr St. Gorgonius (later translated to Minden) and for the latter those of the Milanese martyrs St. Felix and Nabor (later translated to Köln).

Whereas the abbey at Gorze was called that of St. Gorgonius, its surviving twelfth-/thirteenth-century church (with later additions) is dedicated to St. Stephen.  Herewith some views of this St.-Etienne, restored in the nineteenth century.  Two pages of views start here:
http://tinyurl.com/2pgqvj
A somewhat better view of the portal sculptures:
http://tinyurl.com/yp2ba7

Here's an English-language website on the remains of the abbey at Lorsch (Lkr. Bergstraße):
http://www.kloster-lorsch.de/lingua/englisch.html
Some views in color of the originally ninth-century "King's Hall" ("Königshalle") within the precinct of the abbey are here:
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kloster_Lorsch
Further views of that restored building (from its form and its position on the axis of main gate and the abbey church often called a gatehouse, though we are not informed as to its intended or actual functions) are accessible from here:
http://www.brynmawr.edu/Acads/Cities/wld/01010/01010m.html


5)  Rose of Viterbo (Bl.; d. 1251 or 1252).  What little we know of the historical R. comes from a fragmentarily preserved Vita written shortly after her death, a fuller Vita written some two centuries later for her canonization process begun in 1457, and from other documents of that process (BHL 7339-7348).  A lay visionary who died young, she attracted followers and held public processions in Viterbo praising Christ and lamenting man's sinfulness.  Briefly exiled in 1250 by a podestà appointed by Frederick II, she is said to have shared in the papal view of that monarch as an enemy of the church and while in exile to have had a vision of the arrival of good news subsequently interpreted as the announcement, not long afterward, of Frederick's death.  Returning to Viterbo, R. sought to enter the Damianite convent there but was refused, after which she is said to have predicted that those who did not want her in life would be happy to have her in death.

R. was considered a saint in her lifetime.  Failed attempts to gain permission to erect a church and monastery in her honor at Viterbo in 1253 and 1255 indicate a popular cult.  In 1257 or 1258 Alexander IV authorized the translation of R.'s body to the church of the Damianite convent in Viterbo.  Thus adopted by a part of the Franciscan movement, she has been claimed as a Franciscan tertiary and is venerated as a Franciscan saint.  The date of the translation, 4. September, is R.'s major feast day at Viterbo and in the Franciscan family; it was also the day under which cardinal Baronio entered her in the RM as a _beata_, the fifteenth-century canonization process never having been concluded.  Though the "new" RM of 2001, which as is its wont commemorates R. on what it accepts as her _dies natalis_, still calls her _beata_, the Roman church has often called her Saint in officially approved publications.

R.'s relics are kept in Viterbo's early modern church dedicated to her (a rebuilding of the Damianite church of the BVM into which she was translated in the thirteenth century).  The reliquary shown here is said to contain her heart:
http://tinyurl.com/agofcl


6)  Agnes of Bohemia (d. 1282).  A. (also Agnes of Prague; in Czech, Anežka Česká or Anežka Přemyslovna) was the youngest daughter of king Ottokar I of Bohemia.  A very devout person, educated in Cistercian and Premonstratensian monasteries, she devoted herself to prayers and good works while waiting through a series of betrothals that never got as far as an actual marriage.  In 1231, with the assistance of pope Gregory IX, A. extricated herself from the last of these unwelcome arrangements of state.  A. soon founded a hospital at Prague, next to which she established a convent of Poor Clares, entering it in 1233 or 1234 along with five other religious sent by St. Clare of Assisi, with whom she remained in correspondence.  In time she herself became its abbess, though she preferred to be called _soror maior_.

To manage and staff her hospital (which in 1252 moved to a new location), in 1233 A. founded a community of Franciscan-affiliated lay brothers, _Fratres hospitalares_.  The community was approved canonically in 1235, was raised to the status of an exempt Order in 1237, and in 1252 was authorized to use the differentiating symbol that made them the Crosiers of the Red Star (Ordo militaris Crucigerorum cum rubea stella; Kreuzherren mit dem Roten Stern).

A. was beatified in 1874 and canonized in 1989.  Her _dies natalis_ 4)  Agnes of Bohemia (d. 1282).  A. (also Agnes of Prague; in Czech, Anežka Česká or Anežka Přemyslovna) was the youngest daughter of king Ottokar I of Bohemia.  A very devout person, educated in Cistercian and Premonstratensian monasteries, she led a life of prayer and good works while waiting through a series of betrothals that never got as far as an actual marriage.  With the assistance of pope Gregory IX, A. extricated herself in 1231 from the last of these unwelcome arrangements of state.  She soon founded a hospital at Prague, next to which she established a convent of Poor Clares, entering it in 1233 or 1234 along with five other religious sent by St. Clare of Assisi, with whom she remained in correspondence.  A. became its abbess, though not immediately and though she preferred to be called _soror maior_.

To manage and staff her hospital (which in 1252 moved to a new location), in 1233 A. founded a community of Franciscan-affiliated lay brothers, _Fratres hospitalares_.  The community was approved canonically in 1235, was raised to the status of an exempt Order in 1237, and in 1252 was authorized to use the differentiating symbol that made them the Crosiers of the Red Star (Ordo militaris Crucigerorum cum rubea stella; Kreuzherren mit dem Roten Stern).

A. was beatified in 1874 and canonized in 1989.  Her _dies natalis_ and day of commemoration in the RM is 6. March.  Herewith an English-language account and some views of Prague's Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia (Klášter sv. Anežky České), built from the 1230s to the 1280s:
http://tinyurl.com/dmfwzu
http://www.v-praha.info/v2/6d020-209kl-an.jpg
http://tinyurl.com/dy3j6o
http://tinyurl.com/cbofbp
http://img.trivago.com/uploadimages/45/32/4532467_l.jpeg

This site is now part of the National Gallery.  Among its holdings is the Crosiers' Altar (in German, Kreuzherren-Altar) of 1482 with its panel painting on wood of A. ministering to a man sick in bed (large detail shown here):
http://tinyurl.com/2m9x5y


7)  Colette of Corbie (d. 1447).  A reformer of the Poor Clares, C. was the daughter of poor, elderly parents of Corbie in Picardy.  Like the similarly elderly and childless parents of St. Nicholas of Tolentino they prayed to St. Nicholas of Bari for a child and when successful named their issue after this patron of children (Colette, in Latin Coletta, is an abbreviation of Nicolette/Nicoletta).  C. had a very religious upbringing.  At the age of eighteen, when her parents were already dead, she entered a Beguine community at Corbie.  Finding the life there insufficiently austere, she by turns entered a local house of Benedictine nuns and then a convent of Poor Clares at Senlis, offering herself as a servant and not taking religious vows.  Still dissatisfied, C. returned to Corbie and took up life as a recluse.

In 1406, at about the age of twenty-five and prompted by visions, C. persuaded the Avignon antipope Benedict XIII (Pedro de Luna) to permit her to reform the Poor Clares in his jurisdiction and to establish new convents.  During the remainder of her time on earth she founded some seventeen of these, mostly in francophone territories.  Her Colettine Poor Clares went barefoot, embraced total poverty, and performed perpetual fasting and abstinence.  C., who when she was not organizing her reform spent her time in prayer and meditation, continued to receive visions and to repel the assaults of the devil.  Miracles were reported both in her lifetime and afterward, especially during an attack of pestilence in 1469 at Gand/G(h)ent, where C. was buried, and at other locations.

In 1604 Clement VIII granted an Office for C. to her community at Gand/G(h)ent; this was later extended to all the Spanish Netherlands.  C. was beatified in 1740 and canonized in 1807.  Her remains now repose in a châsse at the Monastère Sainte-Claire at Poligny (Jura) in Franche Comté, founded by C. in 1415.  Here's a view of her chapel there:
http://tinyurl.com/awu4ca

Best,
John Dillon
(last year's post revised and with the addition of Marcianus of Tortona)

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