medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

On 12 March 2011 16:32, Terri Morgan <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
> Today, March 12, is the feast day of:
> Maximilian of Thebes (d. 295) We have an early and good source for the
> martyrdom of Maximilian. He was the son of a Roman soldier, so by law had
> to
> enter the army. But when brought to the recruiter, Maximilian stated that
> he
> could not serve because of the religious ceremonies (non-Christian) that
> formed an important part of army life. After a long argument, including, on
> the proconsul's part, the argument that lots of Christians were serving in
> the army without complaint, he still refused. So he was executed.
> Peter, Dorotheus, Gorgonius, and Migdon/Maxima (d. 303) The Emperor
> Diocletian having discovered that Peter, one of his officers of the
> bedchamber, was a Christian, ordered him to be tortured. Then Gorgonius and
> Dorotheus, two other officers, filled with indignation, exclaimed, "Why,
> sire, dost thou thus torment Peter for what we all profess in our hearts?"
> The emperor at once ordered them to execution, together with Migdo, a
> priest, and many other Christians. Dorotheus and Gorgonius were tortured
> and
> then executed; Peter was saved for last and was killed in a particularly
> nasty way: bits of his flesh were torn off, salt and vinegar were rubbed
> into the wounds, and then he was roasted to death over a slow fire.
> Innocent I, pope (d. 417) According to the Liber Pontificalis, Innocent was
> the son of a man named from Albano named Innocentius. His contemporary
> Jerome called him the son and successor of St. Anastasius I. Innocent, who
> succeeded Anastasius as bishop of Rome in late December 401, was
> exceptionally active in exercising influence throughout the Catholic
> oikumene and in promoting therein the primacy of Rome. He supported St.
> John
> Chrysostom when the latter was ejected from the see of Constantinople and
> exiled, he supported St. Jerome when unruly miscreants violated his
> monasteries at Bethlehem, and he supported the African church against
> Pelagius, whose views on grace he publicly condemned.  Innocent had the
> good
> fortune to be absent from Rome during Alaric's sack in 410.  He died on
> this
> day and was buried in the cemetery of Pontian on the Via Portuensis.
> Paul Aurelian/Paulinus Aurelianus (Latin)/ Paul Aurélien/Paul de Léon/Paol
> Aorelian (Breton)/also forms with Pol (Aurelian is a by-name suggestive of
> Roman culture) (d. 6th century) is one of the largely legendary founding
> saints of Brittany. According to his late ninth-century Vita by Wrmonoc, a
> monk of Landévennec, Paul was a Briton religious from Glamorgan, Wales
> educated by St. Illtud at his school at Llantwit. He had been a hermit from
> age 16 but with twelve companions he voyaged across the Channel to
> Armorica,
> where a local count gave him both the island of Batz, on which he built a
> monastery, and a Roman fort on the mainland that became the nucleus of a
> settlement ancestral to today's Saint-Pol-de-Léon (Finistère), where in
> time
> he became bishop, possibly managing to resign after a few years. Miracles
> and healing springs figure largely in this Vita, which links Paul to
> various
> places in Brittany but says little about him that critically inclined
> others
> have found credible.
>   Wormonoc told  the beautiful story of saint Paul Aurelien's bell in his
> "vita" of the saint : Paul asked king "Marcus Quonomorius" (King Marc of
> Corwall) to give him a bell which was part of a specific instrument but the
> king, who invited the saint to stay at the royal court, was so disappointed
> Paul preferred to go to Brittany that he declined to give him the bell.
> After a short time, Paul established himself with his brothers in Britanny
> and they found the bell in the stomach of a fish. Saint Paul Aurelien's
> bell
> is still preserved as a relic in the former Cathedral of Saint-Pol-de-Leon
> (Brittany).
>   He has been venerated on this day at Saint-Pol-de-Léon (in Breton,
> Kastell-Paol) since at least the eighth century.
> Gregory the Great, pope and doctor. (604) Known as the Apostle of the
> English. "St. Gregory the Great will be an everlasting honour to the
> Benedictine Order and to the Papacy" (Baring-Gould). Famous story: when
> walking through the market, he asked the nationality of some fair-skinned
> boys for sale. Told they were Angli, he said, 'They are well named, for
> they
> have angelic faces and it becomes such to be companions with the angels in
> heaven.'
> Mura(n) McFeredach (d. c645)was a native of Co. Donegal (Ireland); the son
> of Feredach, of the noble race of the O'Neills. Colum Cille appointed him
> abbot of Fahan in Co. Derry. Muran is the special patron saint of the
> O'Neills.
> Theophanes the Chronicler/the Confessor (d. 817 or 818) Theophanes was born
> to a very wealthy Greek family and a marriage was arranged for him at a
> young age, but he and his bride decided to live as siblings together and
> then separated when the girl's father died. Theo became a monk, then built
> the monastery of Megas Agros ("Great Acre") on his own estate at Mount
> Sigriane on the southern side of the Propontis and ruled it as abbot. He
> was
> an ascetic and a historian, producing a major chronicle. Emperor Leo the
> Armenian, though, decided that a monk so well born and highly regarded
> would
> make a good defender of iconoclasm.  He summoned Theophanes to court; Theo
> refused to denounce icons, and was flogged and imprisoned for two years.
> When he was very frail he was exiled to Samothrace, where he died shortly
> after his arrival. His fellow sufferer St. Theodore the Studite wrote a
> panegyric on the translation of his relics. Theophanes is also the author
> of
> an important chronicle covering the years 285-813, a continuation of that
> of
> George the Syncellus. In the 870s this was translated into Latin by
> Anastasius Bibliothecarius and thus became known in the Latin West.
> Alphege/Elphege/Ælfheah(A-S) of Winchester (d. 951) Alphege "the Elder" or
> "the Bald" was a monk who succeeded St. Birstan (d. 931) in the see of
> Winchester.  A leading early figure in English Benedictine reform (P. H.
> Sawyer called him "the prime mover of the monastic renaissance"), he is now
> seen only rather dimly through his surviving charters, through the Vitae of
> Sts. Dunstan and Æthelwold (Ethelwold), and through brief mentions in later
> eleventh- and twelfth-century English ecclesiastical historians.  He had a
> reputation for holiness and prophecy. The best known anecdote about Alphege
> concerns his ordaining to the priesthood on the same day Dunstan (said to
> have been his kinsman), Æthelwold, and a third monk named Æthelstan and
> then, gathering them together, correctly predicting how each would finish
> his ecclesiastical career.  Alphege is called "the Elder" to distinguish
> him
> from his martyred homonym of April 19 (who prior to his translation to
> Canterbury had also been bishop of Winchester).
> Symeon/Simeon the New Theologian (d. 1022) Symeon was a noble Paphlagonian
> who became a monk at Studium in Constantinople, then abbot of St. Mamas in
> 981. He was a disciple of St. Symeon the Studite and a prolific writer who
> emphasized a personal experience of God (mysticism) and took to writing
> sometimes-controversial theological and ethical treatises. In 1009 his
> spiritual teachings were controversial enough to force his resignation and
> later exile; he was pardoned but never returned to Constantinople. Simeon
> was one of the greatest Byzantine mystics.
> Seraphina/Fina (Blessed) (d. 1253) In 1238 Seraphina was born to poor
> parents in San Geminiano (Tuscany). She is the local saint of her town,
> where a hospital named for her was founded not long after her death. In
> about 1300 the rector of that hospital asked an up and coming Dominican who
> was also a native of the town, Fra Giovanni da San Gimignano, to compose a
> suitable Vita of Seraphina.  The little we know about Seraphina comes from
> this Vita (BHL 2978), produced by Giovanni with the help of a few witnesses
> to events of over fifty years earlier, of local traditions some of which
> will already have been known to him, and of his training in the Dominican
> educational system. Giovanni, whose several sermon collections were widely
> held in late medieval Dominican libraries, would in 1329 found San
> Gimignano's Dominican convent of the Santissima Assunta.
>   In Fra Giovanni's telling, Seraphina was a girl of admirable virtues and
> straightened means who while in bed was afflicted with a form of paralysis
> that made her completely immobile. One side of her body became so painful
> that she spent five years lying on the other side on a wooden board,
> receiving visitors, engaging in small acts of charity permitted by her
> poverty, and providing moral lessons while her rotting flesh adhered to the
> board and was nibbled by mice whom her visitors could see emerging from
> holes that they had gnawed in her body. After Seraphina's mother died a
> friend looked in at times to take care of the increasingly destitute
> sufferer.
>   Toward the end of her ordeal Seraphina experienced visions, including one
> in which a diabolical serpent appeared to her and was repelled with the
> sign
> of cross and another in which St. Gregory the Great informed her that she
> would die soon, on his day. Which she did (March 12 is Gregory's dies
> natalis, though the RM now commemorates him on September 3).  Miracles
> confirmed Seraphina's sanctity: bells were heard to ring, flowers bloomed
> on
> the plank on which she lay (or when Seraphina's body had been removed from
> the board for burial the flesh that remained stuck to the latter was
> sweet-smelling), etc. She was 15 when she died. People in this area of
> Tuscany have named the white violets which bloom at this time after their
> patron.
>   Other miracles occurred after Seraphina's burial. Fra Giovanni closes
> with a catalogue of enough of these to certify Fina's enduring power. An
> unsuccessful attempt was made in 1462 to have Seraphina canonized by the
> Sienese pope Pius II (he had canonized St. Catherine of Siena in 1461). In
> 1481 Sixtus IV authorized her cult for San Gimignano. She entered the RM in
> 2001 as a Beata.
>   Seraphina reposes in a later fifteenth-century chapel, designed by
> Giuliano da Maiano, in San Gimignano's principal church, its chiesa
> collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta, consecrated in 1148. The chapel is
> decorated with frescoes from 1475 or a little after by Domenico Ghirlandaio
> illustrating a) the apparition of St. Gregory the Great to Fina and b)
> Seraphina's funeral service: .
>      The inscription on the sarcophagus reads (punctutation John Dillon’s):
>      ("Stranger, a virgin's bones lie hidden in the tomb that you behold.
> She is the glory of her people, an example to them, and their bulwark.  Her
> name was Fina.  This was her home town.  Do you seek miracles?  Scrutinize
> what the walls and living sculptures teach.  1475")
>      The text of the inscription was furnished by the Neapolitan humanist
> Giovanni Battista Cantalicio (ca. 1450 - 1514?).  The mural paintings to
> which it refers are the two by Ghirlandaio on the walls of the oblong
> chapel
> (the _hospes_ passes these to approach the altar at the chapel's far end).
> The sculptures referred to are those on the upper part of the altar. Fina
> had an altar in this church as early as 1325. The present chapel was built
> and adorned in the late 1460s and the 1470s. An Italian-language page on
> the
> chapel as a whole:
>   A view of what is said to have been Seraphina's house in San Gimignano:
>   Another offering to the collection of pictures of San Gimignano and its
> Sta Fina:
>      Here is a shot of of Benedetto da Maiano's altar of Fina (completed,
> 1477) in the collegiata of San Gimignano, with the altar's doors open to
> show the Beata's reliquary bust within:
> Dionysius the Carthusian (d. 1471) Not formally canonized, but he's made
> his
> way into several martyrologies. Dionysius was a native of Flanders. He got
> a
> doctorate at the University of Cologne, then became a Carthusian. He was
> famous for his mystical writings, which won him the title "Doctor
> Ecstaticus."
> happy reading,
> Terri Morgan
> --
> Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in
> school.  ~Albert Einstein
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Ms Kylie Murray,

Visiting Fellow in English,
University of Bristol

D.Phil Candidate in Medieval and Early-Modern Scottish Literature,
Lincoln College and Faculty of English Language and Literature,
University of Oxford

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