medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today, April 30,  is the feast of:


Maximus of Ephesus (d. 250) was an Ephesian merchant, arrested during the Decian persecution. Maximus was first beaten with clubs, then stretched on the rack, and was finally stoned to death.


Marian/Marianus and Jacobus/James (d. prob. 259) Marian and James, lector and deacon, were travelling in Numidia when they came to Muguas, a place where persecution was then raging. At length all the martyrs were ordered out to execution and were placed near a stream in a green valley, in a long row, and the executioners struck off their heads one after another, so that their blood ran down into and mingled with the stream. Their relics of Marianus and Jacobus are honored in the cathedral of Gubbio (Italy).


Eutropius, bishop of Saintes (third century): The story locally told is that St Eutropius accompanied St Denis to France to share his apostolic labours. The people of Saintes, to whom he preached, expelled him from their city, and he went to live in a cell on a neighbouring rock where he gave himself to prayer and to instructing those who would listen. Amongst others he converted and baptised was the Roman governor's daughter, Eustella. When the girl's father discovered that she was a Christian he drove her from his house, and charged the butchers of Saintes to slay Eutropius. Eustella found Eutropius dead with his skull split by an axe, and she buried his remains in his cell.


Quirinus of Rome, venerated at Neuss (?). Quirinus is a martyr of the cemetery of Praetextatus on the Appian Way, where his probable epitaph by pope St. Damasus I, making him out to have been a soldier, has been recovered in a very fragmentary state. The very legendary Passio of pope St. Alexander, Eventius, and Theodulus makes him a military tribune and the father of St. Balbina, has him decapitated on 30 March, and records his burial in the cemetery of Praetextatus. His grave there in a large underground opening is recorded in the seventh-century pilgrim itineraries for Rome. Ado, Usuard, and the RM listed him under the Passio's date of March 30. The RM now assigns him the day given in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology for a confessor of the same name and the same cemetery. In many German dioceses this was already his feast day in the later Middle Ages. With the promulgation of the new RM, the archdiocese of Köln designated today as the feast of his (supposed) translation to Neuss (see below) and kept 30 March as Quirinus' local feast day.

   Around the year 1000 there was a church dedicated to a St. Quirinus at today's Neuss am Rhein in Nordrhein-Westfalen. Later medieval texts purvey a story that in 1050 pope St. Leo IX gave his remains to the then abbess of a Benedictine monastery for women at Neuss (supposedly founded in 825 and later known as the Qurinusstift, it transformed itself in the twelfth century into a house of noble canonesses). Henceforth Neuss had a military martyr to go with others in the region. His cult spread widely in Germany and the Low Countries, where he was credited with protecting Neuss during the Burgundian siege of 1474/75 and where from the late fifteenth century through the seventeenth he was invoked as one of God's Four Holy Marshals.


Donatus, bishop of EvrŒa (about 387) is related to have killed a monstrous dragon - He spat in the dragon's mouth and slew it.


Mercurialis (d. later 4th century) is an historically attested bishop of Forlì in Emilia-Romagna (he took part in the Council of Rimini in 359) who medievally became its apostolic-era protobishop. His cult is first attested from the ninth century; in the tenth it has spread to Ravenna and to Pistoia. In the later eleventh century a monk who was not of Forlì wrote the first of his Vitae, combining praise of a model bishop with narrative elements derived from paintings in Mercurialis' originally extramural late antique basilica. One of the latter has him, assisted by St. Rufillus of nearby Frolimpopoli, slay a dragon that had been infesting the area between their two towns. In 1173-81 Vallombrosans erected at Forlì the monastery church dedicated to him now known as the basilica di San Mercuriale.


Maternianus of Reims (d. later 4th century) is traditionally reckoned the sixth bishop of Reims, having succeeded St. Aper in about 351. He was one of the addressees of St. Hilarius of Poitiers' letter De synodis, written from exile in 358.

   Maternianus' brief, legendary Vita (BHL 5677; hesitantly ascribed to the eleventh century) adds nothing reliable to the very little that is known about him. Miracles accompanied his birth, when still an infant he was saved miraculously from a fire that was threatening his crib, and after becoming a priest at Reims he was famous for his miracles. When the clergy of Reims were seeking a replacement for the recently deceased Aper a miraculous nocturnal light surrounded his dwelling, other miracles occurred, and Maternianus was chosen by acclamation.

   As bishop, Maternianus healed a leper, excommunicated a magnate who had been unjustly oppressing a poor widow, and overcame a challenge to his authority by an African magus named Ireneus, whom he then cured of diabolic possession. Maternianus joined with Hilarius at Poitiers in combating heretics, magi, sorcerers, and the like and was with Hilarius at the latter's death.  Returning to Reims, he himself died not long afterward. Three days later Maternianus appeared to his sorrowful disciples, comforting them with the news that he was in heaven. Thus far the Vita, which in the form printed in the Acta Sanctorum does not furnish a dies natalis for Maternianus. In the later Middle Ages North German dioceses celebrated Maternianus on July 7. In Reims he was celebrated today; this is also his day of commemoration in some Orthodox churches. Maternianus has yet to grace the pages of the RM.

   According to Flodoard of Reims (Historia Remensis ecclesiae, 1. 5), archbishop Hincmar of Reims conducted a formal recognition of Maternianus's remains before giving a portion of them to Louis the German (r. 817-876). Archbishop Ebbo of Reims (d. 851) gave relics of Maternianus to archbishop St. Ansgar of Hamburg-Bremen who in turn deposited them at today's Heiligenstedten (Lkr. Steinburg) in Schleswig-Holstein. In 882 Ansgar's successor St. Rimbert founded the abbey of Sts. Maternianus and Nicholas at today's Bücken (Lkr. Nienburg/Weser) in Niedersachsen. Its relics of Maternianus presumably came from Heiligenstedten.

   The Stiftskirche St. Materniani et St. Nicolai in Bücken has some restored earlier thirteenth-century windows.  Here's a view of its window of St. Maternianus:


Cynwl (6th century)  was the brother of St. Deiniol of Bangor and a hermit in Wales. Several churches were dedicated to him.


Pomponius (d. 6th century) is recorded for today in Naples' early ninth-century Marble Calendar. According to the late ninth- and early tenth-century Neapolitan ecclesiastical chronicler John the Deacon, he was the city's twenty-first bishop. He is credited with having built Naples' church of Santa Maria Maggiore, known since early modern times as the Pietrasanta. This occupies the site of an ancient temple. In Neapolitan legend, the ruined temple was by night the haunt of demons, the chief of which assumed the form of a giant boar that greatly terrified nearby residents with its sinister grunting. The BVM appeared to Pomponius in a dream vision and instructed him to erect a church on the ruins. This he did, dedicating the building to her, and the demons troubled the area no more.


Erkenwald/Earconwald (d. 693) Legend says that Erconwald was a member of the East Anglian royal family and the brother of St. Æthelburh of Barking abbey, which he founded for her. He also founded the abbey of Chertsey and was its abbot from c664 until his death. In 675 or 676 St. Theodore of Canterbury made him bishop of London. Bede writes that slivers of wood from the litter in which Erkenwald was carried when ill worked miracles. As bishop he enlarged St. Paul's cathedral, continued the work of spreading Christianity to the East Saxons, and served as peacemaker between Theodore and St. Wilfrid.  His feast on this day is attested in later Anglo-Saxon calendars. During the burning of the cathedral in 1087 it is related that the shrine and its silken coverings remained intact. In 1148 he was translated to a shrine east of the high altar of St. Paul's; shortly thereafter, a collection of his miracles appeared. From then until the Reformation he was London's principal patron saint. In the Middle English alliterative poem Saint Erkenwald (late fourteenth-century) he obtains salvation for a just pagan judge. The shrine was robbed of its jewels and ornaments in the 16th century; and the bones of the saint are said to have been buried at the east end of the choir. (Nearly all the graves were lost in the Great Fire of 1666.)

   To the possible confusion of historians dating documents, St. Erconwald (Erkenwald) actually has had four feast days: April 30 (his death), February 1 and May 13 (the dates his relics were translated), and November 14 (when his relics were raised above the high altar at St. Paul's, in 1148). Bishop Braybrook in 1386 ordered that all four dates be observed as feast days of the first class. The Catholic Encyclopedia states that English Catholics observe November 14, and Hall's Chronicle (1550) ties an event to November 14 as well. But the homepage for St. Erconwald's RC Church, Wembley, has yet a fifth feast day, April 24.


Hildegard (d. 783) was Charlemagne’s wife, not the famous mystic. Hildegard was a daughter of the duke of Swabia; she married then-divorced Carlemagne in 771 as his second wife. She bore him eight (or nine) children, including Louis the Pious, supported monasticism, and was a friend of St. Lioba.


Amator of Cordoba (d. 855) was a priest, active in Cordoba. He was martyred by order of the Muslim authorities.


Forannan (d. 982) was an Irish bishop. His see is given as "Domhnach-Mor" - where this was is unknown. He went with twelve companions to Belgium in obedience to a dream, and settled at the monastery of Waulsort. He became abbot in 962. He was a friend of John of Gorze and introduced the Gorzian reform to his monastery. His rule was so popular that they had to expand to a second monastery.


Gualfardus/Wolfhard (1127): About the year 1906 there arrived at Verona a saddler from Augsburg called Wolfhard, who took up his abode in the city. All that he earned by his trade, apart from what was necessary for bare subsistence, he gave to the poor, and he led so holy a life that he was regarded with veneration. Shocked to find himself treated as a saint, he secretly left Verona to seek a spot where he could serve God unobserved by people. As a hermit, he lived in a forest on the river Adige for years until he was recognised by some boatmen whose vessel ran aground near his hut. The Veronese induced him to return into their midst and he eventually became a hermit-monk of the Camaldolese priory of the Holy Redeemer, famous for his miracle work.


Adjutor/Adiutor of Vernon (d. 1131) According to his Vita by his younger contemporary, archbishop Hugh III of Rouen, Adjutor was born to a noble family at Vernon in Normandy and was educated at Tiron in the Perche by its St. Bernard. As a young man he took part in the First Crusade. He was taken prisoner by Saracens and spent seventeen years in captivity before being released miraculously with the aid of Sts. Mary Magdalene and Bernard of Tiron and then miraculously transported to his homeland, bearing with him the chains with which he had been bound. On his return he became a monk of Tiron. Later, wearing the chains and manacles of his former imprisonment, he became a hermit, tending a chapel he had constructed near Vernon. In Hugh's presence Adjutor closed a dangerous whirlpool in the Seine by having the archbishop utter a blessing and sprinkle holy water at the site and by then throwing into the vortex some part of the aforementioned chains. Today is his dies natalis. His cult was immediate and was confirmed by further miracles.


Aimo of Savigny (d. 1173) As a young monk, Aimo was falsely thought to have leprosy. To avoid being sent away, he offered to serve two monks who really were leprous. After it became clear that he was not infected, he spent the rest of his life in the monastery, specializing in nursing the sick. He was known for his mystical experiences.


Dodo (1231) 'In the year 1231, on the Sunday after the Annunciation of the Holy Virgin, Brother Dodo, a man of spotless life and conduct, was killed by the walls of an old ruin that collapsed on him. During the five preceding years, he had led a monastic and solitary life in this place, adoring God and Our Lady, day and night, inflicting painful macerations on himself, and he thus ended his life as a sort of martyr by the will of God and in union with Him. After he was buried under the stones of the old sanctuary, they discovered that he had wounds in his hands, feet and right side, in the image of the five wounds of our Saviour. He had carried these for many years, perhaps in sympathy with his crucified Lord: verily, he could say with St Paul, "I carry the marks of the Lord Jesus on my body", but up until the day he died these were hidden from everyone, except from God alone, who knows all things.' One cannot ascertain from the text whether these stigmata were self-inflicted (as was the case with Cristina da Spoleto, who died in 1459) or not. Dodo was a Premonstratensian of Hascha, in Frisia.


Ventura of Spello (d. not long before 1265) is a poorly documented saint of today's Spello in Umbria. A Hospitaller of St. John of Jerusalem, he established at his native Spello a hospital with a church dedicated to the Holy Cross. He was buried in the church, which is now named for him. Miracles were reported at his tomb and in 1346 a miraculous apparition of a second cross over that on Spello's municipal fortress signalled the end of a local armed conflict. His very plain tomb is still in the church of San Ventura; his remains underwent recognitions in 1625 and again in 1778.


Ludwig von Bruck (d. 1429) Yet another supposed victim of Jewish ritual murder at Easter. Ludwig was a boy who died under mysterious circumstances at Ravensburg near Constance.


Pius V (d. 1572) Antonio Ghislieri, the future Pius V, was born in Bosco in 1504 and joined the Dominicans at age 14. He spent 16 years as a Dominican professor of theology and philosophy. He was appointed bishop of Nepi and Butri in 1556, inquisitor of Lombardy in 1557, and soon thereafter became a cardinal and inquisitor general. He was elected pope in 1566 and set out to implement the decrees of the Council of Trent. He simplified the papal court, completed the new catechism, reformed the breviary and missal, lived a life of personal austerity and piety, and was generous to the poor. He also worked desperately against heretics and Turks. He consolidated the Reformation in England, by excommunicating Elizabeth I (she got the Archbishop of Canterbury to excommunicate *him*!) He took up the cause of Mary Queen of Scots, with similar success. He was canonized in 1712.





Happy reading,

Terri Morgan


From the Book of Kerric:

"It requires great strength to be kind, whereas even the very weak can be brutal. Likewise, to speak hard truths fearlessly is often the hallmark of greatness. Bring me one who is both gentle and truthful, ...and I will show you an iron oak among hawthorns, a blessing on all who know them."

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