medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

We know about Ulrich (in Latin, Udalricus) chiefly from his late tenth-century Vita et Miracula by Gerhard of Augsburg (BHL 8359-8360) and, to a lesser degree, from his earlier eleventh-century Vita by abbot Berno of Reichenau (BHL 8362).  A scion of the counts of Dillingen in Swabia he was educated at Sankt Gallen before becoming chancellor to his uncle bishop St. Adalbero of Augsburg.  Upon the latter's death in 909 Urich withdrew to his family's estates; he returned to Augsburg as its bishop in 923.  During his lengthy episcopate he personally exercised monastic austerity and demanded the same of his household.  He also rebuilt the monastery of St. Afra, worked to remedy losses caused by raiding Magyars, built at Augsburg a defensive wall against them, and got along very well with Otto I.  Ulrich died in 973; today is his traditional _dies natalis_.

Ulrich's cult, fortified by miracles at his tomb, was immediate.  His canonization by John XV at the Lateran in 993 is said to have been the first papal canonization.  In 1187 his relics were translated to Augsburg's newly rebuilt abbey church of Sts. Ulrich and Afra (Ulrich's joint titulature is first recorded from 1061), the predecessor of Augsburg's present Basilika St. Ulrich und Afra, a late fifteenth-century building with baroque overlay.  In perhaps his best known miracle a malicious guest surreptitiously kept some meat from a previous night's dinner and then attempted to use it to support his accusation that Ulrich had served it on a Friday in violation of the fast.  But when the meat was produced it had turned into a fish.  It is not recorded whether Ulrich ever recited to his accuser some Old High German or Medieval Latin version of the ditty later famous in Newcastle, "Thou shalt have a fishie on a little dishie..."  

Today is Ulrich's feast day in the diocese of Augsburg and his day of commemoration in the Roman Martyrology.

Some period-pertinent images of St. Ulrich of Augsburg:

a) as depicted in a mid-thirteenth-century fresco in the church of St. Michael at St. Michael im Lungau (Land Salzburg):

b) as depicted (at left; at right, St. Afra) in a fresco of ca. 1400 in the church of St. Martin at St. Martin im Lungau (Land Salzburg):

c) as portrayed (at left; at center, St. Blasius [Blaise]; at right, St. Erasmus) in the earlier fifteenth-century polychromed wooden statues (before 1436) re-used in the central compartment of the otherwise early sixteenth-century winged altarpiece (1517/1518; restored ca. 2000) by Jörg Lederer in the choir of the Kirche St. Blasius in Kaufbeuren: 

d) as depicted by Johann of Laibach the son of Friedrich of Villach in the mid-fifteenth-century frescoes (1443) in the cerkev sv. Nikolaja in Visoko pod Kure¹èkom, Slovenia:

e) as depicted (at left; at right, St. Afra) in a mid-fifteenth-century fresco (1449) in the Stadtpfarrkirche zu unserer lieben Frau in Donauwörth (Lkr. Donau-Ries) in Bavaria:

f) as depicted in a mid-fifteenth-century fresco (ca. 1450-1460) in the Kapelle St. Agnes in Disentis / Mustér (Kanton Graubünden):

g) as depicted in the mid- or slightly later fifteenth-century Prayer Book of Albrecht VI (ca. 1455-1463; Wien, ÖNB, cod. 1846, fol. 41v):

h) as depicted (at right; at left, St. Rupert) by Thomas of Villach in a later fifteenth-century panel painting (ca. 1465-1475) in the Museo civico in Bolzano:

i) as depicted (asleep; at right, St. Afra) in a later fifteenth-century panel painting (ca. 1480) in the Basilika St. Ulrich und Afra in Augsburg:

j) as portrayed in a polychromed wooden statue of Austrian or Bavarian origin offered by Schuler Auktionen in Zurich in March 2016:

k) as depicted by Leonhard Beck in an early sixteenth-century panel painting (ca. 1510) in Veste Coburg in Coburg:

l) as depicted (at left; at right, ?St. Barbara) by Hans Burgkmair in an early sixteenth-century panel painting (1518) in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin:
Detail view (Ulrich):

John Dillon
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