Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

St Dorothy in art and legend

In the pre-1969 Calendar yesterday, February 6th, was the feast of St Dorothy or Dorothea. On the Medieval Religion discussion group John Dillon posted the following about her cult and a series of depictions of this once popular saint as follows (which I have slightly adapted):

Dorothea of Caesarea in Cappadocia.  The Wikipedia article Dorothea of Caesarea (with several intersting depictions of the saint and her martyrdom) has "Caesarea Mazaca" as a modern retronym for today's Kayseri in Turkey, clumsily putting together -- in reverse chronological order -- two individual names borne by the city at different times in its history. She shares the essential aspects of her legend with the earlier attested Dorothea of Alexandria in Egypt, about whom one first hears in Rufinus' early fifth-century additions to Eusebius' Historia ecclesiastica. But there is no evidence for that Dorothea's ever having enjoyed a recognized cult, whereas a Dorothea of Caesarea in Cappadocia does appear in the late sixth - or early seventh-century (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology. Either Rufinus erred in his localization of the virgin martyr Dorothea or else the latter's legend was transferred to Dorothea of Caesarea in Cappadocia at some point prior to its appearance in St. Aldhelm's late seventh- or very early eighth-century prose De virginitate.

We have no evidence at all for the date of Dorothea of Caesarea's martyrdom: the Wikipedia article's fixing her death after Diocletian's resignation derives from Rufinus' ascription of Dorothea of Alexandria's suffering to the reign of Maximinus. On the other hand, Dorothea of Caesarea in Cappadocia's entry in the (ps.-)HM seems to have furnished the legend with its secondary martyr Theophilus Scholasticus, as he's absent from Rufinus' account of Dorothea of Alexandria. The apples and the roses (later and more generically, flowers) that become Dorothea's characteristic attribute make their first appearance in the ninth-century martyrology of St. Rabanus Maurus and the six-year-old boy whom brings them to Theophilus makes his first appearance in the also ninth-century martyrology of St. Ado of Vienne. The basket containing these gifts is an even later development. The basket containing the dog Toto belongs to another Dorothy altogether.

Some medieval images of Dorothea of Caesarea in Cappadocia:

a) Dorothea as depicted in the early twelfth-century mosaics of Grado's four female saints in the cupola di San Leonardo of the basilica cattedrale di San Marco in Venice:

b) Dorothea (at right; on the wing at left, St. Mary Magdalene) as depicted by Ambrogio Lorenzetti on a wing of an earlier fourteenth-century triptych (ca. 1325) in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena:

c) Dorothea as portrayed in an early fifteenth-century limewood statue with traces of polychrome (ca. 1410-1420) in the Magyar Nemzeti Galéria in Budapest:

d) Dorothea at left (at right, St. Catherine of Alexandria) as depicted by the Master of the Darmstadt Passion in an earlier fifteenth-century panel painting (ca. 1440) in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon (in a late medieval interpretation reflected here the boy who serves as Dorothy's messenger is the young Jesus):

e) Dorothea's hand holding a basket as portrayed on a fifteenth-century arm reliquary in the treasury of the Catedral Primada Santa María in Toledo:

f) Dorothea as depicted in a fifteenth-century fresco on the apsidal arch of the chiesa di San Giacomo in Urtijëi (BZ) in the South Tirol's Val Gardena:

g) Dorothea as depicted in a mid-fifteenth-century glass window of upper Rhine origin in the Musée national du Moyen Age (Musée de Cluny) in Paris:

h) Dorothea as depicted in a later fifteenth-century fresco in the now deconsecrated church of San Pietro at Carpignano Sesia (NO) in Piedmont:

i) Dorothea as depicted in a fifteenth- or sixteenth-century book of hours for the Use of Sarum (Riom, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 76, fol. 37v):

j) Dorothea as portrayed in an originally polychromed limewood statue of ca. 1500 from Arlesheim (Kanton Basel) now in the Historisches Museum Basel:

k) Dorothea as portrayed by Andrea della Robbia in a terra cotta statue of ca. 1500 in the Bode Museum in Berlin:

l) Dorothea as depicted in an early sixteenth-century wall painting (ca. 1510) in Nibe kirke, Nibe (Aalborg Kommune) in Nordjylland:

To this series of images the Rev. Gordon Plumb added the following medieval English stained glassdepictions of her:

Langport, All Saints, Somerset, I, B7:

Fairford, St Mary, Gloucestershire, nVII, B2:

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