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.

Monday, 23 February 2015

St Margaret of Cortona

Had yesterday not been the first Sunday in Lent it would have been the Feast of the Chair of Peter, about which I have posted before in The Chair of St Peter at Rome - some reflections  three years ago and in The Chair of Peter two years ago. In addition to that it is also the feast day of St Margaret of Cortona. She is one of those later medieval female saints who abound in central Italy, and in her case her story is well worthy of a Verdi opera. John Dillon has posted the following about her on the Medieval Religion discussion group site:

St Margaret of Cortona (Margherita da Cortona; d. 1297). The lay penitent and visionary Margaret had previously lived for nine years with a wealthy man whose murder (and it was she who discovered his bloody corpse), followed by her father's refusal to take her back into his home in the Umbrian village of Laviano, precipitated her turn to a life of religious service. Establishing herself in Cortona (AR) in Tuscany she lived ascetically, volunteered as a midwife, and persuaded a donor to create a hospital for the poor that she then directed assiduously. The community of religious women that she organized survived her and promoted her cause by means of the Legenda de vita et miraculis beatae Margaritae de Cortona (BHL 5314). The latter is a work of multiple authorship including a lengthy record of Margaret's visions as recounted to and as written down by her confessor G., now generally identified as the Franciscan friar Giunta Bevegnati. The Legenda also incorporates matter from a later confessor and from various locals offering miracle accounts. Margaret's immediately posthumous cult was confirmed for Cortona in 1515. She was canonized in 1728.

Margaret of Cortona at rest in the mostly nineteenth-century basilica di Santa Margherita at Cortona:

Some medieval images of Margaret of Cortona:

a) Margaret of Cortona and scenes from her Legenda as depicted by a follower of Margarito of Arezzo in a late thirteenth-century panel painting (ca. 1298) in the Museo diocesano di Cortona:
Detail view of Margaret:
Grayscale views of the smaller panels will be found here:
The individual scenes are identified here (in Italian):

b) Margaret of Cortona as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century panel painting (betw. 1320 and 1340) attributed to Ugolino da Siena or to some other follower of Segna di Bonaventura (to whom this painting has also been attributed), now in Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon:

c) Margaret of Cortona (at far right) as depicted by Sassetta in his earlier fifteenth-century San Domenico di Cortona altarpiece (ca. 1434) in the Museo diocesano di Cortona:

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