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.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

St Patrick

John Dillon has posted on the Medieval Religion discussion group the following piece about St Patrick, his relics and iconography:

The fifth-century St. Patrick is the apostle of Ireland and one of its patron saints.  The son of a deacon and the grandson of a priest, he was captured at the age of sixteen from his home town in Britannia by pirates who sold him into slavery in Ireland.  He toiled for six years as a herdsman before escaping and returning home.  Later he experienced a nocturnal vision in which he was recalled by the Irish to minister unto them.  After further divine prompting, Patrick returned to engage in pastoral activities of that sort (chiefly, it would seem, in Ulster). We have two genuine writings by him, the Confessio  ("Confession") and the Epistola ad milites Corotici ("Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus").  English-language translations of these are here:

By the seventh century, when his Vita by St. Muirchú (BHL 6497) will have been written, Patrick was already the stuff of legend.  Armagh claimed to have his remains and promoted his cult.  A notable relic of this activity is the ninth-century Book of Armagh (now Trinity College, Dublin, Ms. 52), which in addition to the Gospels and other New Testament texts contains Muirchú's Vita of Patrick, another by bishop Tírechán (BHL 6496; late seventh- or early eighth-century), and other writings bearing on Patrick.  A page of this manuscript is shown here:
The Book of Armagh was long kept in an eighth-century satchel originally crafted for a larger book:


Another relic associated with Patrick is the very early (late sixth-century?) handbell known as the Black Bell of St. Patrick and now kept, along with its late eleventh- or very early twelfth-century shrine, in the National Museum in Dublin.  Views of both the bell and the shrine are here:

Another view of the bell:

Patrick is the patron saint of Patrick in the Isle of Man, where the remains of an originally tenth- or eleventh-century church dedicated to him are enclosed within the walls of Peel Castle on St Patrick's Isle.  In the aerial views shown here, the ruin in question is visible between the round tower and the remains of the cathedral of St. German:


In this view it is the building at top centre:
A distance view of the islet:

Early matter in a widely read and much translated and adapted later twelfth-century account of the otherworld by H. (traditionally called Henry) of Saltrey entitled Tractatus de Purgatorio Sancti Patricii  ("Treatise on Saint Patrick's Purgatory") related how Purgatory was revealed to Patrick and contributed to Patrick's fame in many areas beyond Ireland.  In Bl. Jacopo da Varazze's later thirteenth-century Legenda aurea the entrance to St. Patrick's Purgatory was through a well.  The city of Orvieto (TR) in Umbria has a very deep well constructed between 1527 and 1537 at the behest of Clement VII by the architect Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and called locally, as though it were an entrance to Purgatory, the Pozzo di San Patrizio ("Saint Patrick's Well").  This has a fenestrated central shaft around which course two spiral ramps, one for mules descending to the water and the other for mules going back up with a load of water.  Herewith a page of expandable views:
Other views:

Some period-pertinent images of St. Patrick:

a) as depicted (at left, sleeping under a tree) in an earlier thirteenth-century collection of saint's lives in their French-language translation by Wauchier de Denain (betw. 1226 and 1250; London, BL, MS Royal 20 D VI, fol. 213v):

b) as depicted (at right, receiving the staff of Jesus) in a later thirteenth-century French-language legendary (Paris, BnF, ms. Nouvelle acquisition française 23686, fol. 178v):

c) as depicted (piercing the king's foot with his staff) in a late thirteenth-century copy of French origin of the Legenda aurea (San Marino, CA, Huntington Library, ms. HM 3027, fol. 40v):

d) as depicted (at left, entering Purgatory) in a fourteenth-century copy of the prose Histoire du purgatoire saint Patrice (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 1544, fol. 105r):

e) as depicted (his vision of Purgatory) in an earlier fourteenth-century French-language legendary of Parisian origin with illuminations attributed to the Fauvel Master (c. 1327; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 183, fol. 242v):

f) as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century copy of the Legenda aurea in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (c. 1326-1350; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 185, fol. 186v):

g) as depicted (piercing the king's foot with his staff) in a mid-fourteenth-century copy, from the workshop of Richard and Jeanne de Montbaston, of the Legenda aurea in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (1348; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 241, fol. 83r):

h) as depicted (before the king) in a late fourteenth- or early fifteenth-century copy of the Legenda aurea in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Rennes, Bibliothèque de Rennes Métropole, ms. 266, fol. 89r):

i) as depicted (before the king) in an early fifteenth-century copy of the Legenda aurea in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay followed by the Festes nouvelles attributed to Jean Golein (c. 1401-1425; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 242, fol. 72r):

j) as depicted (at far right; his vision of the entrance to Purgatory) in an earlier fifteenth-century copy of the Merveilles du monde, a.k.a. Secrets de l'histoire naturelle (c. 1428; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 1378, fol. 10v):

k) as depicted (in Purgatory, standing on a snake) in a mid-fifteenth-century copy of The Vision of William of Stranton (1451; London, British Library, MS Royal 17.B.XLIII, fol. 132v):


l) as depicted (his vision of the entrance to Purgatory) in a later fifteenth-century copy of Vincent of Beauvais' Speculum historiale in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 310, fol. 161r):

m) as depicted (his vision of the entrance to Purgatory) in a late fifteenth-century copy (c.1480-1490) of the Legenda aurea in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 244, fol. 104v):


n) as depicted (right margin at bottom) in a hand-coloured woodcut in the Beloit College copy of Hartmann Schedel's late fifteenth-century Weltchronik (Nuremberg Chronicle; 1493) at fol. CXLVv:

The Zenit website today has the text of a homily by the Bishop of Derry about St Patrickand his real significance for modern Ireland which can be read at What Might St. Patrick Say to His Spiritual Descendants Today? It is a homily which makes some telling points, some of which might not have been said only afew years ago. 

No comments: