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E00881: Prudentius, in his Latin Crowns of the Martyrs (Peristephanon), written c. 400 in Calahorra (northern Spain), in a poem on *Vincent (deacon and martyr of Saragossa and Valencia, S00290), describes veneration of Vincent by the people during his recovery from torture. Some of them soak up his blood on cloths, to then use them as protection for their families.

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posted on 24.11.2015, 00:00 by mszada
Liber Peristephanon, Poem V.333-344

After being tortured and imprisoned, Vincent is entrusted to the people of the city, to recover before undergoing further tortures.

Coire toto ex oppido
turbam fidelem cerneres
335 mollire praefultum torum
siccare cruda uulnera.

Ille ungularum duplices
sulcos pererrat osculis,
hic purpurantem corporis
340 gaudet cruorem lambere.

Plerique uestem linteam
stillante fingunt sanguine,
tutamen ut sacrum suis
domi reseruent posteris.


'From the whole town a throng of the faithful might be seen gathering, making a soft bed furnished with supports, and wiping dry the bleeding wounds. One covers with kisses the double cuts made by the claws, another eagerly licks the red gore on the body. Many wet a linen garment with the drops of blood, to lay it up at home as a holy protection for their descendants.'

Text: Cunningham 1966: 305-306. Thomson 1953: 188-189, lightly adapted.
Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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Keywords

History

Evidence ID

E00881

Saint Name

Vincent, deacon and martyr of Saragossa and Valencia, ob. c. 305 : S00290

Type of Evidence

Literary - Poems Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

395

Evidence not after

405

Activity not before

303

Activity not after

405

Place of Evidence - Region

Iberian Peninsula

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Calahorra

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Calahorra Osset Osset Osen (castrum) Osser castrum

Major author/Major anonymous work

Prudentius

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting/veneration of living saint

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Miraculous protection - of people and their property

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - blood Privately owned relics

Source

Aurelius Prudentius Clemens (348–after 405) was a Christian aristocrat from Calahorra in the Spanish province of Tarraconensis. He was a high official in the imperial bureaucracy in Rome, but withdrew from public life, returned to Calahorra, and dedicated himself to the service and celebration of God. Most of what we know about his biography comes from the preface to the ensemble of his works, which can be reliably dated to 404 (Cunningham 1966, 1-2), and other autobiographical remarks scattered throughout his works (for a detailed discussion, see Palmer 1989, 6-31). He composed several poetical works, amongst them the Peristephanon (literally, On the Crowns [of the Martyrs]), a collection of fourteen poems of different length describing martyrdoms of saints. We do not know exactly at which point in his literary career Prudentius wrote the preface (possibly at the very end, just before publication); for attempts at a precise dating of the Peristephanon, see Fux 2013, 9, n. 1. The poems in the Peristephanon, written in elegant classical metres, deal mainly with martyrs from Spain, but some of them are dedicated to saints of Rome, Africa and the East. The poems were widely read in the late antique and medieval West, and had a considerable influence on the diffusion of cult of the saints included. In later periods they were sometimes used as hymns in liturgical celebrations and had an impact on the development of the Spanish hymnody. Some indications in the poems suggest that they were written to commemorate the saints on their feast days, but Prudentius probably did not compose them for the liturgy of his time. Rather, they probably provided 'devotional reading matter for a cultured audience outside a church context' (Palmer 1989, 3; see also Chapter 3 in her book).

Discussion

On the Hymn see E00858. Vincent's martyrdom took place in Valencia (a city not mentioned explicitly by Prudentius, who in Poem IV only mentions the place of his burial – nearby Sagunto, see E00813). Interestingly, Prudentius mentions that the blood-soaked cloths, collected by the devotees of Vincent, were supposed to work not only for the people who collected them, but also for their descendants. Thus, Prudentius most probably refers to the custom of keeping relics in private hands and being inherited over generations.

Bibliography

Editions of the Peristephanon: Cunningham, M.P., Prudentii Carmina (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 126; Turnhout: Brepols, 1966), 251-389. Bergman, J., Prudentius, Carmina (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 61; Vienna, 1926), 291-431. Translations of the Peristephanon: Eagan, C., Prudentius, Poems (Fathers of the Church 43; Washington D.C.: Catholic University Press, 1962), 95-280. English translation. Thomson, H.J., Prudentius, vol. 2 (Loeb Classical Library; London Cambridge, Mass: W. Heinemann; Harvard University Press, 1953), 98-345. Edition and English translation. Further reading: Fux, P.-Y., Prudence et les martyrs: hymnes et tragédie. Peristephanon 1. 3-4. 6-8. 10. Commentaire, (Fribourg: Academic Press, 2013). Malamud, M.A., A Poetics of Transformation: Prudentius and Classical Mythology (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989). Meyer, S., Der heilige Vinzenz von Zaragoza: Studien zur Präsenz eines Märtyrers zwischen Spätantike und Hochmittelalter (Stuttgart, 2012). Palmer, A.-M., Prudentius on the Martyrs (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989). Roberts, M., Poetry and the Cult of the Martyrs: The "Liber Peristephanon" of Prudentius (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993).

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Exports

Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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Licence

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