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E05932: Hymn in honour of *Felix (martyr of Gerona, Spain S00408) composed in Latin in Spain, presumably in the 7th c.

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posted on 09.07.2018, 00:00 authored by mszada
Hymnodia Hispanica, Hymn 123

IN SANCTI FELICIS
AD VESPERAS

'In honour of saint Felix. For the Vespers.'

The hymn opens with the prayer to God to accept the hymn of praise to Felix and proclamation of his great deeds. In the following strophes (3–7), the story of Felix is told – Felix abandons literary studies at Caesarea in Mauretania and comes to Gerona in Spain because he hears that Christians are persecuted there (cf. Martyrdom of Felix of Gerona 3). He is imprisoned and put in chains, and while in prison he has a conversation with an angel (cf. Martyrdom of Felix of Gerona 13). Later he is brought to the altar to sacrifice to the gods but he refuses and confesses his faith in Christ. He is cruelly beaten, tied to mules and dragged, and eventually drowned (cf. Martyrdom of Felix of Gerona 16, 14, 18, 21).

(8) O nimis Gerunda felix, o beata ciuitas,
nil malorum tu pauescis freta tanto martire;
postulata promeretur, quisquis hic confluxerit

(9) 25 Hic Dei uirtute pressi lacinantur demones,
uerberantur, uinciuntur et cremantur acriter
utque fumus et fabilla nil uigoris obtinent.

(10) Hic salus obtata fessis sed e celis profluit,
uisio cecis patescit, lingua mutis aduenit,
30 surdus aures hic receptat, atque claudus exilit.

(11) Inde cuncti te precamur, una summa trinitas,
martiris ut inpetratu nostra tollas crimina,
noxia cuncta repellas et secunda prebeas.

(12) Clerus hic uita nitescat, et sacerdos floreat,
35 plebs fidelis, quod requirit, impetrasse sentiat,
omnis etas atque sexus hoc patrono gaudeat.

'(8) O very happy Gerona, o blessed city, you are not afraid of any evil because you rely on such a great martyr. Whoever comes here, his requests are granted.

(9) Here demons oppressed by the power of God are tormented, beaten, bound and zealously burnt and have no strength just as fume and ash.

(10) Here health requested by the distressed pours down from heaven, the sight of the blind is restored, speech returns to the mute, the deaf get [hearing] ears and the lame leap.

(11) From this place we all beg you, o Most High and the only Trinity, to take away our crimes for the martyr's sake and to repel all harmful things and bestow beneficial ones.

(12) Let the clergy shine in their lives and let the bishop flourish here, let the faithful people know that it has obtained what it asked for, and let people of all age and gender rejoice in that patron.'

Text: Castro Sánchez 2010, 455-458. Translation and summary: M. Szada.

History

Evidence ID

E05932

Saint Name

Felix, martyr of Gerona (Spain) : S00408

Saint Name in Source

Felix

Type of Evidence

Liturgical texts - Hymns Literary - Poems

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

601

Evidence not after

1100

Activity not before

601

Activity not after

1100

Place of Evidence - Region

Iberian Peninsula

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Gerona

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

Gerona Osset Osset Osen (castrum) Osser castrum

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult Activities - Miracles

Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Other lay individuals/ people

Source

The hymn, written in trochaic septenarii, is unanimously dated to the 7th century, see Pérez de Urbel 1926, 218–219; Fábrega Grau 1953, 144–150; Diáz 1958, 351; and Szöverffy 1971, 34–35. Fábrega Grau noted also the close affinity of the hymn with the Martyrdom of Felix. Although Pérez de Urbel's proposition that the hymn was authored by either John of Biclar (later bishop of Gerona) or Nunitus, bishop of Gerona present at the Fourth Council of Toledo in 633 is pure guesswork, it is possible that it was composed locally for the need of the cathedral liturgy in Gerona (note the recurring 'here... here' in strophes 8–12 and the prayer for the prosperity of the clergy and the bishop). It is preserved in four manuscripts: Psalmi Cantica et Hymni, Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, ms. 10001 (9th/11th c.), Officia et Missae, Toledo, Archivo Catedral 35.6 (9th/10th c.), Alia Officia Toletana, British Library, ms. 30845 (11th c.), and Psalmi, Cantica et Hymni, London, British Library, ms. 30851 (11th c.). Pérez de Urbel's method of dating hymns: Josef Pérez de Urbel's method is based on two preliminary assumptions: a) that the bulk of the Hispanic liturgy was composed in the 7th century, the 'golden age' of the Hispanic Church, and that important intellectual figures of this period (Braulio of Saragossa, Isidore of Seville, Eugenius of Toledo, et al.) participated in its creation; b) that the liturgy was, nevertheless, still developing and changing in the period after the Arab invasion, and therefore, many texts which we find in 9th, 10th, and 11th century liturgical manuscripts might be of more recent date. Some hymns can be dated to the period after 711, for instance if they mention 'hagaric oppression' or if they are in honour of saints whose cult was imported later to Spain (they do not feature in earlier literary and epigraphic evidence, nor are attested in the oldest liturgical book from Hispania, the Orationale Visigothicum). It is more difficult to identify the hymns which are certainly from before 711. To this group Pérez de Urbell usually attributed hymns with a probable attribution to an author from the 7th century (like Braulio of Saragossa or Quiricius of Barcelona), and those which were stylistically close to the poetry of Eugenius of Toledo from the 7th century. Pérez de Urbell then compared two groups of the hymns and noticed the following: a) late hymns contain 'barbarisms' and solecisms, while early ones are written in correct classical Latin; b) late hymns are composed in rhythmic metres, early ones are frequently in the correct classical metres; that, up until the end of the 7th century, people still could compose in e.g. hexameters is confirmed by epigraphical evidence; these metric inscriptions disappear from the 8th century onwards; the 8th and 9th century authors who make attempts at writing in classical (quantitative) metres, always make mistakes; c) some rhythmical poetry could nevertheless be early; d) although both early and late hymns sometimes have rhymes, perfect rhymes occur only in late hymns. In the absence of any certain indications for dating, Pérez de Urbell assumed that a hymn is early if at least two requirements were met: the Latin is 'correct' and there are no perfect rhymes. He also considered early every hymn composed in a quantitative metre.

Bibliography

Edition: Castro Sánchez, J., Hymnodia hispanica (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 167; Turnhout: Brepols, 2010). Castro Sánchez, J., Hymnodia hispánica (Corpus Christianorum in Translation 19; Turnhout: Brepols, 2014). Spanish translation. Further reading: Blume, C., Die Mozarabischen Hymnen des alt-spanischen Ritus (Leipzig, 1897). Diaz y Diaz, M.C., Códices visigóticos en la monarquía leonesa (León: Centro de Estudios e Investigación "San Isidoro", 1983). Fábrega Grau, Á., Pasionario hispánico (Madrid, Barcelona: Atenas A.G., 1953). Férotin, M., Le Liber Mozarabicus sacramentorum et les manuscrits mozarabes (Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1912). Gilson, J.P., The Mozarabic Psalter (ms. British Museum Add. 30.851) (London, 1905). Norberg, D., An Introduction to the Study of Medieval Latin Versification (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2004). Pérez de Urbel, J., "Origen de los himnos mozárabes," Bulletin Hispanique 28 (1926), 5-21, 113-139, 209-245, 305-320. Pinell, J. M., "Fragmentos de códices del antiguo Rito hispánico," Hispania Sacra 17 (1964), 195-229. Szövérffy, J., Iberian Latin Hymnody: Survey and Problems (Turnhout: Brepols, 1998).

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