Alphanus of Salerno, St.
ALPHANUS OF SALERNO, ST.
Scholar and archbishop; b. Salerno, Italy, c. 1015–1020; d. there, Oct. 9, 1085. He was a teacher at the University of Salerno (c. 1050), and together with Desiderius, later Pope Victor III, he entered the benedictine Order at the monastery of Monte Cassino in 1056. This foundation was, under the abbacy of Desiderius (1058–1087), the most advanced center of culture in Italy. In 1057 Alphanus (or Alfanus) was an abbot in Salerno, and in 1058 he became archbishop. Salerno's fame rested essentially in the field of medicine, the study of which Alphanus strongly encouraged; he also established for himself a considerable reputation as a theologian, hagiographer, and hymnist. He showed unusual skill in the meter of his Latin verse, which covers a wide variety of subjects and indicates considerable acquaintance with the Roman poets (Analecta hymnica 22.24, 50). An ode addressed to Hildebrand, while the future gregory vii was still an archdeacon, calls on the papacy to crush with spiritual weapons the forces of barbarism that opposed the Church, and it compares Hildebrand himself to the Roman heroes of the past. It was in Salerno that the pope found refuge when the army of Emperor Henry IV forced him to flee Rome (1085). Alphanus was an important figure both in politics and in the development of Christian humanism in the eleventh century.
Bibliography: n. acocella, Salerno medioevale ed altri saggi, ed. a. sparano (Naples 1971); La decorazione pittorica di Montecassino dalle didascalie di Alfano I (Salerno 1966). f. ughelli, Italia sacra, ed. n. coleti, 10 v. in 9 (2d ed. Venice 1717–22). f. j. e. raby, A History of Christian-Latin Poetry from the Beginnings to the Close of the Middle Ages (Oxford 1953); A History of Secular Latin Poetry in the Middle Ages (Oxford 1957). c. dawson, Religion and the Rise of Western Culture (New York 1950). j. m. vidal, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912) 2:401–403. a. lentini, "Rassegna delle poesie di Alfano da Salerno," Bulletino dell' Istituto storico italiano 69 (1957) 213–241. j. szÖvÉrffy, Die Annalen der lateinischen Hymnendichtung (Berlin 1964–65) 1:398–402.
[b. d. hill]