Book Series Hagiologia, vol. 20

Interacting with Saints in the Late Antique and Medieval Worlds

Robert Wiśniewski, Raymond Van Dam, Bryan Ward - Perkins (eds)

  • Pages: 282 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:7 b/w, 20 col.
  • Language(s):English, French
  • Publication Year:2023

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-60558-6
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-60559-3
  • E-book
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This volume studies the evolution of cult practice, politics, literature, and imagery in a broad period from the third to the seventh century and in various regions of Christendom, from Gaul to Georgia.


« La diversité des études présentées dans ce volume est telle qu’on ne peut en donner une synthèse et qu’on doit se contenter de constater l’importance fondamentale du culte des saints dans les sociétés de l’Antiquité tardive et du haut Moyen Âge et l’impossibilité de réduire ses manifestations à de simples comportements religieux proches de la superstition. » (Michèle Gaillard, dans Francia-Recensio, 4, 2023)


The editors of this volume share a strong interest in the cult of saints. For Robert Wiśniewski (Warsaw) this interest started with the saints’ physical remains (The Beginnings of the Cult of Relics, 2019), for Raymond Van Dam (University of Michigan) with the healing shrines (Saints and their Miracles in Late Antique Gaul, 1993), and for Bryan Ward-Perkins (Oxford) with an online database collecting the ancient and early medieval evidence (Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity).


The cult of saints is one of the most fascinating religious developments of Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. Christians admired martyrs already in the second century, but for a long time they perceived them only as examples to follow and believed they could pray directly to God, whom they addressed as ‘Our Father’. A new attitude toward saints, now considered above all as powerful friends of God and efficient intercessors, started to emerge in the third century. Once this process gained momentum in the Constantinian era, the cult of saints constantly changed and rapidly adapted to new conditions and demands. This evolution highlighted many factors: the popularity of specific saints and the different types of sanctity, the spread of cults and customs, and the ways in which the saints were described, visualised, and represented.

This volume seeks to capture the dynamic of these adaptations, showing both those aspects of cult which evolved quickly and those which remained stable for a long time. It studies the evolution of the cults in a broad period from the third to the seventh centuries and in various regions from Gaul to Georgia, with a particular interest in the two greatest centres of the cult of saints: Rome and Constantinople.  In response to changing needs and different circumstances, new generations of believers repeatedly modified the cults of established saints, even as they introduced new saints.


Robert Wiśniewski: Introduction

I. Seeing and Hearing the Saints

Robin M. Jensen: Icons as Relics: Relics as Icons
Maria Lidova: Placing Martyrs in the Apse: Visual Strategies for the Promotion of Saints in Late Antiquity
Julia Doroszewska: Saintly In-betweeners: The Liminal Identity of Thekla and Artemios in their Late Antique Miracle Collections
Arkadiy Avdokhin: Resounding Martyrs: Hymns and the Veneration of Saints in Late Antique Miracle Collections
Xavier Lequeux: Les saints myroblytes en Orient et en Occident jusqu’à l’an mil: Prolégomènes à l’histoire d’un phénomène miraculeux

II. Local and Cosmopolitan Cults

András Handl: Reinvented by Julius, Ignored by Damasus: Dynamics of the Cult of Callixtus in Late Antique Rome
Stephanos Efthymiadis: The Cult of Saints in Constantinople (Sixth-Twelfth Century): Some Observations
Anna Lampadaridi: The Origins and Later Development of the First Italo-Greek Hagiographies: The Dossiers of the Sicilian Martyrs Agatha, Lucia, and Euplus

III. Constructing Paradigms

Ian Wood: The Lives of Episcopal Saints in Gaul: Models for a Time of Crisis, c. 470–550
Michał Pietranik: Saints and Sacred Objects in Eastern Roman Imperial Warfare: The Case of Maurice (582–602)
Nikoloz Aleksidze: Martyrs, Hunters and Kings: The ‘Political Theology’ of Saints’ Relics in Late Antique Caucasia