Seminar Series: The Cult of Saints in the First Millennium

Michaelmas Term 2017

Friday 5.00 – 7.00 pm

Venue: Sutro Room, Trinity College, Oxford

Convenor: Efthymios Rizos

Week 1 (13 October)

Efthymios Rizos (Linacre)

Debating the Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity: Critics and Defenders

Week 3 (27 October)

Lorenzo Livorsi (Reading)

Power, Praise and Prayer in Venantius Fortunatus’ Life of St. Martin

Week 5 (10 November)

Susan Walker (Ashmolean), Maria Lidova (Wolfson), Jaś Elsner (Corpus Christi)

Saints and Salvation: the Wilshere Collection of Gold-glass, Sarcophagi and Inscriptions from Rome and Southern Italy

Week 7 (24 November)

Edward Schoolman (Nevada)

Saints for Every Age: A Hagiographic Stratigraphy of Ravenna

For more information please contact efthymios.rizos@history.ox.ac.uk

Cultic Graffiti across the Mediterranean and Beyond

The Cult of Saints project has close ties with the University of Bari ‘Aldo Moro’, through the Epigraphic Database Bari, with its unique expertise in early Christian epigraphy and in digital epigraphic scholarship.

From September 27th – September 29th, the Cult of Saints project and the University of Bari ‘Aldo Moro’ will be hosting a joint conference exploring an aspect of cultic epigraphy. The theme is cultic graffiti, the informal scratchings or writings of individual devotees, almost always travellers or pilgrims, which are known from all over the late antique world. These constitute a unique first-hand testimony to devotion, which we can normally only access through much more formal documents.

In order to explore these graffiti in their fullest possible context, the conference, while
focused primarily on the Christian graffiti of Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages, will also examine earlier ‘pagan’ practice, and the very active cultic graffiti of early Islam.

The full conference programme can be read here.

Call for candidates for a post-doctoral researcher (Latin evidence)

The Institute of History, University of Warsaw, is seeking to recruit a post-doctoral researcher  for a position in the project The Cult of Saints: a Christendom-wide study of its origins, spread and development. The Project is supported by an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council under Grant Agreement Number 340540 and is based at the University of Oxford with a partnership at the University of Warsaw. The successful candidate will work as part of a team of seven post-doctoral researchers reporting to the Principal Investigator, Prof. Bryan Ward-Perkins (University of Oxford), but under direct supervision of Dr. hab. Robert Wiśniewski  (University of Warsaw). The postholder will have responsibility for collecting Latin evidence consisting mostly of literary texts, within an electronic searchable database. The postholder is also expected to produce sole-authored articles on aspects of the cult of saints in the West.

This is a full-time time position for 12 months, starting on 1 November 2017 or soon thereafter. The postholder will be offered the salary of about 2 700 Euros per month.

The full call for candidates can be seen here. The closing date for applications is September 30th 2017.

If you have any questions about the project or the recruitment procedure, please address them to Robert Wiśniewski (r.wisniewski@uw.edu.pl)

 

Dr Nowakowski presents at Humboldt University, Berlin

On 15 May Paweł Nowakowski gave a talk at the Faculty of Theology of the Humboldt University in Berlin, at a seminar meeting of the project ‘Inscriptiones Christianae Graecae’ supervised by Cilliers Breytenbach and Klaus Hallof, and sponsored by the Excellence Cluster 264 TOPOI. Paweł presented a collection of epitaphs from three villages (modern Beyözü, Elmapınar, and Kozören) in the immediate area of ancient Euchaita in Pontus, the principal sanctuary of Saint Theodore, which he is now publishing with permission of the Euchaita/Avkat Project directed by John Haldon (Princeton University, NJ) and Hugh Elton (Trent University, Canada). The collection throws new light on the clergy, monks, and pilgrims active in the area of provincial sanctuaries of saints, and supplements a collection of inscriptions from Beyözü published  by Mustafa Adak and Christian Marek in 2016.

For the project ‘Inscriptiones Christianae Graecae’, see http://www.epigraph.topoi.org/

For the Euchaita/Avkat Project, see https://history.princeton.edu/centers-programs/center-collaborative-history/special-projects/avkat/introduction

Description of the image: Epitaph for the deaconess Theodora, who ‘sought refuge at the receiver of strangers (xenodochos), the great martyr of Christ’, Saint Theodore. Found at Çorum near Euchaita and first published by Adak and Marek in 2016 (no. 99) = our database no. CoSe02652.

Talking in Warsaw and Kraków about the Cult of Saints

Bryan Ward-Perkins writes: At the end of May I gave papers in Poland about our project, in Warsaw and in Kraków.  Warsaw is a research hub for the ‘Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity’, where our extensive Latin evidence is being worked on by Matthieu Pignot, helped by Marta Szada and Kasia Wojtalik, all under the direction of Robert Wiśniewski; it is also the home town of our epigraphist, Paweł Nowakowski.  So I was more or less guaranteed a friendly reception there; but I was nonetheless pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a seminar table loaded with strawberries (it is apparently a very happy tradition to serve fruit and biscuits at the Warsaw seminar).  Kraków didn’t rise to strawberries, but it did provide an equally interesting and appreciative audience, and is a fascinating city for the study of saints, if of a slightly later period: high points being the shrine of St Stanisław in Wawel cathedral, and Veit Stoss’ amazing altarpiece of the Dormition of the Virgin in the church of St Mary.

I talked to the title ‘Levels of sainthood and of cult in the Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity project’, exploring the implicit (and sometimes) explicit hierarchy of the saints in Heaven, and the different levels of cult they attracted on earth (which did not necessarily tally with their heavenly importance).  It was a very general paper, aimed primarily at showcasing the huge richness and diversity of our evidence, and the value of our database – which we have decided to launch (before completion) on 1st November (All Saints Day) this year!

Late antique Greek inscriptions in Athens

Research Associates Paweł Nowakowski and Efthymis Rizos spent the week 26th February – 4th March in Athens. The aim of this research journey was the examination of a database of late antique Greek inscriptions, maintained at the Faculty of History and Archaeology of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. The ‘Saints’ were hosted there by Professor Katerina Nikolaou.

The Athenian database comprises more than 120,000 records ranging from the 4th c. to the modern period, and covers all the epigraphic editorial series up to the early 1990s. It originated as a set of paper files (which we were also allowed to examine), later converted to FileMaker format. It allowed us to get a number of entries for mainland Greece and the Balkans, as well as proved the completion of our evidence from already processed regions.

Another task was the examination of Egyptian clay lamps from the Benaki Musuem with the kind assistance of Anastasia Drandaki. This collection owes its unique appearance to the fact that most of the lamps are inscribed with names of saints, many of them of Anatolian hagiographic background and bearing very sophisticated, rare names. It is a real mystery how those obscure figures found their way to the Egyptian countryside. Perhaps the efforts of Paweł and Efthymis will let us solve this puzzle.

Vacancy announcement: post-doctoral researcher (Latin evidence) at the University of Warsaw

The Institute of History, University of Warsaw, is seeking to recruit a post-doctoral researcher  for a position in the project The Cult of Saints: a Christendom-wide study of its origins, spread and development. The successful candidate will work as part of a team of seven post-doctoral researchers reporting to the Principal Investigator, Prof. Bryan Ward-Perkins (University of Oxford), but under direct supervision of Dr hab. Robert Wiśniewski  (University of Warsaw). The postholder will have responsibility for collecting and researching Latin evidence consisting mostly of literary texts, inscriptions and calendars. The postholder is also expected to produce sole-authored articles on aspects of the cult of saints in the West.

Full information about the vacancy and how to apply can be found here: Call for candidates