Passages from Antiquity to the Middle Ages, University of Tampere

The aim of the international Passages from Antiquity to the Middle Ages series of conferences is to bring together scholars of various fields of study to examine and discuss various phenomena during the longue durée from Antiquity to the Middle Ages.

Passages VII – Neighbours or Strangers? Conflict, Negotiation, and Collaboration in Multicultural Communities, University of Tampere, Finland, August 23-25 2018.

Professor Bryan Ward-Perkins will be delivering a keynote lecture entitled ‘Unity and conflict in the late-antique cult of the saints’. 

The full conference programme is available here: 

Saintly epigraphy in Izmir, Selçuk, and Amsterdam

During the last two months, our epigraphy expert, Paweł Nowakowski, visited Izmir and Amsterdam where he gave two talks on the epigraphic aspects of the cult of saints in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Ampullae distributed to pilgrims visiting the church of John the Evangelist at Ephesos, and a reliquary, now exhibited at the Ephesos Archaeological Museum in Selçuk.

Paweł was invited to Izmir to talk about pilgrims’ ampullae, reliquaries, and the use of holy oil, at the international symposium Unguentarium. A terracotta vessel form and other related vessels in the Hellenistic, Roman and early Byzantine Mediterranean, May 17-18, 2018, Izmir, Turkey (= Colloquia Anatolica et Aegaea, Congressus internationales Smyrnenses X). After the conference, together with Ergün Laflı, Paweł spent his time on fieldwork on late antique and Byzantine inscriptions in the Archaeological Museum of Izmir, and, with Şaheser Doymaz, in the Ephesos Archaeological Museum in Selçuk housing the finds from the famous Ephesian church of John the Evangelist. Paweł also conducted a photographic survey of pilgrims’ and donors’ graffiti and inscriptions at the site of the church of John.

In Amsterdam Paweł gave the paper ‘Facing death abroad. Epitaphs from pilgrim shrines as a potential source for the study of women’s pilgrimage in late antique Anatolia’ at the conference Women and Pilgrimage in the Ancient and Pre-Modern World, June 8-9, 2018, organised by Marlena Whiting and Emilia Salerno as a part of the NWO-funded project Gendering Sacred Space: Female Networks, Patronage, and Ritual Experience in Early Christian Pilgrimage. The paper dealt with the most recent finds of women’s epitaphs from the immediate areas of the sanctuary of Michael the Archangel in Germia/Gümüşkonak, and the sanctuary of St Theodore at Euchaita/Beyözü (2013–2018), and presented methodological observations on the problem if the epigraphic evidence from cemeteries at pilgrim shrines can be effectively employed for the study of women’s pilgrimage.

The conference group, Amsterdam

Both events created wonderful possibilities for networking and disseminating the results of our research, and we would like to thank the organizers for all their efforts, dedication, and friendly atmosphere.

CfP: Materiality and the Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages (IMC, Leeds, 2019)

The forthcoming International Medieval Congress in Leeds has ‘Materialities’ as its special thematic strand. The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity project (though it formally ends in December 2018) will therefore be running a series of sessions on material aspects of the cult of saints. We will focus on objects: holy images, pilgrim tokens, flasks, relics, and reliquaries, and on the close context of the cult, for instance monumental tombs, crypts etc. The sessions aim to address the following questions:

  • In what ways were cults shaped by their physical environment?
  • How important was the presence of holy objects to the establishment and development of a cult and cult site?
  • How did objects help to establish and spread cults beyond the main cult site?
  • In what ways did the material form of cult reflect theological ideas?

Those interested in presenting papers at these sessions, particularly if focused on the period before c. AD 1000, are requested to send a short abstract (up to 200 words) to Robert Wiśniewski ( and Bryan Ward-Perkins ( by 15 September. Please note that the conveners, sadly, cannot cover the conference fee and travel expenses.

Dr. Matthieu Pignot (Université de Namur): Portraying martyrs in Italy before 700: a survey of hagiography

The paper will be delivered at the late antique seminar at the University of Warsaw on Thursday, 6 June, 4.45 p.m., in the Library of Papyrology and Roman Law (Faculty of Law building, Collegium Iuridicum I) on the main campus.


In studies of hagiography, broad horizons and perspectives are difficult to reach, because of the abundance, complexity, and variety of the evidence. Thanks to the work towards building the database the Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity (CSLA), we might however start to reach that much needed synthesis. The objective of this paper is to contribute towards this goal by surveying martyrdom accounts from Italy composed before 700 to shed light on how martyrdom was portrayed and understood in late Antiquity. After presenting Italian martyrdom accounts as a source, this paper will explore patterns concerning their transmission and diffusion in medieval manuscripts, then look in more detail at features emerging from a serial comparison of the evidence regarding types of martyrs portrayed and narrative choices made by the authors; finally, it will address the significance of rewriting practices, showing how narratives could evolve over time to fit new concerns and audiences.


Call for Papers: Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity (Warsaw, 27-29 September 2018)

The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity  project is mapping the cult of saints as a system of beliefs and practices in its earliest and most fluid form, from its origins until around AD 700. Central to the project is a searchable database, in which all the literary, epigraphic, papyrological and documentary evidence for the cult of saints is being collected, whether in Armenian, Coptic, Georgian, Greek, Latin or Syriac.

On 27-29 September 2018 we are organising a final conference in Warsaw, before the project closes at the end of the year. The topic of the conference is as broad as the project – the cult of saints in Late Antiquity. What we hope to achieve is a broad picture of this phenomenon, and so, although we will welcome papers studying the cult of a specific saint, cultic activity or region, we will give priority to those that set cults and cult practices against the wide background of cultic behaviour and belief, now readily accessible through our database (already operational and filling up fast).

Among the confirmed key-note speakers are Luigi Canetti, Vincent Déroche, Stephanos Efthymiadis, Cynthia Hahn, Anne-Marie Helvétius, Xavier Lequeux, Maria Lidova, Julia Smith, Raymond Van Dam, and Ian Wood.

Those interested in presenting papers are requested to send a title and short abstract (c. 100 words) to Robert Wiśniewski ( by 20 April 2018.

There is no registration fee, but please, note we won’t be able to cover travel and accommodation expenses.

Robert Wiśniewski and Bryan Ward-Perkins


Seminar series: The Cult of Saints in the First Millennium – Hilary Term 2018

Time: Friday 5.00 – 7.00 pm, Weeks 1, 3, 5, 7

Venue: Trinity College (Sutro Room), Broad Street, Oxford OX1 3BH

Convenor: Efthymios Rizos


Week 1 (19 January) (OCLA Special Lecture)

Susanna Elm (Berkeley)

Eutropius the Consul – Power, Ugliness, and Late Roman Imperial Representation


Week 3 (2 February)

Mary Cunningham (Nottingham)

“Garden without Seed”: The Virginal Motherhood of Mary, the Theotokos, in Byzantium


Week 5 (16 February)

Matthieu Pignot (Brussels)

Cult in Latin Martyrdom Accounts from Italy before 700. An Overview


Week 7 (2 March)

Raúl Villegas Marín (Barcelona)

Processus and Martinian: From African Montanist Martyrs to Roman Wardens of Peter and Paul

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