Saturday, 11 April 2015

Martina Hartl: "Necropolitics":Stephen's Relics and the Pelagian Controversy

Soon after their invention, the relics of the protomartyr Stephen launched an unprecedented career. His bones arrived in Menorca, for example, and within a short period of time Bishop Severus and his parishioners got ‘inspired' to make a start on proselytising the Jews - with success. In North Africa Stephen's relics played a crucial role in reconciling Donatists and Catholics. These matters are common knowledge.
But maybe this ‘necropolitical' triumph began with the invention itself. Discoveries of relics had often been instrumental to political and promotional campaigns of rulers and bishops. Indeed, Stephen's relics were found - as Lucianus narrates - in a specific ecclesiopolitical context: John II. of Jerusalem received the message of the discovery during the Synod of Diospolis which dealt with the orthodoxy of Pelagius and his teachings. This paper inquires which purposes the relics of Stephen served in the Pelagian controversy.

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