Sunday, 3 May 2015

Bryan Ward-Perkins: Marginal saints, and disputed saints, in the late antique East and West

To explore the cult of those late antique holy persons whose sanctity was uncertain or denied. Hagiographies usually claimed that their protagonists' saintly status was firmly accepted. But some evidence shows that the process of creating a saint was often not straightforward. There are historiographies which pondered rather than advertised the sanctity of their heroes, calendars unable to establish their identity, and even hagiographies whose apologetic tone implies at least doubts, if not denial. The workshop will explore what types of late antique saints were considered most problematic, how Christians tried to establish criteria of sanctity and determine the saints to be venerated, and what forms of cult were considered appropriate. The answers to these questions are interesting in themselves, and will also help to understand the emergence of specific cults and the development of the very phenomenon of the cult of saints.
Participants in the workshop will be: Bryan Ward-Perkins, exploring moments of uncertainty in the works of Gregory of Tours, particularly his Histories: Marta Tycner, showing how the redactions of the Martyrologium Hieronymianum sought to eliminate doubtful saints, but also managed to produce new ones; Stavroula Konstantinou, examining the uncertainty and debate over the sanctity of the holy women who had dressed and lived as monks; and Cristian-Nicolae Gaşpar, analysing the promotion of the exceptional style of sanctity practiced by Symeon the Elder Stylite, and the conflict over control of his leagacy.

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