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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity


from its origins to circa AD 700, across the entire Christian world


John Moschus, in his Spiritual Meadow (46), recounts how Abba Kyriakos, a priest at the Lavra of Calamon on the Holy Jordan had a dream in which *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033) accompanied by *John (the Apostle and Evangelist, S00042) and *John the Baptist (S00020) came to him, and revealed that Kyriakos unwittingly had heretical Nestorian writings in his cell. Written in Greek, probably in Rome, in the 620s or 630s.

Evidence ID

E05264

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Monastic collections (apophthegmata, etc.)

Major author/Major anonymous work

John Moschus

John Moschus, The Spiritual Meadow, 46

In this chapter Moschus recounts a story which he received from Abba Kyriakos, a priest at the Lavra of Calamon on the Jordan. One day, Abba Kyriakos had a dream which he narrated as follows:

Καὶ διηγήσατο ἡμῖν λέγων, ὅτι Ἐν μιᾷ θεωρῆσαί με κατὰ τοὺς ὕπνους γυναῖκά τινα σεμνοπρεπῆ, καὶ πορφυροφόρον, καὶ μετὰ ταύτης ἄνδρας δύο ἱεροπρεπεῖς καὶ τιμίους ἑστῶτας ἔξω τῆς κέλλης μου. Ἐγὼ δὲ ὑπέλαβον τὴν μὲν γυναῖκα τὴν Δέσποιναν ἡμῶν Θεοτόκον εἶναι, τοὺς δὲ σὺν αὐτῇ δύο ἄνδρας τὸν ἅγιον Ἰωάννην τὸν Θεολόγον, καὶ τὸν ἅγιον Ἰωάννην τὸν Βαπτιστήν.

'One day, in my sleep, I saw a woman of stately appearance clad in purple, and after her [I saw] two reverend and honourable men standing outside my cell. It seemed to me that was our Lady the Mother of God, and that the men were Saint John The Divine and Saint John the Baptist.'

Since all of them were standing outside his cell, he insisted at some length on them entering, but they did not. Eventually, as he kept persisting, the lady angered by his importunity said to him coldly:

Ἔχεις εἰς τὴν κέλλαν σου τὸν ἐχθρόν μου, καὶ πῶς θέλεις ἵνα εἰσέλθω;

'How can you ask me to enter your cell when you have my enemy in there?'

Then she went away.

When Kyriakos awoke, he began to worry and to wonder what the lady had meant, and if he might have offended her in his thoughts, since there was nobody except him in his cell. Then, almost overcome by remorse, he rose up and took a scroll, intending to read it in order to alleviate his distress. It was a book that he had borrowed from Hesychios, priest of Jerusalem. When he unwound it, he realised there were two writings of Nestorius written at the end of it. He immediately figured out that this was the enemy of the Mother of God. So he left his cell and gave the book back to Hesychios, telling him that it brought adversity upon him. When the latter asked what happened, Kyriakos told him of his vision. Having heard it, Hesychios immediately cut the writings of Nestorius off from the scroll, and threw them in the fire, saying: 'The enemy of our Lady, the holy Mother of God, shall not remain in my cell either.'

Text: Migne 1865 (PG 87.3). Translation: J. Wortley. Summary: J. Doroszewska.

Non Liturgical Activity

Oral transmission of saint-related stories

Miracles

Miracle after death
Apparition, vision, dream, revelation
Miraculous intervention in issues of doctrine

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - abbots
Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits
Heretics

Source

John Moschus (c. 540/550634) was a monk and spiritual writer. He lived successively with the monks of the monastery of St. Theodosios, south-east of Jerusalem, among the hermits of the Jordan Valley, and at the Lavra of Pharan in the Judaean Desert, where he spent ten years. About the year 578 he went to Egypt with Sophronius, his close friend to whom he was to dedicate the Spiritual Meadow. After 583 he perhaps came to Mount Sinai where he spent about ten years. In around 604 he went to Antioch but returned to Egypt later in the same decade. In around 614-619 he went to Cyprus, then to North Africa, and then to Rome, where he died before ‘the beginning of the eighth indiction’ (i.e. September 634). He wrote the Spiritual Meadow and co-authored with Sophronius a Life of John the Almoner.

The
Spiritual Meadow (Gr. Leimōn pneumatikos; Lat. Pratum spirituale) was written in the 620s or 30s, very probably in Rome. The work narrates Moschus' personal experiences with many of the ascetics whom he met during his extensive travels, mainly through Palestine, Sinai and Egypt, but also Cilicia and Syria, and recounts the edifying stories and sayings that he received from them. The title of the work is explained as an analogy between picking flowers in a springtime meadow and picking edifying stories and sayings from the lives of holy men and women. The number of chapters varies depending on the manuscript.


Bibliography

Edition:
Migne, J.P, Patrologia Graeca, vol. 87.3 (Paris, 1865), 2851-3116.

Translations:
Maisano, R., Giovanni Mosco, Il prato (Naples, 2002).

Rouët de Journel, M.-J.,
Jean Moschus, Le Pré Spirituel (Sources chrétiennes 12; Paris, 1946, repr. 2006).

Wortley, J.,
John Moschos, The Spiritual Meadow (Cistercian Studies Series 139; Kalamazoo, 1992).

Further reading:
Baynes, N.H., "The
Pratum spirituale," Orientalia Christiana Periodica 13 (1947), 404-414; repr. in Baynes, Byzantine Studies and Other Essays (London, 1955), 261-270.

Binggeli, A. “Collections of Edifying Stories,” in: S. Efthymiadis (ed.),
The Ashgate Research Companion to Byzantine Hagiography II: Genres and Contexts (Farnham, 2014), 143-160, esp. 146-147.

Chadwick, H.J., "John Moschus and his friend Sophroonios the Sophist," Journal of Theological Studies 25 (1974), 41-74.

Follieri, E., "Dove e quando mori Giovanni Mosco?,"
Rivista di Studi Bizantini e Neoellenici 25 (1988), 3-39.

Mioni, E., "Il Pratum Spirituale di Giovanni Mosco: gli episodi inediti del Cod. Marciano greco II.21,"
Orientalia Christiana Periodica (1951), 61-94.

Mioni, E., "Jean Moschus, Moine,"
Dictionnaire de Spiritualité 7 (1973), cols. 632-640.

Nissen, T., "Unbekannte Erzählungen aus dem Pratum Spirituale,"
Byzantinische Zeitschrift 38 (1938), 351-376.

Pattenden, P., "The text of the Pratum Spirituale,"
Journal of Theological Studies 26 (1975), 38-54.


Record Created By

Julia Doroszewska

Date Last Modified

05/02/2021

Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00020John the BaptistἸωάννης ὁ βαπτιστήςCertain
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristΘεοτόκοςCertain
S00042John, the Apostle and EvangelistἸωάννης ὁ ΘεολόγοςCertain


Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Julia Doroszewska, Cult of Saints, E05264 - http://csla.history.ox.ac.uk/record.php?recid=E05264