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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 (77), mentions a church of *Mary (Mother of God; S00033) founded in Alexandria by Patriarch Eulogius I (580-608), and a church of *John (probably the Baptist, S00020), probably also in Alexandria. He also records a legend that Alexander the Great brought the relics of *Jeremiah (the Prophet, S01421) and had them buried at the so-called Tetrapylon in Alexandria. Written in Greek, probably in Rome, in the 620s or 630s.

Evidence ID

E05289

Type of Evidence

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

Major author/Major anonymous work

John Moschus

John Moschus, The Spiritual Meadow, 77

Summary:

In this chapter Moschus recounts that one day he himself , with Sophronius, went to the house of Stephanos the Sophist on a business matter. Stephanos lived at the church of Mary Mother of God which was built by the Alexandrian Pope Eulogios I (580-608) and was known as the church of Dorothea. A maid told them that her master was sleeping, so they retired to the place called Tetrapylon and waited there. Moschus adds that this place was held in very high esteem by the citizens who used to say that Alexander [the Great], the founder of the city, had taken the relics of the Prophet Jeremiah from Egypt and buried them there. When Moschus and Sophronius were waiting there, they overheard a conversation of three blind men, one of whom, relating his story, said that in the past he had been a thief and once stripped a dead man of all his clothes; the corpse was buried in a grave behind the church of John (possibly also in Alexandria).

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

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)
Burial site of a saint - other

Non Liturgical Activity

Saint as patron - of a community

Relics

Bodily relic - unspecified

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits
The socially marginal (beggars, prostitutes, thieves)

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.


Discussion

It is interesting that the church of Mary, dated to the patriarchate of Eulogios I (580-608), was also known by the name of its probable donor, a certain Dorothea.

The apparently cemeterial church of John is perhaps a shrine of John the Baptist which is sporadically attested in the sources (e.g. E05275, E04495). It may have been the shrine which hosted relics of the Baptist and the Prophet Elisha, which were rescued from the shrine at Sebaste in Palestine during an attack by pagans under Julian the Apostate (361-363) (see E04196).


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, Efthymios Rizos

Date Last Modified

05/02/2021

Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00020John the BaptistἸωάννηςUncertain
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristΘεοτόκοςCertain
S01421Jeremiah, Old Testament prophetἸερεμίαςCertain


Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Julia Doroszewska, Efthymios Rizos, Cult of Saints, E05289 - http://csla.history.ox.ac.uk/record.php?recid=E05289