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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity


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


Hesychius of Jerusalem composes his Homily 5, On *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033), which he delivers during a feast, perhaps the earliest version of the Marian feast of 15 August, celebrated at the shrine of Kathisma, between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Written in Greek at Jerusalem, in the 430s.

Evidence ID

E05887

Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies

Major author/Major anonymous work

Hesychius of Jerusalem

Hesychius of Jerusalem, Homily 5, On Mary (CPG 6569 = BHG 1132)

The homily contains mainly praises and theological contemplations on the role of Mary in the incarnation of Christ.

Text: Aubineau 1978, 158-169.

Liturgical Activities

Sermon/homily

Festivals

Saint’s feast

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy

Source

Hesychius lived as a monk and priest in Palestine and Jerusalem in the first half of the 5th century. A member of the clergy of the Holy Sepulchre, he was a leading theologian and author, flourishing from the 410s to perhaps after 451. He was a close associate of Juvenal (bishop of Jerusalem 422-458), and participated in the theological debate against Nestorius, supporting Cyril of Alexandria. The date of his death is uncertain. Theophanes reports that he died in the same year as Melania the Younger (ed. de Boor 92, 20: AM 5926), but he is also reported to have been alive when the Council of Chalcedon took place in 451, and to have opposed it.

His surviving works include commentaries and homilies. He is known to have published an ecclesiastical history, which has not survived. The circulation of his works in the Middle Ages seems to have been geographically limited, since they tend to be found in manuscripts from Jerusalem and southern Italy, but hardly ever in Constantinopolitan ones. His homilies are important testimonies for the early stages of development of the liturgical traditions of the church of Jerusalem, and the appearance of a number of feasts with a strong Marian dimension like the 14 February feast of
Hypapante (Candlemas) and 15 August.

Homily 5 is preserved in 3 manuscripts, and in a Georgian translation, on which see Aubineau 1978, and:
http://pinakes.irht.cnrs.fr/notices/oeuvre/7094/


Discussion

This homily is believed to have been given immediately after the Council of Ephesus (431), as it echoes the theological controversy concerning the role of Mary in the Incarnation of Christ. It is an important text for the history of Marian theology and praise, and for its references to Old Testament prophecies which are interpreted as referring to Mary. These references correspond to some of the liturgical readings of the feast of 15 August, as outlined in the Armenian Lectionary of Jerusalem (E05183). The latter reports that the feast was celebrated 'at the second mile from Bethlehem', where there was a Marian shrine known as Kathisma. This feast appears to have been first established in Palestine, and Hesychius’ sermon is probably the earliest testimony to it. The content of the sermon suggests that the feast had not yet been associated with the theme of Mary’s Dormition, which prevailed in the later tradition (Aubineau 1978, 118-151).

Bibliography

Text, French translation, and commentary:
Aubineau, M., Les homélies festales d’Hésychius de Jérusalem I: les homélies I-XV (Subsidia Hagiographica 59: Brussels, 1978).


Record Created By

Efthymios Rizos

Date Last Modified

15/06/2020

Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristΘεοτόκοςCertain


Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Efthymios Rizos, Cult of Saints, E05887 - http://csla.history.ox.ac.uk/record.php?recid=E05887