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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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

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Team Members and their Areas of Responsibility

The database was constructed by a team working mainly in Oxford under Bryan Ward-Perkins, with a substantial off-shoot in Warsaw, for the evidence in Latin, run by Robert Wiśniewski.  Overall direction of the project was by Bryan Ward-Perkins, though in practice almost every aspect of the shape and content of the database was the result of a team decision.

Many people have contributed to our work; we hope they have been properly acknowledged in the individual data-entries.

The primary people who worked on the project, and were employed by it for varying amounts of time, are the following.  They are listed here under their primary responsibilities, but many of them worked on a wide variety of texts, too numerous to be detailed.

For the evidence in Armenian and Georgian: Nikoloz Aleksidze, with support and advice from Theo van Lint.  This evidence includes all the historical and hagiographical texts in Armenian and Georgian that can be dated with reasonable confidence to before AD 700, such as the fifth-century History of Armenia by Agathangelos, and the Georgian Martyrdom of Queen Shushanik.  The material that survives only in Georgian also includes several Martyrdoms, of which the Greek originals are lost, and a rich collection of calendar and lectionary evidence from the late-antique Church of Jerusalem.

For the evidence from Egypt: Gesa Schenke, with support and advice from Arietta Papaconstantinou.  This consists of the extensive evidence in Coptic and Greek papyri – letters, contracts, tax-receipts, etc. – in which shrines and cult-practices are mentioned, and from which it is possible to derive a uniquely nuanced picture of cults in action within local communities. In addition, most of the Coptic hagiographical evidence has been collected, summarised and presented. To complete the picture, a cross section of the available Coptic epigraphic evidence has also been incorporated. In the case of Egypt, a hard cut-off at AD 700 was neither advisable nor possible, so material of the eighth and ninth centuries is also included in the database.

For the epigraphic evidence: Paweł Nowakowski was responsible for collecting the rich collection of inscriptions relating to the cult of the saints, which are very often the best evidence for the spread and popularity of a saint.  Many hundreds of these survive in Greek and Latin, with particularly important concentrations in the Near East and in the churches and cemeteries of the city of Rome.  They include both formal monumental inscriptions, recording the dedication of buildings or of decorative schemes (such as mosaic pavements), and evidence of a more demotic nature, such as pilgrim graffiti and tokens, and texts inscribed on pottery lamps. With the evidence from Greece and Egypt, Paweł was aided by Małgorzata Krawczyk (for Egypt also by Gesa Schenke), while for that from Iberia and North Africa by Marta Szada and Stanisław Adamiak respectively. For the comparatively few, but important, inscriptions of the Near East written in local languages, he was aided by Sergey Minov.

For the evidence in Greek: Efthymios Rizos was responsible for collecting and presenting the vast majority of the evidence preserved in Greek texts (for that preserved in inscriptions, see above).  This evidence is both varied and very extensive, matched in quantity only by that in Latin: centrally important church historians like Eusebius and Sozomen, but also ‘secular’ writers like Malalas; the extensive homilies and letters of the ‘Church Fathers’, such as Chrysostom and the Cappadocians; and a rich dossier of hagiography, much of it very little known.  Efthymios was aided for the evidence of Procopius and of the miracles collections (such as those of Thekla, and of Cyrus and John) by Julia Doroszewska; and with the numerous and important Greek martyrdom accounts by Nikolaos Kälviäinen, who was helped in turn by Christodoulos Papavarnavas.

For the evidence in Latin: This was worked on primarily in Warsaw, under the direction of Robert Wiśniewski, who was also personally responsible for in-putting the evidence of a number of centrally important texts, including the Liber Pontificalis of Rome, and Augustine’s numerous homilies delivered on the feastdays of the saints.  Responsibility for the Iberian evidence, with texts like Prudentius’ Peristephanon and the Lives of the Fathers of Mérida, as well as a uniquely rich dossier of hymns, was taken by Marta Szada, while that from the islands of Britain and Ireland, which includes some early Lives, such as those of Gregory the Great and of Columba, and Bede’s important Martyrology (just outside our period, but included for the sake of completeness), was collected by Ben Savill, who also worked on much of the seventh-century Frankish material (which includes a large number of saints’ Lives, and some important charter evidence).  The fifth-century Gallic material, which includes a clutch of material around the monastery of Lérins, together with letter collections and chronicles, was collected by David Lambert, who also did essential work checking and editing the entries of other team members.  Gaul preserves particularly extensive hagiographical material from the late sixth century, much of it by Gregory of Tours (the most prolific author in our database); his evidence was covered by Katarzyna Wojtalik, and by Marta Tycner who also provided invaluable advice in the early stages of the project, when the database was being designed.  Katarzyna additionally in-put evidence from the poetry of Gregory’s contemporary, Venantius Fortunatus, while Philip Polcar worked on Fortunatus’ hagiography, as well as some key texts from Rome and many of the writings of Jerome.  The letters of popes Leo and Gregory the Great, and much of the evidence from Italy outside Rome (including the poems and letters of Paulinus of Nola, the sermon collections from north Italy, and the evidence of Agnellus of Ravenna), were researched by Frances Trzeciak; while Matthieu Pignot carried out the job of collecting, summarising and discussing the substantial and highly influential collection of Italian accounts of martyrdoms, and the Italian lives of saints.  The evidence from Africa, other than that by Augustine, which includes some important Donatist material, was assembled by Stanisław Adamiak.  Last, but by no means least, the indispensable Martyrologium Hieronymianum, by far the most comprehensive, but also the most problematic, calendar of our period was studied and in-put by Marijana Vuković.

For the evidence in Syriac: Sergey Minov, with support and advice from David Taylor. The evidence in Syriac took the database deep into the Persian empire, with an extensive dossier of accounts of martyrdoms at the hands of the Sasanian monarchs, and also includes a number of key texts, such as the Chronicle of Edessa and that of pseudo-Joshua the Stylite, as well as the very first extensive calendar of saintly feasts, the Martyrology of 411.  Furthermore, several important texts have been entered, which were originally composed in Greek, but are now only fully known through Syriac translations, such as Eusebius’ Martyrs of Palestine and the works of Severus of Antioch.

Our database was designed, refined and maintained by Jeremy Worth, and the administration of the project carried out by Briony Truscott.