Academic journal article Church History

Architects of Piety: The Cappadocian Fathers and the Cult of the Martyrs

Academic journal article Church History

Architects of Piety: The Cappadocian Fathers and the Cult of the Martyrs

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes non-US-ASCII text omitted.)

The present volume demonstrates convincingly how Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus used the cult of the martyrs in a highly elaborate manner to promote popular piety and to assert their episcopal authority in the fourth-century Cappadocia. In doing so, it complements the earlier theological presentation of the theme in Basil by Mario Girardi (Basilio di Cesarea e il culto dei martiri nel IV secolo [Bari: Istituto di Studi classici e cristiani, Universita di Bari, 1990]), while drawing on the more recent work of Raymond Van Dam and Philip Rousseau that evinces the social context of the world of the Cappadocians.

The volume opens up with an examination of the interplay between the historical context and the enduring mythos of a saint's own story. After examining the various liturgical holidays present in the fourth-century calendar, some of which were introduced by the Cappadocian Fathers themselves, the first chapter focuses on the panegyris (festival assembly) as a transformative event that leads the faithful to participation in the martyr's holiness and the ways in which the Cappadocian Fathers used the martyrs in their preaching, scriptural exegesis, and calls to Christian morality. Limberis emphasizes how such strategies ensured episcopal control over the cult of the martyrs.

Chapter 2 deals with how the Cappadocian Fathers materialized the martyria for their audiences. In particular, it focuses on how Gregory of Nyssa deploys his rhetorical skills to dramatically describe the difficulties encountered in building a martyrium for Theodore the Recruit in order to urge his audience to participate in the holiness of the saint. Limberis draws an imaginative comparison between Gregory's homily and the extant ruins of the martyrium of St. Philip in Hierapolis to help the reader understand the importance of such a rhetorical exercise for promoting popular piety.

In the opinion of this reviewer, chapter 3 is by far the most interesting in the book, as it deals with the theme of the imagined spiritual or near blood kinship between the Cappadocians and various martyrs as a way to promote piety and to assert their episcopal control over the cult of the martyrs and over the region. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.