Matthew Dal Santo

in Debating the Saints’ Cult in the Age of Gregory the Great

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199646791
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949939 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Byzantium


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  • Religion in the Ancient World


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The introduction sets out the tension between faith-based belief and rationalist scepticism in the hagiographical literature of the early Byzantine empire, circa 500–700. Taking this tension as a cue to re-examine modern representations of religious life in the late antique world, especially the period’s widely proclaimed Christian piety, the introduction revisits Prof. Peter Brown’s thesis that holy men, saints and miracles embodied the significant historical shifts of late antiquity. The introduction argues that, because of the defence of the saints’ miracles the text contains, Gregory the Great’s Dialogues on the Miracles of the Italian Fathers is an apposite to begin this revision of the historiography. By placing Pope Gregory and his apology for the saints in a wider context, the introduction argues that Gregory was very much a part of a common thought world that joined Italy to Constantinople and the wider eastern empire.

Keywords: saints; miracles; doubt; scepticism; holy men; Peter Brown; late antiquity; Gregory the Great; Italy; Constantinople

Chapter.  8231 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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