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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The conclusion revisits the book’s central theme, namely that the saints’ cult and miracles formed the subject of a significant and widespread debate in the early Byzantine world from the end of the sixth century and, by pointing to the increasingly important role that saints’ cults played in imperial ritual and symbolism, argues that this debate had a political context as well. In an autocracy like the late East Roman empire, where over criticism of the emperor could be fraught with danger, questioning the plausibility of the saints’ miracles could reflect underlying dissent regarding the emperor’s position in society, and especially the sacred authority which imperial exploitation of intercessory cult helped to cultivate. Finally, the conclusion suggests that these arguments over the legitimacy of saintly veneration are echoed in the Qur’an’s polemic against human intercessors, itself an important part of early Islam’s deflation of Byzantine imperial authority.

Keywords: saints; miracles; empire; emperor; authority; Maurice; intercession; mediation; dissent; Muhammad; Qur’an

Chapter.  6240 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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