Kinship with the Martyrs

Vasiliki M. Limberis

in Architects of Piety

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199730889
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199895229 | DOI:
Kinship with the Martyrs

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This chapter addresses how the Cappadocians’ imbrication with their own families merges with their promotion of martyr piety. They use it to forge new relationships with the martyrs and to promote their own families. They were successful because a vibrant sacramental life for the laity was not yet the norm; every pious catechumen could participate in a panegyris for martyrs. They promote kinship with the martyrs as spiritual kinship, open to monastics and laity alike. Basil and Gregory of Nyssa even claimed three saints as relatives: Gregory Thaumaturgus, Thecla, and the Forty Martyrs. Hence, the prestige of their own family went beyond all social parameters. Finally, Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa inscribe their recently deceased kin into the ranks of the martyrs. The Cappadocians succeed in bypassing the need for procreation, since through martyr piety their family’s honor is forever.

Keywords: kinship; asceticism; baptism; marriage; godparents; Emmelia; Macrina; Gorgonia; Caesarius; Nonna

Chapter.  28212 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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