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The Joan Palevsky

Imprint in Classical Literature

In honor of beloved Virgil— “O degli altri poeti onore e lume . . .” —Dante, Inferno


The publisher gratefully acknowledges the generous contribution to this book provided by the Classical Literature Endowment Fund of the University of California Press Foundation, which is supported by a major gift from Joan Palevsky. The publisher also gratefully acknowledges the generous contribution toward the publication of this book provided by the Authority of Research and Development of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Encountering the Sacred


the transformation of the classical heritage Peter Brown, General Editor

I Art and Ceremony in Late Antiquity, by Sabine G. MacCormack II Synesius of Cyrene: Philosopher-Bishop, by Jay Alan Bregman III Theodosian Empresses: Women and Imperial Dominion in Late Antiquity, by Kenneth G. Holum IV John Chrysostom and the Jews: Rhetoric and Reality in the Late Fourth Century, by Robert L. Wilken V Biography in Late Antiquity: The Quest for the Holy Man, by Patricia Cox VI Pachomius: The Making of a Community in Fourth-Century Egypt, by Philip Rousseau VII Change in Byzantine Culture in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries, by A. P. Kazhdan and Ann Wharton Epstein VIII Leadership and Community in Late Antique Gaul, by Raymond Van Dam IX Homer the Theologian: Neoplatonist Allegorical Reading and the Growth of the Epic Tradition, by Robert Lamberton X Procopius and the Sixth Century, by Averil Cameron XI Guardians of Language: The Grammarian and Society in Late Antiquity, by Robert A. Kaster XII Civic Coins and Civic Politics in the Roman East, a.d. 180–275, by Kenneth Harl XIII Holy Women of the Syrian Orient, introduced and translated by Sebastian P. Brock and Susan Ashbrook Harvey XIV Gregory the Great: Perfection in Imperfection, by Carole Straw XV “Apex Omnium”: Religion in the “Res gestae” of Ammianus, by R. L. Rike XVI Dioscorus of Aphrodito: His Work and His World, by Leslie S. B. MacCoull XVII On Roman Time: The Codex-Calendar of 354 and the Rhythms of Urban Life in Late Antiquity, by Michele Renee Salzman XVIII Asceticism and Society in Crisis: John of Ephesus and “The Lives of the Eastern Saints,” by Susan Ashbrook Harvey


XIX Barbarians and Politics at the Court of Arcadius, by Alan Cameron and Jacqueline Long, with a contribution by Lee Sherry XX Basil of Caesarea, by Philip Rousseau XXI In Praise of Later Roman Emperors: The Panegyrici Latini, introduction, translation, and historical commentary by C. E. V. Nixon and Barbara Saylor Rodgers XXII Ambrose of Milan: Church and Court in a Christian Capital, by Neil B. McLynn XXIII Public Disputation, Power, and Social Order in Late Antiquity, by Richard Lim XXIV The Making of a Heretic: Gender, Authority, and the Priscillianist Controversy, by Virginia Burrus XXV Symeon the Holy Fool: Leontius’s “Life” and the Late Antique City, by Derek Krueger XXVI The Shadows of Poetry: Vergil in the Mind of Augustine, by Sabine MacCormack XXVII Paulinus of Nola: Life, Letters, and Poems, by Dennis E. Trout XXVIII The Barbarian Plain: Saint Sergius between Rome and Iran, by Elizabeth Key Fowden XXIX The Private Orations of Themistius, translated, annotated, and introduced by Robert J. Penella XXX The Memory of the Eyes: Pilgrims to Living Saints in Christian Late Antiquity, by Georgia Frank XXXI Greek Biography and Panegyric in Late Antiquity, edited by Tomas Hägg and Philip Rousseau XXXII Subtle Bodies: Representing Angels in Byzantium, by Glenn Peers XXXIII Wandering, Begging Monks: Social Order and the Promotion of Monasticism in Late Antiquity, by Daniel Folger Caner XXXIV Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century a.d., by Noel Lenski XXXV Merovingian Mortuary Archaeology and the Making of the Early Middle Ages, by Bonnie Effros XXXVI Qusayr ‘Amra: Art and the Umayyad Elite in Late Antique Syria, by Garth Fowden XXXVII Holy Bishops in Late Antiquity: The Nature of Christian Leadership in an Age of Transition, by Claudia Rapp


XXXVIII Encountering the Sacred: The Debate on Christian Pilgrimage in Late Antiquity, by Brouria Bitton-Ashkelony XXXIX There Is No Crime for Those Who Have Christ: Religious Violence in the Christian Roman Empire, by Michael Gaddis XL The Legend of Mar Qardagh: Narrative and Christian Heroism in Late Antique Iraq, by Joel Thomas Walker XLI City and School in Late Antique Athens and Alexandria, by Edward J. Watts XLII Scenting Salvation: Ancient Christianity and the Olfactory Imagination, by Susan Ashbrook Harvey


Encountering the Sacred The Debate on Christian Pilgrimage in Late Antiquity

brouria bitton-ashkelony

University of California Press berkeley

los angeles

london


University of California Press, one of the most distinguished university presses in the United States, enriches lives around the world by advancing scholarship in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Its activities are supported by the UC Press Foundation and by philanthropic contributions from individuals and institutions. For more information, visit www.ucpress.edu.

University of California Press Berkeley and Los Angeles, California University of California Press, Ltd. London, England © 2005 by The Regents of the University of California

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Bitton-Ashkelony, Brouria. Encountering the sacred: the debate on Christian pilgrimage in late antiquity/ Brouria Bitton-Ashkelony. p. cm. — (The transformation of the classical heritage ; 38) Includes bibliographical references and index. isbn 0-520-24191-6 (cloth : alk. paper) 1. Christian pilgrims and pilgrimages—Palestine—History of doctrines—Early church, ca. 30–600. 2. Palestine in Christianity—History of doctrines—Early church, ca. 30–600. I. Title. II. Series. bv896.p19b58 2005 263'.0425694'09015—dc22

2004018179

Manufactured in the United States of America 13 12 11 10 09 08 07 06 05 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 This book is printed on Natures Book, which contains 50% postconsumer waste and meets the minimum requirements of ansi/niso z 39.48–1992 (r 1997) (Permanence of Paper).


In memory of my mother


Contents

Preface Abbreviations

1.

introduction: pilgrimage in late antiquity

1

basil of caesarea’s and gregory of nyssa’s attitudes toward pilgrimage

30

Basil’s and Gregory’s Support for the Cult of the Martyrs Basil of Caesarea’s Journey to Palestine Gregory’s Visit to Jerusalem: Pilgrimage or Diplomatic Mission? Gregory’s Ambivalence Regarding the Holy Places in Jerusalem Cyril as Promoter of Jerusalem The Primacy of the East

2.

jerome’s position on pilgrimage: vacillating between support and reservations From Babylon to Jerusalem Jerome on Pilgrimage to Palestine ( 383–392) Jerome’s Interpretation of Matthew 27:52–53 Jerome and the Holy Places ( 394–397) Jerome on the Cult of the Martyrs

3.

xi xiii

33 44 48 51 57 62 65 65 71 79 85 97

augustine on holy space

106

Augustine’s Silence on Pilgrimage Augustine’s Peregrinatio and Peregrinus: Spiritual Pilgrimage? Augustine on the Place of God Augustine on What Makes a Place Holy Augustine on Miracles at the Tombs of Martyrs Augustine on the Cult of the Martyrs

106 110 115 122 127 132


4.

5.

pilgrimage in monastic culture

140

The Nature of the Sources Xeniteia, Hesychia, and Pilgrimage Curiosity and Pilgrimage Athanasius of Alexandria (296–373) Evagrius Ponticus and the Holy Places ( 345–399) Theodoret of Cyrrhus ( 393–466)

141

local versus central pilgrimage

184

A Second Jerusalem Conclusion

201

146 160 163 168 174

204

Bibliography Primary Sources Secondary Sources

General Index Index of Places Index of Biblical Citations

207 212 239 247 249


Preface

This study is the result of a long journey that began with my master’s thesis on Jewish and pagan pilgrimage in antiquity under the supervision of my beloved teacher, the late Prof. Moshe Beer, who first introduced me to the complexity of religious phenomena and the critical reading of ancient literature. It is additionally due to my subsequent studies of Greek religion and patristics in the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes and the seminal teaching of Monique Alexandre and Stella Georgoudi, to whom I am deeply grateful for their warmth and hospitality. My interest in the study of Christianity was inspired by Guy Stroumsa of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who first instilled in me a passion for early Christianity. This book originated as a Ph.D. dissertation (in Hebrew) submitted to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1996. The entire dissertation has been extensively revised and updated, and substantial additions have been introduced throughout. It is a great pleasure for me to express my heartfelt gratitude to my supervisor, Guy Stroumsa, not only for sharing with me his erudition and acumen, but also for his continuous encouragement and warm assistance over the years. During the revision of my dissertation, many friends and colleagues shared with me their knowledge and time, and saved me from errors. I thank all of them. The book would not have been published without the gracious assistance and invaluable criticism of Peter Brown, who read critically the entire manuscript and suggested stimulating and insightful improvements. I am hugely grateful to my friend Aryeh Kofsky, who read the whole book thoroughly and with whom I had lively discussions throughout the years; he encouraged me to an extent I can hardly measure. I owe a special debt of gratitude to Ora Limor and David Frankfurter, whose works on pilgrimage deeply inspired me, for their critical eyes and illuminating comments. To David Satran’s intellectual generosity and critical spirit I owe much, as well xi


xii

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Preface

as to Oded Irshai, Bas Ter Haar Romeny, and Michael Stone, who read sections of the manuscript and provided invaluable criticisms, corrections, and ideas, and to my dear friend Meir Bar-Asher for his encouragement over the years. I should also like to thank Evelyn Katrak for her rigorous editing of the English style. The publication of this book has been made possible also thanks to Yad Avi Hayishuv–The Rothschild Fund (Jerusalem) and to the Central Research Fund of the Hebrew University. The latter provided me with the opportunity to spend a year of research at Oxford and to prepare the manuscript for publication. I would also like to express my appreciation to Wolfson College, Oxford, for the hospitality shown to me there as a visiting scholar, and particularly to Sebastian Brock of the Oriental Institute, who initiated me into the study of Syriac and unstintingly offered me his advice and cordial assistance. I deeply appreciate the unfailing cooperation of the editorial staff of the University of California Press, especially Laura Cerruti, Paul Psoinos, Cindy Fulton, and Becca MacLaren. During all this long journey I have been sustained by my family: my husband, Ilan, and my children, Tom and Dana. I thank them for their love and enthusiastic support.


Abbreviations

AB ACW Annales ESC ANRW Apoph. BA BLE BZ CCL CS CSCO CSEL CSQ DOP Ep. EPHE Epig. GCS HE HJ HL HR

Analecta Bollandiana Ancient Christian Writers Annales: Economies, Sociétés, Civilisations Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt Apophthegmata Patrum Bibliothèque Augustinienne Bulletin de Littérature Ecclésiastique Byzantinische Zeitschrift Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina Cistercian Studies Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum Cistercian Studies Quarterly Dumbarton Oaks Papers Epistulae Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes Epigrammata Die Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten Drei Jahrhunderte Historia Ecclesiastica Historisches Jahrbuch Historia Lausiaca Historia Religiosa xiii


xiv

/

Abbreviations

HTR LCL LV NPNF JAC JAC Supplement 20

JECS JHS JRS JThS PEQ PG PL PLS PO POC RA RAC RAM RB RBPH REAn REArm REAug RELa RH RHE RHPR RHR RQ

Harvard Theological Review Loeb Classical Library Athanasius, Second Letter to Virgins Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum Akten des XII. Internationalen Kongresses für christliche Archäologie, Bonn, 1991, Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum, Ergänzungsband 20 (Münster, 1995) Journal of Early Christian Studies Journal of Hellenic Studies Journal of Roman Studies Journal of Theological Studies Palestinian Exploration Quarterly J. P. Migne et al., eds., Patrologiae Cursus Completus, Series Graeca J. P. Migne et al., eds., Patrologiae Cursus Completus, Series Latina Patrologiae Latinae Supplementum Patrologia Orientalis Proche-Orient Chrétien Recherches Augustiniennes Rivista di Archeologia Cristiana Revue d’Ascétique et de Mystique Revue Biblique Revue Belge de Philologie et d’Histoire Revue des Etudes Anciennes Revue des Etudes Arméniennes Revue des Etudes Augustiniennes Revue des Etudes Latines Revue Historique Revue d’Histoire Ecclésiatique Revue d’Histoire et de Philosophie Religieuse Revue de l’Histoire des Religions Römische Quartalschrift


Abbreviations RSR SC Sermons Dolbeau

SIFC SP TU VC ZDPV ZNW

/

xv

Revue des Sciences Religieuses Sources Chrétiennes F. Dolbeau, ed., Augustin d’Hippone: Vingt-six sermons au peuple d’Afrique, Collection des Etudes Augustiniennes 147 (Paris, 1996) Studi Italiani di Filologia Classica Studia Patristica Texte und Untersuchungen Vigiliae Christianae Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft


Introduction Pilgrimage in Late Antiquity

Gregory Barhebraeus, the thirteenth-century Syriac scholar, perceived and represented the ambiguity of the Christian attitude toward pilgrimage to Jerusalem in these simple terms: “We find that there exist two opposite opinions about worshiping in the Holy City of Jerusalem. The first [is] that of prudent, educated people, who do not consider it becoming. And the other [is] that of simple common people, who regard it as appropriate.”1 Barhebraeus goes on to explain that “perfect solitaries and the select Doctors only yearn to travel to ‘Jerusalem on high’ [Gal. 4:26]. . . . They are ready to worship God [who is] spirit, spiritually [cf. John 4:24].”2 The same attitude emerges in Western Christendom during the Middle Ages and might be epitomized in the words of Geoffrey of Vendôme in a letter to the abbot of Marmoutier, who planned to visit Jerusalem: “For going to Jerusalem is indicated for laymen but interdicted for monks by the apostolic see. . . . Therefore we should not stray from the journey of our profession in order to make a journey to Jerusalem.”3 Similarly, citing the same biblical passages and using the same terminology, some scholars have tried to resolve the puzzling contradictions between the stance of the New Testament on sacred space and the practice of pilgrimage in late antiquity.4 Undoubtedly, Barhebraeus and Geoffrey of 1. Barhebraeus, Ethicon: Memra 1, ed. and trans. H. G. B. Teule, CSCO 219 (Louvain, 1993), 104. 2. Ibid. 3. Geoffrey of Vendôme, Letter 21, PL 157: 162b–c; cf. G. Constable, “Opposition to Pilgrimage in the Middle Ages,” Studia Gratiana 19 (1976): 134. 4. See, for example, J. Prawer, “Christian Attitudes towards Jerusalem in the Early Middle Ages,” in The History of Jerusalem: The Early Muslim Period, 638–1099, ed. J. Prawer and H. Ben-Shammai (Jerusalem, 1996), 311–47; P. Maraval, “L’atti-

1


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Introduction

Vendôme typified the prevailing thought on pilgrimage among Christian thinkers and monastic leaders in the East and the West in the Middle Ages.5 There is, however, no evidence for this clear-cut distinction between two levels of religious behavior in the Christian texts of late antiquity. To project such a distinction backward would in fact lead to a misunderstanding of this debate and to a misreading of the whole story of Christian pilgrimage in late antiquity. Some historians have perceived the Christian debate on pilgrimage in that period as a debate among intellectuals about a popular religious phenomenon, so that the reservations expressed by Christian thinkers about pilgrimage are understood as the rejection of a kind of religious behavior deemed appropriate only to simple people. Indeed, ever since Arnaldo Momigliano’s well-known judgment—“Thus my inquest into popular beliefs in the Late Roman historians ends in reporting that there were no such beliefs”—a simple assumption of a dichotomy between popular and elite religion in late antiquity is no longer possible.6 Scholars from Peter Brown to Averil Cameron, David Satran, and others have all called this distinction into question or rejected it.7 The main question, of course, is the meaning of the term “popular religion.” If it means a religion of lay and simple people, then on the contrary, the pilgrims to holy places, tombs of martyrs, and holy men in late antiquity came from all strata of society. Moreover, in the fourth and the fifth century those known to us from the Latin West who shared the experience of the holy places in Palestine belong mainly to the aristo-

tude des pères du IVe siècle devant les lieux saints et les pèlerinages,” Irénikon 65 (1992): 5–23. 5. Constable, “Opposition to Pilgrimage in the Middle Ages”; idem, “Monachisme et pèlerinage au Moyen Age,” RH 258 (1977): 3–27. 6. A. Momigliano, “Popular Religious Beliefs and the Roman Historians,” in Popular Belief and Practice, ed. G. J. Cuming and D. Baker, Studies in Church History 8 (Cambridge, 1971), 18. 7. P. Brown, The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity (Chicago, 1981), 12–22, 48–49; Averil Cameron, “The Theotokos in Sixth-Century Constantinople: A City Finds Its Symbol,” JThS, n.s., 29 (1978), 102; idem, Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire: The Development of Christian Discourse (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1991), 36–39, 107–13; D. Satran, Biblical Prophets in Byzantine Palestine: Reassessing the Lives of the Prophets (Leiden, 1995), 115; D. Frankfurter, “Introduction: Approaches to Coptic Pilgrimage,” in Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt, ed. D. Frankfurter (Leiden, 1998), 3–48, esp. 35. For a different view about the religious practices in the early Church, see R. van den Broek, “Popular Religious Practices and Ecclesiastical Policies in the Early Church,” in Official and Popular Religion: Analysis of a Theme for Religious Studies, ed. P. H. Vrijhof and J. Waardenburg, Religion and Society 19 (The Hague, 1979), 11–54.


Introduction

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3

cratic and learned circles.8 Our sources reveal that the intellectuals themselves, among them Jerome, Gregory of Nyssa, Basil of Caesarea, Paulinus of Nola, Orosius, and many others, embarked on pilgrimages—in their immediate vicinity and beyond—alongside ordinary people.9 Finally, I am not aware of any sources concerning the debates on pilgrimage in late antiquity claiming that this practice was appropriate only for simple folk—a claim repeatedly asserted in the Middle Ages.10 That is not to deny the existence of the notion of the “simple faith” of the great masses of ordinary Christians in early Christian writings.11 But even an author like Origen, who was well aware of the existence of simple faith and recognized the simple believers as a clear category within the Church—a category marked by its unscholarly character and intellectual deficiency—certainly did not perceive Christianity as divided into two classes.12 Rather, as a teacher, he had to face this reality constantly and aimed to teach the simple in order to raise them to a higher level of understanding of the Christian doctrines, since for him even 8. For example, Melania the Elder, Rufinus, Paula, Fabiola, Melania the Younger, and many others. It is worth noting that we know nothing about the intellectual and social circle of the famous Western Pilgrim from Bordeaux ( 333). For a summary of Egeria’s geographical and social origins, see P. Devos, “Une nouvelle Egérie,” AB 101 (1983): 55–57; P. Maraval, ed., Egérie: Journal de voyage, SC 269 (Paris, 1982), 23–27; H. Sivan, “Who Was Egeria? Piety and Pilgrimage in the Age of Gratian,” HTR 81 (1988): 59–72. Sivan believes that Egeria probably belonged to the middle class and not to the aristocratic circles. This view is based on Egeria’s literary style, which betrays a simple level of Latin. See also the many examples given by G. F. M. Vermeer, Observations sur le vocabulaire du pèlerinage chez Egérie et chez Antoin de Plaisance, Latinitas Christianorum Primaeva 11 (Nijmegen, 1965): 1–35. A renewed effort to identify Egeria’s homeland precisely was made by C. Weber, “Egeria’s Norman Homeland,” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 92 (1989): 437–56, who together with Sivan believes that Egeria came from northwestern Gaul. 9. The intellectual and social profile of the pilgrims in that period is discussed in P. Maraval, Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient: Histoire et géographie des origines à la conquête arabe (Paris, 1985), 105–36. For the social standing of the pilgrims to Tours, see L. Pietri, La ville de Tours du IVe au VIe siècle: Naissance d’une cité chrétienne. Collection de l’Ecole Française de Rome 69 (Rome, 1983): 557–63; R. Van Dam, Saints and Their Miracles in Late Antique Gaul (Princeton, 1993), 123–25. 10. Constable, “Opposition to Pilgrimage in the Middle Ages”; S. Schein, “Jerusalem in Christian Spirituality in the Crusader Period,” in The History of Jerusalem:The Crusaders, 1099–1250, ed. J. Prawer and H. Ben-Shammai (Jerusalem, 1991), 213–61. 11. For a clear delineation of this theme in Origen’s writings, see G. Hällström, Fides Simpliciorum According to Origen of Alexandria, Commentationes Humanarum Litterarum 76 (Helsinki, 1984). See also P. Antin, “‘Simple’ et ‘simplicité’ chez saint Jérôme,” Revue Bénédictine 71 (1961): 371–81. 12. See the conclusion in Hällström, Fides Simpliciorum, 93–95.


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Introduction

the simple are to be considered as people who are in a process of ascending to God.13 Following this stance, in the fourth century, Gregory of Nazianzus too did not perceive the religion of uneducated people as of lower value. In his words:14 For many are the paths to salvation, all leading to communion with God; along these you must travel, not only along that based on eloquence. For the language of simple faith is sufficient, and by this means God effortlessly saves the majority. If the faith were accessible only to the educated, nothing in this world would be poorer than God.

Apparently, although the notion of simple faith did exist in the religious consciousness of Christian authors in late antiquity, it did not give birth to the concept of popular religion. It would be a mistake, then, to assume that the debate on Christian pilgrimage in that period stemmed from a tension between popular and established religion, as some scholars have suggested. Rather, as is apparent from this study, we are dealing here with tension between local sites of pilgrimage on the one hand and Jerusalem on the other, as well as with the pervasive dilemma of earthly sacred journeying to encounter the divine versus interior journeying to an inner space. In his challenging and incisive study on pilgrimage, Alphonse Dupront devoted more effort than any other historian or anthropologist to defining the elusive term “popular religion” and to delineating precisely what it encompassed.15 For Dupront, pilgrimage is clearly situated in the domain of popular religion, a domain he discerned as being without a “corps doctrinal” and without theology.16 Such a judgment is hardly applicable to late-antique Christian data. In my view, the debate on pilgrimage—which erupted initially toward the end of the fourth century—touched precisely upon theological issues, as will be seen below.17 13. Origen, Contra Celsum 7.46 (ed. P. Koetschau, GCS 3 [Leipzig, 1899]). 14. Gregory of Nazianzus, De vita sua 1225–31, ed. and trans. C. White, Gregory of Nazianzus: Autobiographical Poems (Cambridge, 1996), 100–101. 15. A. Dupront, Du sacré: Croisades et pèlerinages, images et langages (Paris, 1987), 419–66. See also the definition given by van den Broek, “Popular Religious Practices,” 11–13. 16. Dupront, Du sacré, 426. 17. L. Perrone, in his article “Christian Holy Places and Pilgrimage in an Age of Dogmatic Conflicts: Popular Religion and Confessional Affiliation in Byzantine Palestine (Fifth to Seventh Centuries),” POC 48 (1998): 5–37, focuses pointedly on the question of whether there was an affinity between theology on the one hand and pilgrimage on the other.


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Indeed, I shall suggest that we abandon the term “popular religion” in the context of pilgrimage in the period under discussion. Once freed of this hindrance, a wide range of motives and tensions that gave rise to the various viewpoints of the Christian authors on pilgrimage is disclosed. It seems to me more profitable to approach this debate in terms of religious identity and to perceive it as a debate on one component—the encounter with the sacred—of a society in the process of shaping its identity.18 From this perspective, writings by the leading figures of the fourth and fifth centuries will be considered here as reflecting the avenues that they used to face this flourishing practice. These texts represent the preliminary stage of a crucial dilemma: whether Christians in the East and the West, in the cities and in remote deserts, should reject outright this model of religious behavior, already well established or, on the contrary, adopt it and view pilgrimage as a full-fledged religious obligation. One side of this dilemma is epitomized by Gregory of Nyssa, who perceived pilgrimage as an act incurring “spiritual harm” (Letter 2); the other, by Jerome, who saw it as “part of the faith” (Letter 47). We should remember that the gist of this debate was frequently represented in sharp outline and in theological dress. In essence, it boils down to the issue of the theology of landscape and precisely to the question of belief in a divine presence in a defined locus. But it would be ill advised to approach this debate in all cases in theoretical terms. Hence, despite its obvious theological dimension, the debate encompassed a wide variety of motivations and personal interests, which should not be overlooked.19 More to the point, there is a strong correlation between the desire of bishops and monastic leaders to enhance their local power and their attitudes toward pilgrimage to central places such as Jerusalem.20 Therefore it comes as no surprise that rivalries arose between the ecclesiastical authorities in Jerusalem and those in other cities. However, these rivalries were often played down and even concealed by Christian authors, and where they do surface in the sources, it is often in theological guise. The basic assumption of this study is that Christian pilgrimage in late antiquity—whether to a holy man, to the tomb of a martyr or saint, or to the holy places in Palestine—was an expression of basically similar religious phenomena that evolved in the third and fourth centuries in Christian soci18. On Christian identity in relation to the topics discussed here, see R. Markus, The End of Ancient Christianity (Cambridge, 1990). 19. On the theological aspect of pilgrimage in late antiquity, see Perrone, “Christian Holy Places and Pilgrimage.” 20. On this point I was much inspired by S. R. F. Price, Rituals and Power: The Roman Imperial Cult in Asia Minor (Cambridge, 1984).


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eties.That is, in all these foci of pilgrimage the substance of sanctity was made tangible and available for one seeking to capture the sacred by viewing and touching these various centers of hierophany and kratophany.21 In these holy localities the divine presence was near and accessible—in Michel Meslin’s words, “Le lieu du pèlerinage permet une rencontre concrète du divin par la médiation des sens.”22 Though a distinction is easily drawn among the various sorts of pilgrimage—therapeutic, contemplative and intellectual, penitential, local, or central—each sacred journey, in its essence, stemmed from the same quest: to see and touch the sacred.23 The sight of the holy framed the pilgrim’s experience; the visual aspect of the holy served as a manifestation of religious and political power.24 This epiphanic and kratophanic dimension of pilgrimage would explain, for instance, the tension between accessibility and closure that characterized the holy places in Jerusalem at that period. But there is a clear terminological distinction between the various types of pilgrimage, epitomized in the use of the verb adorare or proskunei¸n in relation to visits to the holy places and the verb honorare or timei¸n when referring to the cult of the martyr—a distinction recognized by Christian thinkers, who thereby demonstrated their sensitivity to this sort of pilgrimage.25 21. For holy places as centers of hierophany and kratophany, see M. Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, trans. W. R. Trask (San Diego, 1959), 20–65; idem, Patterns in Comparative Religion, 2nd ed. (New York, 1974), 367–87. For a recent analysis of the texture of Eliade’s Patterns, see J. Z. Smith, “Acknowledgment: Morphology and History in Mircea Eliade’s Patterns in Comparative Religion (1949–1999)—Part 2:The Texture of the Work,” History of Religions 39 (2000): 332–51. Eliade’s use of the term “sacred” is discussed in R. Studstill, “Eliade, Phenomenology, and the Sacred,” Religious Studies 36 (2000): 177–94. 22. M. Meslin, L’expérience humaine du divin: Fondements d’une anthropologie religieuse (Paris, 1988), 181. Although Meslin is referring to non-Christian religions and his examples are from a later period than that discussed here, his definition can easily be applied to Christian pilgrimage in late antiquity. 23. A. Dupront (Du sacré, 48) identifies the encounter with the divine as a major element in the phenomenon of pilgrimage: “Le pèlerinage des hommes exige cependant la rencontre.” See also ibid., 412–15; idem, “Pèlerinage et lieux sacrés,” in Mélanges en l’honneur de Fernand Braudel (Toulouse, 1973), 189–99. For further bibliography on the definition of pilgrimage, see H. Behlmer, “Visitors to Shenoute’s Monastery,” in Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt, ed. D. Frankfurter (Leiden, 1998), 359–60. 24. On the visual rhetoric of sanctity, see C. Hahn, “Seeing and Believing: The Construction of Sanctity in Early Medieval Saints’ Shrines,” Speculum 72 (1997): 1079–1106. For the same approach with respect to visual representations and their effective power in the case of fifteenth-century Ethiopia, see S. Kaplan, “Seeing Is Believing: The Power of Visual Culture in the Religious World of Ase Zär’a Ya’eqob of Ethiopia (1434–1468),” Journal of Religion in Africa 32 (2002): 403–21. 25. On this terminological distinction, see the important discussion in Maraval, Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient, 145–46.


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The definition of pilgrimage as formulated here encompasses various centers of holiness throughout the late-antique Christian world. Hence Jerusalem and the holy places in Palestine, though crucial, are not the sole focus of this discussion. Rather, I prefer to examine how leading figures of that time perceived and reacted to the very idea of encounter with sacred space in its various manifestations. The axis of this study, then, is the stance of Christian writers on the nature of sacred space itself and not merely its geographical location. This approach rests first on the conclusion that earthly Jerusalem had neither a unique religious status nor a supreme theological function in early Christian thought,26 and second on evidence of the emergence of pilgrimage sites all over the Christian world as reflected in pilgrims’ accounts, hagiographical materials, and papyrological and epigraphical references from that period.27 Egeria’s Itinerary in the 380s and John Moschus’s Spiritual Meadow at the end of the sixth century are good examples; the two works reflect the same perception of sacred topography. Jerusalem, though the scene of Jesus’ life, death, and Resurrection, was not the only holy place they or their heroes visited.28 The tomb of Thecla at Seleucia and

26. For an inclusive study on New Testament attitudes toward Jerusalem, see P. W. L. Walker, Jesus and the Holy City: New Testament Perspectives on Jerusalem (Grand Rapids, 1996), with references to earlier works on the topic. See also, W. D. Davies, “Jerusalem and the Land in the Christian Tradition,” in The Jerusalem Colloquium on Religion, Peoplehood, Nation and Land, ed. M. A.Tanenbaum and R. J. Z. Werblowsky (Jerusalem, 1972), 115–57; G. G. Stroumsa, “Which Jerusalem?” Cathedra 11 (1979): 119–24; R. Wilken, The Land Called Holy: Palestine in Christian History and Thought (New Haven, 1992), 65–72. See also E. P. Sanders (“Jerusalem and Its Temple in Early Christian Thought and Practice,” in Jerusalem: Its Sanctity and Centrality to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, ed. Lee I. Levine [New York, 1999], 101), who concluded about Luke and the Acts of the Apostles: “By the end of the first century, Jerusalem and the Temple were of historical and symbolic importance, but no longer the focus of Christianity.” For the Jewish background of the New Jerusalem in Revelation, see J. J. Collins, “Jerusalem and the Temple in Jewish Apocalyptic Literature of the Second Temple Period,” in International Rennert Guest Lecture Series 1 (Bar-Ilan University, 1998), 1–31. 27. See, for example, the important materials on the cult of the saints in Egypt discussed in A. Papaconstantinou, Le culte des saints en Egypte des Byzantins aux Abbassides: L’apport des inscriptions et des papyrus grecs et coptes (Paris, 2001), and reviewed by D. Frankfurter, Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 39 (2002): 205–11. On how communities in late-antique North Africa created and defined holy spaces, see Ann Marie Yasin, “Commemorating the Dead / Constructing the Community: Church Space, Funerary Monuments and Saints’ Cults in Late Antiquity,” Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 2002. 28. See the travel maps in Maraval, ed., Egérie, 375–80; J. Wilkinson, Jerusalem Pilgrims before the Crusades (Jerusalem, 1977). John Moschus tells of a monk who wandered from one pilgrimage site to another throughout the Byzantine world: see


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the shrines of martyrs and holy men at Antioch and Edessa were no less appealing and attracted their share of pilgrims. The fact that pilgrimage to Rome, Tours, Egypt, and Mount Sinai was widespread and well documented at the same time that masses of people were making their way to Jerusalem in itself validates approaching the topic from this angle.29 Although we are dealing here with a single religious phenomenon, pilgrimage, it is a basic tenet of this study that in order to reveal the complexity of Christian thought on the issue one must distinguish between regional pilgrimage—visits to the shrines of local martyrs and saints—and visits to the holy places in Palestine, the arena of the Christian drama, most notably Jerusalem and Bethlehem.30 However, as will become evident below, pilgrimage to Jerusalem and its vicinity evoked much harsher criticism than did visits to the shrines of martyrs or to holy men.While regional pilgrimage was, on the whole, welcomed,31 even promoted, by Christian bishops and thinkers, pilgrimage to the Holy Land often aroused a negative reaction ranging from strong denunciation (chapter 1) to ambivalence (chapter 2) to mere apathy (chapter 3). The expectations of believers varied with the type of pilgrimage. From their point of view, visits to holy men and to the tombs of martyrs served the same purpose: the succor to be gained via those considered to be a ve-

Pratum spirituale 180, PG 87.3: 3052. See also P. Maraval, “Les itinéraires de pèlerinage en Orient (entre le IVe et le VIIe s.),” JAC Supplement 20 (1995): 291–300. 29. See, for example, G. Bardy, “Pèlerinages à Rome vers la fin du IVe siècle,” AB 67 (1949): 224–35. On pilgrimage to Saint Martin’s tomb, see Van Dam, Saints and Their Miracles, 13–28, 116–49. On pilgrimage to Thecla’s shrine, see G. Dagron, Vie et miracles de sainte Thècle, Subsidia Hagiographica 62 (Brussels, 1978), 55–79, 280; W. Rordorf, “Sainte Thècle dans la tradition hagiographique occidentale,” Augustinianum 24 (1984): 73–81; L. Hayne, “Thecla and the Church Fathers,” VC 48 (1994): 209–18. On pilgrimage to Thecla’s shrine in Egypt, see S. J. Davis, “Pilgrimage and the Cult of Saint Thecla in Late Antique Egypt,” in Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt, ed. D. Frankfurter (Leiden, 1998), 303–39; idem, The Cult of Saint Thecla:A Tradition of Women’s Piety in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 2001), 113–48. And see now the vast material on pilgrimage in late-antique Egypt included in Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt, ed. Frankfurter; and in Papaconstantinou, Le culte des saints en Egypte des Byzantins aux Abbassides. 30. For a sociological discussion on regional cults, see R. P. Werbner’s introduction to his edited volume Regional Cults (London, 1977), ix–xxxvii. 31. See the exceptional example of Athanasius vis-à-vis the cult of the martyrs in Egypt, in D. Brakke, “‘Outside the Places,Within the Truth’: Athanasius of Alexandria and the Localization of the Holy,” in Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt, ed. D. Frankfurter (Leiden, 1998), 445–81.


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hicle of salvation, a channel through which divine grace was able to reach them. This was apparently the most common type of pilgrimage, denoted by Dupront as “pèlerinage thérapique,”32 whereas in many cases visits to the holy places in Palestine, distinguished for their contemplative value, might be termed textual pilgrimage.33 This distinction might account for the fact that whereas reports of miracles at the tombs of martyrs and saints abound, there are very few reports of miracles at the holy places in Palestine associated with Jesus, including at the Church of the Anastasis.34 Use of the term “textual pilgrimage” here is intended not to ignore the fact that some holy places in Palestine have oral and regional meaning—as is apparent from the case of pilgrimage to Mamre in late antiquity35—but rather to highlight the nature of curiositas associated with pilgrimage during the period under discussion, as well as to allude to how Christians depicted their sacred journey. The curiosity of pilgrims in late antiquity is not to be compared with that in the late Middle Ages, when the devotional practice of pilgrimage and the vice of curiosity became closely identified, as Christian Zacher has pointed out in his Curiosity and Pilgrimage. In his discussion of the relationship between pilgrimage and curiosity, Zacher claims that pilgrimage by then had gradually become little more than a pretext for the natural human yearning to explore other lands; the journey itself, more than the sacred goal, had become the objective of travel.36 In the case of pilgrimage in late antiquity, on the other hand, there is remarkably little evidence of ethnographic curiosity and no interest (for instance) in the flora and fauna of holy places, as is evident from the relevant sources. During the Middle

32. Dupront, “Pèlerinage et lieux sacrés,” 198. 33. J. Eade and M. J. Sallnow, eds., Contesting the Sacred: The Anthropology of Christian Pilgrimage (London, 1991), 8; O. Limor, Holy Land Travels: Christian Pilgrims in Late Antiquity (Jerusalem, 1998), 15–16, 51–52; idem, “Reading Sacred Space: Egeria, Paula, and the Christian Holy Land,” in De Sion exibit lex et verbum domini de Hierusalem: Essays on Medieval Law, Liturgy, and Literature in Honour of Amnon Linder, ed. Y. Hen (Turnhout, 2001), 1–15. 34. For miraculous cures at the Church of the Anastasis, see the Vita Porphyrii 4–5; the Vita Petri Iberi 38, 40; Jerome, Ep. 46.8. The miracle stories in Jerome’s letter and Peter the Iberian’s appear in clearly polemical contexts: see B. Bitton-Ashkelony, “The Pilgrimage of Peter the Iberian,” Cathedra 91 (1999): 97–112. 35. A. Kofsky, “Mamre: A Case Study of a Regional Cult?” in Sharing the Sacred, ed. A. Kofsky and G. G. Stroumsa (Jerusalem, 1998), 19–30. 36. C. Zacher, Curiosity and Pilgrimage: The Literature of Discovery in Fourteenth Century England (Baltimore, 1976), 4. On this tendency in pilgrims’ accounts in the Middle Ages, see A. Grabois, Le pèlerin occidental en Terre Sainte au Moyen Age (Paris, 1998), 117–33.


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Ages, in contrast, the landscape of the Holy Land comes alive with crocodiles, lions, and other wild animals.37 Two main foci of curiosity in relation to late-antique pilgrimage retain a central place: monastic paideia and curiosity about the land of the Bible. Christian itineraries depicted the experience of viewing the biblical places as not centered merely on what was actually seen in these places; rather, the accounts of the culte de mémoire of that time related above all to a specific set of canonical texts.38 Verifying and interpreting the Holy Scriptures was the essential purpose of this textual pilgrimage.39 For instance, Egeria’s Itinerary—one of the most detailed pilgrimage accounts of late antiquity—exhibits no interest in contemporary ethnographic matters. But Egeria is systematically confronting the biblical past and the tangible present. Unaware of the negative potential of the term curiositas, she declares herself without hesitation to be very curiosa; her curiosity, however, is focused entirely on events and places mentioned in the Holy Scriptures and on the monastic life.40 My approach to this study has been inspired more by Alphonse Dupront’s theory of pilgrimage, as developed in his Du sacré: Croisades et pèlerinages, images et langages, than by Victor Turner’s well-known studies on pilgrimage.41 That is to say, following Dupront, I identify the essence of this practice in late antiquity as the desire of the pilgrim—steeped mainly in monastic culture—to be in a state of alienation from the world so as to be able to encounter the sacred (chapter 4) rather than the desire to harbor feelings of communitas. This state of alienation was closely related in some cases to the search for a new religious identity or a new intellectual profile. The act of pilgrimage thus served as a vehicle for this self-transformation—as can be discerned in the case of Jerome’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land, as well as

37. D. R. Howard, Writers and Pilgrims: Medieval Pilgrimage Narratives and Their Posterity (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1980). See also B. Leyerle, “Landscape as Cartography in Early Christian Pilgrimage Narratives,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 64 (1996): 119–38. Leyerle identifies the change in the narrative by the end of the sixth century in the Piacenza pilgrim’s description of the Holy Land. However, the ethnography in this itinerary is still meager. 38. J. Elsner (“The Itinerarium Burdigalese: Politics and Salvation in the Geography of Constantine’s Empire,” JRS 90 [2000]: 186) identifies here the most significant breaks of the Christian itinerary with its Roman antecedents. 39. See, for example, Jerome, Ep. 108.8–14. 40. Egeria, Itinerary 16.3 (ed. Maraval, Egérie, SC 296: 192–93). 41. Dupront, Du sacré, 389–406; idem, “Pèlerinage et lieux sacrés”; V. Turner and E. Turner, Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture: Anthropological Perspectives (Oxford, 1978); V. Turner, “Pilgrimages as Social Processes,” in Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors (Ithaca, 1974), 166–230.


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in that of Peter the Iberian (chapters 2 and 4). In late-antique Christian data I was unable to find any evidence of the achievement of communitas that Turner identified as the major experience during pilgrimage. This stands, however, in contrast to Jewish pilgrimage to Jerusalem during the Second Temple period, marked by its conspicuous feature of communitas and the rupture of social barriers by modifying the halachic status of Am Ha-Aretz during the period of pilgrimage,42 applying specific purification regulations to the city of Jerusalem, and setting communal meals for pilgrims.43 Certainly, the Christian society of pilgrims in the period under discussion was not a well-defined category with a prescribed etiquette, as was the case, for instance, for Christianity in the Middle Ages, for ancient Judaism, and later for Islam.44 Even though the dossier of Christian pilgrimage mentions groups of pilgrims from various regions congregating in one holy center, and one can easily imagine the collective enthusiasm in sites of pilgrimage, the dimension of communal religious experience and the relationships between pilgrims in those accounts are muted if not totally absent.45 Both Dupront and Turner perceive the act of pilgrimage as a rite of passage par excellence; however, they stress different aspects of this act. For Turner, pilgrimage is a liminal phenomenon, taking place outside the social framework, and the traveler returns home with a new status by virtue of

42. I refer here to the category of Am Ha-Aretz le-Mitzvot: that is, a person who was not scrupulous in observing the Jewish commandments and the laws of purity. On the concept of Am Ha-Aretz le-Mitzvot in the light of Talmudic literature, see A. Oppenheimer, The Am Ha-Aretz: A Study in the Social History of the Jewish People in the Hellenistic-Roman Period (Leiden, 1977). 43. For a discussion of the communitas dimension, see esp. J. Feldman, “La circulation de la Tora: Les pèlerinages au second Temple,” in La société juive à travers l’histoire, ed. S. Trigano (Paris, 1993), 161–78. See also S. Safrai, Pilgrimage in the Time of the Second Temple (Jerusalem, 1965). On the archaeological evidence of Jewish pilgrimage, see Y. Tsafrir, “Jewish Pilgrimage in the Roman and Byzantine Periods,” JAC Supplement 20 (1995): 369–76. 44. On Islamic pilgrimage and its scriptural authority in the Koran, see I. Shahîd, “The Islamic Pilgrimage,” JAC Supplement 20 (1995): 340–47; J. W. Meri, “The Etiquette of Devotion in the Islamic Cult of Saints,” in The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages: Essays on the Contribution of Peter Brown, ed. L. Howard-Johnston and P. A. Hayward (Oxford, 1999), 263–86; H. Lazarus-Yafeh, “Jerusalem and Mecca,” in Jerusalem, ed. Levine, 287–99. 45. For a group of pilgrims from Armenia, see Vita Euthymii 17, 27.5–10. Further information about Armenian groups converging on Palestine during the later Byzantine period is provided in M. Stone, “Holy Land Pilgrimage of Armenians before the Arab Conquest,” RB 93 (1986): 93–110. Regarding the masses that gathered around Symeon the Stylite, see Theodoret, HR 26.11–13.


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having accomplished the act of pilgrimage. As far as I know, this component is entirely missing from the religious experience of pilgrimage in Christian society in the period under discussion. Since our sources do not accompany the pilgrim back to his home environment, we have no indication whether a pilgrim acquired an enhanced status as a result of his journey— as was the case, for example, with those who participated in the Mystery cults at Eleusis or in the later Muslim hajj. Turner himself rightly remarks on the change that occurred in Christian pilgrimage during the Middle Ages, when it became inter alia part of the penitential system, a feature hardly extant in the early period.46 Turner’s paradigm has challenged the study of pilgrimage and opened new horizons, notwithstanding criticism from many contemporary scholars, who find difficulty in applying his entire theory to their data; as many have pointed out, its limitations lie in its attempt to provide a model that fits every society.47 Dupront, too, dwells on the break with regular life. One can hardly be a pilgrim in one’s own place; in a sense pilgrimage is an act of what he calls “la victoire sur l’espace.”48 This dimension of pilgrimage was fully realized in monastic circles, where the ascetic aspect of the journey was a goal in itself (chapters 4 and 5). Dupront identified the encounter with the sacred as achieved by means of performing a ritual; seeing and touching lay at the heart of this religious experience. In his words, the act of pilgrimage is “la prière marchée.”49 From the fourth century on, the phenomenon was often defined as the ritual performed by the pilgrim in a holy place, which usually involved praying as well as touching or seeing holy men, places, and

46. Turner and Turner, Image and Pilgrimage, 193–94, 232. References to repentance are very rare in accounts of pilgrimage in the fourth to sixth centuries. One testimony, preserved by Mark the Deacon, tells of Porphyry’s repentance in the Church of the Anastasis (Vita Porphyrii 5). See also John of Nikiu, Chronicle 102.4–5 (end of the sixth century). For testimonies about penitential pilgrimage in the seventh-century Armenian sources, see Stone, “Holy Land Pilgrimage of Armenians.” For the Middle Ages, see C. Vogel, “Le pèlerinage pénitentiel,” RSR 38 (1964): 113–52; J. Sumption, Pilgrimage: An Image of Mediaeval Religion (London, 1975), 98–113; Grabois, Le pèlerin occidental en Terre Sainte, 67–71. 47. For critiques of Turner’s model, see Eade and Sallnow, Contesting the Sacred, 4–5. E. A. Morinis (Pilgrimage in the Hindu Tradition: A Case Study of West Bengal [Oxford, 1984]) provides one of the most systematic critiques of the pilgrimage theories of Turner and others. See also B. N. Aziz, “Personal Dimensions of the Sacred Journey: What Pilgrims Say,” Religious Studies 23 (1987): 247–61, who argues against Turner’s communitas in the case of pilgrimages to India and Nepal and stresses the personal dimensions. 48. Dupront, “Pèlerinages et lieux sacrés,” 199. 49. Ibid., 203.


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relics. Egeria, for example, used the terms orationis causa and orationis gratia to describe her pilgrimage rather than the term peregrinatio.50 As Marcel Simon has pointed out, Egeria’s terminology demonstrates that pilgrimage was not “a matter of only archaeological curiosity.”51 From the fifth century on, the verb proskunei¸n—to adore; to perform a ritual—was most frequently used to refer to the act of visiting the sacred sites in the Holy Land.52 Dupront perceives pilgrimage to the holy places in Palestine as one of the loftier sorts of culte de mémoire.53 Undoubtedly, late-antique Christian society is easily characterized by its intensive enterprise in locating its collective memory—the stories recounted in the Holy Scriptures as well as the acts of martyrs.54 An intense process of concretization of the sacred and an abiding eagerness to encounter it became idiosyncratic of this society. This was not, of course, the labor of one day or of one emperor; it became an ongoing process of a society locating its past and diffusing its cults of martyrs and saints.55 Consequently, the experience of pilgrimage was far from being peripheral to Christian society; rather, it was an integral part of its religious fabric, even though the society of pilgrims was by its nature ephemeral. The encounter with the biblical and heroic past through earthly sacred space challenged Christian thought in the East and in the West, and called forth various reactions from the mid-fourth century on. It is precisely the necessity for this culte de mémoire and the religious meaning of the very idea of earthly sacred space that were the crux of the debate on pil50. Egeria, Itinerary 1.17. On the terminology in Egeria’s itinerary, see Vermeer, Observations sur le vocabulaire du pèlerinage. 51. M. Simon, “Les saints d’Israël dans la dévotion de l’Eglise ancienne,” RHPR 34 (1954): 106–27. Scholars often choose to translate such actions as praying, arriving, and bowing in a holy place as “pilgrimage.” This is how, for example, J. Wilkinson consistently translates these actions in Egeria’s itinerary: see J. Wilkinson, Egeria’s Travels to the Holy Land (London, 1971), 13.1 (p. 108), 17.1–2 (p. 113), 23.3 (p. 121), 23.10 (p. 122). In all these passages Maraval (Egérie, SC 296: 183, 197, 229, 233) carefully used the verb prier. 52. G. W. H. Lampe, Patristic Greek Lexicon (Oxford, 1982), s.v. proskunevw, 1174; Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Historia religiosa 9.2 (ed. P. Canivet and A. L. Molinghen, Théodoret de Cyr: Historie des moines de Syrie, 1 [Paris, 1977]: 408); Gerontius, Vita Melaniae Junioris 34, 190; Cyril of Scythopolis, Vita Euthymii 14.5–6; idem, Vita Johannis Hesychiastae 213.5. 53. Dupront, Du sacré, 382. 54. In general, M. Halbwachs, La mémoire collective (Paris, 1950). On collective memory in this context, see idem, La topographie légendaire des Evangiles en Terre Sainte, 2nd ed. (Paris, 1971). 55. On memory as a social process, see J. Fentress and C. Wickham, Social Memory (Oxford, 1992).


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grimage in the period when this practice became pervasive in Christian society. This debate attests that pursuit of the culte de mémoire was a delicate matter, provoking—sometimes simultaneously—harsh theological, political, and personal declamations. After all, it was no small matter to criticize the whole world that “runs to see the tomb that has no body.”56 The goal and scope of this study are intentionally limited. It attempts to analyze rather than to illustrate the attitudes of prominent Christian thinkers toward the various aspects of the religious experience of pilgrimage. It does not seek to describe pilgrimage in late antiquity or to sketch the holy topography of the period; studies of this nature have already been undertaken—in particular, Bernard Kötting’s standard work Peregrinatio Religiosa, published in 1950, followed by Maraval’s Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient.57 Whereas Kötting treated a broad spectrum of the phenomenon, including pilgrimage in both East and West to holy men, martyrs, and holy places, Maraval chose another facet, that of the Orient, and provided a gazetteer of pilgrimage sites, a list that has recently been expanded by Arietta Papaconstantinou with regard to Coptic pilgrimage sites. Further, David Hunt in Holy Land Pilgrimage in the Later Roman Empire (1982) comprehensively and clearly investigated the intertwined political and ecclesiastical dimensions of the phenomenon in the fourth and fifth centuries. My study too owes much to studies of the cult of the martyrs. Though written in 1912, Hippolyte Delehaye’s Les origines du culte des martyrs remains significant. In his studies Delehaye revealed the foundations of the cult, carefully tracing its development and elucidating its terminology.58 Charles Pietri stressed the cult’s theological dimension and its development in Rome.59 Peter Brown’s classic text The Cult of the Saints divulged the notion of the 56. John Chrysostom, Expositio in Psalmum 109.5 (110.5), PG 55: 274a. On this passage, see also Wilken, Land Called Holy, 92. 57. See also B. Kötting, “Wallfahrt,” Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche 10 (Freiburg, 1965): 941–46; Wilkinson, Jerusalem Pilgrims before the Crusades. 58. H. Delehaye, SANCTUS: Essai sur le culte des saints dans l’antiquité (Brussels, 1927); idem, Les origines du culte des martyrs (Brussels, 1912); idem, “Refrigerare, Refrigerium,” Journal des Savants, Nov. 1926, 385–90. 59. C. Pietri, Roma Christiana: Recherches sur l’église de Rome, son organisation, sa politique, son idéologie de Miltiade à Sixte III (311–440), Bibliothèque des Ecoles Françaises d’Athènes et de Rome 224 (Rome, 1976), 1: 121–23, 365–67, 377– 80, 603–17; idem, “L’évolution du culte des saints aux premiers siècles chrétiens: Du témoin à l’intercesseur,” in Les fonctions des saints dans le monde occidental (IIIe–XIIIe siècles), Collection de l’Ecole Française de Rome 149 (Rome, 1991): 15–36; idem, “Saints et démons: L’héritage de l’hagiographie antique,” in Santi e demoni nell’alto medioevo occidentale (secoli V–XI), Settimane di Studio del Centro Italiano di Studi sull’Alto Medioevo 36 (Spoleto, 1989): 17–92.


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saints as patroni, protectors and intercessors, in late-antique Latin Christianity.60 And Yvette Duval in Loca Sanctorum Africae (1982) dealt with the archaeological evidence for the cult of the martyrs in North Africa from the fourth to the seventh century.61 North Africa served also as a case study for Ann Marie Yasin, who examined saints’ tombs of the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries in order to determine how these may have evolved from earlier burial and commemoration practices.62 In the eyes of many scholars, Christian pilgrimage was a natural and simple continuation of a phenomenon prevailing among Jews and pagans in the Greco-Roman world; hence their main interest centers on its first appearance in the Christian context.63 Others have taken it for granted that one of the consequences of Christianity becoming the official religion of the empire was the absorption of this practice into the religious routine; they have therefore traced the beginnings of Christian pilgrimage to Helena’s journey to Palestine in 326, as depicted by Eusebius in his Life of Constantine.64 For the most part, then, the crucial question raised by scholars in this context has been: To which Jerusalem should Christians aspire to journey, the earthly or 60. J. Fontaine’s review of Brown’s book contains some enlightening insights: see J. Fontaine, “Le culte des saints et ses implications sociologiques: Reflexions sur un récent essai de P. Brown,” AB 100 (1982): 17–41. See also the discussion of Van Dam (Saints and Their Miracles, 3–7) on the implications of Brown’s study for the cult of saints in late-antique Gaul. 61. Y. Duval, Loca sanctorum Africae: Le culte des martyrs en Afrique du IVe au VIIe siècle, 2 vols., Collection de l’Ecole Française de Rome 58 (Rome, 1982). 62. Yasin, “Commemorating the Dead / Constructing the Community.” 63. On pilgrimage in the Greco-Roman world, see B. Kötting, Peregrinatio religiosa: Wallfahrten in der Antike und das Pilgerwesen in der alten Kirche (Münster, 1950), 12–69; J. M. André and M. F. Baslez, Voyager dans l’antiquité (Paris, 1994), 247–81; J. Elsner, “Hagiographic Geography: Travel and Allegory in the Life of Apollonius of Tyana,” JHS 117 (1997): 22–37; M. Dillon, Pilgrims and Pilgrimage in Ancient Greece (London, 1997). On the journeys of pagan philosophers to Syria in the fifth and sixth centuries, see M. Tardieu, Les paysages reliques: Routes et haltes syriennes d’Isidore à Simplicius (Louvain, 1990). On the Jewish origins of Christian pilgrimage, see M. Simon, “Les pèlerinages dans l’antiquité chrétienne,” in Les pèlerinages de l’antiquité biblique et classique à l’Occident médiéval, ed. F. Raphäel, Etudes d’Histoire des Religions 1 (Paris, 1973): 97–115; J. Wilkinson, “Jewish Holy Places and the Origins of Christian Pilgrimage,” in The Blessings of Pilgrimage, ed. R. Ousterhout (Urbana, 1990), 41–53. 64. K. Holum, “Hadrian and St. Helena: Imperial Travel and the Origins of Christian Holy Land Pilgrimage,” in The Blessings of Pilgrimage, ed. Ousterhout, 66–81. For a different view, see D. Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage in the Later Roman Empire, AD 312–460 (Oxford, 1982), 28–49, who concludes that Helena smoothed the way for her successors (ibid., 49), but was certainly not the first pilgrim in the Holy Land. See also idem, “Were There Christian Pilgrims before Constantine?” in Pilgrimage Explored, ed. J. Stopford (York, 1999), 25–40.


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the heavenly one?65 In consequence, the debate on pilgrimage has been seen as taking place within a narrow frame and has been perceived mainly in biblical terms. In this study I wish to approach the issue from a different angle— namely to shift the focus to the complex interaction between the various centers of the manifestation of divine power in late antiquity. To this end, I turn to the nouvelle vague of the study of late antiquity, launched by Peter Brown, Robert Markus, and others, that seeks to grasp the autonomous identity of that period. The relation of heaven and earth at the grave of a saint are already set forth in Peter Brown’s The Cult of the Saints. Brown’s important emphasis on the praesentia—the very locus of the saint: “here is the place” (hic locus est)—disclosed the nature of a sacred place in the eyes of late-antique Christian society as containing divine presence, thus highlighting an important motivational element in the practice of pilgrimage, the urge to view and partake of the sacred.66 The two centuries with which this book deals are also a period in which the sacred topography of Byzantine society was remarkably enhanced by its charismatic figures. In his cave, in his monastery, on his pillar, or at his grave, the holy man transformed his territory into a sacred space and created a new site for the interrelation between society and the sacred.67 Since the publication of Peter Brown’s seminal article “The Rise and Function of the Holy Man” thirty years ago, much scholarly energy has been devoted to this topic and has provided new insights.68 By pointing out the psychological and sociological dimensions of the cult of the saints and holy men, and by stressing the existence and function of the emerging new

65. For such an approach, see Maraval, “L’attitude des pères.” 66. Brown, The Cult of the Saints, 86–105. 67. For this aspect of the holy man, see the contribution of M. S. Burrows, “On the Visibility of God in the Holy Man: A Reconsideration of the Role of the Apa in the Pachomian Vitae,” VC 41 (1987): 11–33. 68. P. Brown, “The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity,” JRS 61 (1971): 80–101 (reprinted in idem, Society and the Holy in Late Antiquity [Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1982], 103–52); idem, “The Saint as Exemplar in Late Antiquity,” Representations 1 (1983): 1–25; idem, Authority and the Sacred: Aspects of the Christianization of the Roman World (Cambridge, 1995), 57–78. And see now Brown’s reassessment of his “holy man” in “The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity, 1971–1997,” JECS 6 (1998): 353–76. See also S. Elm’s introduction to the journal issue devoted to the twenty-fifth anniversary of Peter Brown’s analysis of the late-antique holy man, JECS 6 (1998): 343–51; R. Kirschner, “The Vocation of Holiness in Late Antiquity,” VC 38 (1984): 105–24. On the origin of the holy man in Syria, see J. W. Drijvers, “Hellenistic and Oriental Origins,” in The Byzantine Saint, ed. S. Hackel (London, 1981), 25–33; S. P. Brock and S. AshbrookHarvey, Holy Women of the Syrian Orient (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1987). On the textual implications of the cult of the saints, see Satran, Biblical Prophets in


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centers of power comprising charismatic figures, Brown’s study evoked the issue of the “spatialization of charisma”69 —an issue that concerns us directly. Georgia Frank has explored the religious sensibilities of pilgrims who journeyed to visit living saints, mainly through the accounts of the Historia Lausiaca and the Historia monachorum in Aegypto. David Frankfurter recognized the Egyptian Christian holy men as “active syncretists” and as types of regional prophets, thus stressing the local and regional dimension of their cults.70 In view of these insights, a simple conclusion arises: the classic question, ever present in the context of pilgrimage, of which Jerusalem—the earthly or the heavenly one—the Christians should aspire to reach was not the only question that troubled the mind of late antiquity concerning pilgrimage. In other words, to dwell solely on the classic dichotomy between the two Jerusalems is far from representing the real dilemma of thoughtful Christian devotees of that period. I suggest broadening the question and adopting a new prism for approaching this topic—that is, tackling simultaneously the attitude of Christian writers not only toward one holy city, Jerusalem, but also toward the various centers of the holy in their society. Before proceeding to that broader perspective, however, a few words about the rise of the phenomenon of pilgrimage to Palestine and the emergence of the very idea of sacred place in Christianity seem to me in order, notwithstanding that much has already been written on these topics in recent decades. •

As scholars have observed, the terminology of pilgrimage in the fourth century was far from well defined.71 In the first centuries of the Christian era

Byzantine Palestine, 97–105. See also G. Fowden, “The Pagan Holy Man in Late Antique Society,” JHS 102 (1982): 33–59. On the Roman period, see G. Anderson, Sage, Saint and Sophist: Holy Men and Their Associates in the Early Roman Empire (London, 1994). 69. A term coined by Eade and Sallnow in Contesting the Sacred, 8. See also J. Z. Smith’s conclusion (“The Temple and the Magician,” in Map Is Not Territory: Studies in the History of Religions [Leiden, 1978], 182) that “the locus of religious experience has been shifted from a permanent sacred center, the temple, to a place of temporary sacrality sanctified by a magician’s power.” Smith concludes (ibid., 187) that this shift had taken place already in the second century b.c. D. Frankfurter’s analysis (Religion in Roman Egypt: Assimilation and Resistance [Princeton, 1998], chaps. 2, 4) casts doubt on this shift. 70. D. Frankfurter, “Syncretism and the Holy Man in Late Antique Egypt,” JECS 11 (2003): 339–85. 71. Kötting, Peregrinatio religiosa, 7–11; Maraval, Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient, 7–9. See also C. Mango, “The Pilgrim’s Motivation,” JAC Supplement 20


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there was no specific term in Greek, Latin, or Syriac Christian literature to denote pilgrimage or a pilgrim; nor was there any in the itineraries of the fourth century and the hagiographical compositions of the period. In the first centuries the term peregrinatio—from which the word “pilgrimage” is derived—had not yet acquired any religious connotation; only later was it imbued with religious motive and piety.72 We have a few scraps of information on the early use of peregrinatio to designate the act of pilgrimage; in this strict sense of the term it can be traced to the Life of Saint Martin, written by Sulpicius Severus around 397.73 Paulinus of Nola calls the pilgrims who thronged the tomb of Saint Felix peregrini.74 However, peregrinatio was not the term he usually employed to describe pilgrimage; Paulinus of Nola too preserved the more popular meaning of the term peregrinus to mean “foreigner,” and peregrinatio to mean a simple state of alienation.75 Although the terminology of pilgrimage was ill defined in late antiquity and crystallized relatively late, no one can dispute that by the second half of the fourth century pilgrimage to Palestine had become an established tradition in Christendom.76 By the 380s the practice was already being depicted by Egeria and Jerome as a widespread movement.77 Scholars are still divided,

(1995): 1–3, who stresses the lack of a special term in Greek for a pilgrim until relatively modern times. 72. On this term in early Christianity, see G. B. Ladner, “Homo Viator: Medieval Ideas on Alienation and Order,” Speculum 42 (1967): 233–59. For the various meanings of peregrinus, and pilgrimage terminology in other religions, see Dupront, Du sacré, 369–73. For the use of these terms in the Crusader period, see ibid., 241–49; Meslin, L’expérience humaine, 176–79. 73. Sulpicius Severus, Vie de saint Martin 25.1 (ed. and trans. J. Fontaine, SC 135 [Paris, 1969]: 1047). See also ibid., 5.3 (SC 133 [Paris, 1967]: 262). In Cassian’s Institutiones we can glimpse a distinction between the terms alienus and peregrinus. See, for example, Institutiones 3.12, 4.14, 5.26, 5.39, 10.22, (ed. J. C. Guy, Jean Cassien: Les Institutions cénobitiques, SC 109 [Paris, 1965]: 117, 138, 234, 252–254, 420). 74. Paulinus of Nola, Carmina 26.387–88 (CSEL 30: 260). This conclusion is contrary to that of Zacher (Curiosity and Pilgrimage, 46), who argues that only in the eleventh century did the word peregrinus come to designate a person on pilgrimage. 75. Paulinus of Nola, Ep. 29.10 (CSEL 29: 257), where he says of Melania the Elder living in Jerusalem in corpore peregrinaretur. 76. It is difficult to agree with Cyril Mango (“The Pilgrim’s Motivation”), who suggests on the basis of this deficient terminology that in the early Christian period people went on pilgrimage simply because it had become the “thing to do,” thus denying the expressed motivation of pilgrims as represented in the sources. 77. See below, Chapter 4. On dating Egeria’s Holy Land journey to the years 381–84, see P. Devos, “La date du voyage d’Egérie,” AB 85 (1967): 165–94; idem, “Une nouvelle Egérie.” This date was generally accepted by scholars, but recently D. Hunt (“The Date of the Itinerarium Egeriae,” SP 38 [2001]: 411) has suggested that “she might equally have been in Jerusalem a decade or so later, in the 390s.”


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however, as to its beginnings and origins. To date, only sporadic testimonies have come down to us regarding travel to Palestine before Constantine. The first recorded traveler was Melito of Sardis, who embarked for Palestine in the second half of the second century in order to see “the places where [these things] were preached and done.”78 Eusebius, who preserves this testimony, does not impute a cultic motive to this visit; its main purpose seems to have been to discover the accurate canon of the books of the Old Testament. Alexander of Cappadocia, later a bishop of Jerusalem, arrived in the 210s for the purpose of “prayer and investigation of the places.”79 In this visit, an intellectual and a religious motive were interwoven. Jerome tells about Firmilianus, also a bishop from Cappadocia, who visited Palestine in order to explore the holy places.80 There is no way of knowing whether Jerome here accurately describes the motives of this traveler or is merely imputing to Firmilianus the commonplace motives of his day. Pionius, a contemporary of Origen, is another traveler frequently mentioned in this context.81 Only Alexander of Cappadocia and Firmilianus fit the definition of pilgrimage adopted in this study and thus seem to qualify as pilgrims in the strict sense of the term.82 Various scholars have defined these travels as acts of pilgrimage per se, thereby fixing the beginning of the pilgrimage movement to the Holy Land at the second half of the second century.83 Others adopt the view that these scraps of information are not at all indicative of the emergence of pilgrimage as a pattern of religious behavior among Christians at such an early stage, before Christianity became the official religion of the empire.84

78. Eusebius, HE 4.26.14. 79. Ibid., 6.11.1–2. 80. Jerome, De viris illistribus 54 (ed. E. C. Richardson, TU 14 [Leipzig, 1896]: 32). 81. Martyrium Pionii 4 (ed. H. Musurillo, The Acts of the Christian Martyrs [Oxford, 1972], 140). See also Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 101; idem. “Were There Christian Pilgrims before Constantine?” 25. 82. See also Wilken’s conclusion in Land Called Holy, 84. 83. H. Windisch, “Die ältesten christlichen Palästinapilger,” ZDPV 48 (1925): 145–58; Kötting, Peregrinatio religiosa, 85–89; idem, “Wallfahrt,” 943; Wilkinson, “Jewish Holy Places and the Origins of Christian Pilgrimage,” 43; Wilken, Land Called Holy, 84, 108–111; Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 3–5. Hunt (“Were There Christian Pilgrims before Constantine?” 26) has recently reasserted that “there is something which may legitimately be termed ‘pilgrimage’ already at work in these second- and third-century forays to the Holy Land.” 84. For such a view, see Simon, “Saints d’Israël,” 97–100; P. Maraval, “La Bible des pèlerins d’Orient,” in Le monde grec ancien et la Bible (Paris, 1984), 387–88; Holum, “Hadrian and St. Helena”; J. Taylor, Christians and the Holy Places: The Myth of Jewish-Christian Origins (Oxford, 1993), 307–30, esp. 317.


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Just as there are scant data about Christian pilgrimage before the rise of Constantine, so we know little about the traditions of the holy places associated with the life and work of Jesus. Justin Martyr in the mid-second century reported on the Cave of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and apparently in the same period a tradition was evolving about another cave on the Mount of Olives, whence Jesus ascended to heaven.85 Eusebius knew about this tradition prior to the rise of Constantine, as is evidenced by his report in his treatise Demonstratio evangelica that people who believed in Christ were coming to see the place from all over the world.86 Eusebius provided a further allusion to Christian veneration of sites in Jerusalem in his Onomasticon, which was written around 293:87 “Gethsemane, the place where Christ prayed before the Passion. . . . The faithful now love to pray there.”88 It seems from the Onomasticon that Eusebius had very little to say about third-century Christian geography in Palestine.89 Nevertheless, this work should be regarded in a broader perspective—that of Eusebius’s early scriptural pursuits, such as his concordance to the Gospels, which is marked by its technical interest in the Scriptures rather than any articulation of a new theology or religious attitude.90 The Onomasticon, then, is better viewed as an “aid to exegesis”91 rather than as a guide for pilgrims. However, it is worth recalling here that the Onomasticon is the fourth part of a composite work, three parts of which are no longer extant: a translation into Greek of the Hebrew names in the Bible for the peoples of the world living outside Palestine, a description or map of ancient Judaea dealing with the division of territory among the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and a plan or description of ancient Jerusalem and the Temple. The contents of this work underscore the

85. Justin Martyr, Dialogus cum Tryphone Iudae 78 (ed. E. J. Goodspeed, Die ältesten Apologeten, 2nd ed. [Göttingen, 1984]); Apocryphal Acts of John, 97; Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 3. For a reassessment of these traditions, see Taylor, Christians and the Holy Places, 99–102, 143–56. 86. Eusebius, Demonstratio Evangelica, 6.18.23. 87. On the early dating of Eusebius’s Onomasticon, see, for example, T. D. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius (Cambridge, Mass., 1981), 106–13; D. E. Groh, “The Onomasticon of Eusebius and the Rise of Christian Palestine,” SP 18 (1983), 23–31; P. W. L. Walker, Holy City, Holy Places? Christian Attitudes to Jerusalem and the Holy Land in the Fourth Century (Oxford, 1990), 407, with further bibliography. 88. Eusebius, Onomasticon 74.16–18. 89. See, for instance, the few Christian traditions mentioned in the Onomasticon: 86, 189, 190, 288, 289, 363, 365. 90. For the text, see E. Nestle and K. Aland, eds., Novum Testamentum Graece (London, 1969), 32*–37*. See also, Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 121–25. 91. Ibid., 110.


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rise and importance of biblical geography for Christian scholars, a hugely significant factor in shaping the Christian sacred landscape of the area from the fourth century onward and an ongoing inspiration for the competing discourse between Christians and Jews in Palestine.92 The paucity of evidence for the practice of pilgrimage and for the existence of holy places in Palestine from the second and third centuries has prompted scholars to offer a possible explanation for this lacuna, such as the political instability of the first centuries in Palestine.93 The weakness of such a view lies in its totally overlooking the stance of the New Testament on sacred space, particularly on earthly Jerusalem, and the lack of a territorial dimension in early Christianity, which sought to develop a universal religion of the whole oecumene without geographical boundaries.94 Marcel Simon nuanced this line of argument, attributing the absence of pilgrimage in early Christianity to political instability in Palestine in the first centuries on the one hand, and on the other to the New Testament’s rejection of the idea of holy places, born of the Church’s reaction to Judaism’s idolization of the Temple in Jerusalem.95 However, these rare testimonies are mainly of a regional nature and are not substantial enough to draw clear-cut conclusions as to precisely when the notion of sacred space 92. Groh (“The Onomasticon,” esp. 29) stresses the apologetic dimension of the Onomasticon, and hence suggests that “Eusebius here is doing spatially and alphabetically what he has already done chronologically in the Chronicon and what he will go on to do narratively in the History—namely, bring biblical, Roman, and Christian realities together in such a way that Christianity in his own day can be seen to be the successor of the biblical realities in the Roman world.” It should be stressed, however, that the content of the Onomasticon is not primarily apologetic, nor is it easy to grasp any underlying apologetic inspirations: see, for instance, A. Kofsky, Eusebius of Caesarea against Paganism (Leiden, 2000), 37. We should ask if geography plays any role at all in Eusebius’s apologetic writings. 93. C. Saulnier (“La vie monastique en Terre Sainte auprès des lieux de pèlerinage (IVe siècle),” Miscellanea Historiae Ecclesiasticae 6 [1983]: 224) argues that the situation in Palestine, especially the repercussions of the first and second revolts against Rome and establishing the pagan city Aelia Capitolina in Jerusalem, obscured the Christian holy places, making pilgrimage impossible. 94. The subject has been extensively studied by W. D. Davies, The Gospel and the Land: Early Christianity and Jewish Territorial Doctrine (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1974). For a more comprehensive discussion on the New Testament’s teaching on Jerusalem, see Walker, Jesus and the Holy City; Wilken, Land Called Holy, 46–64; D. R. Edwards, Religion and Power: Pagans, Jews, and Christian in the Greek East (Oxford, 1996), 86–89. For a different view, see Frankfurter, “Introduction: Approaches to Coptic Pilgrimage,” in Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt, esp. 41. 95. Simon (“Les pèlerinages dans l’antiquité chrétienne,” 97) draws on John 4:21–22, Eph. 2:20–22, and Gal. 4:11.


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took root in Christian thought and practice;96 rather they attest the beginnings of a long and steady process of localizing Christian myths and of remodeling the religious landscape of Palestine. The history of some of the cultic places in Palestine provides a fascinating glimpse of the tangled path traveled by biblical myths from the Christian collective memory to their finally posited locations.97 This process, more tentative in nature, can be seen outside Palestine as well: in second-century Asia Minor, for example, Montanus claimed Pepuza and Tymion in Phrygia to be the places of the Lord’s Second Coming. He renamed these two insignificant towns as Jerusalem and wished “to hold assemblies there from everywhere.”98 Christians long continued to produce such mental maps; hence the phenomenon of duplicating the sacred places, especially Jerusalem, in various cities in the West in the Middle Ages.99 In her attempt to answer the question of how and when the veneration of Christian holy places in Palestine began, Joan Taylor in her study Christians and the Holy Places was entirely justified in rejecting the views of Bellarmino Baggati and Emmanuele Testa about the veneration of the holy places in pre-Constantinian Palestine by Jewish-Christian sects. However, she reached the extreme conclusion that the great surge of creating Christian holy places in Palestine in the fourth century arose out of the activities of Constantine and his mother, Helena, in Palestine: “Suddenly, with Constantine, the Church began to focus on the earth; the divine substance intermixed with certain material sites and resided in things which could be carried about.”100 In the conclusion to her study, Taylor singled out that “Constantine brought to Christianity a pagan notion of the sanctity of things and places.”101 That Constantine’s impressive building projects gave tremendous impetus to the construction of holy places throughout the empire and accelerated the process of Christianizing Palestine seems plausible enough.102 96.Wilkinson (“Jewish Holy Places,” 44) concludes: “Such references do not prove that pilgrimage existed, but they would certainly harmonize with a belief that it was the custom long before the reign of Constantine.” 97. For such cases studied in detail, see Kofsky, “Mamre: A Case of a Regional Cult?”; O. Limor, “The Origins of a Tradition: King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion,” Traditio 44 (1988): 453–62. 98. Eusebius, HE 5.18.2. 99. G. G. Stroumsa, “Mystical Jerusalems,” in Jerusalem, ed. Levine, 349–70. 100. Taylor, Christians and the Holy Places, 314. 101. Ibid., 308, 331. 102. R. Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians (New York, 1986), 623; J. W. Drijvers, Helena Augusta: The Mother of Constantine the Great and the Legend of Her Finding of the True Cross (Leiden, 1993), 63–64. For a reconstruction of the background to Constantine’s intervention in Jerusalem and the role of Macarius, see D. Hunt,


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In this initiative—in which power, geography, and the sacred intersected— Constantine was above all manifesting and advancing his power, all the while defining a new Christian religious landscape (in both the East and the West). But it would be naive to think that such a radical change in religious perceptions and practices—an obvious departure from the New Testament’s stance on sacred space—could have occurred “suddenly” and as a result of the work of one man, emperor and “friend of the all-sovereign God”103 though he might have been. Certainly scholars overestimate the religious impact of Constantine’s building in the Holy Land in shaping the Christian concept of sacred space. Thus, for example, Jonathan Z. Smith emphatically states: “Constantine created, for the first time, a Christian Holy Land. . . . In this process, what Constantine accomplished with power and wealth was advanced by rhetors like Eusebius, who built a ‘Holy Land’ with words.”104 Surely, Eusebius himself was in large part responsible for creating this misleading impression in his Life of Constantine. Though he attributed to Helena’s initiative the building of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the church on the Mount of Olives, he bestowed on Constantine the primary credit for the great events of his day,105 depicting him as the ini-

“Constantine and Jerusalem,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 48 (1997): 405–24. On the rivalry between Caesarea, the metropolitan see, and Jerusalem, see Z. Rubin, “The Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Conflict between the Sees of Caesarea and Jerusalem,” in The Jerusalem Cathedra 2, ed. L. I. Levine (Jerusalem, 1982), 79–105. Wilken (Land Called Holy, 85–100) offers a full discussion of Constantine and Eusebius in this context. For a recent detailed discussion and full bibliography on Eusebius’s account of Constantine and Helena’s building activity, see Averil Cameron and S. G. Hall, Eusebius: Life of Constantine (Oxford, 1999), 279–94. 103. Eusebius, Vita Constantini 1.3. On this motive in the Vita Constantini, see Averil Cameron, “Eusebius’ Vita Constantini and the Construction of Constantine,” in Portraits: Biographical Representation in the Greek and Latin Literature of the Roman Empire, ed. M. Edwards and S. Swain (Oxford, 1997), 156–57; Cameron and Hall, Eusebius: Life of Constantine, 186. 104. J. Z. Smith, To Take Place: Toward Theory in Ritual (Chicago, 1987), 79. See also P. Horden and N. Purcell (The Corrupting Sea: A Study of Mediterranean History [Oxford, 2000], 459), who claim that “the formation of the sacred landscape of Judaea can be envisaged as Constantine’s riposte to a pre-existing pagan cultic landscape.” 105. Eusebius, Vita Constantini 3.41–43. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 248, 268. J. W. Drijvers (Helena Augusta, 63–64) rightly reduces Helena’s role in this activity and suggests that she might merely have overseen its progress. See also Cameron and Hall, Eusebius: Life of Constantine, 292. For Helena’s symbolic functions, see L. Brubaker, “Memories of Helena: Patterns in Imperial Female Matronage in the Fourth and Fifth Centuries,” in Women, Men and Eunuchs: Gender in Byzantium, ed. L. James (London, 1997), 52–75.


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tiator and sponsor of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and as focusing his energies on the Holy Land.106 Eusebius, however, failed to mention similar building activity in the West. Indeed, as scholars have observed, the Life of Constantine omits much;107 one might conjecture that Eusebius, living in Caesarea, probably lacked information about Constantine’s career in the West.108 Moreover, it should be recalled that Eusebius’s ultimate aim was to present his hero as responsible for such great deeds in a work that some scholars consider “an experiment in hagiography” or “a stylized work of praise,” while others stress its apologetic tone.109 By emphasizing Eusebius’s agenda, we do not mean to minimize the impact of imperial activity in Palestine in Constantine’s day. Nevertheless, to extrapolate from that activity the incorporation of the notion of sacred space and the Holy Land into Christian consciousness is another matter. Thanks to Robert Wilken’s Land Called Holy we can conclude that such a process is not reducible to the activities of one “friend of God” and his hagiographer or historian. Although Wilken perceives Eusebius, after the discovery of the tomb of Christ, to be “the first to discern the profound shift in devotion that was taking place in his day and to lay the foundations for a Christian idea of the holy land,”110 he

106. In contrast to Eusebius’s version, E. J. Yarnold (“Who Planned the Churches at the Christian Holy Places in the Holy Land?” SP 18 [1985]: 105–9) tends to minimize Constantine’s involvement in the Holy Land. On Constantine’s attitude toward Jerusalem, see A. Linder, “Ecclesia and Synagoga in the Medieval Myth of Constantine the Great,” RBPH 54 (1976): 1019–60. 107. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 270; Cameron and Hall, Eusebius: Life of Constantine, 1–53. For an evaluation of the building projects of the Christian emperors in Palestine, see G. T. Armstrong, “Fifth and Sixth Century Buildings in the Holy Land,” Greek Orthodox Theological Review 14 (1969): 17–30. 108. For a reassessment of the extent of Constantine’s building activity in Rome, see J. R. Curran, Pagan City and Christian Capital: Rome in the Fourth Century (Oxford, 2000), 70–114. See also, R. MacMullen, Christianizing the Roman Empire a.d. 100–400 (New Haven, 1984), 49; R. Krautheimer, Three Christian Capitals: Topography and Politics (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1983), 7–40. On Constantinople: ibid., 41–68. 109. On Constantine’s portrait as it emerges in Eusebius’s Vita Constantini, see Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 263–71; Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians, 627; Cameron and Hall, Eusebius: Life of Constantine, 34–39. For the literary character of the Vita Constantini, see ibid., 27–34. The apologetic aspects in the Vita Constantini are discussed in Cameron, “Eusebius’ Vita Constantini,” 163–69. See also idem, “Form and Meaning: The Vita Constantini and the Vita Antonii,” in Greek Biography and Panegyric in Late Antiquity, ed. T. Hägg and P. Rousseau (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 2000), 72–88. 110. Wilken, Land Called Holy, 81. For a different view on Eusebius’s attitude toward Jerusalem and the holy places, see Walker, Holy City, Holy Places? 93–130. Walker emphasizes mainly the theological factor in shaping Eusebius’s view on the


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himself has carefully disentangled the threads that led to the idea of a Christian Holy Land, stressing in particular the fundamental role that the pilgrims and monks of the Judaean desert played in shaping for the first time, in the sixth century, the concept of a Christian Holy Land.111 However, scholars are still pondering the very idea of Christian sacred space and the origins of Christian pilgrimage. John Wilkinson, following others, has attempted to offer a new perspective on the issue by arguing for the existence of a cult of biblical figures in Judaism already in the first century.112 Drawing mainly on the Lives of the Prophets, which he considers to be a Jewish composition written around 50 c.e., he has emphatically stated that Christian pilgrimage grew out of the practice of Jewish pilgrimage.113 David Satran, in his study Biblical Prophets in Byzantine Palestine, has convincingly argued that “the Lives as it stands is in the fullest sense a text of early Byzantine Christianity.”114 If Satran’s conclusion is correct, then it poses a major challenge to Wilkinson’s argument. However, William Horbury in his erudite article “The Cult of Christ and the Cult of the Saints” has buttressed Wilkinson’s thesis and taken it a step further by making extensive use of materials from the Old and the New Testament, as well as the Apocrypha and rabbinic texts. He strives to present, with far greater emphasis than Wilkinson and others, the existence of commemorations for the dead in Jewish writings from the Second Temple period down to the later Roman Empire. Thus Horbury points to Judaism’s anticipation of and resemblance to the Christian cult of the saints, arguing for the importance of the Jewish factor in its development, albeit recognizing the Greek and Ro-

issue and overlooks the hagiographical aspects of the Vita Constantini. For further critique of Walker’s thesis, see Wilken, Land Called Holy, 291 n. 27; O. Irshai, “The Christianization of Palestine,” Cathedra 74 (1994): 39–47. 111. Wilken, Land Called Holy, 166–72; idem, “Loving the Jerusalem Below: The Monks of Palestine,” in Jerusalem, ed. Levine, 240–50. 112. Wilkinson draws heavily on J. Jeremias’s thesis as expounded in his Heiligengräber in Jesu Umwelt (Mt 23,29; Lk 11,47): Eine Untersuchung zur Volksreligion der Zeit Jesu (Göttingen, 1958) and “Drei weitere jüdische Heiligengräber,” ZNW 52 (1961): 95–101, proposing the existence of sacred tombs as cultic places in the age of Jesus. On this approach, see the survey of scholarship in Satran, Biblical Prophets in Byzantine Palestine, 22–29. 113. Wilkinson, “Jewish Holy Places”; idem, “Visits of Jewish Tombs by Early Christians,” JAC Supplement 20 (1995): 452–65. 114. Satran, Biblical Prophets in Byzantine Palestine, 120. On the ecclesiastical system that elevates biblical saints as sources of authority in late-antique Egypt, see D. Frankfurter, “Urban Shrine and Rural Saint in Fifth-Century Alexandria,” in Seeing the Gods: Pilgrimage in Graeco-Roman and Early Christian Antiquity, ed. J. Elsner and I. Rutherford (Oxford, 2005, 435–49).


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man background of the cult.115 Yet in his efforts to defend the existence of the Jewish commemoration of the dead, Horbury draws heavily on biblical passages that do not in most cases allude to such a cult.116 This is not to deny the obvious importance—as Horbury, following other scholars, has pointed out—regarding the tombs of the righteous, the patriarchs, and other heroes of Jewish literature. By claiming unequivocally that Jews in antiquity did assemble at tombs to honor the dead, Horbury obscures the fact that most of his evidence is generalized; it does not clearly reflect such a religious reality as being a well-established pattern of devotion in Jewish society. It should be stressed, however, that the account transmitted in the name of Raba, of Caleb visiting the Tomb of the Patriarchs at Hebron in order to seek their intercession (Sotah 34b), is extremely rare in our sources.117 In my view, at this stage of the research, it is hard to maintain such a claim or to sketch clearly the development of a Jewish cult of saints. We should remember, moreover, that for Christians in the fourth and fifth centuries the cult of the saints was first associated with pagan rites, as is reflected in Christian apologetic writings, and that in their efforts to define their cult they tried desperately to dissociate it from that of the pagans.118 On the other hand, in Christian religious consciousness of the fourth and fifth centuries we are not able to detect any resemblance between Christian and Jewish commemoration of the dead. For Augustine, Ambrose, and Theodoret of Cyrrhus what was crucial was to distinguish the Christian cult of the martyrs from pagan cult.119 No parallel effort regarding a Jewish cult is to be found, a fact that might attest to the limited extent of the latter. As we have no clear evidence from our sources for a Jewish cult of saints in the early Christian era, it is in my view pointless to pursue the question of Jewish origins, whether of the cult of the holy places in Palestine or of the cult of the martyrs; it seems more enlightening to dwell on the development of these institutions and on the obstacles that they encountered along the way to becoming rooted in Christianity. How, then, did the Christian concept of sacred space develop? In his as115. For such an approach, see T. Klauser, “Christlicher Märtyrerkult, heidnischer Heroenkult und spätjüdische Heiligenverehrung: Neue Einsichten und neue Probleme,” in Gesammelte Arbeiten zur Liturgiegeschichte, Kirchengeschichte und christlichen Archäologie, ed. E. Dassmann (Münster, 1974), 221–29. 116. See, for example,W. Horbury, “The Cult of Christ and the Cult of the Saints,” New Testament Studies 44 (1998): 455. 117. Quoted ibid., 455–56. 118. See, for instance, the arguments of John Chrysostom and Theodoret of Cyrrhus against pagan cults discussed in Chapters 1 and 4. 119. On this attempt, see Chapters 4 and 5, below.


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sessment of the issue Robert Markus has delineated the main stages of the development in The End of Ancient Christianity and in his article “How on Earth Could Places Become Holy?”120 He discerns that the cult of the martyrs provided a means for turning the spatial world into a network of holy places.121 Rejecting Eliade’s basic assumption that all religions have sacred places, Markus stresses the absence of this concept in early Christianity and proposes viewing the cult of the martyrs as the first step toward a Christian sacred geography.122 He perceives a progression, from sacred time—the commemoration of the martyrs—to sacred topography.123 Such a conclusion seems eminently reasonable if we recall that the cult of the martyrs existed, in Egypt as well as in the West, before Constantine.124 A central question still remains: Did the germination of the idea of earthly holy space in the Christian consciousness, first sown by the cult of the martyrs, have an effect on the perception of places associated with Jesus?125 On Markus’s argument, a simple conclusion can be drawn thus: the cult of the martyrs, to a large extent, paved the way for the cult of holy places in Palestine. Yet this essential development is not the whole story. Any attempt to single out one element as a major factor in the formation of Christian sacred space and the cult of holy places runs the risk of depicting a false development; the picture is more complicated than scholars have assumed hitherto. Although I have no clear solution in regard to the origin of the phenome-

120. Markus, End of Ancient Christianity, 139–55. 121. Ibid., 142. See also the important contributory role of the holiness of tombs in the first centuries of the Christian era, in S. MacCormack, “Loca Sancta: The Organization of Sacred Topography in Late Antiquity,” in The Blessings of Pilgrimage, ed. Ousterhout, 8–40. 122. R. Markus, “How on Earth Could Places Become Holy? Origins of the Christian Idea of Holy Places,” JECS 2 (1994): 257–71. 123. Markus (ibid.) casts doubt on Smith’s sophisticated theory of ritual space, which for the most part identifies the liturgy developed in fourth-century Jerusalem as a first step toward sacred topography: see Smith, To Take Place, 74–117. For a discussion on Smith’s theory, see R. L. Grimes, “Jonathan Z. Smith’s Theory of Ritual Space,” Religion 29 (1999): 261–73. 124. For example, Martyrium Polycarpi 18 (ed. H. Musurillo, The Acts of the Christian Martyrs [Oxford, 1972], 16); Cyprian, Ep. 12.2. See also P. A. Février, “Le culte des morts dans les communautés chrétiennes durant le IIIe siècle,” in Atti del IX Congresso internazionale di archeologia cristiana (Rome, 1978), 211–74; D. Frankfurter, “The Cult of the Martyrs in Egypt before Constantine: The Evidence of the Coptic Apocalypse of Elijah,” VC 48 (1994): 25–47; idem, “Introduction,” in Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt, 40–45. 125. Francine Cardman (“Fourth-Century Jerusalem: Religious Geography and Christian Tradition,” in Schools of Thought in the Christian Tradition, ed. P. Henry [Philadelphia, 1984], 49–64) replies in the affirmative.


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non, I am inclined to see its development as highly complex and evolutionary. Thus, I do not regard that development as a consequence of Constantine’s revolution and as originating solely from Jewish or pagan influences. Rather, I view it as deriving from a juxtaposition of various factors, of differing importance, prevailing in Mediterranean societies. Much weight, for example, should be given to local culture and its manifestations in late antiquity.126 And no less significance should be accorded to a major mechanism bearing decisively on the rise of the concept of earthly sacred space in late antiquity—namely the siting of Christian collective memory, as pointed out by Maurice Halbwachs in La topographie légendaire des Evangiles en Terre Sainte. In that book, which has not elicited the attention that it warrants in the debate on the shaping of Christian sacred topography, Halbwachs discerns a long and slow process of grounding the stories of the New Testament and the Apocrypha, a process closely linked to the Christianization of the empire. Thus Galilee, for instance, being a region inhabited by Jews, was not on the pilgrim’s map in late antiquity. Nazareth is a case in point: from earlier pilgrimage accounts it would appear that the city where Jesus spent his childhood did not attract the notice of pilgrims; the Pilgrim of Bordeaux did not visit the place, and we have no clear evidence as to whether Egeria did so,127 while Paula, according to Jerome’s account, made do with passing quickly through Nazareth (cito itinere percucurrit Nazareth).128 In the fourth century, it seems, there was nothing from the past to be seen in this place, characterized by Eusebius as a small village.129 It was only in the late sixth century that stories from the Apocrypha found their location in the city.130 It seems that the strong Jewish presence in Galilee during the Byzantine period, particularly the fact that the population of Nazareth was still Jewish in the sixth century, may explain the slow creation there of sacred Christian topography. In light of all this, Constantine’s building projects in Palestine should be understood as being merely the ultimate locating of the Christian myths rather than as having given birth in themselves to the very concept of sacred space. It is not surprising, then, 126. Frankfurter’s insightful study Religion in Roman Egypt serves as an excellent and useful example. For his method, see esp. 33–36. 127. Nazareth is mentioned only in the text of Peter the Deacon: see Wilkinson, Egeria’s Travels, 193. 128. Jerome, Ep. 108.13. 129. Eusebius, Onomasticon, 138.24–140. 130. Itinerarium Antonini Placentini 5.3 (ed. C. Milani, Itinerarium Antonini Placentini: Un viaggio in Terra Santa del 560–570 d.c. [Milan, 1977]). For full discussion on Nazareth, see Maraval, Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient, 293; Taylor, Christians and the Holy Places, 221–67.


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that Halbwachs chose to open his book with an analysis of the Itinerarium Burdigalense—written during Constantine’s reign, in 333—testifying, in the view of the Itinerarium’s author, to the ongoing transformation of the empire.131 Obviously, a juxtaposition of the narrative with the monumental evidence, reflecting a process of locating the Christian collective memory, and all the while advancing a collective sense of identity through the visual, was not confined to Palestine.132 Finally, we are still left with the crucial question: What was the response of Christian intellectuals to this widespread religious practice, pilgrimage, one that the New Testament did not impose on believers? 131. As emerges from Elsner, “The Itinerarium Burdigalense.” 132. See, for instance, the legend of the journey of the Holy Family to Egypt and their settling in the region of Hermopolis: L. MacCoull, “Holy Family Pilgrimage in Late Antique Egypt: The Case of Qosqam,” JAC Supplement 20 (1995): 987–92.


1 Basil of Caesarea’s and Gregory of Nyssa’s Attitudes toward Pilgrimage When the Lord called the chosen ones to inherit the kingdom of heaven [Matt. 25:34], he did not include the journey to Jerusalem among the good deeds. gregory of nyssa, Letter 2.3

Gregory of Nyssa’s Letter 2, written in the 380s c.e., contains some of the most explicit reservations concerning pilgrimage to Jerusalem ever voiced by a Christian theologian.The importance of Gregory’s position on this issue extends beyond his circle and time, exercising a profound influence on the debate that raged between Catholics and Protestants from the sixteenth century on over the religious value of pilgrimage. The Letter was first published by Protestants, who used it to reinforce their rejection of pious acts of this sort, whereas Catholics claimed that the document was not authentic. Today, however, the authenticity of the letter is nowhere contested.1 One might conclude from Gregory’s Letter 2 that the problem surrounding pilgrimage results from the absence of any New Testament injunction to worship God in a specific place—in contrast to the Old Testament, in which there is an explicit commandment to appear before the Lord by making pilgrimage to the Temple (Exod. 23:17, 34:23; Deut. 16:16). By the early Christian period, the idea of the Temple and any compulsory communion

1. For the history of the debate over this letter and its authenticity, see B. Kötting, “Gregor von Nyssa’s Wallfahrtskritik,” SP 5 (1962): 360–67; P. Maraval, “Une querelle sur les pèlerinages autour d’un texte patristique (Grégoire de Nysse, Lettre 2),” RHPR 66 (1986): 131–46; idem, Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient, 154–55; E. Pietrella, “I pellegrinaggi ai Luoghi Santi e il culto dei martiri in Gregorio di Nissa,” Augustinianum 21 (1981): 135–51; F. Cardman, “The Rhetoric of Holy Places: Palestine in the Fourth Century,” SP 17 (1982): 18–25;Wilken, Land Called Holy, 117–18; R. J. Z. Werblowsky, “Jerusalem: Holy City of Three Religions,” Jaarbericht Ex Oriente Lux 23 (1974): 430–31; J. von Ulrich, “Wallfahrt und Wallfahrtskritik bei Gregor von Nyssa,” Journal of Ancient Christianity 3 (1999): 87–96. For a comprehensive study on the translation, edition, and reception of this letter by Reformers and Counterreformers in France, see W. Williams, Pilgrimage and Narrative in the French Renaissance (Oxford, 1998), 94–95, 100–116.

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between the believer and God in a specific location had been completely rejected.2 Although Gregory drew on this general rejection to support his own position, the weakness of his argument is apparent: in the absence of an overall system of practical commandments in early Christianity, it is not at all surprising that no such commandment exists. Yet we know that the practice of pilgrimage was fully developed by Gregory’s time and persisted afterward. Thus the question arises, to what extent is Gregory’s Letter 2 anchored in a purely theological conception based on the Scriptures? Were his theological claims simply an excuse for his more immediate aim, which was to curb local ecclesiastical interests and personal rivalries? Did Gregory object to pilgrimage in principle, or was his opposition directed specifically against pilgrimage to the holy places in Palestine? Attention has been drawn to the fact that Gregory was an enthusiastic supporter of the cult of the martyrs, an indication of his support for local pilgrimage.3 However, only general observations have been made regarding Gregory’s sermons on the matter. Hence Gregory’s well-known Letter 2 seems to warrant a renewed reading. It would be desirable to clarify his attitude, as well as that of his brother, Basil of Caesarea, toward the holy places and to gain a clearer picture of contemporary thought on the issue. This would also help to determine at what point the relatively new religious practice of pilgrimage was adopted by the brothers and when they came to reject it or to temper it. In examining the writings of Gregory of Nyssa and Basil of Caesarea on pilgrimage to the tombs of the martyrs in Cappadocia, my aim is not to describe the cult of the martyrs or the theology of martyrdom as expressed in their writings but rather to shed light on their position with regard to Christian sacred space and local pilgrimage.4 Doing so will provide the background for a look at the nature of their visit to Jerusalem and their standpoint regarding pilgrimage to the holy places there. 2. Acts 17:24; Davies, The Gospel and the Land; Prawer, “Christian Attitudes towards Jerusalem,” 311–16; Wilken, Land Called Holy, 46–64; Walker, Jesus and the Holy City. 3. Kötting, Peregrinatio religiosa, 422; J. Bernardi, La prédication des pères cappadociens: Le prédicateur et son auditoire (Paris, 1968), 307; Pietrella, “Pellegrinaggi ai Luoghi Santi,” 145–46. 4. See M. Girardi, Basilio di Cesarea e il culto dei martiri nel IV secolo: Scrittura e tradizione (Bari, 1990); P. Rousseau, Basil of Caesarea (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1994), 182–89. For the development of the cult of the martyrs in Cappadocia, see B. Gain, L’église de Cappadoce au IVe siècle d’après la correspondance de Basile de Césarée (330–379), Orientalia Christiana Analecta 225 (Rome, 1985), 216–25; S. Mitchell, Anatolia: Land, Men, and Gods in Asia Minor 2 (Oxford, 1993), 67–70


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Our knowledge about the cult of the martyrs in Cappadocia in the latter half of the fourth century derives largely from sermons delivered at the commemorations of the martyrs and from scattered references in the correspondence of the Cappadocian Fathers: Gregory of Nazianzus ( 330–90), Basil of Caesarea ( 330–79), and Gregory of Nyssa ( 335–94). Especially important are the views of Basil and Gregory, as they were greatly interested in the cult, promoted it, and were in favor of incorporating it permanently into the religious life of their congregations. Gregory of Nazianzus also took part in celebrating the martyrs and wrote about various aspects of it;5 but unlike the others he often seemed reluctant to participate in the local ecclesiastical life and did not show the same enthusiasm for promoting and institutionalizing this cult.6 Nevertheless, he invited fellow bishops to attend the annual celebration of local martyrs in Cappadocia.7 The value of his references to the cult in his Epigrammata, however, should not be underestimated.8 A number of his poems attest to the strong relationship of Gregory’s family to the cult; and several of his family members were buried near tombs of martyrs.9 The poems also describe the debauchery common during celebrations of the martyrs, as well as other matters relating to the cult.10 A few of his sermons mention the martyrium of Mamas, a famous cult site in Cappadocia, and the large numbers of pilgrims attending his festival, but his remarks are only very general.11 5. See, for instance, Gregory’s orations on the Maccabean martyrs (Oration 15, PG 35: 912–33) and on Cyprian (Oration 24, ed. and trans. J. Mossay, SC 284: 40–85). On the role of the martyrs according to Gregory’s orations, see J. C. Skedros, “The Cappadocian Fathers on the Veneration of Martyrs,” SP 38 (2001): 299–300. 6. On the participation of Gregory of Nazianzus in the martyrs’ celebrations, see, for example, Ep. 58, PG 37: 116. For an extensive survey on Gregory of Nazianzus’s writings, see Bernardi, Prédication des pères cappadociens, 98–260, especially his conclusions concerning the cult of the martyrs, p. 150. 7. Ep. 122 (ed. and trans. P. Gallay, Saint Grégoire de Nazianze: Lettres [Paris, 1967]). 8. Anthologia Graeca, vol. 6: Anthologia palatine, vol. 8, ed. and trans. P. Waltz (Paris, 1960). On this literary genre, see ibid., 16–28. 9. Epigrams 33, 76, 165 (ed. P. Waltz, Anthologia Graeca, vol. 6: Anthologia palatine, vol. 8 [Paris, 1960]: 45, 55, 82). See also Y. Duval, Auprès des saints corps et âme: L’inhumation “ad sanctos” dans la chrétienté d’Orient et d’Occident du IIIe au VIIe siècle (Paris, 1988), 69–73, on burial ad sanctos. 10. Epigrams 166–69 (ed. Waltz, pp. 82–83). On the robbing of tombs, Epigrams 117 (p. 68), 170–72 (p. 84), 180–82 (p. 87). See also Gregory’s code of behavior for Christian feasts, pinpointing twenty-two kinds of enjoyment that should be avoided, Oration on the Theophany 38.5, PG 36: 316a–317b. 11. Oration 44, PG 36: 608a–621a. The contents of this sermon are discussed in Bernardi, Prédication des pères cappadociens, 251–53. On the martyrium of Mamas, see Sozomen, HE 5.2.12–14; Maraval, Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient, 371 and n. 71.


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basil’s and gregory’s support for the cult of the martyrs Gregory of Nyssa and his brother Basil shared a much greater personal involvement in promoting the cult, making a number of pilgrimages to the tombs of martyrs and encouraging local Christians to participate in the rites.12 Immediately upon his appointment as bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia in 370, Basil began to work energetically on behalf of the cult of the martyrs.13 However, of his many extant sermons, only four are devoted to the martyrs, all of them delivered during his tenure as bishop ( 370–79).14 As Jean Bernardi has suggested, it is possible that Basil delivered a large number of sermons on these occasions that have simply not been preserved.15 The importance of the cult for Basil is apparent from a number of his letters.16 Writing to the bishop of Pontus in 376, he asserts that those who place

12. On the role played by bishops in the fourth century in the veneration of martyrs, see MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries, 119–24. 13. On Basil’s life and as a leader of the Church, see P. J. Fedwick, The Church and Charisma of Leadership in Basil of Caesarea, Studies and Texts 45 (Toronto, 1979); idem, “A Chronology of the Life and Work of Basil of Caesarea,” in Basil of Caesarea: Christian, Humanist,Ascetic:A Sixteen-Hundredth Anniversary Symposium, ed. P. J. Fedwick (Toronto, 1981), 1: 1–19. For a new perspective on Basil as bishop, see Rousseau, Basil of Caesarea. On his local patriotism, see T. A. Kopecek, “The Cappadocian Fathers and Civic Patriotism,” Church History 43 (1974): 298–303. 14. In Gordium martyrem, PG 31: 489b–508a; Homilia 19, In sanctos quadraginta martyres, PG 31: 508b–525a; Homilia 23, In sanctum martyrem Mamantem, PG 31: 589b–600b; Homilia 10, In martyrem Julittam, PG 31: 237a–261a. For a general discussion on Basil’s sermons in memory of the martyrs, see Bernardi, Prédication des pères cappadociens, 77–85; Girardi, Basilio di Cesarea e il culto dei martiri; and the review by P. J. Fedwick, Augustinianum 31 (1991): 495–97. 15. Bernardi, Prédication des pères cappadociens, 78. Bernardi relies on the fact that these sermons were usually delivered by a local bishop, and it is unreasonable to suppose, for example, that during his nine years in office as bishop Basil did not deliver a single sermon in honor of Eupsychius the Martyr, whose memory was annually honored, primarily in Cappadocia. Basil referred to this cult in some letters (e.g., Ep. 100, 200) and even listed him among the most revered martyrs of Cappadocia (Ep. 252). See also J. Gribomont (“Notes biographiques sur saint Basile le Grand,” in Basil of Caesarea, ed. Fedwick, 1: 32), who assumes that Basil categorized the corpus of sermons and chose to preserve only those that dealt with significant issues and met a high literary standard. This explains the narrow scope of this corpus in comparison with those of other writers, such as Augustine and Chrysostom. 16. Gain, L’église de Cappadoce, 216–25. On Basil’s repeated requests to the bishops to come and participate in the martyr celebrations, see Y. Courtonne, Un témoin du IVe siècle oriental: Saint Basile et son temps d’après sa correspondance (Paris, 1973), 356–59.


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their hopes in the Lord should enthusiastically desire the cult of the martyrs (martuvrwn timaiv ).17 It was customary in many cities to invite important church leaders to take part in the martyr celebrations, and Basil issued many invitations to his fellow bishops and other dignitaries. He also convened synods to discuss theological questions, appointments to office, and other church matters at the time of the celebrations (panhvgureiˇ) as a way of making the festivals “more impressive.”18 In 373 he convened all the monks and bishops at the celebration of the martyr Eupsychius.19 Basil himself was invited by the church of Phargamus in Armenia to participate in commemorating the local martyr.20 In 374 Basil invited Amphilocius, bishop of Iconium, to visit his city during the events, and a year later he invited him to participate in a church synod, asking him to come earlier, when the inhabitants would be celebrating the festival for the martyr Eupsychius.21 To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata, he wrote: “We beg you to take a seat at the synod which we convene every year on the seventh of September in memory of the blessed Eupsychius.”22 A pleading tone slips into many of Basil’s invitations to bishops in other provinces, which followed similar lines; he repeatedly informs them that the celebration is held once a year by the local inhabitants. In 376 he invited members of the church in the nearby province of Pontus to honor the inhabitants of the city with their presence at the celebrations for Eupsychius and Damas, “whose memory is observed yearly by our city and all the surrounding country.”23 And on another occasion his invitation to an unidentified bishop pleads: “If you are not invited you complain; and if you are invited you do not give heed. . . . And I urge you always to bear with us, but if you do not bear with us, at any rate it is not right to neglect the martyrs, in whose commemoration you are invited to join.”24 These examples clearly demonstrate the importance of the 17. Ep. 252 (ed. R. J. Deferrari, Saint Basil: The Letters, LCL, vol. 4 [London, 1962], 18). 18. Ep. 176, 2:458; Ep. 100, 2:184. See also Fedwick, Church and Charisma of Leadership, 122–25. 19. Ep. 142, 2:344. 20. Ep. 95, 2:154. Gregory of Nyssa also attests to the participation of bishops from other cities at the celebrations, Ep. 1.7 (ed. P. Maraval, Lettres, SC 363 [Paris, 1990]: 88). 21. Ep. 200, 3:138. Sozomen recounts that Eupsychius was persecuted in the days of Julian ( 361–63), HE 5.11.7–8. On the celebration of Eupsychius, see H. Delehaye, Les origines du culte des martyrs (Brussels, 1912), 205; idem, “La fête des martyrs de Césarée,” AB 49 (1931): 41–44. 22. Ep. 100, 2:184. 23. Ep. 252, 4:18. 24. Ep. 282, 4:168–70.


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cult of the martyrs to Basil and his untiring efforts to enhance the reputation of the local cult in the eyes of the surrounding communities. Like his brother Basil, Gregory carried on the tradition of supporting the cult of the martyrs, as is seen in four sermons composed in their honor, three of which were devoted to the Forty Martyrs of Sebastia, and the fourth to Theodore the Martyr.25 These four sermons were delivered at a time when Gregory fulfilled an important role in church life in the East, his position in the local church being strengthened after his return from forced exile in 377.26 The first sermon, in honor of the Forty Martyrs, is dated to 379 and was delivered in Caesarea;27 the second, in honor of Theodore, was delivered in Euchaita in 381;28 the remaining two were delivered in Sebastia, in Armenia Minor, in 383 at the celebration of the Forty Martyrs,29 probably two years after completing his brief tour of duty in that bishopric.30 Gregory’s letters, all composed during his term as bishop, also preserve information about the cult of the martyrs, especially his custom of undertaking pilgrimages to the tombs of the martyrs in Cappadocia and Armenia Minor.31 In Letter 1 he writes that he joined the local people in Sebastia at the celebration of the Forty Martyrs and made pilgrimage besides to the tombs of lesser-known martyrs such as Andaemon.32 The site of Andaemon’s tomb 25. During the fourth century there was a wave of soldier-martyrs, among them Theodore and the Forty Martyrs. See H. Delehaye, “Euchaita et la légende de s. Théodore,” in Anatolian Studies Presented to W. M. Ramsay, ed. W. H. Bucker and W. M. Calder (Manchester, 1923), 129–34. 26. See Maraval’s overview (Lettres, introduction, 17–32) of Gregory’s role in the synods in Antioch ( 379) and Constantinople ( 381), as well as of his involvement in restoring order in the church of Ibura in Pontus and in Sebastia in Armenia Minor. In the latter he served as a bishop, a position he was glad to relinquish. 27. In XL Mart., PG 46: 773a–778b. 28. In Theod., PG 46: 736c–748d. 29. In XL Mart., PG 46: 749a–757a, 756d–772c. This chronology is based on that proposed by J. Daniélou, “La chronologie des sermons de Grégoire de Nysse,” RSR 29 (1955): 346–48, 362–63; Bernardi, Prédication des pères cappadociens, 303–7. 30. For this period in Gregory’s life, see letters 17, 19, and 22 (SC 363: 214–32, 242–56, 272). 31. Maraval, Lettres, 15–17. 32. Ep. 1.5–7, SC 363: 86–88. On the Forty Martyrs of Sebastia, see Maraval, Lettres, 86–87 n. 2. On the authenticity of this letter, see P. Maraval, “L’authenticité de la Lettre 1 de Grégoire de Nysse,” AB 102 (1984): 61–70. Maraval, who believes that Letter 1 was written by Gregory of Nyssa and not by Gregory of Nazianzus, among whose writings this letter was found, relies on the fact that Gregory of Nyssa participated in the cult at Sebastia. Indeed, Gregory of Nazianzus also participated in martyr celebrations in various places in Cappadocia; but Gregory of Nyssa’s special relationship with Sebastia, where he served as bishop ca. 380, seems to support the attribution of the letter to him (ibid., 68).


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is unknown, and no information is available about this particular pilgrimage; but the martyr was apparently known locally, since two bishops were present on the occasion.33 Praise and propaganda on behalf of the cult are a primary feature in the sermons delivered by Gregory and Basil. Gregory told his audience that those who recognize the fruits of piety (to;n th¸ ˇ eujsebeivaˇ karpovn) must honor the martyrs.34 By giving a detailed description of the interior of Theodore’s martyrium, Gregory, with his impressive rhetoric, transformed his audience into historical witnesses of the martyr’s struggle on behalf of the faith. For him the painting and sculptures in this martyrium were like a talking book, illustrating the entire gamut of tortures that the martyr endured until his death.35 Using metaphors borrowed from the language of pagan athletics and warfare, Gregory exhorted his listeners to strive to receive the “prize” with which Christ rewards his believers.36 Gregory distinguishes between the martyr’s body, which is treated with great honor, and the corpse of any other man, which evokes repulsion. No one enjoys being in proximity to ordinary tombs, he says, whereas “in the place in which our meeting is held and the martyr is celebrated . . . the people are happy about the impressiveness of the things they see.”37 With this distinction, Gregory emphasizes the special status of the martyr—“the very special dead,”38 whose precious remains are buried with honor in a holy place (ejn iJerw¸/ tovpw/) where they are preserved until the Resurrection.39 Gregory refers believers’ requests for protection to the martyr Theodore, since the martyrs are God’s helpers (ujpaspistaiv ). He encourages believers to pray 33. Ep. 1.7, SC 363: 88. 34. In Theod., PG 46: 737b. 35. Ibid., 737d, 736c. On the function of paintings as a visual text, see also Paulinus of Nola, Carmina 27.542–95. The connections between verbal eloquence and the visual arts are discussed by H. Maguire, Art and Eloquence in Byzantium (Princeton, 1981), 9–12. For the rhetorical genres of ekphrasis, esp. the descriptions of torture, see ibid., 22–23, 34–42. On the role of art as a stimulant for engaging the participants in the cult of relics, see Patricia Cox Miller, “‘The Little Blue Flower Is Red’: Relics and the Poetizing of the Body,” JECS 8 (2000): 213–36. For the case of Gregory of Nyssa, see ibid., 218–19. 36. So, for example, the masses that gathered in the church are described as those who responded to the martyr’s trumpet call to battle (PG 46: 736c). On these metaphors in early Christian literature, see Z. Stewart, “Greek Crowns and Christian Martyrs,” in Mémorial André-Jean Festugière: Antiquité païenne et chrétienne, ed. E. Lucchesi and H. D. Saffrey, Cahiers de l’Orientalisme 10 (Geneva, 1984), 119–24. 37. In Theod., PG 46: 737b– c. 38. Brown’s definition: Cult of the Saints, 69–85. 39. In Theod., PG 46: 737c.


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to the martyrs and to perceive them as advocates, intercessors (paravklhtoi), and ambassadors (presbeutaiv ) from all misfortune.40 He recognizes the power of the martyrs to fight enemies and demons, to bring divine grace to believers, and of course to heal.41 At these celebrations, Gregory painted for his audience an image of the typical martyr common to both East and West at the time. Gregory of Nyssa, like other Cappadocian writers, described the great multitudes that gathered at the martyrium of Theodore at Euchaita, and he noted at Sebastia during the festival of the Forty Martyrs that the place could not contain all those who arrived.42 According to Basil, the celebration of the martyr Gordius was like a theatrical performance, with those of the inhabitants unable to get near the “stage” looking on this great spectacle from afar.43 The memory of the martyr Mamas “moved the entire earth,” and all the city mobilized to participate in his celebration.44 We have little information on the cultural and social profile of the pilgrims who came to the tombs of the Cappadocian martyrs, for Basil and Gregory describe them in very general terms, placing most emphasis on the numbers present—all the residents of the city and the surrounding area, as well as church leaders.45 It seems that there is a connection between the martyr’s panegyris and a city’s sense of identity, as attested in pagan cults.46 However, there was another side to the festivities: a fair invariably accompanied them, along with drunkenness, prostitution, and dancing. These were an integral part of the panegyris to the martyrs, just as they had been part of the panegyris in ancient Greek cities.47 The sources repeatedly de-

40. Ibid., 748a–b; In XL Mart., PG 46: 788a–b. 41. Ibid., 776b. 42. For Euchaita, see In Theod., PG 46: 736c. For Sebastia, see ibid., 749a; In XL Mart., PG 46: 757a–b. 43. PG 31: 501b. 44. Ibid., 592b. Cf. Gregory of Nyssa, In Theod., PG 46: 736c. 45. See Chrysostom, Discourse on Babylas 10 (ed. M. A. Schatkin, Discours sur Babylas, SC 362 [Paris, 1990]: 310). See also Theodoret of Cyrrhus, HR 16.4 (ed. P. Canivet and A. L. Molinghen, Théodoret de Cyr: Historie des moines de Syrie, vol. 2, SC 257 [Paris, 1979]: 32). 46. See, for instance, R. Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians (New York, 1986), 82–95. 47. Pausanias attests that to combine a religious festival with a trade fair was not uncommon in Greece. See, for example, his description of the Isis festival: Pausanias, Description of Greece 10.32.15 (ed. W. H. S. Jones, LCL, vol. 4 [London, 1965): 562–63). On the panegyris in Greece in the first centuries c.e., see R. MacMullen, Paganism in the Roman Empire (London, 1981), 18–34. For the transition from pagan panegyris to Christian panegyris, see S. Vryonis, “The Panegyris of the Byzantine Saint: A Study in the Nature of a Medieval Institution, Its Origins and Fate,”


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scribe the din and confusion, which at times actually prevented the speakers from delivering their sermons.48 Unsurprisingly, church leaders were not always pleased by this atmosphere and did not hesitate to voice their criticism.49 Basil ordered the monks not to engage in commercial activities on these occasions: “Instead of praying, many used the place and the occasion to conduct business, to set up fairs.”50 In the many letters in which Basil expounds on the cult of the martyrs, he makes no reference at all to the debauchery that accompanied the celebrations.51 Yet it is clear that he was aware of the phenomenon, for in Sermon 14, delivered in Caesarea at Easter, Basil explicitly condemns the drunkenness and wild, immoral behavior. The brunt of his anger is directed against women who dressed immodestly, organized choruses at the martyrium, exposed their bodies, danced, and sang bawdy songs.52 Gregory of Nyssa’s voice was not heard among the dissenters and those who railed against the debauchery at the martyr celebrations, but the writings of other Christian leaders indicate something of the vulgar atmosphere that permeated cult sites during the festivities. Gregory of Nazianzus repeatedly criticized the drunkenness, gluttony, and dancing that were a part of these events.53 Asterius of Amaseia in Pontus, a contemporary of the Cappadocian Fathers, attacked cult participants for failing to understand the purpose of their assembly: instead of nourishing their souls and imitating the virtues of the martyrs, “you devoted all your energies to business affairs, buying and selling.”54 John Chrysostom in Antioch begged participants to remain sober and avoid gluttony, to return to their homes in an orderly fash-

in The Byzantine Saint, ed. S. Hackel (London, 1981), 195–226; Kofsky, “Mamre: A Case Study of a Regional Cult?” For the panegyris in the Mediterranean cities, see Horden and Purcell, The Corrupting Sea, 432–34, 447–49. 48. In XL Mart., PG 46: 756b– c. 49. On the problematic issue of the enjoyment of the cult of the saints in Christian circles, see P. Brown, “Enjoying the Saints in Late Antiquity,” Early Medieval Europe 9 (2000): 1–24. 50. Regulae fusius tractatae 40, PG 31: 1020d. It is possible that the decadence during the martyr celebrations is what lies behind the eighth rule of Jacob, bishop of Edessa in the seventh century, prohibiting monks from participating in the vigils and in the martyr festivals. See A. Vööbus, Syriac and Arabic Documents Regarding Legislation Relative to Syrian Asceticism (Stockholm, 1960), 96. 51. Gain, L’église de Cappadoce, 221. 52. Homilia 14, PG 31: 445b–447, 460c–461d. 53. Epigrams 166–69, 174–75 (ed. Waltz, pp. 82–83, 85). 54. Homilia 3, PG 40: 196. Dagron (Vie et miracles de Sainte Thécle, 354) remarks that there is no mention of fairs in the panegyris of Thecla. The only trade evident at this event was the sale of soap for healing (ibid., 78–79). Additional information about the decadence of the martyr celebrations is furnished by Vryonis,


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ion, without rioting, and not to be tempted to enter roadside inns or places of prostitution.55 It is worth noting in this context that Gregory of Nyssa, in expressing his reservations about pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the 380s, when hordes of pilgrims were arriving in the city, seized upon the decadence he saw there as added justification for his position. If divine grace dwelt in Jerusalem more than elsewhere, then, according to him, the sins of the inhabitants would not be so great; yet every type of sin prevailed there as elsewhere—prostitution, idolatry, theft, and murder.56 Nevertheless, it would be naive to conclude that this grim picture was confined only to Jerusalem.57 •

Memorial churches and magnificent tombs for the martyrs defined the boundaries of Christian sacred space in Cappadocia. As Basil states, the relics of martyrs sanctify the place and sanctify those who gather there (aJgiavzei me;n to;n tovpon, aJgivazei de; tou;ˇ eijˇ aujto;n suniovntaˇ).58 The letters and sermons of Basil and Gregory attest that in the latter half of the fourth century Cappadocia abounded with the tombs of martyrs.59 This network of local and regional Christian holy places replaced, to some extent, the previous network of pagan holy places.60 Gregory of Nyssa considered these sites to be holy places par excellence, as evidenced by both his terminology and his descriptions of their function as places that could meet various needs of the pilgrims through the power of the martyrs’ relics. For example, he terms the tomb of Theodore at Euchaita “holy place” ( iJero;n tovpon).61 According to Gregory, the people

“The Panegyris of the Byzantine Saint,” 210–12; Maraval, Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient, 241–43; A. G. Hamman, La vie quotidienne en Afrique du Nord au temps de saint Augustin, 2nd ed. (Paris, 1985), 33. 55. Homilia in Martyres, PG 50: 661–66. 56. Ep. 2.10, SC 363: 116. 57. For this feature in sites of pilgrimage, see Turner, Dramas, Fields and Metaphors, chap. 5. 58. Homilia in martyrem Julittam, PG 31: 241b. 59. Gregory of Nyssa, Ep. 2.9, SC 363: 116. On the tombs of the martyrs in Cappadocia, see Delehaye, Origines du culte des martyrs, 198–207. See also Maraval, Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient, 371–79, for a list based on literary sources from the fourth century to the Muslim conquest. 60. For a brief survey of the pagan cult sites in Cappadocia, see R. Van Dam, “Hagiography and History: The Life of Gregory Thaumaturgus.” Classical Antiquity 1 (1982): 272–308. 61. In Theod., PG 46: 736c.


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of Cappadocia see the house—that is, the place of assembly at the martyr’s celebration—as the temple of God (wJˇ tou¸ qeou¸ naovn) and the body of the martyr as resting in a holy place.62 There is of course nothing new in the use of the term “holy place” to refer to a martyr’s tomb in the fourth century. By Gregory’s time, this term was common in the Christian literature of both the East and the Latin West, and he appears to be merely using the current terminology.63 In Basil’s sermons, on the other hand, we do not find the term “holy place” used to denote the cult places of the martyrs.64 What we observe in all these examples is that Gregory systematically employs “holy place” for all the cult sites of Cappadocia. However, this is not the case in Letter 2, in which he expresses his reservations about pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He does not use “holy place” (iJero;ˇ tovpoˇ) to refer to the sites associated with the life and death of Christ, calling them “those places” (tovpoi ejkei¸noi),65 or the “places of Jerusalem” (IJerosovluma tovpoi).66 In this letter, Gregory uses the term qusiasthvrion, which may be interpreted as meaning a cult place, to designate such sites in Cappadocia, in order to prove that these places were not spiritually inferior to those of Jerusalem.67 In Letter 3, in which he expresses a very positive attitude toward Jerusalem, he uses the phrase “sacred places” (aJgivouˇtovpouˇ).68 In fact, Gregory’s ambivalent attitude and contradictory standpoints on the holy places in Jerusalem are reflected in the deliberate choice of terms in each of his letters—an indication of a certain preference for the holy places in Cappadocia over those of Jerusalem. The tombs of the martyrs created a sacred geography in Cappadocia on which he draws in his critique of the holy places of Jerusalem. Relevant to our discussion is the fact that in the author’s consciousness there existed a network of holy places in his environs that served the needs of believers. To the believers assembled in Sebastia, Gregory of Nyssa introduces the martyrs as saviors in this world and in the Resurrection to come. He imputes to the martyrs the ability to act

62. Ibid., 737c. 63. H. Delehaye, “Le mot sanctus dans la langue chrétienne,” AB 28 (1909): 168; Maraval, Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient, 28–29 and n. 32, 192–93. On the current use of the term “holy places” in the Latin hagiographic literature of the fourth to sixth centuries, see Pietri, “Loca sancta.” 64. See, for example, PG 31: 501b, 592b. 65. Ep. 2.8–9, SC 363: 114–16. 66. Ibid., 2.10, SC 363: 116. 67. Ibid., 2.9. Lampe, Patristic Greek Lexicon, 660, s.v. qusiasthvrion. In his translation of Letter 2, Maraval (Lettres, 117 n. 1) remarks that the early meaning of qusiasthvrion is “altar,” but on the basis of Lampe it may be interpreted also as “cult place.” 68. Ep. 3.3, SC 363: 126.


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on behalf of believers in the present through relics distributed among them; according to him, almost the entire earth is blessed with the relics of martyrs.69 He describes the enthusiastic believers who assemble around the tomb of the martyr Theodore, wishing only to obtain a little soil (kovniˇ) from his tomb.70 To encourage this type of piety, Gregory tells his listeners that touching the tomb of a martyr sanctifies and blesses those who visit the site.71 He takes the opportunity to praise the miracle workers (i.e., the martyrs) and to tell his audience about a miracle of healing that took place in the nearby village of Ibura through the relics of the Forty Martyrs,72 proclaiming that such miracles offer clear proof of the efficacy of the martyrs’ intercession (parrhsiva).73 Nor was the benefit to the believer from the martyrs’ relics limited to this present life; it would continue in the days to come: “I also received part of the gift [i.e., the relics of the martyrs]. . . . I also laid the bodies of my parents next to the relics of the soldiers so that at the time of the Resurrection they will arise together with the saints and with their help [i{na ejn tw¸ / kairw¸ / th¸ ˇ ajnastavsew¸ ˇ meta; tw¸ n eujparrhsiastw¸ n bohqw¸ n ejgerqw¸ sin].”74 Gregory does not relate in detail exactly how the martyrs will help the believers at the time of the Resurrection. His words appear to be a brief exhortation intended to convince his audience at the site rather than a systematic treatise on the Resurrection, a subject to which he devoted other works.75 Gregory expresses his position regarding the widespread custom of burial ad sanctos in his day. In his third sermon on the Forty Martyrs, he relates that his mother, Aemilia, built a church next to Ibura that was sanctified by the relics of these martyrs from Sebastia.76 This is where his father was buried; his mother before her death requested that she too be buried in the family tomb,77 and his sister Macrina was also laid to rest with 69. In XL Mart., PG 46: 784a. 70. In Theod., PG 46: 740a–b. 71. Ibid., 745c. Cf. Vita Macrinae 36 (ed. and trans. P. Maraval, Vie de sainte Macrine, SC 178 [Paris, 1971]: 256), where Gregory informs us that at the end of the burial ceremony for his sister he knelt down on the grave and kissed the soil. 72. In XL Mart., PG 46: 784b– c. 73. For this meaning of parrhsiva, see Lampe, Patristic Greek Lexicon, s.v. parrhsiva, 1045. 74. In XL Mart. PG 46: 784b–c. Cf. Theodoret of Cyrrhus, HR 21.30, 2:116. 75. Dialogus de anima et resurrectione, PG 46: 11a–160c; In sanctum Pascha et in resurrectionem, PG 46: 652d–681a. On the Resurrection in Gregory’s writings, see J. Daniélou, “La résurrection des corps,” VC 7 (1953): 154–70; idem, “L’état du Christ dans la mort d’après Grégoire de Nysse,” HJ 77 (1958): 63–72. 76. In XL Mart., PG 46: 784d–785a. For additional examples of the custom of burial ad sanctos, see Duval, Auprès des saints corps et âme, 197–99. 77. Vita Macrinae 13.18–19, SC 178: 186.


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her ancestors in this church.78 Burial near the tombs of martyrs was common at this time among aristocratic families in Cappadocia; Gregory of Nazianzus’s family built their tomb next to the martyrs.79 This new means of ensuring salvation in the days to come, which had been developed already at the end of the third century, was clearly promoted by Christian intellectuals in this period.80 John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nazianzus’s contemporary, presents a similar view in his sermons composed in memory of the martyr Babylas, bishop of Antioch, who had suffered persecution in the days of Decius.81 Chrysostom declares that the body of the martyr, which was an instrument of his courage and strength, remained on earth. He does not doubt that God could have treated the martyr as he did Enoch and Elijah, raising the body miraculously to the heavens. However, for Chrysostom, God grants innumerable means for man to attain salvation, and he therefore “leaves the relics of the saints with us until this day” (ta; tw¸ n aJgivwn leivyana par’ hJmi¸n tevw¸ ˇ ajfei ˇ‰ ),82 or, even more precisely, “until the time of the Resurrection” (e{wˇ tou¸ kairou¸ th¸ˇ ajnastavsewˇ).83 Such thinking, of course,

78. Ibid., 34.15–22, SC 178: 252. Regarding the structure built by Aemilia, see Duval, Auprès des saints corps et âme, 67–68. Gregory of Nyssa calls it to;n tw¸ n aJgivwn martuvrwn oi\kon (Vita Macrinae 34.16, SC 178: 252), which may be interpreted as a church or chapel in honour of the martyrs; while in In XL Mart. 3 (PG 46: 784d) he calls it tw¸ / aJgivw/ shkw¸ / (tomb of a saint). Duval believes that what is referred to here is not a burial chapel for the immediate family, but rather a church in which the founding family reserved the right to be buried next to the relics of the martyrs. It is probable that the church was also used for burial and cultic purposes by people not belonging to the founding family. 79. See above, n. 9; Duval, Auprès des saints corps et âme, 89–92; Maraval’s preface to his translation of Vita Macrinae, 87–88. On Eusebius the deacon of Macedonia, who wished to be buried near the relics of the Forty Martyrs, see Sozomen, HE 9.2. 80. See the evidence from North Africa furnished in Duval, Auprès des saints corps et âme, 51, 54. 81. For the precise historical circumstances under which Babylas was persecuted, see Schatkin’s preface to the Discourse on Babylas, SC 362: 15–19. 82. Ibid., 65.5–13, SC 362: 174. 83. In Julianum martyrem 4, PG 50: 672. According to Chrysostom (Discourse on Babylas 90, SC 362: 212), the martyr’s deeds are proof of the Resurrection: “If someone does not accept the Resurrection, he should look at the deeds of the martyr, which shine greater after his death.” On the eschatological aspects of the cult of the martyrs in the early centuries, see M. Van Uytfanghe, “L’essor du culte des saints et la question de l’eschatologie,” in Les fonctions des saints dans le monde occidental (IIIe–XIIIe siècles), Collection de l’Ecole Française de Rome 149 (Rome, 1991): 91–106.


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brought the individual closer to the local cult and, as a result, bolstered identification with the local church.84 It is clear that during the years in which Basil and Gregory had central roles in the Cappadocian church—that is, between the early 370s and the mid-380s—the promotion and institutionalization of the cult of the martyrs was an integral part of their ecclesiastical activities. The cult was the responsibility of local church leaders, and this explains their high degree of personal involvement as well as their preaching to encourage greater participation by believers. As a result of the strengthening of the local cult, the authority and reputation of these leaders were enhanced in the eyes of the local people and those in neighboring cities. They also gained greater influence over the local population, because when the masses assembled at the martyrium, the bishops took the opportunity to preach the principles of their faith. According to Basil, the goal of the martyr cult was to protect and strengthen the faith of believers against the various heresies.85 As Monique Alexandre has observed, contemporary theological debates occupied considerable space in the sermons on the Forty Martyrs.86 At the end of the fourth and fifth centuries, the deeds of the martyrs were repeatedly cited in Christian apologetics to prove the truth of the religion and its superiority over paganism. The voice of the Oracle of Apollo at Daphne was silenced when the relics of the martyr arrived in the city, and this victory of the martyr was a victory for Christianity.87 Gregory’s sermons, however, lack this apologetic dimension; he limits himself to a description of the acts of the martyrs, citing them especially for propagandistic purposes against domestic adversaries. At the end of the fourth century, the Cappadocian writer Asterius of Amaseia indicated what he felt to be the important aims of the panegyris for the martyrs: the performance of the rites, as well as the 84. On this aspect of the cult, see Brown, Cult of the Saints, 41–42. 85. Basil, Homilia 19, PG 31: 521b. 86. M. Alexandre, “Les nouveaux martyrs: Motifs martyrologiques dans la vie des saints et thèmes hagiographiques dans l’éloge des martyrs chez Grégoire de Nysse,” in The Biographical Works of Gregory of Nyssa, Patristic Monography Series 12 (Philadelphia, 1984), 55. And similarly with regard to Gregory of Nyssa’s hagiographic compositions, ibid., 46–50; F. Vinel, “Sainteté anonyme, sainteté collective? Les quarante martyrs de Sébastée dans quelques textes du IVe siècle,” in Du héros païen au saint chrétien, ed. G. Freyburger and L. Peront, Collection des Etudes Augustiniennes, Série Antiquité 154 (Paris, 1997), 125–31. 87. Chrysostom, Discourse on Babylas 73, SC 362: 188–90. See also Theodoret, Graecarum affectionum curatio 8. On the miracles performed by martyrs as proof of the apostles’ and Christ’s miracles, see Chrysostom, Discourse on Babylas 73, 90 (SC 362: 190, 212); also the translators’ comments, ibid., 46–48.


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opportunity to study Christian doctrine from the lips of the masters participating in the festival. In his terminology, the martyr celebration was a communal place of learning for the soul (koina; paidagwgei¸a tw¸ n yucw¸ n).88 Statements by Gregory and Basil on preaching Christian dogma on these occasions are by no means as clearly formulated as those uttered by Asterius of Amaseia. However, it seems that their support for the local cult of the martyrs was also designed to serve the interests of local church politics.89 In fact, by such support they channeled the sentiments of the believers toward a defined location, the tombs of the martyrs in Cappadocia, thus supporting and encouraging local pilgrimage. With this in mind, let us now examine their position vis-à-vis pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

basil of caesarea’s journey to palestine Vague information about Basil’s journey to the East, including Palestine, is preserved in his Letter 223, written in 375—some twenty years after the journey took place.90 The letter does not contain any historical information concerning his travels; rather, Basil describes the deep impression made upon him by the monks he met in Alexandria as well as other places in Egypt, and in Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia. The monastic way of life Basil encountered in those places aroused his astonishment and admiration. He was deeply impressed by the fervency of their prayers and their extreme asceticism, “as if passing their lives in alien flesh.” For Basil, these “strangers and foreigners on the earth” (Heb. 11:13)—manifesting by their deeds the scriptural image of citizenship in heaven (to; polivteuma e[cein ejn oujranw/;¸ cf. Phil. 3:20)—were models to be emulated.91 Basil’s succinct reporting, however, leaves many questions unanswered. 88. Homilia 3, PG 40: 196a–b. 89. Bernardi, Prédication des pères cappadociens, 307. 90. Ep. 223, 3:286–312. On Basil’s visit, see also J. T. Rivers, “Pattern and Process in Early Christian Pilgrimage” (Ph.D. diss., Duke University, 1983), 297–307. On the basis of Basil’s Letter 42—in which he warned a monk against traveling from town to town—Rivers concludes (ibid., 306–7) that Basil’s attitude toward pilgrimage and the holy places was ambivalent. 91. Ep. 223, 3:294. In Ep. 2 (1:14–16) to Gregory of Nazianzus, written in 358 concerning the monastic way of life, Basil advises viewing biblical figures (e.g., Joshua, Job, David, and Moses) as models worthy of imitation by monks. Just as artists paint from a model, so those who are interested in attaining perfection must gaze upon the lives of the saints as if they were statues, so to speak, that move and act. For this idiosyncrasy of hagiographic literature, see Satran, Biblical Prophets in Byzantine Palestine, 103–5.


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What was the time frame of this journey? What were the circumstances that brought him to the East? Can we conclude from his letter that he also visited the holy places in Jerusalem?92 No definitive answer can be given, but some light is shed by Letter 1, written in 357, in which Basil does describe the circumstances that brought him to the East.93 In 356, after his five-year stay in Athens, where he acquired the Greek paideia, the young Basil returned to Cappadocia. Letter 1 relates that he wished to study under Eustathius, a former bishop of Sebastia who was well known for his extreme asceticism.94 Learning that Eustathius was at the time living in Syria, he set out for that country;95 however, on reaching Syria in 357, he was informed that Eustathius had gone to Egypt. So Basil set out once more, only to be disappointed yet again. He writes little about the journey itself and only in the most general terms, and thus many details remain obscure.96 Modern scholars have had disparate reactions to this account, ranging from a complete rejection of the historicity of Basil’s description to a total acceptance of his words at their face value. Yves Courtonne, for example, sees the entire description of the journey as a “charming literary fiction,” but he produces no evidence for such an assertion.97 Other scholars believe that Basil did actually travel to all these countries in his futile search for Eustathius.98 Nevertheless, the goal of his travels is evident, as stated in Letter 223. He desired to learn the monastic way of life most suitable to the “words of the Gospel,” and his journeying to the most famous monastic centers of his time was an intellectual pursuit undertaken to acquire the monastic paideia—such

92. This is Rivers’s conclusion (“Pattern and Process,” 297), but he provides no clear proof. 93. Ep. 1, 1:2–6. 94. On Eustathius, see Sozomen, HE 3.14; J. Gribomont, “Eustathe le philosophe et les voyages du jeune Basile de Césarée,” RHE 54 (1959): 115–24; idem, “Eustathe de Sébaste,” Dictionnaire de spiritualité 4: 1708–12; idem, “Saint Basile et le monachisme enthousiaste,” Irénikon 53 (1980): 123–44; Rousseau, Basil of Caesarea, 72–76, 239–45. 95. I adopt here the chronology suggested by Fedwick (“Chronology of the Life the and Works of Basil,” 1: 3–19), which for the most part follows that of his predecessors. On the journey, see ibid., 6; ibid., 2: 481. 96. For a discussion of this episode, see Gribomont, “Eustathe le philosophe”; Courtonne, Un témoin du IVe siècle oriental, 423–29. 97. Ibid., 426. 98. S. Elm, ‘Virgins of God’: The Making of Asceticism in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 1994), 60–61, following Fedwick, “Chronology of the Life and Works of Basil,” 3–19. So too, Rousseau (Basil of Caesarea, 72–73) has no doubt that Basil traveled even though the references and time frame are vague.


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a pursuit being quite common in Basil’s day.99 Those arriving in Egypt and Palestine from the second half of the fourth century onward include Egeria, Melania the Elder, Cassian, Jerome, Evagrius Ponticus, Palladius, and many others. Gregory of Nazianzus alluded to the motive for Basil’s travels as “not alien to his project of philosophy.”100 It should be remembered that Basil’s own reason for his journey was to seek a satisfying way of life, and indeed he afterward withdrew to his birthplace in Annisa to live in seclusion for five years ( 359–64).101 Only subsequently did he become one of the architects of the monastic movement in Asia Minor and one of the most influential figures of monastic culture in the East and West alike.102 Returning to the question of whether Basil took the opportunity while on his journey to visit the holy places of Jerusalem, we have to bear in mind that he never drew up a complete itinerary of his stay in the East. In Letter 223, he wrote of Palestine and other countries, but only in a general way. Furthermore, Palestine did not feature at all in Letter 1, in which he listed the countries he visited in his search for Eustathius. Palestine is actually mentioned in Letter 223 only when Basil enumerates the virtues of the monks in various centers in the East. This discrepancy in the two letters is difficult to explain and results in only the vaguest information about Basil’s experiences in the East.103 Should we then conclude that these two letters describe two different journeys? There is no evidence to support such an assumption or the inference that Basil traveled to Jerusalem on any other occasion.104 99. On this kind of travel in search of moral inspiration, see below, Chapter 4. 100. Gregory of Nazianzus, Orat. 43.25 (ed. and trans. J. Bernardi, Grégoire de Nazianze: Discours 42–43, SC 384 [Paris, 1992]: 182). 101. On this chronology, see Fedwick, “Chronology of the Life and Works of Basil,” 6 and n. 22; Rousseau, Basil of Caesarea, 73. 102. Rufinus translated the rules into Latin at the end of the fourth century, PL 103: 487–557. See Gribomont, “Notes biographiques,” 1: 40–43. On the wide influence of Basil’s writings and their translation into many languages, see P. J. Fedwick, “Translations of the Works of Basil,” in Basil of Caesarea, ed. Fedwick, 2: 439–512. Dating Basil’s ascetic works raises complex chronological problems. See a summary of the various scholarly opinions in Fedwick, “Chronology of the Life and Works of Basil,” 8–9, 14; Gribomont, “Notes biographiques,” 32, 40–43; Rousseau, Basil of Caesarea, 190–232, 354–59. 103. See, for example, Gregory of Nazianzus, Orat.43.25, SC 384: 182. 104. See Ep. 45, which was found in a manuscript among Basil’s letters. The author writes to an unidentified monk advising him on the monastic way of life. He states that he lives in Jerusalem, that there they fast together for weeks, and that he even went into seclusion in the city (Ep. 45, 1:276). But a long stay by Basil in Jerusalem does not correspond with what we are told about him in Letters 1 and 223. Many scholars now believe, primarily on philological grounds, that this letter was not written by Basil. See, for example, Gribomont, “Notes biographiques,” esp.


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Another difficulty arises indirectly from Letter 207, written (as was Letter 223) in 375 to the clergy of Neocaesarea. Basil wrote Letter 207 primarily to justify his lifestyle to those who opposed it, and he cited the conduct of monks from other countries as a model: “And now I hear that in Egypt there is a virtue of this sort among the people, and perhaps [there are] also several in Palestine who conduct their lives successfully according to the Gospel [kata; to; eujaggevlion politeivan], and I hear that there are some blessed and contented people in Mesopotamia as well.”105 One might ask why Basil saw fit to write that he had heard (ajkouvw) about the monastic way of life in these countries when he could have referred to personal experience. As he wrote in Letter 223, “I have found many in Alexandria . . . and others in Palestine.” In other words, it is strange that Basil did not exhaust all his evidence against those who defamed him, preferring to support his statements with hearsay rather than with what he had witnessed with his own eyes. Furthermore, in Letter 207 his tone is tentative: “And perhaps [there are] also several in Palestine” (Kai; tavca tine;ˇ kai; ejpi; th¸ˇ Palaistivnhˇ). This hesitancy contrasts oddly with his more affirmative stance in Letter 223. In sum, it can be accepted that Basil did visit Palestine as described in Letter 223—at least we have no compelling evidence against this interpretation. But why Basil was silent about the holy places and pilgrimage to Palestine—these subjects are not treated in any of his writings—remains a puzzle. The province of Palestine was not unknown to him. In letters to Epiphanius the bishop of Salamis and to the monks Palladius and Innocent, written around the year 377, we learn that Basil was well aware of the theological debate that had broken out among the monks of the Mount of Olives; in fact, he had been asked to mediate the dispute.106 If visiting the holy places in Palestine held religious significance for him, it is hard to understand why he did not hint at this in his works. Of course, a number of other contemporary sources inform us about visits to Palestine of wellknown individuals whose own writings make no mention of their travels.

25, where this letter is listed among those whose authenticity is uncertain. Amand de Mendieta (“L’authenticité de la lettre 45 de la correspondance de Basile de Césarée,” SP 10 [1970]: 44–53), is of the opinion that the author of Letter 45 was probably a monk who lived in Jerusalem in the fourth or fifth century. 105. Ep. 207, 3:184. 106. Ep. 258, 4:34–46; Ep. 259, 4:47–48. On the historical background of the controversy and the figures involved, see the brief but enlightening comments in L. Perrone, “Vie religieuse et théologie en Palestine durant la première phase des controverses christologiques,” POC 29 (1977): 234–35.


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For one, Evagrius Ponticus, who belonged to the same intellectual circles as Basil, maintained a similar silence. Despite the fact that Evagrius sojourned near the holy places in Jerusalem for several months, no reference to his stay is found in his works.107 Apparently, for Basil and Evagrius visiting the holy places in Jerusalem was not a part of their agenda. Can it therefore be concluded that this silence represents a deliberate belittling of the status and importance of pilgrimage to Jerusalem and its holy places? Despite the weakness of any argumentum ex silentio, the question resurfaces time and again in this study, emerging from a paradox: on the one hand we have an abundance of fourth-century sources describing the phenomenon of pilgrimage and the many traditions that evolved in connection with Palestine’s holy places; on the other hand, we encounter a near total silence on the subject on the part of notable Christian thinkers who were known to have been in Palestine as visitors or even actively involved in its ecclesiastical affairs.

gregory’s visit to jerusalem: pilgrimage or diplomatic mission? While Basil’s visit to Jerusalem has aroused little scholarly attention, Gregory of Nyssa’s occupies an important place in the history of late-antique pilgrimage, especially with regard to his own views on the subject. Gregory refers to his journey to Jerusalem in three separate works: Letter 2, Letter 3, and his hagiographical composition the Life of Macrina.108 Before embarking on a detailed discussion of these works, it is important to note their inherent contradictions with regard to the purpose of Gregory’s visit, his views on pilgrimage to the city, and his attitude toward the city of Jerusalem and its inhabitants. The differing emphases placed by contemporary scholars on each of the three works, and indeed their partial use of them, have led to diverse assessments of Gregory’s visit and his standpoint on the subject of pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Gregory’s views are especially evident in Letter 2, characterized by his clear reservations about pilgrimage and his sharp criticism of the citizens of Jerusalem. However, comparing it with Letter 3 and the Life of Macrina reveals a more complex and ambivalent attitude—one that raises two interrelated questions. First, to what extent was Gregory in Letter 2 expressing 107. This issue is discussed at length in Chapter 4, below. 108. Gregory refers once more to his journey to the East in Ep. 28.4 (SC 363: 308), solely as a chronological milestone.


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a fundamental theological position regarding pilgrimage as a pattern of religious behavior? And second, to what extent do his statements echo his dispute with the Church in Jerusalem? To answer these questions, it is necessary to consider the reasons that brought him to Jerusalem in 381.109 Clues to the purpose of Gregory’s journey are present in the Life of Macrina, composed after his visit and no later than 382–83.110 In this work, Gregory reminds his unidentified correspondent that he has not forgotten their meeting after his visit to Jerusalem, which was “for the purpose of prayer [kat’ eujchvn], in order to see in these places the signs of the Lord’s sojourn in the flesh.”111 Scholars have had difficulty construing the expression kat’ eujchvn in this context. Usually, the term eujchv means a prayer, a wish, or a vow. Maraval’s translation of the Life of Macrina at first preferred “following a vow.”112 More recently, however, he has retracted that interpretation and changed his translation to “for the sake of prayer.”113 Maraval bases his later choice on similar expressions in the pilgrimage literature, in which prayer in a specific place marks the act of pilgrimage; he relies on the expression eujch¸ˇ e{neken (for the sake of prayer), which appears in Palladius’s Historia Lausiaca, as well as the similar Latin expression orationis causa from the Itinerary of Egeria.114 In accordance with this interpretation, in my view the fact that Gregory in his preface to the Life of Macrina mentions his visit only in passing—as a chronological landmark in his itinerary—lends considerable weight to the argument that he perceives the purpose of his journey to be mainly devotional, as understood from kat’ eujchvn. In Letter 2 Gregory mentions other reasons for going to Jerusalem. The letter was written to a certain Quinstor, otherwise unknown but most prob109. Kötting (“Gregor von Nyssa’s Wallfahrtskritik,” 360) is inclined to accept that Gregory arrived at the end of the 370s, following the synod in Antioch in 379. Maraval has retracted his earlier statement (Vita Macrinae, 61–66) that Gregory visited Jerusalem at the end of the 370s and that the synod in which he participated is one that took place in Antioch in 379. According to the new chronology proposed by Maraval, Gregory seems to have participated in the synod in Constantinople in 381 and was then sent to Arabia. See P. Maraval, “Lettre 3 de Grégoire de Nysse dans le débat christologique,” RSR 61 (1987): 74–89; idem, Lettres, 32–34. This suggestion had already been made in Daniélou, “L’état du Christ,” 69. 110. See Maraval’s chronology in his preface to Vita Macrinae, 67. 111. Vita Macrinae 1.7–9, SC 178: 138. 112. Lampe, Patristic Greek Lexicon, 580 s.v. eujchv; Maraval, Vita Macrinae 1.6–13, SC 178: 139; Wilken, Land Called Holy, 117. 113. Maraval, Lettres, 37 and n. 2; idem, “Egérie et Grégoire de Nysse, pèlerins aux lieux saints de Palestine,” 328. 114. Palladius, Historia Lausiaca 46, p. 136; Egeria, Itinerary 17.1, 31.1. Eusebius (HE 6.11.1–2) used the same term (eujch¸ˇ) for describing the visit of Alexander of Cappadocia to Palestine in the third century.


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ably the abbot of a small monastic community.115 In this letter, Gregory sets forth theological and ethical arguments asserting that pilgrimage to the holy places of Jerusalem is pointless and advising the monks against this type of devotion. Aware of the contradiction between his own visit and his line of argument, he admits that some might wonder, “Why did you not adopt this rule for yourself, if there is no purpose in being there?”116 Gregory responds by claiming that he was summoned to Jerusalem to mediate a conflict that had erupted there while he was on a church mission in neighboring Arabia.117 But as noted earlier, he gives no precise date for his visit. He stresses his political role by noting the assistance he had received from the emperor himself, who had provided Gregory and his entourage with transportation and various conveniences unusual for travelers of that time.118 Presenting the visit as purely diplomatic, devoid of the dust of pilgrimage, contradicts what he wrote in the Life of Macrina. Scholars have attempted to resolve the discrepancy by arguing that the phrase kat’ eujchvn merely bespeaks Gregory’s aspiration or desire;119 hence one hypothesis is that Gregory accepted this mediatory mission precisely because he wished to visit the holy places of Palestine. Another view is that Gregory was unenthusiastic about the mission and merely acceded to those who had invited him to mediate their dispute,120 from which it would appear that Gregory’s visit to the holy places was completely incidental to his diplomatic mission. Such a view seems far-fetched, since it disregards the continuation of Gregory’s own statement in the Life of Macrina: “in order to see in these places the signs of the Lord’s sojourn in the flesh” (ejf’ w\ / te ta; shmei¸a th¸ˇ tou¸ kurivou dia; sarko;ˇ ejpidhmivaˇ ejn toi¸ˇ tovpoiˇ ijdei¸n).121 So while there is no doubt about the mission Gregory was asked to undertake, it remains to be clarified whether the visit had an underlying religious motivation. Another opinion, ignoring Gregory’s stance in the Life of Macrina, maintains

115. As assumed by Kötting (“Gregor von Nyssa’s Wallfahrtskritik,” 361), who relied on the fact that Gregory directed his letter primarily to those in monastic circles (Ep. 2.4–7). This assumption also rests on Gregory’s Ep. 2.8, in which he exhorted his correspondent, “advise the brothers.” See also Maraval, Lettres, 107 n. 2. 116. Ep. 2.11, SC 363: 116. 117. Ep. 2.12, SC 363: 118. 118. Ep. 2.13, SC 363: 118. On the conditions of travel in this period, see D. Gorce, Les voyages, l’hospitalité et le port des lettres dans le monde chrétien des 4e–5e siècles (Paris, 1925); L. Casson, Travel in the Ancient World (London, 1974). 119. G. Pasquali, “Lettere di Gregorio di Nissa,” SIFC 3 (1923): 118; Pietrella, “Pellegrinaggi ai Luoghi Santi,” 138. 120. Ibid., 144, 150. 121. Vita Macrinae 1.9–10, SC 178: 138.


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that the visit was solely a church mission.122 Maraval, for his part, presents the discrepancy without attempting an explanation. He does away with the difficulty by tempering Gregory’s words in Letter 2, noting that this letter was directed largely at monks and virgins.123 Moreover, given that Gregory of his own accord made a pilgrimage to the tombs of the martyrs in Cappadocia, and that he expressed joy at seeing the holy places in Jerusalem (Letter 3), Maraval asserts that Gregory did not reject pilgrimage outright, thus seeing the contradiction in the triad as considerably less blatant. In my opinion, the two stated purposes of Gregory’s visit, though different, do not contradict each other, and one should therefore not minimize the religious motivation. It was the polemical nature of Letter 2 that led its author to suppress his religious motivation. If he did indeed undertake the journey for a combination of the two motives, then it follows that there is a great gulf between Gregory’s behavior as a pilgrim in Cappadocia and his theological ideas regarding pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Determining the purpose of Gregory’s visit is not the only problematic issue arising from a comparison of the three works under consideration. A difference in tone may be detected in Letter 2 as compared with Letter 3.

gregory’s ambivalence regarding the holy places in jerusalem In Letter 3, written immediately upon Gregory’s return to his homeland, most likely in 382, it is possible to discern a positive tone toward the holy places in Jerusalem and those he met there.124 He writes enthusiastically to the three unidentified recipients: “When I saw and felt the holy places, I became filled with such a great joy that words cannot describe it” (E v peidh; toivnun ei\don me;n

kai; aijsqhtw¸ ˇ tou;ˇ aJgivouˇ tovpouˇ . . . tosauvthˇ ejplhrwvqhn cara¸ˇ, w{ste uJpe;r lovgon ei\nai tou¸ ajgaqou¸ th;n dihvghsin).125 Meeting good people in the city and seeing signs of the Lord’s grace toward them gave him great happiness. Gregory attests that he encountered souls in Jerusalem in whom the spiritual signs of the Lord’s piety were so evident that one might have thought Bethlehem, Golgotha, the Mount of Olives, and the Anastasis dwelt within their hearts.126 122. Kötting, “Gregor von Nysssa’s Wallfahrtskritik,” 361, 364. 123. Maraval, Vita Macrinae 1.6–10, SC 178: 138 n. 2. 124. Ep. 3.1, SC 363: 124. 125. Ep. 3.3, SC 363: 126. 126. Ep. 3.1, SC 363: 124.


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This delight, however, was accompanied by feelings of bitterness that caused him to return home with a heavy heart.127 To his great disappointment, his Christological views had been rejected by certain individuals in Jerusalem, whose names he does not reveal. (Nor does he comment on their opposing doctrines.) This vague reference to a theological debate has been the subject of several studies.128 Various theories have been proposed as to the identity of Gregory’s opponents, the nature of the debate, and the accusations directed against him.129 One might assume that the bishop of Jerusalem, Cyril, was one of those in opposition. Had the local bishop agreed with him, Gregory would presumably have mentioned this fact in order to strengthen his own position.130 The importance of this point will be explained in due course. Letter 2 omits any mention of the joy Gregory felt upon seeing the holy places in Jerusalem, and the terms “sacred place” (a{gioˇ tovpoˇ) and “holy place” ( iJero;ˇ tovpoˇ) do not appear. Writing in a different tone, with a negative description of the city, and adding his reservations about visiting it, he asks what one would gain from such a visit. One would think that the Holy Spirit dwells only among the inhabitants of Jerusalem and is incapable of reaching Cappadocia.131 If there were some advantage to this act, he argues, it would not bring spiritual harm (yucikh;n blavbhn) to those who follow the ascetic life (to;n ajkribh¸ bivon).132 Yet Gregory describes in great detail how such journeys are harmful to the monastic way of life, particularly to women, who require the assistance of the opposite sex during their journey. Moreover, the decadence of the inns in the cities of the East makes the journey undesirable for monks and virgins alike.133 In this context, he writes 127. Ep. 3.4, SC 363: 126. 128. See Maraval, “La lettre 3 de Grégoire de Nysse”; and briefly idem, Lettres, 36–37. 129. I. Grego (“San Gregorio Nisseno pellegrino in Terra Santa: Lo scontro con i giudeo-chritiani,” Salesiaanum 38 (1976): 109–25) has suggested that Gregory’s words are directed against the Jewish Christians who lived in Jerusalem. Such an assumption has no solid ground and has already been rejected by Maraval (“La lettre 3 de Grégoire de Nysse,” 86 and n. 49). O. Irshai, in “Historical Aspects of the ChristianJewish Polemic Concerning the Church of Jerusalem in the Fourth Century” (Ph.D. diss., Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1993), 2: 84 n. 86, has also rejected the possibility that in the second half of the fourth century a Jewish-Christian community existed in Jerusalem and congregated on Mount Zion. However, as Maraval has demonstrated, the liturgy pertaining to the place in the years 381–384, evident in Egeria’s descriptions, proves that Mount Zion was one of the liturgical stations of the church in Jerusalem: Egeria, Itinerary 39–40, 43. 130. Maraval, “La lettre 3 de Grégoire de Nysse,” 88; idem, Lettres, 37. 131. Ep. 2.8, SC 363: 114. 132. Ep. 2.4, SC 363: 112. See also Maraval, ibid., n. 1. 133. Ep. 2.5–7, SC 363: 112–14.


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that if divine grace were indeed greater “in the places of Jerusalem,” sin would not be so rife among the inhabitants. He follows with a grim description of Jerusalem as a city of sin and conspiracies, in which all types of evil may be found: prostitution, theft, murder, idolatry, and incest.134 Some scholars have accepted Gregory’s admonitions to ascetic circles in Letter 2 as his predominant view and have not given much attention to the contradiction between Letter 2 and Letter 3.135 This partial treatment does not address the problems that arise in comparing the three sources cited here. Apparently, the hostile attitude that Gregory encountered in Jerusalem accounts for his sharp criticism of the city and its inhabitants; and the mutual hostility could explain, although only in part, the contradictory attitudes of the two letters.136 Indeed, this explanation can be accepted in its broad outlines, but we should not underestimate the polemical nature of Letter 2. It is necessary to examine the set of theological and moral arguments that Gregory advances in venting his anger toward the city and its inhabitants. What were the distinctive features of the author’s arguments, and to what degree did they reflect his fundamental view? Of even greater import in this context is the question:Were these arguments perhaps directed against the views of Cyril, the bishop of Jerusalem, on the role of the culte de mémoire and sacred geography? At the outset of Letter 2, Gregory expresses doubt that seeing Jerusalem, “where one can see signs of the Lord’s sojourn in the flesh, is part of religious piety [eujsevbeia].”137 Note that while Gregory raises this issue with regard to the holy places in Jerusalem, he does not similarly reject the cult of the martyrs. On that issue, his position is quite clear: those who wish to see the fruits of piety (eujsevbeia) must follow the cult of the martyrs.138 The absence of such devotional acts in the canon (kanwv n) is a central point in Gregory’s argument against pilgrimage, based on the fact that when the Lord calls the elect to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, he does not count the journey to Jerusalem among the good deeds.139 Nor, Gregory maintains, was 134. Ep. 2.10, SC 363: 116. 135. For such an approach, see Pietrella, “Pellegrinaggi ai Luoghi Santi,” 150; Kötting, “Gregor von Nyssa’s Wallfahrtskritik,” 362,Wilken (Land Called Holy, 118) believes there can be no doubt that Gregory had reservations about pilgrimage, but he emphasizes that they were directed primarily toward monks and virgins. 136. Maraval, Lettres, 37. On the opposing positions taken in the two letters, see ibid., 121 n. 1. 137. Ep. 2.2, SC 363: 108. On this term and its connotations in Gregory’s thought, see Maraval, Lettres, 109 n. 4. 138. In Theod., PG 46: 737d. 139. Ep. 2.2–3, SC 363: 110.


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it included among Christ’s instructions to his disciples (Matt. 5:3–11); were there any advantage to the practice, this is not how Christians would choose to fulfill the instruction. Rather, he says, pilgrimage causes “spiritual harm” to those who have chosen the ascetic life. This fundamental and original claim—not found in the writings of any other Christian thinker examined here—cannot be easily dismissed. Yet despite the lack of any instruction in the New Testament about pilgrimage, the fact remains that the practice did develop, and Gregory would certainly have witnessed its scope while in Jerusalem. He undoubtedly realized that his argument was insufficient to oppose the growing trend. In Letter 2 the question of the divine presence in a defined earthly place naturally takes center stage in Gregory’s attempt to demonstrate the insignificance of making pilgrimage to Jerusalem. By asking in this context if God dwells in one place on earth more than in any other, he raises a highly sensitive issue. The attribution of the divine presence to a specific place is precisely what defines a holy place, and the encounter with the divine in such a space is the very essence of pilgrimage. Gregory answers his own question by declaring unequivocally that there is no contemplative value in seeing these places. If indeed it were possible to prove the divine presence by visible signs, one could conclude that God dwells in Cappadocia more than elsewhere, since the region abounds in cult sites.140 The clear-cut conclusion is that one may praise and glorify the Lord anywhere, and a change of place does not necessarily bring one closer to God. Paraphrasing 2 Corinthians 6:16 (“For we are the temple of the living God as God said, I will dwell in them and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people”)—a key text in this debate—Gregory asserts that the Lord will reach the one whose soul is found worthy to dwell and walk with him. In contrast, if the “inner man” is full of evil thoughts, “even if you are on Golgotha and the Mount of Olives, and even if you are at the Anastasis, you are far from receiving Christ within you.”141 For Gregory the sites in Jerusalem associated with the life of Christ are entirely dissociated from the alleged preference of God to dwell there. He is convinced that Jerusalem holds no advantage over any other region of the world; moreover, because of its sins, the city is actually unworthy of the divine presence. Drawing on

140. Ep. 2.9, SC 363: 115–16. 141. Ep. 2.16–17, SC 363: 120. For the holy places in Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the fourth to sixth centuries, see Maraval, Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient, 252–57, 265–66, 272–73; Taylor, Christians and the Holy Places.


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Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:8, he tells his correspondent to advise the brothers “to leave their body in order to walk toward the Lord, and not [to leave] Cappadocia in order to walk toward Palestine.”142 Gregory of Nyssa was aware that a complete rejection of Jerusalem might appear to contradict the Lord’s command in Acts 1:4 not to stray from Jerusalem: “While staying with them, he ordered them not to be far from Jerusalem, but rather to wait there for the promise of the Father.” To prevent any criticism, Gregory notes that the statement was made before the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples—the Lord had commanded them to remain in the same place until “they be endowed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).143 Consequently, Jerusalem, where the Holy Spirit descended, did initially play a role in Christian history; thereafter the city’s role ended, since the Holy Spirit is not confined to a particular place but “blows wherever it lists” (John 3:8). Obviously, for Gregory Jerusalem was not a territory of grace. The extent to which believers in Cappadocia would participate in divine grace depended on the degree of their faith (cf. Romans 12:6) rather than on travel to Jerusalem.144 With this, Gregory emphatically challenged the special status allotted to the holy places in Jerusalem throughout Christian history. A similar rejection of the religious importance of historical sites is hinted at in Gregory’s polemical treatise Contra Apollinarium, written in the 380s.145 Gregory attacks Apollinarius for separating what cannot be separated:146 I do not understand who is with us, because he places his body in heaven and, on the other hand, he says that the Lord is with us. . . . Regarding ourselves, I claim that Jesus ascended to heaven and he who ascended is with us and cannot be separated. Just as he is found in us, he is present in each and every one, especially. . . . In the same way he passes through all regions and all the places of Creation, and he appears in a uniform fashion everywhere in the world.

142. Ep. 2.18, SC 363: 122. 143. Ibid. 144. Ep. 2.19, SC 363: 122. 145. Antirrheticus adversus Apollinarem, PG 45: 1123–1270. Daniélou (“L’état du Christ,” 68) dated the composition to 382. Maraval (“La lettre 3 de Grégoire de Nysse,” 79) agrees that Gregory wrote the composition ca. 386 or 387 on the basis of the scanty information known to him about this heresy before 386. 146. Antirrheticus adversus Apollinarem, PG 45: 1268b–1269a. H. U. Balthasar, in Présence et pensée: Essai sur la philosophie religieuse de Grégoire de Nysse, 2nd ed. (Paris, 1988), 147–48, points to a direct connection between this doctrine and Gregory’s Letter 2 against pilgrimage to holy places.


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Obviously, the historical sites connected with Jesus’ life are insignificant, and pilgrimage is thus superfluous.The fundamental question whether God’s presence is confined to one specific place was not new in the fourth century. As scholars have shown, that question was raised earlier by Philo, Cicero, and others.147 In the fourth century, however, the question of the divine presence was specifically connected with pilgrimage and places associated with the earthly life of Jesus. It appears that the pilgrims themselves feared that their act of pilgrimage might be interpreted as evincing a belief on their part that the divine presence was confined to a certain corner of the world.148 Gregory, as we have seen, uses traditional theological conceptions anchored in the New Testament that essentially deny the role of earthly Christian sacred space and reject the importance of Jerusalem and its holy places for the Christian faith. It should be noted, however, that the alternative he proposes is not at all traditional. Letter 2 does not uphold the value of the heavenly Jerusalem over the earthly city, based on Hebrews 12:22 and Galatians 4:26.149 Nor does Gregory draw on the exegetical tradition of such thinkers as Origen and Eusebius.150 Instead, he substitutes a new network of holy places associated with the cult of the martyrs in Cappadocia, of which he and Basil were leading supporters. With this, he strips Jerusalem of its historical uniqueness and discloses his own preference for local pilgrimage to the tombs of the martyrs of Cappadocia. Gregory holds that the holy places in Jerusalem have no value as testimony to the truth of the Christian faith and the divinity of Jesus:151 For us, we believed the fact that Christ who appeared on earth is the true God before we came to these places, just as after [we saw them] our faith did not increase or decrease. We knew the Incarnation through the mediation of the Virgin before we saw Bethlehem; we believed in the Resurrection before we saw the tomb; we believed in 147. Cardman, “Rhetoric of Holy Places,” 19 and notes there; Davies, Gospel and the Land, 185–94; Wilken, Land Called Holy, 292 n. 36, where he mentions further bibliography. 148. See, for example, Theodoret on Symeon the Elder’s pilgrimage to Mount Sinai, HR 6.8. 149. The bibliography on this subject is vast. See the comprehensive study by Wilken, Land Called Holy, 46–64. On Origen’s interpretation of Jerusalem in the Scriptures, see ibid., 65–78. See also Davies, “Jerusalem and the Land”; idem., Gospel and the Land, 195–200; Walker, Jesus and the Holy City. 150. For Eusebius’s attitudes regarding Jerusalem and the holy places, see Walker, Holy City, Holy Places?; Wilken, Land Called Holy, 78–100; idem, “Eusebius and the Christian Holy Land”; Rubin, “The Church of the Holy Sepulchre”; Cameron and Hall, Life of Constantine, 273–85. 151. Ep. 2.15, SC 363: 121.


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the truth of the Ascension without seeing the Mount of Olives. From this visit we gained only one advantage: we found proof from comparison that our own [holy sites] are holier than those in foreign places.

Obviously Gregory did not endow pilgrimage to Palestine with contemplative value; for him seeing the holy places, which is the essence of the religious experience of pilgrimage, was of no importance for the Christian faith.152 This opinion was certainly not universal in Gregory’s day. The most prominent figure giving weight to and promoting the holy places of Jerusalem as a means to strengthen Christians’ faith—in what might be termed the “theology of landscape”—was Jerusalem’s Bishop Cyril, whom Gregory would probably have met during the Council of Constantinople in 381.153 Gregory’s Letter 2 possibly echoes a direct or indirect debate between the two, and a brief account here of Cyril’s attitude toward the role of the holy places seems in order. It may shed some light on Gregory’s attitude in Letter 2, explain some of the contradictions in his opinions, and elucidate the reason for his ferocious verbal attack on the people of Jerusalem.

cyril as promoter of jerusalem In the mid-fourth century, the bishop of Jerusalem had good reason to be frustrated. He lived in an era when Christianity had already marked its triumph by locating its collective memory in his city and sanctifying its near landscape, with masses of pilgrims flocking to the city’s grandiose new churches. In such an atmosphere he might well have expected the status of his city to be enhanced; yet its universal ecclesiastical status remained inferior. Indeed, the seventh canon of Nicaea ( 325), while decreeing the succession of honor of the bishop of Jerusalem, still acknowledged Caesarea as the metropolitan see in Palestine. Unable to tolerate Jerusalem’s subordination to Caesarea, Cyril launched a bitter struggle for his see’s primacy in Palestine.154 Drawing on the city’s heroic past, he declared his bishopric an apostolic see.155

152. On the visual experiences of pilgrims in late antiquity, see Frank, The Memory of the Eyes, 102–33. 153. For the list of bishops who participated in the Council of Constantinople, see C. H. Turner, “Canons Attributed to the Council of Constantinople, a.d. 381,” JThS 15 (1914): 168–69. 154. For Cyril’s conflicts with Caesarea, see Rubin, “The Church of the Holy Sepulchre”; idem, “The Tenure of Maximus, Bishop of Jerusalem, and the Conflict between Caesarea and Jerusalem during the Fourth Century,” Cathedra 31 (1984): 31–42. 155. Sozomen, HE 4.25.


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Tirelessly and without sophistry he simultaneously promoted Jerusalem and advanced his own influence and prestige. As emerges clearly from his writings, ecclesiastical politics, theology, visual culture, legend, and deliberate falsification were all harnessed to the ostentatious advertisement of his bishopric. As his ultimate weapons Cyril chose the impact of the surrounding religious landscape as well as the weighty symbolism of the True Cross— the legend of a priceless discovery that originated in the city during his episcopate.156 At the beginning of a career marked by many vicissitudes, Cyril of Jerusalem composed one famous epistle—the Letter to Constantius—and eighteen Catechetical Lectures.157 Together these constitute the bulk of his meager literary legacy.158 In his Letter to Constantius Cyril describes the “strange phenomenon” that occurred in Jerusalem on 7 May 351: a luminous cross appeared in the sky above Golgotha and extended as far as the Mount of Olives for more than a day. Besides revealing his eschatological scheme and the role of the Jews in it,159 the letter makes its political agenda apparent. As has been convincingly argued by Jan Willem Drijvers, in reporting this event in a letter to the emperor Constantius, Cyril had a deliberate goal in mind: “Cyril’s purpose in sending the letter was evidently to negotiate a power relationship between Jerusalem and the emperor in order to obtain benefit and privileges, such as a favourable position for Jerusalem and its episcopal see in the conflict with Caesarea.”160 This agenda is similarly promoted in Cyril’s Catechetical Lectures, de-

156. J. Drijvers, “Promoting Jerusalem: Cyril and the True Cross,” in Portraits of Spiritual Authority: Religious Power in Early Christianity, Byzantium and the Christian Orient, ed. J. W. Drijvers and J. W. Watt (Leiden, 1999), 91–92. 157. On Cyril’s Letter to Constantius, see O. Irshai, “Cyril of Jerusalem: The Apparition of the Cross and the Jews,” in Contra Iudaeos: Ancient and Medieval Polemics between Christians and Jews, ed. O. Limor and G. G. Stroumsa (Tübingen, 1996), 85–104 which includes earlier bibliography on Cyril’s life and writings. See also Drijvers, “Promoting Jerusalem.” 158. On Cyril’s life and works, see Walker, Holy City, Holy Places? 31–34; Irshai, “Historical Aspects of the Christian-Jewish Polemic,” 2:87–90. On redating the Catechetical Lectures to 351, see A. Doval, “The Date of Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catecheses,” JThS, n.s., 48 (1997): 129–32. Regarding attribution of the five Mystagogic Lectures to Cyril, see E. Yarnold, “The Authorship of the Mystagogic Catecheses Attributed to Cyril of Jerusalem,” Heythrop Journal 19 (1978): 143–61. For the main arguments that have been raised against the attribution of the Mystagogics to Cyril, see E. Yarnold, Cyril of Jerusalem (London, 2000), 24–32; Walker, Holy City, Holy Places? 410–11. 159. For the eschatological dimension of the Letter, see Irshai, “Cyril of Jerusalem.” 160. Drijvers, “Promoting Jerusalem,” esp. 87.


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livered in the Church of the Anastasis. In these he analyzes the main events in the life and death of Jesus, drawing on geography and the testimony of the Bible, and he highlights the importance of the earthly Jerusalem for the Christian faith. In his teaching, defined as a “testimonial Christology,”161 he does not seek to convince his audience through profound theological argument but points to the abundant concrete evidence to be found in his city and its environs—evidence clearly visible from the window of the church in which he was preaching. For Cyril, viewing is believing: throughout the series of lectures, he repeatedly emphasizes that proof of the truth of Christianity and the divinity of Jesus as learned from the Scriptures is to be found “among us” (par’ hJmi¸n) and that the central events of sacred history occurred “here” (ejntau¸qa), in Jerusalem. This motif not only reflects his desire to teach the importance of the historical Jerusalem as the ground of the Christian faith but also indicates his aim to establish the city’s special status and stress the privilege of being in the city.162 Lecture 10.19 lists the biblical testimonies related to the life of Jesus. One series cites the miracles of Jesus; another points to the places—such as the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee—where Jesus and his disciples spent their days.163 Cyril points to the tangible evidence rediscovered in Jerusalem itself: the holy wood of the Cross, “which is seen among us to this day,” bears witness, and from this place now almost fills the world, by means of those who in faith take portions from it.164 And he goes on: “Gethsemane bears witness. . . . Golgotha, the holy hill standing above us here, bears witness to our sight: the Holy Sepulchre bears witness, and the stone that rests there to this day. . . . The Mount of Olives bears witness, that holy mount from which He ascended to the Father.”165 Cyril truly mines the geographical scene to provide religious testimony for the newcomers 161. The term is borrowed from L. Perrone, “ ‘Four Gospels, Four Councils’— One Lord Jesus Christ: The Patristic Developments of Christology within the Church of Palestine,” Liber Annuus 49 (1999): 372–77. On the scriptural witnesses, see P. Jackson, “Cyril of Jerusalem’s Use of Scripture in Catechesis,” Theological Studies 52 (1991): 438–442. 162. Walker (Holy City, Holy Places? 332–33) discusses this matter. 163. Catech. 10.19, PG 33: 685a. 164. Similarly Catech. 4.10, 13.4 (PG 33: 469a, 777). On the finding of the Cross, see Drijvers, Helena Augusta; S. Borgehammar, How the Holy Cross Was Found (Stockholm, 1991). For the text and translation of the Syriac legend, see H. J. W. Drijvers and J. W. Drijvers, The Finding of the True Cross: The Judas Kyriakos Legend in Syriac (Louvain, 1997). Some aspects of this incident in the fourth century and its relation to pilgrimage to Jerusalem are discussed in Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 38–49; Smith, To Take Place, 81–83. 165. Catech. 10.19, PG 33: 688a.


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to his church, together with the biblical memories. In the words of Lorenzo Perrone, Cyril’s attitude recalls the idea of the holy places as a “fifth gospel.”166 In Lecture 13.9–22, Cyril finds in the words of the prophets an endless reservoir of proofs for the Crucifixion, but the tangible evidence is in situ. This place—Golgotha—he calls the “center of the earth” (th¸ˇ ga;r gh¸ˇ to; meswvtaton oJ Golgoqa¸), making sure to add that these are not his own words but those of the prophet.167 Cyril’s proofs for the Resurrection of Christ are deeply rooted in the Scriptures.168 However, his genius here lies in reinforcing his listener’s faith by pointing to the evidence of “the place itself,” which can still be seen, as well as “this house of the holy Church,” which Constantine built and in which Cyril himself preaches.169 He draws on the miracles of Jesus, then returns to his reservoir of geographical proof, emphasizing the importance of Jerusalem as the place of the Resurrection. Since another crucial event for Christians, the Nativity, took place outside Jerusalem, Cyril belittles it by noting that although Jesus descended from heaven in Bethlehem, “he returned to heaven from the Mount of Olives.” He manipulates his biblical quotations; it is crucial for Cyril to establish a hierarchy of events whereby those occurring in Jerusalem are shown to be more significant. He repeatedly claims that the sites of the Resurrection and the Ascension themselves form part of the proof of the reality of those events, and he stresses the advantage of being near those holy places: “Others only hear, but we see and touch.”170 Turning to the teaching about Jerusalem as the place in which the Holy Spirit descended, Cyril does not overlook Jesus’ instruction to the disciples to remain in the city until that event (Luke 24:49).171 Two opposing tendencies can therefore be traced in the fourth century with regard to Christian religious landscape: Cyril asserts that physical proofs in the immediate environs can be used to convince unbelievers and 166. Perrone, “Four Gospels, Four Councils,” 377. 167. Catech. 13.23, PG 33: 801c; 13.28, PG 33: 805b. On the very idea of Omphalos and for further bibliography, see P. Alexander, “Jerusalem as the Omphalos of the World: On the History of a Geographical Concept,” in Jerusalem: Its Sanctity and Centrality, ed. Levine, 104–19; Irshai, “Historical Aspects of the ChristianJewish Polemic,” 2: 87 n. 201. This issue at a later period is discussed in Schein, “Jerusalem in Christian Spirituality,” 252–54. 168. Catech. 14.8, PG 33: 832b. 169. Ibid., 14.22–23, PG 33: 856a. 170. Ibid., 13.22, PG 33: 800b. Walker (Holy City, Holy Places? 332) points to Cyril’s disregard of John 20:29. 171. Catech. 16.9, PG 33: 929b.


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to strengthen the belief of the faithful.172 In other words, he is developing a collective sense of identity based on the visual. Gregory of Nyssa, on the other hand, rejects such arguments outright, claiming that his faith was neither strengthened nor weakened as a result of seeing the sites associated with the life of Jesus. Cyril’s representation of the holy places of Jerusalem as a primary tool for religious teaching highlights the vast gulf between his own approach and Gregory of Nyssa’s. For Cyril, history, myth, and geography are intertwined; he is exploiting the memory of the past and the local setting—both the visual and the imaginative—to prove the truth of Christianity, thus he consistently promotes the idea of earthly sacred space on his home ground, in Jerusalem. For Gregory of Nyssa, the truth of Christianity is not a matter of geography. Though represented in purely theological guise, neither view is in fact divorced from the issue of ecclesiastical power. There is no proof of any face-to-face debate between the two, and the fact is that Cyril’s Catechetical Lectures were written some thirty years before Gregory’s arrival in Jerusalem. Nevertheless, he likely made his position known to Gregory during the latter’s stay in the city, or in the year 381 at the Council of Constantinople, in which both bishops participated. The reason for Gregory’s conflict with church leaders in Jerusalem is rather obscure to us now, but the above discussion points to Letter 2 as being directed in part against the views of Cyril, who was probably among Gregory’s opponents in Jerusalem. At first glance, Gregory’s statements on pilgrimage would appear to be of a purely theological nature, unrelated to any disagreement with Cyril. But three main arguments lead one to conclude that in Letter 2 personal motivation and ecclesiastical interests creep into his arguments: 1. Gregory’s staunch support for local pilgrimage in Cappadocia and his religious motivation for visiting Jerusalem as expressed in the Life of Macrina attest that he himself adopted the practice of pilgrimage. 2. The striking contrast between the negative attitude toward the people of Jerusalem in Letter 2 and his reported joy at seeing the holy places in Letter 3 attests to a certain ambivalence. 3. The fact that Gregory, in rejecting the religious significance of pilgrimage, does not limit himself to theological arguments but rather combines them with harsh criticism of the contemporary city and its inhabitants shows the extent of his personal involvement. Indeed, Letter 2 does not deal with the significance of pilgrimage within the 172. Ibid., 10.20, PG 33: 689a.


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framework of a theoretical discussion. Given that Gregory’s reaction to the practice of pilgrimage followed upon his visit to Jerusalem, we should not divorce the content of Letter 2, including its theological dimensions, from its historical context and the hostility Gregory encountered there. It is worth noting that the originality of Gregory’s position, and his deviation from the classic set of arguments, resides not in his views on the heavenly and earthly Jerusalem but rather in his promotion of the local network of holy places in Cappadocia. In fact, in opposing Jerusalem, Gregory ingeniously uses the traditional Christian notion of sacred space for his own apologetic purposes. I see Letter 2 not as a systematic theological treatise against the practice of pilgrimage but as a polemic against the claim for the superiority of Jerusalem based on the pedagogical role of its holy places, a conclusion that reduces the apparent contradiction between Gregory’s attitudes toward local pilgrimage and toward pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It seems clear that Gregory’s theological arguments against Jerusalem were advanced largely to undermine the standing of Cyril, the city’s bishop, whose aim was to establish the special status of the church in Jerusalem, with himself at its head, on the basis of the geographical proximity of the holy places. Such a conflict of beliefs on the function of the holy places as that between Gregory of Nyssa and Cyril of Jerusalem was by no means unique in late antiquity. The end of the fourth century and the entire Byzantine period witnessed growing competition between local cults and the holy places in Jerusalem. Gregory of Nyssa, however, was one of the forerunners in this debate, and one of the most radical proclaimers against the holy places of Jerusalem.

the primacy of the east Whereas Gregory of Nyssa adamantly denied any link between Palestinian geography and the Christian faith, Gregory of Nazianzus, at about the same time, in much broader terms, was rejecting the entire imaginative geography of the Roman and Christian world and the claims built by various regions upon it. Eloquently and with harsh irony, Gregory argued against “a flock of jackdaws . . . a mob of wild young men, a new kind of gang” joined by “the respected council of elders” who made the claim to the preeminence of the Diocese of Oriens—that is, Antioch. Gregory probably encountered this claim during his stay in Constantinople, an extremely difficult sojourn


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that lasted approximately two years ( 379–81).173 It is important to note in this context that Gregory’s position regarding the question of ordination to the bishopric of Antioch and the objections made by the Egyptian bishops to his election to the bishopric of Constantinople—on the ground that the Nicene canons had forbidden transfers from one bishopric to another— were the immediate reasons for his untenable situation in that city.174 Plagued by misfortune and deeply hurt, he decided, probably after six months as bishop of Constantinople, to resign during the ecumenical council ( 381)—all of which he described in De vita sua.175 In response to the claim of his opponents he wrote:176 Matters should move along the same course as the sun, Taking as their starting point the place where God Shone forth for us in human form. What? Let us learn not to honour the sun’s circular course, But to believe that the incarnate Christ is the first fruit Of our whole race. “But he took this place as his starting poiont,” Someone might perhaps say, “where there was greater shamelessness, So that he might also easily be put to death there; Thence comes the resurrection, thence also our salvation.” Should not those who think like this yield Before those who, as I said, hold the correct views? It was clear from this how utterly arrogant they were.

Certainly, this claim concerning the primacy of the East, granting a supreme role to its geography, is most striking. We are not dealing here with a question of the religious value of holy places or of pilgrimages to certain lieux de mémoire. Rather, Gregory is unmasking a sweeping claim to ecclesiastical power on the basis of religious geography, which he utterly rejects. Indeed, in another context he proclaims: “Nature has given us not two suns, but two Romes, beacons of the whole world, one ancient power and one new [Rome and Constantinople]. . . . In their beauty they are equally balanced.”177 In his conception of ecclesiastical power, Jerusalem holds no

173. On Gregory’s sojourn in Constantinople, see R. Van Dam, “Self-Representation in the Will of Gregory of Nazianzus,” JThS, n.s., 46 (1995): 132–42. 174. Socrates, HE 5.7–8; Sozomen, HE 7.7. For the course of events at Constantinople in which he was involved during the years 379–81, see Bernardi, La prédication des pères cappadociens, 226–35; idem, “La composition et la publication du Discours 42 de Grégoire de Nazianze,” in Mémorial Dom Jean Gribomont (Rome, 1988), 131–43; White, Gregory of Nazianzus, xvi–xxiii. 175. I am grateful to Peter Brown for drawing my attention to this text. 176. De vita sua 1680–1702 (ed. and trans.White, Gregory of Nazianzus, 132–35). 177. Ibid., 562–67, 52–53.


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place. Who exactly in the East was claiming that it did? Our evidence permits no more than speculation. However, it does not seem far-fetched to assume that Cyril, the bishop of Jerusalem, who participated in the Council of Constantinople—and was listed first among the bishops from Palestine— would have supported those holding such a view. Gregory of Nazianzus, for his part, totally rejected the idea of religious landscape, asserting that no advantage whatsoever inhered in specific geography. Thus the debate at the end of the fourth century centered not merely on the religious function of the holy places but rather on the extent to which a local leader could build on the local territory of divine grace in order to transform it into a territory of power.


2 Jerome’s Position on Pilgrimage Vacillating between Support and Reservations

from babylon to jerusalem In the winter of 385, Jerome arrived in Palestine accompanied by several monks and upper-class enthusiastic female ascetics, leaving behind in Rome a trail of anger and criticism directed toward his monastic way of life and his intellectual activity there. The full reasons for his departure from Rome are obscure. The asceticism of the Roman aristocratic circle of ladies surrounding him, and especially his close relationship with Paula, who had been his traveling companion on his long pilgrimage to Palestine and Egypt, had evoked sharp criticism during his second stay in Rome ( 382–85).1 It is probable that he was summoned before church leaders to account for these matters.2 This criticism was preceded in 384 by an open attack on a number of his writings.3 Upon the death of Pope Damasus ( 384), one of his closest friends and supporters, Jerome felt exposed and vulner-

1. On the relationship between Jerome and Paula’s circle, see F. Cavallera, Saint Jérôme: Sa vie et son œuvre, Spicilegium Sacrum Lovaniense (Louvain, 1922), 1: 84–91; J. N. D. Kelly, Jerome: His Life, Writings and Controversies (London, 1975), 91–103; E. A. Clark, Jerome, Chrysostom, and Friends: Essays and Translations (New York, 1979), 44–79. For Jerome’s relationship with and influence on the aristocratic circles in Rome, see J. Matthews, Western Aristocracies and Imperial Court, a.d. 365–425 (Oxford, 1975), 372–74. For a full discussion on the criticism of the extreme asceticism of Jerome and his circle, see J. R. Curran, Pagan City and Christian Capital: Rome in the Fourth Century (Oxford, 2000), 261–98. 2. Apologia contra Rufinum 3.21 (ed. and trans. P. Lardet, Apologie contra Rufin, SC 303 [Paris, 1983]: 271); Ep. 45; Cavallera, Saint Jérôme, 1: 117; ibid., 2: 86–87. 3. The background to Jerome’s shaky relationship with the church in Rome in the year preceding his journey to the East is discussed in Cavallera, Saint Jérôme, 1: 113–20; Kelly, Jerome, 104–15; S. Rebenich, Jerome, The Early Church Fathers (London, 2002), 31–40.

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able to the onslaughts of his enemies, and his position in Rome became untenable.4 In a letter to Asella, a virgin also close to Paula, written on the eve of his journey to the East in 385, Jerome expresses his bitterness and rage over the criticism heaped on him in Rome.5 He describes his planned journey to Palestine in terms borrowed from the Bible concerning Jewish exile: he wishes to escape from his “Babylonian exile” and return to Jerusalem, where his Lord will be not “Nabuchodonosor” but Jeshua son of Jozadak, and Ezra will lead him to his “homeland” (et reducat me in patriam meam).6 His tone becomes even more embittered when he realizes that it is madness to praise God in a foreign land (terra aliena)—that is, Rome.7 In a letter to his friend Marcella written in 386 immediately upon his arrival in Palestine, he expresses his feelings and the purpose of his journey by quoting the verse “Get you out of your country and your kindred and your father’s house, unto a land that I will show you” (Gen. 12:1). Like Abraham, he has left his birthplace and come to his new home.8 The verse was often quoted in late antiquity by monks who chose to wander from place to place in order to realize the ideal of xeniteia (alienation), especially those who chose Palestine as their ultimate destination.9 Jerome’s “homeland” was of course familiar to him only through his study of the Scriptures and hearsay, although he had been close to it during his first journey to the East in 374.10 Undoubtedly, he could have found another place of refuge in the East, but his choice is indicative of the attraction of this part of the world to Christians.11 It should be noted at once that Jerome’s “return to the homeland” cannot be interpreted as an expression of his viewing Palestine as a Christian holy land, nor as only a metaphor for his desire to escape church circles in Rome.12 Rather it ex4. On the relationship and literary cooperation between Damasus and Jerome, see Cavallera, Saint Jérôme, 1: 76–84. 5. Ep. 45. 6. Ibid., 45.6. 7. Ibid.; cf. Ps. 136:4. 8. Ep. 46.2. 9. See below, Chapter 4. 10. On Jerome’s visit to the East, see B. Bitton-Ashkelony, “Jérôme en Orient: Une transformation identitaire,” in L’Orient dans l’histoire religieuse de l’Europe, ed. M. Ali Amir-Moezzi and J. Scheid (Turnhout, 2000), 37–41. 11. On the settlement of monks and virgins from the West near the holy places in the fourth and fifth centuries, see G. D. Gordini, “Il monachesimo romano in Palestina nel IV Secolo,” Studia Anselmiana 46 (1961): 85–107. 12. For Jerome’s conception of the Holy Land, see Wilken, Land Called Holy, 129–30, 132.


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presses his urgent search for a new identity, a process already begun in his earlier travels to the East.13 It was in Antioch, Maronia, and Constantinople that he became a vir trilinguis: he improved his knowledge of Greek, began to learn Hebrew, and probably also acquired a smattering of Syriac. At the same time he satisfied his yearning for the ascetic life.14 But it seems that above all his “conversion to the Hebrew” and his awareness of the importance of the Hebraica veritas was a decisive stage in his plan to embark on a journey to Palestine. It appears that Jerome from the outset had no intention of merely visiting Palestine, as was the practice of most other pilgrims from monastic circles in this period, but planned to remain permanently. Indeed, we can perceive his journey as emigration rather than pilgrimage. Nevertheless, from a description of his visit to the holy places in Palestine and Egypt with Paula in 386, Jerome reveals himself as an enthusiastic pilgrim from the moment he reached Palestine. Moreover, already in 384 he encouraged his dear companion, Paula, to imitate the example of Melania the Elder, who left Rome for Jerusalem a decade earlier.15 The main source of information about Jerome’s pilgrimage is Letter 108, written in 404 to console Eustochium upon the death of Paula, her mother.16 Although Jerome states that he has no intention of writing a detailed account and wishes to note “only those places mentioned in the Holy Scriptures,” the letter nevertheless contains a systematic survey of the holy sites he claims they visited and a description of their personal encounter with those places.17 In the Apology against Rufinus, written between 402 and

13. This topic is discussed in Bitton-Ashkelony, “Jérôme en Orient,” where additional bibliography is given. See also P. Rousseau, “Jerome’s Search for Self-Identity,” in Prayer and Spirituality in the Early Church, vol. 1, ed. P. Allen, R. Canning, and L. Cross (Brisbane, 1998), 125–33. 14. For this period of Jerome’s life, see S. Rebenich, “Asceticism, Orthodoxy and Patronage: Jerome in Constantinople,” SP 33 (1997): 358–77; idem, “Jerome: The ‘vir trilinguis’ and the ‘Hebraica veritas,’” VC 47 (1993): 50–77; A. Kamesar, Jerome, the Hebrew Bible, and Greek Scholarship: A Study of the “Quaestiones Hebraicae in Genesim” (Oxford, 1993), 41–49; Kelly, Jerome, 44–52. 15. Ep. 39.5. Jerome’s admiration for Melania changed a few years later. See Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 171–73; P. Laurence, “L’implication des femmes dans l’hérésie: Le jugement de saint Jérôme,” REAug 44 (1998): 249–50. 16. Ep. 108. That Jerome does not directly mention himself in the letter is apparently due to literary considerations. See Kelly, Jerome, 117–20; Wilkinson, Jerusalem Pilgrims, 1–2. 17. Ep. 108.8, with Maraval, Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient, 138–42; and briefly Wilkinson, Jerusalem Pilgrims, 2, commenting on the etymological identification of the sites.


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404, he relates the circumstances that led him to decide to visit Palestine, provides a brief outline of his journey to the East and his visit to the holy places in Palestine and the Nitrian desert, and explains his ultimately settling in Bethlehem.18 As a biblical commentator, Jerome shows great interest in the topography of Palestine and discusses the pedagogical importance of visiting biblical sites.19 In 390 he compiled a gazetteer of sites mentioned in the Scriptures, accompanied by etymological explanations, to which he appended a Latin translation of Eusebius’s Onomasticon.20 Like Egeria and the Pilgrim of Bordeaux, Jerome was curious about and attracted to both Old and New Testament sites, as is evident in his Letter 46 to Marcella in 386, in which he invites her to visit the holy places. Alongside the descriptions of the tomb of Jesus and the Mount of Olives, he recommends also that she see the tombs of David, Amos, and the patriarchs. Jerome encourages her to visit Nazareth, Mount Tabor, and Capernaum, as well as places less familiar to the pilgrims of his day, such as En-Dor (1 Sam. 28:7, Judg. 4:12–16).21 Jerome promises to visit all these sites with her, and the suggested itinerary largely overlaps that of the journey he made with Paula; once again he appears to be an enthusiastic pilgrim.22 In his letters extolling pilgrimage Jerome draws on biblical imagery and stories to support his view. For the most part he gives a spiritual interpretation to the biblical sites he visits, which prefigured characters and events of the New Testament.23 Thus in Letter 76 he entreats Theodora, then on her way to Egypt, not to succumb to the hardships of the journey but to continue to the terra sancta.24 She should not think that she has attained perfection by visiting Egypt but must go on to Mount Nebo and the Jordan River to receive the “second circumcision” (secundam circumcisionem) at Gilgal—a metaphor for her entrance to the Holy Land that draws on the 18. Apologia contra Rufinum 3.22, SC 303: 272. 19. This aspect of pilgrimage to Palestine in this period is discussed in P. Maraval, “Fonction pédagogique de la littérature hagiographique d’un lieu de pèlerinage,” in Hagiographie, culture et sociétés, IV–IX siècles (Paris, 1983), 383–97. 20. Onomastica, CCL 72: 57–161. On this work, see Kelly, Jerome, 153–55; J. Wilkinson, “L’apport de Saint Jérôme à la topograpgie,” RB 81 (1974): 245–57. 21. On En-Dor in pilgrimage literature, see Maraval, Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient, 292. 22. Ep. 46.13. 23. Ep. 46.2–3, 108.10. The twelve stones at Gilgal prefigured the twelve apostles: Ep. 108.12. 24. Ep. 76.3.


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biblical account of the wars between the Israelites and the Amorite kings, and the conquest of Ai, Jericho, and other places.25 In his preface to the translation of the book of Chronicles, Jerome dwells on the importance of viewing the holy places: just as seeing Athens enhances one’s understanding of Greek history, so does seeing the ruins of the ancient cities of Judaea enhance one’s understanding of the Holy Scriptures.26 In his letter to Marcella, he likens being near the holy places to studying Greek in Athens or Latin in Rome. The languages can, of course, be learned in other cities, but not with the same efficacy; Jerome doubts that one could reach the “apex of knowledge” without sojourning in “our Athens.”27 Evidence of Jerome’s enthusiasm for such journeys of study even outside Palestine may be found in his Letter 53, written from Bethlehem to Paulinus of Nola, apparently hinting at Paulinus’s wish to study with him. Jerome opens this letter with fulsome praise of such journeys, and names Greek philosophers such as Plato and Apollonius of Tyana, as well as the apostles, who trekked long distances in order to study with other masters.28 Earlier Christian thinkers shared a similar intellectual curiosity, wishing to study the Holy Scriptures and witness for themselves the sites of biblical interest.29 Indeed, the pilgrimage of Jerome and Paula reflects the continuous intellectual attraction of Palestine for Christians since the first centuries 25. The term “second circumcision” is borrowed from Josh. 5:2. Jerome’s metaphorical use of the idea of second circumcision as the reward Theodora will merit for making pilgrimage is quite original, given the well-established Christian exegetical tradition concerning the idea of second circumcision as second baptism. On this subject in the patristic literature, see J. Daniélou, “Circoncision et baptême,” in Theologie in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. M. Schmaus (Munich, 1957), 755–76. Daniélou, however, does not refer to Jerome’s statement cited here. 26. Praefatio in Librum Paralipomenon, PL 29: 401a. On this work in the context of pilgrimage, see F. M. Abel, “Saint Jérôme et Jérusalem,” Miscellanea Geronimiana (Rome, 1920), 138–39; Kelly, Jerome, 120; Prawer, “Christian Attitudes towards Jerusalem,” 320; P. Maraval, “Saint Jérôme et le pèlerinage aux lieux saints de Palestine,” in Jérôme entre l’Occident et l’Orient: XVIe centenaire du départ de saint Jérôme de Rome et de son installation à Bethléem, ed.Y. M. Duval (Paris, 1988), 348–49. 27. Ep. 46.9. 28. Ep. 53.1–2. On the motif of travel in the Life of Apollonius of Tyana, see Elsner, “Hagiographic Geography.” 29. One of the earliest testimonies of curiosity about the land of the Bible is that of Melito of Sardis, who embarked for Palestine in the second half of the second century. See Eusebius, HE 4.26.14. The intellectual motivations of early travelers to Palestine are discussed in Windisch, “Altesten christlichen Palästinapilger.” See also Wilken, Land Called Holy, 108–9, which discusses the cases of Origen and Melito of Sardis. On pilgrimage and the Bible, see Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 83–106.


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c.e. Paula and Jerome’s journey to Egypt belongs in this category, for its purpose was to become acquainted with the Egyptian monastic way of life in the Nitrian desert.30 Beyond the intellectual attraction of the land of the Bible and the textual dimension of its pilgrimage, however, Jerome recognized the importance to Christian faith of the encounter with the holy places, and his references to pilgrimage in Letter 108 emphasize the craving of the devout pilgrim to see and touch these sites.31 Earlier, we encountered the case of Gregory of Nyssa, who having completed his visit to the holy places returned to Cappadocia, his homeland, and from there vented his criticism of pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Jerome, however, decided to settle in Bethlehem after his journeys with Paula, and this decision has implications for the position he took toward Jerusalem’s holy places in his writings from Bethlehem. He quickly became known as a quarrelsome man in his new country too,32 having come into conflict with the leaders of the monastic center on the Mount of Olives.33 His perception of pilgrimage and the holy places was shaped in part by his biblical scholarship and his monastic values, but it also resulted from his uneasy relations with the leaders of the church in Jerusalem. Moreover, Jerome was writing at a time when the cult of the martyrs was taking root in the religious life of the Christian communities in the East and the West; his descriptions of and attitudes toward pilgrimage were largely influenced by the language and imagery developing around this cult. In the two famous Letters 46 and 58, Jerome expresses apparently contradictory positions, ranging from ardent support for pilgrimage to Palestine to reservations about it. In the following sections of this chapter, these letters will take center stage, while the final section will focus on Jerome’s 30. Jerome had some knowledge about the Egyptian monastic way of life before his visit: see Ep. 22.33–36. 31. See, for example, the sentimental tone of his description of his and Paula’s visit to the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem and Golgotha: Ep. 108.9–10. Both dimensions of Ep. 108, the textual and the spiritual, are depicted with great clarity by O. Limor, “Reading Sacred Space: Egeria, Paula, and the Christian Holy Land,” in De Sion exibit lex et verbum domini de Hierusalem: Essays on Medieval Law, Liturgy, and Literature in Honour of Amnon Linder, ed. Y. Hen (Turnhout, 2001), 1–15. 32. Brochet has devoted an entire study to this subject: J. Brochet, Saint Jérôme et ses ennemis: Etude sur la querelle de saint Jérôme avec Rufin d’Aquilée et sur l’ensemble de son œuvre polémique (Paris, 1906). But clear reservations about Brochet’s thesis are expresed in Cavallera, Saint Jérôme, 2:97–98. 33. On Melania the Elder and Rufinus on the Mount of Olives, and their relationship with Jerome, see Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 157–79.


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attitude toward the cult of the martyrs as expressed in his Contra Vigilantium. His varying attitudes toward pilgrimage, and the complexity of his reactions to it, reflect the problems that the practice posed for Christian thinkers at the end of the fourth century. Is Jerome’s attitude an expression of the tension between “official Church positions” and “popular religion,” as Joshua Prawer has argued?34 A careful examination of Jerome’s arguments for his varying positions shows that it is misleading to put the question in these terms, which were alien to him in this context. Jerome’s reaction was not that of a representative of church authority to a phenomenon of popular religion, nor was it that of a commentator on a popular phenomenon. Rather it was that of a Christian thinker of stormy temperament contemplating the relatively new idea of sacred topography and its role in Christian life, while himself was a central player in the arena of local church conflicts.

jerome on pilgrimage to palestine (383–392) To worship on the spot where the feet of the Lord once stood is part of the faith. jerome, Letter 47.2

Jerome formulated his perception of pilgrimage to the holy places in Palestine in Letter 46 to Marcella in 386, following his journey with Paula and a short time after he had settled in Bethlehem.35 Like Paula and Eustochium, Marcella belonged to the ascetically inclined circle of aristocratic women who

34. See above, “Introduction.” 35. There is a controversy over the dating of this letter. Cavallera (Saint Jérôme, 2: 43) favors a later date, 392–93. Siding with him are Labourt (Saint Jérôme: Lettres, 2: 199) and Wilkinson (Jerusalem Pilgrims, 1). Nautin discusses the issue in light of a new chronology that he sets up for Jerome’s writings, and he reverts to the first date ( 386) suggested by Vallaris. See P. Nautin, “Etudes de chronologie hiéronymienne ( 393–397),” REAug 19 (1973): 213–39. In “La lettre de Paule et Eustochium à Marcelle (Jérôme, Ep. 46),” Augustinianum 24 (1984): 441–49, Nautin presents new evidence to reinforce his earlier conclusion. This date was accepted by Maraval (“Saint Jérôme et le pèlerinage”), who has dealt extensively with this letter. A further problem with Letter 46 concerns its author; the letter is entitled Paulae et Eustochiae ad Marcellam, but it is generally agreed that its author was Jerome. For the full arguments in favor of this opinion, see Nautin, “La lettre de Paule et Eustochium à Marcelle.” See also Maraval, “Saint Jérôme et le pèlerinage”; L. Perrone, “The Mystery of Judaea (Jerome, Ep. 46): The Holy City of Jerusalem between History and Symbol in Early Christian Thought,” in Jerusalem: Its Sanctity, ed. Levine, 230–31; H. I. Newman, “Between Jerusalem and Bethlehem: Jerome and the


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had been close to Jerome during his stay in Rome. The letter is an invitation to Marcella to join him in Bethlehem and visit the holy places.36 While trying to persuade Marcella to undertake the journey, Jerome reveals clearly his favorable attitude toward pilgrimage, and his arguments reflect the debate about its nature and religious significance for Christians. Apart from encouraging Marcella to join him, he hopes primarily to justify his own pilgrimage; and in defending his position, he unfolds his perception of the act of pilgrimage. Although Jerome’s perception of pilgrimage has evoked endless discussion in modern scholarship, Letter 46 has received only partial treatment in this context.37 Polemical aspects of the letter that echo the debate on the significance of pilgrimage and how Jerome deals with the traditional rejection of any association between God and a specific place have not been addressed in detail.38 Jerome’s tone here is distinctly apologetic. He presents possible arguments against pilgrimage and the special status of Jerusalem, and rejects them one by one, anchoring his words in the Holy Scriptures. He does not specifically name those who hold such views; rather, it seems he is dealing with perceptions prevalent among the Christians of his day.The central issue of Letter 46 revolves around the question of the sanctity of the earthly Jerusalem and its necessity to the Christian faith. It should be noted that within the framework of Jerome’s discussion of pilgrimage, the question of the holy land or the promised land never arises—even though this question was not alien to him and is easily detected in his commentaries and in several letters.39

Holy Places of Palestine,” in Sanctity of Time and Space in Tradition and Modernity, ed. A. Houtman, M. J. H. M. Poorthuis, and J. Schwartz (Leiden, 1998), 218. For a different opinion, see J. H. D. Scourfield, Consoling Heliodorus: A Commentary on Jerome’s Letter 60 (Oxford, 1993), 13 n. 51. 36. Ep. 46.13. 37. See Perrone, “The Mystery of Judaea”; Newman, “Between Jerusalem and Bethlehem,” 215–27. 38. Many scholars have mentioned Letter 46. See, for example, Abel, “Saint Jérôme et Jérusalem”; Cavallera, Saint Jérôme, 1: 165 and 2: 43; D. Gorce, “Saint Jérôme et son environnement artistique et liturgique,” Collectanea Cisterciensia 36 (1974): 173–74; Kelly, Jerome, 124; Cardman, “Rhetoric of Holy Places,” 21, 23; Maraval, “L’attitude des pères”; Wilken, Land Called Holy, 120–21. Part of the letter is discussed in Prawer, “Christian Attitudes towards Jerusalem,” 319–20. 39. Especially well known is his letter to Dardanus (Ep. 129.3), where he deals with the topic of the Promised Land. See Wilken, Land Called Holy, 128–37; Perrone, “The Mystery of Judaea.”


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Jerome opens his letter with a quotation from Genesis 12:1, emphasizing to Marcella that this was God’s first command to Abraham: “Leave your land.” Thus Jerome’s own pilgrimage is justified as an emulation of the prima vox Dei ad Abraham; at the same time, he is pointing to the ancient biblical roots of this pattern of religious behavior—pilgrimage.40 After general remarks in praise of Jerusalem, he goes on to reject any criticism of his pilgrimage and offers a systematic justification for it and for living near the holy places.41 First of all, he stresses the importance of Jerusalem as the location of New Testament events by emphasizing that from the dawn of human history the city has had a special status that makes it appropriate for further central events.42 He cites the tradition that Adam, the first man, was buried at the place identified as Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified.43 A few years later, however, in his Commentary on Matthew, Jerome voices explicit reservations about this tradition.44 Jerusalem’s unique history, related in the Scriptures, offers proof of the city’s uniqueness as the birthplace of prophets and saints. The three names of the biblical city—Jebus, Shalem, and Jerusalem— symbolize the Trinity and point to the eternal bond between Jerusalem and the Christian faith.45 Just as Judaea is more important than the other provinces of Palestine, so Jerusalem is superior to Judaea.46 Jerome differs here from other Christian thinkers, especially Origen, for whom only the heavenly Jerusalem has significance.47 He also differs from the early writings (before 325) of Eusebius of Caesarea, who was influenced by Origen’s doctrine with its spiritual interpretation of Jerusalem and the Promised Land.48 Jerome’s position on the lofty status of the city was iden-

40. Ep. 46.2. 41. Ibid., 3–4. 42. This tendency also characterizes Letter 108.9–10. Abel has shown that Jerome generally did not doubt the authenticity of the holy places and for the most part accepted literally the traditions about them. See Abel, “Saint Jérôme et Jérusalem,” 137–44. 43. Ep. 46.3. 44. Comm. in Matt. 27:23, SC 259: 280–90. The chronological aspects of this tradition in the patristic literature are discussed in Nautin, “Lettre de Paule et Eustochium,” 445–48. On this tradition as an expression of the process of transferring the sanctity from Jewish Jerusalem to Christian Jerusalem, see Stroumsa, “Which Jerusalem?” 122 n. 7, and bibliography there. 45. For his etymological explanations of the names of the city, see Ep. 108.9. 46. Ep. 46.3. 47. For Origen’s attitude toward Jerusalem and the Promised Land, see Wilken, Land Called Holy, 66–78. 48. Walker, Holy City, Holy Places? 52–92; Rubin, “Church of the Holy Sepulchre”; Wilken, Land Called Holy, 78–81.


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tical to that of its fourth-century bishop Cyril. As we shall see, Jerome some years later asserted the superiority of Bethlehem over Jerusalem; but in his letter to Marcella, the primary goal was to establish the sanctity of the earthly Jerusalem and to demonstrate that the city was superior not only to all Judaea but even to Rome. Against claims of the city’s unique status, Jerome pits an argument that might have been voiced by his opponents: that Jerusalem may have been the chosen city, but its favored position belonged to the distant past, since Jesus himself had prophesied its desolation: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that kills the prophets, and stones them which are sent to thee, how often would I have gathered your children together. . . . Behold, your house is left to you desolate” (Matt. 23:37–38). Reinforcing this hypothetical argument, Jerome turns to Josephus’s words in The Jewish War (6.5) depicting the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, as well as Jesus’ command to the apostles to spread the Gospel among the nations (Matt. 28:19, Acts 13:46). One might conclude, then, that “all the mystery of Judaea [sacramentum Iudaeae] and its ancient familiarity with God had been transferred by the apostles from Jerusalem to the nations.”49 Jerome admits that these are serious points, ones that might shock even those with a poor knowledge of the Scriptures; but these hypothetical claims seem invalid to him. Somewhat disparagingly, he says that the solution is “very simple”:50 the Lord would never have wept over the fall of Jerusalem had he not sincerely loved it (Luke 19:41–42); the proof can be grasped by drawing a comparison with John 11:35–36, where Jesus wept over Lazarus, whom he loved. Jerome uses this line of argumentation in various contexts. One is his Letter 120, to Hedybia, written in 407, where he points out that Jesus loved Jerusalem, wept over it, and at the time of his Crucifixion asked that it be forgiven (Luke 23:34).51 Another instance is Jesus’ weeping over the city because its inhabitants have not repented.52 Jerome’s main proof, however, lies in the distinction he draws between the city’s virtues and the evildoing of its inhabitants: it was the people who transgressed, not the place, and therefore the city was destroyed in order to punish them.53 Divorcing the city’s Jewish past from Christian history, he rejects the idea that the city no longer finds favor in the eyes of God. In

49. Ep. 46.4. See also Perrone, “The Mystery of Judaea.” 50. Ep. 46.5. 51. Ep. 120.8. 52. Ep. 122.1. 53. Ep. 46.5.


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essence, he exploits the pitiful state of Jewish Jerusalem in order to associate it with everything that could flaw its image in Christian eyes. Such motifs as this run all through Jerome’s debates against the Jews,54 but in this case he succeeds in using it for internal Christian propaganda. Referring to the Jewish past of the city in order to prove that Jerusalem was not abandoned by God shifts the focus of argument away from the central issue of the city’s status in the New Testament. It seems, however, that in this point Jerome prefers polemics to deep theological debate, a tactic he uses frequently in the debate on pilgrimage. After establishing the point that sin is associated with the people and not the place, Jerome goes on to explain that the place itself, over generations, has gained even more virtue than before. He compares the Temple ritual with the rites at the tomb of Jesus and asks rhetorically if Marcella does not believe that the Lord’s tomb has become more reverenced. In other words, the destruction of Jerusalem does not signify God’s abandonment of the city; rather, from the moment the sinners were punished, it was restored even more lavishly.55 Jerome offers a vivid description of the religious feeling experienced on seeing the tomb of Jesus: “As often as we enter it, we see the Savior in His grave clothes, and if we linger, we see again the angel sitting at His feet and the napkin folded at His head.” With a similar vividness, he describes his visit to the holy places with Paula.56 His striking evocations are not mere literary style; they originate in his desire to provide genuine testimony for events of the past—tangible testimony that believers need and can see for themselves.57 Such descriptions of pilgrims, who through encountering the holy places contemplate past events, are not exclusive to Jerome. Especially interesting in this regard are the writings of Asterius of Amaseia, a contemporary of the late fourth-century Cappadocian Fathers. In a sermon on the martyr Phocas, Asterius describes being overcome by the religious experience of visiting Phocas’s martyrium. Seeing and touching the tomb of the martyr reminded him of all the stories that were told 54. Jerome’s descriptions of the ruins of Jerusalem in his commentary on Isaiah 64 (CCSL 73: 740) are well known. It should be noted that his solution in this instance—i.e., the separation of the city’s Jewish past from its fate in Christian history—resembles Eusebius’s view. See Theophany 4.20. Both the prophecy of destruction and the city’s ruins, according to Eusebius, relate only to the city’s Jewish past and not to the city as a whole. On Eusebius’s writings in this regard, see Kofsky, Eusebius of Caesarea, 304–5. 55. Ep. 46.5. 56. Ep. 108.10. For additional examples, see Maraval, Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient, 140–41. 57. For Jerome’s extensive use of the verb “to see” in this context, see ibid., 138.


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about the martyr in this place. Asterius compares this experience with pilgrimage to the shrines of the patriarchs at Mamre, where according to him, the history of the patriarchs was visually reconstructed.58 Drawing on the words of the prophet Isaiah—“And his rest shall be glorious” (Isa. 11:10)—Jerome concludes that the site of the Lord’s tomb must be honored by all (sepulturae Domini locus esset ab omnibus honorandus).59 I believe that besides a justification for his own pilgrimage, and perhaps for even the very idea of pilgrimage, it is possible to discern in this statement an attempt to set a new ideal for religious practice: visiting Jesus’ tomb is a religious obligation for the Christian believer, albeit an obligation not rooted in the New Testament. Scholars seem to have missed the language of obligation used by Jerome and, therefore, the significance and uniqueness of this claim. To the best of my knowledge, there is no parallel in the writings of other Christian thinkers of his day; it was a straightforward innovation. As we shall see, it was only a part of Jerome’s ideas on pilgrimage, but first I must discuss how he tried to substantiate his position. There is no doubt that Jerome has to struggle to find corroboration in the New Testament for his claim. Sensing the difficulty of his standpoint, and that his argument is not sufficiently convincing, he confronts at once the most problematic issues raised by the idea of earthly Jerusalem as a Christian city: the fact that Jesus was crucified there and its association with Sodom and Egypt, as Jerome quotes, the city “which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified” (Rev. 11:8).60 Of course, interpreting Scripture in this case according to its literal meaning creates a difficulty: How is it possible that Sodom could be a site of worship for God and a holy city? Jerome, too, finds it hard to resolve this paradox, as his tortuous interpretations, lack of clarity, and the many discrepancies between Letter 46 and his other writings attest. He sidesteps the problem by applying symbolic interpretations of the Scriptures that remove any possible identification of Sodom and Egypt with the earthly Jerusalem and by rejecting scriptural interpretations that refer to the heavenly Jerusalem. Jerome asserts that the names Sodom and Egypt were never used with regard to Jerusalem—either earthly or heavenly—but rather were used with regard to the world. He assumes there could not possibly be a contradiction 58. Hom. 9.2.116–17. See the discussion on this passage in Wilken, Land Called Holy, 111–12; Maraval, Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient, 138–39; D. Hunt, “The Traffic in Relics: Some Late Roman Evidence,” in The Byzantine Saint, ed. Hackel, 171–80; idem, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 103. 59. Ep. 46.5. 60. Ep. 46.6.


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within the Scriptures, especially not within the same book. He directs Marcella’s attention to Revelation 11:1–2, upon which his earlier claim rests, where Jerusalem is called a holy city. Scripture would not contradict itself by referring to Jerusalem in the same book both as Sodom and as the holy city. Here Jerome raises a possible counterclaim—that the term “holy city” in Revelation refers to the heavenly Jerusalem, whereas Sodom and Egypt are metaphors for the destroyed earthly city.61 He then sets out to reject this dual claim and offers a new interpretation of Revelation 11. It should be noted that he is aware of the difficulties raised by Revelation: in the preface to his translation of Isaiah, he asks how one should understand the Apocalypse of John. If one accepts the literal meaning (litteram) of the Scriptures, then “we are Judaizers.” Yet if one understands it in the spiritual sense in which it was written, then one finds oneself at odds with the opinions of many earlier thinkers, such as Tertullian, Victorinus, Lactantius, and Irenaeus.62 Jerome responds to these difficulties by pointing to Revelation 21:2: “And I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” He relates the special qualities of the city, whose length, breadth, and height are equal (Rev. 21:16).63 The description, he asserts, cannot be understood in a physical sense (carnaliter), and he demonstrates the absurdity of such an understanding; for this reason, the description must be perceived as spiritual in every detail. Nevertheless, as is to be expected, the spiritual meaning is not the earthly or eschatological one; rather, Jerome finds another interpretation, in which “this great city” with its special attributes is the city built by Cain (Gen. 4:17), with its sins and crimes. It symbolizes the world (mundus), and it is to this city that Scripture refers, in the spiritual sense, when it speaks of Sodom and Egypt.64 This Sodom is also the city that Ezekiel prophesied would be rebuilt (Ezek. 16:55–56); in other words, the world will be rebuilt as it had been before. Jerome makes his point clear: this Sodom is not Jerusalem; rather, it is the city that was built in sin by Cain, and it symbolizes the evil and sin of the world. This world was, indeed, erased from the face of the earth and replaced by another Sodom—that is, another world, as it had been before. One can clearly see here Jerome’s convoluted inter61. Ibid. 62. Comm. in Isaiam 1:18 (CCSL 73: 740–41), quoted also in Prawer, “Christian Attitudes towards Jerusalem,” 319, where Jerome’s commentary is interpreted as a typical example of the difficulties he encountered when formulating his position regarding Jerusalem and the holy places. 63. Ep. 46.6. 64. Ep. 46.7.


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pretation, which is intended to circumvent the traditional idea that the New Jerusalem of Revelation is the Jerusalem of the End of Days. By adopting such an interpretation, Jerome totally dismisses any reference to the city itself, and thus its negative image is eliminated; it is neither the earthly nor the heavenly city. Rather it is the world that sinned and was rebuilt. Jerusalem’s transformation into a Christian city in the fourth century and the growth of the pilgrimage movement from the latter half of the century confronted Christian thinkers anew with the idea of a holy city. The old conception of the New Jerusalem as in Revelation was now no longer easily tenable. Thus it is not surprising that Jerome attempts to offer a new interpretation of Revelation differing from the traditional one.65 We have seen his circuitous path and his attempts to suppress those scriptural passages that do not sit well with the new view of the earthly Jerusalem as a holy city. Eusebius’s Life of Constantine may have hinted at the problem of accepting Revelation literally; when describing the building projects of Constantine and his mother, Helena, Eusebius writes that a New Jerusalem was constructed on the very spot that witnessed the suffering of the Savior, and perhaps this was the second, New Jerusalem mentioned by the prophets.66 Eusebius chooses his words carefully, and this interpretation does not conform to his conception of Jerusalem in his other writings.67 Yet the very fact that it deviates from his previous standpoint demonstrates his difficulty in adhering to the traditional interpretation at a time when the New Jerusalem was being built before his very eyes. Having examined Jerome’s rejection of any connection between Sodom and Jerusalem, we must turn to his rejection of the term “Egypt” for the earthly city. Drawing on his biblical erudition, Jerome asserts unequivocally that there is no such identification in the Scriptures.68 He likewise rejects the notion that Jerusalem is accursed as the place where Jesus suffered and that the land “has drunk the Lord’s blood.”69 He rejects this age-old claim, reminding Marcella of the cult of the martyrs: the Christians venerate the tombs of the martyrs in the places where they were tortured, and “we apply their ashes to our eyes; we even touch them, if we may, with our lips. And 65. Wilken, Land Called Holy, 55–56. 66. Vita Constantini 3.33. 67. See Walker (Holy City, Holy Places? 109, 321, 349, 399,) on Vita Constantini 3.33, which repeatedly emphasizes that this interpretation is not at all typical of Eusebius’s attitude toward Jerusalem. For a different view, see Wilken, Land Called Holy, 96, 291 n. 27; Cameron and Hall, Life of Constantine, 284–85. 68. Ep. 46.7. 69. Ep. 46.8.


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yet some estimate that we should neglect the monument in which the Lord was buried?”70 Having stated his case against identifying of Jerusalem with Sodom and Egypt, Jerome then sets about proving that the earthly Jerusalem is also a holy city.

jerome’s interpretation of matthew 27:52–53 In the framework of the discussion in Letter 46 about the religious value of pilgrimage to Palestine, Jerome’s primary proof for the lofty status and sanctity of the earthly city rests on the fact that it is also the site of the Lord’s Resurrection, and that of other saints with him, as proclaimed in Matthew 27:52–53: “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” This verse, says Jerome, does not refer to the heavenly Jerusalem, thus alluding to the problematic nature of the issue; and he hints at the existence of two opposing interpretive traditions. According to him it cannot be the heavenly Jerusalem, as many ridiculously think, for if the Lord and the saints had been resurrected into the city above, then there would have been no real proof of their resurrection for the people.71 On several occasions in his writings Jerome offers an interpretation of Matthew 27:52–53. In his Commentary on Matthew, written in 398, he asks: “As regards the holy city, in which they will be seen when being resurrected, what is to be understood—heavenly Jerusalem or ours, the earthly, previously holy?”72 The question is raised again in a letter, in which he responds to various theological questions, including that of the Resurrection. His reply is that we must accept that Jerusalem is holy, that its sanctity is what distinguishes it from other cities. Only in Jerusalem was there the Temple, the worship of the one God, and the true religion (In hac enim sola fuit templum, et unius Dei cultus, et uera religio).73 Jerome was certainly aware of different interpretations, as we can see from the way in which he formulates his ideas. Indeed, both Origen and Eusebius interpret “holy city” in verse 53 as referring to the heavenly Jerusalem. Origen’s Commentary on 70. Ibid. 71. Ep. 46.7. 72. Comm. in Matt. 27:53, PL 26: 213b (SC 259: 301). 73. Ep. 120.8. Cf. Jerome, Contra Iohannem Hierosolymitanum 34, PL 23: 385d–386a.


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Matthew asserts that the saints who were resurrected entered “the true holy city” and not the city for which the Lord wept.74 Jerome, who was well versed in Origen’s works and translated a large part of his corpus, mentions in his own Commentary on Matthew that he has read Origen’s commentary.75 Thus it must be assumed that his interpretation of “holy city” as meaning an earthly city is consciously intended to serve his purpose. But on this matter too Jerome is far from taking a coherent stance; indeed a vacillating tenor marks his interpretation of Matthew 27:52–53, as emerges from a letter of consolation (dated 396) addressed to Heliodorus upon the death of Nepotian.76 Jerome draws an analogy between the Resurrection of Jesus and the saints and the death of Nepotian, attempting to show that Jesus’ Resurrection was a victory over death; death, then, is not absolute but only a transitional stage before resurrection. For this end he alludes to Matthew 27:52–53, writing that the bodies of those who had fallen asleep and were resurrected were seen in the heavenly Jerusalem.77 We may therefore conclude that Jerome is now supporting a different interpretation—one that serves his needs on this occasion. Eusebius, like Origen, considers verse 53 to be a reference to the heavenly Jerusalem; in three separate instances he adopts the spiritual interpretation.78 Cyril of Jerusalem was also aware of the two ways of understanding “holy city” in Matthew 27:52–53. Ardently seeking to place the significant events in the life of Jesus in the earthly city, Cyril was not inclined to interpret the text as meaning the heavenly Jerusalem. Discussing the Resurrection in his Catechetical Lectures, Cyril quotes verse 53 but adds “of course in the city in which we are now found.”79 Both Cyril and Jerome adopt the interpretation that better promotes their desire to prove the sanctity of the place and stress the importance of the earthly city as a testimony to the Resurrection. From an examination of Jerome’s writings on the Resurrection, it seems that

74. Comm. in Matt. [17.1–2], GCS 40, 12: 43, p. 169, 5–7; [17.6–8], frag. 365b, GCS 41.1, p. 157, 68–73. 75. PL 26: 20b; Cavallera (Saint Jérôme, 2: 115–23) quotes a few of Jerome’s own testimonies to his familiarity with Origen’s commentaries. See also P. B. Harvey, “Saints and Satyrs: Jerome the Scholar at Work,” Athenaeum 86 (1998): 35–56; M. Vessey, “Jerome’s Origen: The Making of a Christian Literary Persona,” SP 28 (1993): 135–45. 76. Ep. 60. On the literary genre of this letter of consolation, see Scourfield, Consoling Heliodorus. 77. Ep. 60.3. 78. Demonstratio evangelica 4.12.4 and 10.8.64 and Comm. in Ps. 87.11–13 are discussed extensively in Walker, Holy City, Holy Places? 359–63. 79. Cath. 14.16, PG 31: 845a–b.


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his interpretation corresponds to his attitude on physical resurrection.80 He perceives the Resurrection of Jesus as real and emphasizes the absolute identification of the body of Jesus before and after his Resurrection, although he adds that to prove the resurrection of the body and its members would entail writing a long composition.81 However, the exegetical choices of Jerome and Cyril regarding Matthew 27:52–53 serve an identical purpose: sharing the same view about the function of the holy places, both are convinced of the believers’ need for visual evidence to prove the truth of Christianity.82 Not content with what he has written so far in Letter 46, Jerome enlists from the Scriptures additional proof for the sanctity of the earthly Jerusalem. According to Jerome, the Gospels and all the Scriptures call Jerusalem “the holy city,” since the psalm commands (psalmista praecipiat) “worship at the place where his feet have stood.”83 Therefore, “it is impossible to hear that the city is called Sodom and Egypt.” Jerome here paraphrases Psalm 132:7 (LXX 131:7): “Let us go into his tabernacles, let us worship at his footstool,” further affirming his contention that everyone is obligated to honor Jesus’ burial place. Most striking is the way Jerome formulates the core of his position a number of years after settling in Bethlehem. In his Letter 47, written to Desiderius in 393, he asserts: “To worship on the spot where the feet of the Lord once stood is part of the faith” (adorasse ubi steterunt pedes Domini pars fidei est).84 What Jerome has in mind here is to persuade Desiderius to visit him in Bethlehem during his pilgrimage to the holy places. In Letter 46 Jerome is content to emphasize the obligation of Christians to worship at Jesus’ tomb; but in his letter to Desiderius he carries this far beyond literary dependence on Psalm 132:7, perceiving such worship as an integral part of the Christian faith—a daring innovation in Christian thought in his day and afterward. 80. Contra Iohannem, PL 23: 355–96; Ep. 60.3–4; Ep.109. In Contra Iohannem, written in the first half of 397, Jerome lists in detail his principal views on the Resurrection. Tertullian’s influence on Jerome regarding this issue was decisive. On Jerome’s literary dependence on Tertullian’s De resurrectione carnis, see Y. M. Duval, “Tertullien contre Origène sur la résurrection de la chair dans le Contra Iohannem Hierosolymitanum, 23–36 de saint Jérôme,” REAug 17 (1971): 227–78. On the dating of Contra Iohannem, see Cavallera, Saint Jérôme, 2: 34–36; Nautin, “Chronologie hiéronymienne.” 81. Contra Iohannem Hierosolymitanum 33. For some examples of the physical resurrection of Jesus, see Contra Ioh. 34, PL 23: 387a. 82. On Matthew 27:53 in early Christian exegesis in relation to Ezek. 37:1–14, see Daniélou, “L’état du Christ,” 111–21. 83. Ep. 46.7. The Hebrew text reads as follows: “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool.” See Wilken, Land Called Holy, 97–98. 84. Ep. 47.2.


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Jerome was not the first Christian thinker to link Psalm 132:7 to visiting the holy places. Eusebius of Caesarea had already done so in the Life of Constantine, in the context of the visit of the emperor’s mother, Helena.85 This attribution of a territorial dimension to the verse is new in comparison with earlier Christian allegorical exegesis. For example, Clement of Alexandria perceives this verse as a metaphor for the lives of the apostles— who traveled the world to spread the evangelical Gospel and were thus “the feet of the Lord.”86 Following Eusebius, Jerome when describing his visit with Paula to the Cave of the Nativity in Bethlehem also quotes Psalm 132:7 to illustrate their pilgrimage.87 A similar theological view is expressed by Paulinus, bishop of Nola, a contemporary of Jerome’s, whose correspondence attests to his great interest in the holy places in Palestine. In a letter to Sulpicius Severus in the early fifth century, Paulinus sketches the history of some major events concerning the establishment of Christian sacred geography in Jerusalem, among them the finding of the Cross, the arrival of relics of the Cross from Palestine with Melania the Elder, and the contribution of Helena to the building of churches in Jerusalem, especially the Church of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives. In this context he adds that one can see traces of Jesus’ footsteps. The place being accessible to believers, one could indeed repeat the verse: “We have adored in the place where His feet stood.”88 A few years later he clearly formulates his view of the significance of pilgrimage to Palestine: “No other sentiment leads people to Jerusalem than the desire to see and touch the places where Christ was physically present, and to be able to say from their own experience: ‘We have gone into his tabernacle, and have worshipped in the place where His feet stood.’”89 Paulinus emphasizes that even though one may assign deep significance to the Scriptures, one should not ignore its simple, literal meaning. He has no doubt about the role of sacred geography and the significance of the act of pilgrimage; for him, the essence of the cult of the holy places is already established.90 Like Eusebius and Paulinus, Jerome later, in Letter 108, points out the 85. Vita Constantini 3.42, a point made clear by Walker, Holy City, Holy Places? 183–84; Wilken, Land Called Holy, 97–99. 86. Paedagogus 2.8.62.1, SC 108: 126–27. For additional examples, see Walker, Holy City, Holy Places? 183 n. 47. 87. Ep. 108.10. 88. Ep. 31.4, CSEL 29: 272. 89. Ep. 49.14, CSEL 29: 402. On the basis of evidence in the letter itself, Walsh (Letters of St. Paulinus of Nola, 358 n. 1) dated it between 409 and 413. 90. On the papal attitude in the twelfth century toward Jerusalem as “the place where his feet stood,” see Schein, “Jerusalem in Christian Spirituality,” 233–36


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close affinity between Psalm 132:7 and pilgrimage. Despite the similarity in the interpretations of these three figures, there appears to be one fundamental difference: Jerome is the only one to present this bond as a religious obligation and as an integral part of the Christian faith. Returning to his argument in Letter 46, we find that Jerome addresses another issue as well: the reward that the believer finds in fulfilling the act of pilgrimage. From the time of the Lord’s Ascension, he asserts, many notables have come to Jerusalem—bishops, martyrs, men learned in church doctrine—because they believe they would earn less piety (religionis), less knowledge (scientiae), and less virtue (virtutum) if they fail to adore Christ in the place in which the Gospel had been expounded on the Cross.91 Jerome imparts here a new argument, his last throw, to attest the importance of pilgrimage in Christian religious life. Such a formulation reflects his attempt to fashion for the Christian believer of his day a new ideal, attainable only in a specific location. To the best of my knowledge, it is a complete innovation, both in its perception and in its formulation. •

Jerome might have been content with what he had said up to this point in Letter 46, but he apparently realized the strength of his innovative linking of divine worship with a defined earthly place. In concluding Letter 46, therefore, he defends himself against possible criticism of his perception of the divine presence. He stresses that despite holding these opinions about the significance of the earthly Jerusalem, he does not mean that the divine kingdom is to be found only “among ourselves.” Although he is emphatic that the best and foremost are gathered here, he concedes that holy men (sanctos viros) are to be found in other countries as well.92 He does not wish to have his words understood as a restriction of the divine presence to one place. Jerome addresses this issue again in Letter 59, to Marcella, in which he responds to her questions regarding resurrection. According to him, the divine nature exists everywhere in its entirety, with each of the apostles, in every land, and all at the same time. However, when one says that he dwells or does not dwell in this or another place, “it does not mean that we are to demarcate any real boundary lines, but rather we are to define clearly the merits of those who are worthy of having God in their presence.”93 Writ-

91. Ep. 46.9. Maraval (“Saint Jérome et le pèlerinage,” 348–50) discusses extensively these three elements found in Jerome’s Letters 108 and 46. 92. Ep. 46.10. 93. Ep. 59.5.


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ing to Paulinus of Nola, Jerome expresses similar sensitivity when discussing his reservations regarding pilgrimage. He does not regret his own pilgrimage, but he wishes to shake off all suspicion that he presumed “to limit God’s omnipotence or to restrict to a narrow strip of earth Him whom the heavens cannot contain.”94 Jerome here touches upon a central, sensitive issue among Christians at a time when the cult of holy places was widespread. Gregory of Nyssa saw this argument as a primary reason to reject pilgrimage. Yet in attempting to stave off criticism of his views, Jerome finds himself in a serious quandary: If God is present everywhere, simultaneously and equally, then why is divine worship in Jerusalem superior to that elsewhere? He justifies his position by citing the last of the three benefits of pilgrimage: the qualities and virtues of the monks in Jerusalem. Indeed, Jerome states that he and his companions came there to learn from the foremost monks and virgins, who “are the ornaments of the Church.” He praises the humility and piety of the monks and virgins; luxury and voluptuousness are far from here.95 In other words, the fact of Palestine being a monastic center provides one of the justifications for pilgrimage. Jerome was well aware that Palestine and Jerusalem were not the only places in which important Christian events had occurred. He enumerates places and events in Rome also associated with the acts of the Lord, the apostles, and martyrs.96 Nevertheless, he rejects the possibility that these places can be considered a substitute for Jerusalem’s holy places; the atmosphere in Rome, for example, is alien to the goals of monks and their tranquillity. Gregory of Nyssa had offered the opposite argument against Jerusalem, excoriating it as a dwelling place unfit for monks. Aware that Jerusalem is overrun with pilgrims, Jerome nevertheless maintains that one hears nothing but hymns and prayers—a romantic view that he blotted out a few years later. Jerome concludes his enthusiastic Letter 46 by asking Marcella to tread in his footsteps and laying out the itinerary that he will follow with her.97 He discusses the historical authenticity of these New Testament sites, devoting special attention to the “small hole in the earth,” Bethlehem, here (hic) where the various events connected with the birth of Jesus occurred.98 The idiosyncrasy with which he argues for the authenticity of the holy places, especially his deliberate emphasis—through use of the word hic—

94. Ep. 58.3. 95. Ep. 46.10. 96. Ep. 46.12. 97. Ep. 46.13. 98. Ep. 46.11.


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on the local dimension, is identical to that of Cyril of Jerusalem, who repeatedly drew attention to the fact that central events in the life and death of Jesus occurred in his city. It appears, then, that in Letter 46 Jerome not only unequivocally supports pilgrimage to sites associated with the life of Jesus, using arguments formulated in a way previously unknown among Christian thinkers, but he also avoids using the classic polarization of the heavenly versus the earthly Jerusalem. In defending the sanctity of the earthly city, he invokes neither the Epistle to the Hebrews (11:9–11, 12:22) on the heavenly Jerusalem nor Galatians 4:26, “Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” He does not allude to Paul’s references to Jerusalem, which form the foundation of Christian theological conceptions about the city. Even when Jerome refers to the Revelation of John, he does not deal systematically or in depth with the Jerusalem of the vision of the End of Days as opposed to the earthly Jerusalem extant as a Christian city in his day. Indeed, Jerome’s original perception—that Jesus’ burial place must be honored by all and that the cult of the holy places is part of the faith—is alien to the traditional Pauline view and essentially precludes him from using such expressions as “Jerusalem above,” “heavenly Jerusalem,” or “New Jerusalem.” Without neglecting the traditional idea of the heavenly Jerusalem, when invoking the religious value of pilgrimage he underplays it completely. Rather than confront the theological problem raised by the phenomenon of pilgrimage, Jerome prefers to select those verses in the Holy Scriptures confirming the sanctity of the earthly city. Thus Jerome’s perception of pilgrimage and its formulation in Letters 46 and 47 are unique and innovative. In contrast, his theological contribution to the debate on the essential contradiction between pilgrimage and traditional Christian ideas about sacred space is marginal. In Letter 46, Jerome reveals himself to be an enthusiastic pilgrim who values the intellectual and religious rewards to be derived from pilgrimage rather than a profound theologian.

jerome and the holy places (394–397) After Jerome had spent a number of years in Bethlehem near the holy places, his enthusiasm for pilgrimage abated; his opinions changed so far as to contradict those that he had expressed to Marcella and Desiderius a few years earlier. His admonition “To worship on the spot where the feet of the Lord once stood is part of the faith” was replaced with “Do not think that your faith is lacking because you have not seen Jerusalem,” addressed


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to Paulinus of Nola, who presumably had expressed a wish to visit the holy places.99 Although many studies dealing with pilgrimage and the Christian attitude toward Jerusalem have related directly or indirectly to Jerome’s contradictory positions, some nuances still need to be highlighted in order to point up the causes for his change of heart and for his final standpoint.100 For the most part, Jerome’s position has been perceived as an expression of ambivalence felt by fourth-century Christian theologians toward the earthly Jerusalem and the phenomenon of pilgrimage. Joshua Prawer defined Jerome’s attitude as “a sort of mental acrobatics” that reflected contradictory theological views. Despite Jerome’s warm feelings toward the Holy Land, Prawer believes that he “accepted the official interpretation of the learned Church.”101 Prawer argues that “this unexpected turnabout in Jerome’s position becomes understandable when we consider the new context in which it occurred”: as a monk, Paulinus of Nola may have been seeking seclusion for contemplation, and Jerome thus chose to emphasize Jerusalem’s “profane nature” and recommended against visiting the city. But Prawer’s explanation is only partial and does not clarify entirely the contradictory positions taken by Jerome. Why had he supported pilgrimage in the first place? Had he not been aware of the city’s “secularism”? Prawer adds: “This type of practical consideration should not obscure other claims 99. Ep. 58.4. On their relationship, see S. Rebenich, Hieronymus und sein Kreis: Prosopographische und sozialgeschichtliche Untersuchungen, Historia Einzelschriften 72 (Stuttgart, 1992): 220–39. Paulinus of Nola’s letters to Jerome have not survived; our knowledge of their correspondence derives only from Jerome’s replies. On their correspondence, see P. Courcelle, “Paulin de Nole et saint Jérôme,” RELa 25 (1947): 250–80; D. E. Trout, Paulinus of Nola: Life, Letters, and Poems (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1999), 90–93, 95–101, 126. On the date of Letter 58, see Nautin, “Chronologie hiéronymienne,” 213–21. He dated it 395, whereas Cavallera (Saint Jérôme, 2: 89–90) dated it more cautiously to between 394 and 396, but in any case before Jerome’s Letter 53 to Paulinus. Nautin relies upon the date of Vigilantius’s visit to Bethlehem, since it was he who delivered the letter to Paulinus. Nautin’s dating has important implications for the understanding of Jerome’s reaction, as will be explained below. A similar chronology was suggested by Courcelle, “Paulin de Nole et saint Jérôme,” 260–64; Kelly, Jerome,192 n. 63; Gorce, “Saint Jérôme et son environnement,” 175; Cardman, “Rhetoric of Holy Places,” 19; Maraval, “Saint Jérôme et le pèlerinage,” 350. 100. Abel, “Saint Jérôme et Jérusalem,” 134; Courcelle, “Paulin de Nole et Saint Jérôme,” 253; Nautin, “Chronologie hiéronymienne,” 225–35; Gorce, “Saint Jérôme et son environnement,” 171–77; Kelly, Jerome, 192; Cardman, “Rhetoric of Holy Places,” 19–20; Prawer, “Christian Attitudes towards Jerusalem,” 318–23; Maraval, Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient, 153 and note 104; idem, “Saint Jérôme et le pèlerinage.” 101. Prawer, “Christian Attitudes towards Jerusalem,” 320.


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made in the letter [58], such as that Christianity does not accord any special role to Jerusalem.” Jerome thus presents—extremely convincingly— two directly opposing views on Jerusalem’s place in Christian thought.102 According to Prawer, by the end of the fourth century Jerome had become the representative par excellence of the ambivalent attitude toward the holy places of Palestine. Prawer discerns a perpetual conflict between two opposing forces that never reach compromise, and he understands them as representing two levels of religion: pilgrimage as “an expression of popular piety” on the one hand and the persistent “outlook of Orthodox Christianity” on the other. Other scholars, however, have compared Jerome’s Letter 58 with Gregory of Nyssa’s Letter 2, viewed as presenting the same line of argument against pilgrimage to Palestine. Thus Francine Cardman sees Jerome’s rhetoric as typical of Christian theologians opposed to pilgrimage and pays only marginal attention to his support for it in Letters 46 and 47.103 Robert Markus too says that Jerome’s ambivalent attitude “reflects the heritage of reserve about holy places still powerful in the fourth century.”104 However, Cardman and Prawer never discuss the historical context in which Jerome’s views were forged; the implicit assumption of this ahistorical approach is, of course, that there was no real connection between the theological conceptions held by Christian thinkers and the historical reality of their time. Yet there is a difficulty in adopting such an approach, especially with regard to Jerome.105 The opposite approach was taken by F. M. Abel, who suggests that the shaky relationship between Jerome and the monks in Bethlehem on the one hand and with the church in Jerusalem and the monks on the Mount of Olives on the other should be seen as the main reason for Jerome’s change of tack.106 Abel confines himself to this brief yet important comment, neither discussing the nature and scope of this change nor substantiating his claim. Abel’s view has been adopted by others, most recently by Maraval in a study on pilgrimage and Jerome.107 Maraval shares Abel’s opinion that Jerome’s poor relations with the bishop of Jerusalem and the monks 102. Ibid., 322–23. 103. Cardman, “Rhetoric of Holy Places,” 19–20. See also Gorce, “Saint Jérôme et son environnement,” 177. 104. Markus, End of Ancient Christianity, 153–54. 105. A classic example of a change in attitude toward Jerusalem in light of changing historical circumstances is that of Eusebius of Caesarea after 325, see Rubin, “The Church of the Holy Sepulchre”; Walker, Holy City, Holy Places? 106. Abel, “Saint Jérôme et Jérusalem,” 133–34. 107. Maraval, “Saint Jérôme et le pèlerinage,” 352–53. See also Cavallera, Saint Jérôme, 1: 171–72; Gorce, “Saint Jérôme et son environnement,” 175–76.


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on the Mount of Olives influenced the stance he took in Letter 58, written in the midst of a dispute with the church in Jerusalem. However, Maraval sees in this rocky relationship only a partial explanation for the change in Jerome’s position, since Jerome’s attitude was typical of the period. Like Cardman, Maraval relies inter alia on the great resemblance between Jerome’s wording and that of Gregory of Nyssa, taking this as evidence for a growing convergence at the end of the fourth century among Christian theologians reacting against “un concept quelque peu matérialiste du pèlerinage.”108 This reaction, claims Maraval, was rooted in the increasing numbers of pilgrims to Palestine. However, the validity of this claim is dubious, since according to the testimony of Egeria and of Jerome himself the magnitude of pilgrimage about a decade before Jerome wrote Letter 58— that is, at the time he wrote Letter 46—was already vast.109 It is true that Christian thinkers were roused to respond to the phenomenon of pilgrimage at a time when it had clearly gained a foothold within Christian society and indeed had become a common pattern of religious behavior. It is less easy to explain Jerome’s reservations in this light, however, given his enthusiastic support for pilgrimage to Jerusalem in Letters 46 and 47. In the discussion that follows, I examine how various theological positions, anchored in the New Testament, were adopted, modified, and at times even abandoned by Jerome according to prevailing circumstances. To what extent was his attitude in Letter 58 purely theological, rather than adopted to suit his specific needs at the time? •

It seems that Jerome at the outset had a good relationship with John, bishop of Jerusalem—at least until 394,110 when a conflict over the Origenist controversy was ignited between John and Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis, who visited Jerusalem in 393.111 In his Panarion, composed in the mid-370s, 108. Maraval, “Saint Jérôme et le pèlerinage,” 353. For the same line of argument, see Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 91–92. 109. Jerome, Ep. 66.14, writes about the guest house built next to his monastery in Bethlehem for the influx of pilgrims. 110. Cavallera, Saint Jérôme, 1: 129. 111. The most exhaustive review of this dispute, and of the various figures involved in it, is E. A. Clark, The Origenist Controversy: The Cultural Construction of an Early Christian Debate (Princeton, 1992). For its chronology, see P. Nautin, “L’excommunication de Saint Jérôme,” EPHE 80–81 (1971–1973): 7–37. On the early criticism of Origen’s writings by Methodius and others, see Cavallera, Saint Jérôme, 1: 199–227; Nautin, “Chronologie hiéronymienne,” 231–39; Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 188–95. On the theological aspects of this controversy, see Y. M. Duval,


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Epiphanius had presented a long and somewhat tedious list of heresies, in which Origen and some figures within the Egyptian monastic movement were mentioned.112 Origen’s doctrine had found many adherents among the monks on the Mount of Olives, and under the leadership of Melania and Rufinus they had enjoyed John’s support. However, a number of monks in Jerusalem, headed by Atrabius, did not wholly agree with John and supported Epiphanius. Declaring Origen’s teachings to be heretical, they solicited the support of the monks on the Mount of Olives. Rufinus refused to recognize the heresy, while Jerome—though not rejecting Origen’s teaching at that time—joined in to appease Epiphanius.113 At this point Epiphanius openly declared the controversy, and two camps were formed. Epiphanius took advantage of his stay in Palestine in 394 to ordain Paulinus, Jerome’s brother, without asking permission from the bishop of Jerusalem, as required by church law. John vehemently condemned this act and wrote to all the clergy in the area requesting that they not recognize the appointment. Jerome refused to change his stance—probably not so much out of loyalty to his brother as out of fear that his monks, who followed Epiphanius, would leave him.114 John interpreted Jerome’s obduracy as an attempt to undermine his authority, and in response he barred Jerome and his followers from church premises and the liturgy in Jerusalem.Through the intervention of Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria, the excommunication was lifted in 397.115 In his apologetic composition Contra Iohannem Hierosolymitanum, written at the end of his three-year period of excommunication, Jerome describes his unenviable situation during those years. He and his circle had been forbidden entry to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and

“Sur les insinuations de Jérôme contre Jean de Jérusalem: De l’Arianisme à l’Origénisme,” RHE 65 (1970): 353–74: Kelly, Jerome, 195–209. 112. Epiphanius, Panarion 64.4 (ed. K. Holl, GCS 31: 409.19). On the Origenist controversy in Egyptian monasticisim, see A. Guillaumont, Les “Kephalaia Gnostica” d’Evagre le Pontique et l’histoire de l’origénisme chez les grecs et chez les syriens, Patristica Sorbonensia 5 (Paris, 1962); Clark, The Origenist Controversy, 43–84. On the development of the Origenist controversy among the Palestinian monks in the sixth century, see D. Holmberger, The Second Origenist Controversy: A New Perspective on Cyril of Scythopolis’ Monastic Biographies as Historical Sources for Sixth-Century Origenism, Studia Anselmiana 132 (Rome, 2001). 113. It is worth noting that the same year, in his De viris illustribus 54, Jerome wrote of Origen in a positive and admiring tone. 114. A point made clear in Nautin, “L’excommunication de saint Jérôme,” 16. 115. The intervention of the bishop of Alexandria and the correspondence with John and Jerome are discussed in Nautin, “L’excommunication de saint Jérôme,” 18–24; idem, “Lettre de Théophile d’Alexandrie.” On the reconciliation between the parties, see Cavallera, Saint Jérôme, 1: 227; Kelly, Jerome, 207–9.


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to churches in Bethlehem as well, and they were forbidden to bury their dead in consecrated ground. They had no place anywhere in the Church except their cells. Indeed, only the church at the monastery in Bethlehem was open to them.116 Epiphanius, for his part, wrote to John accusing him as well as Rufinus of heresy.117 In 395, when Jerome was still enmeshed in the conflict with the church in Jerusalem, he wrote Letter 58 to Paulinus of Nola. Paulinus at this time was probably considering a visit to Palestine, where a number of his friends were living, including Rufinus and Melania on the Mount of Olives. Melania had earned Paulinus’s admiration on account of her piety and monastic way of life, and he often praised her in his letters.118 He also expressed warm feelings toward Rufinus and his great admiration for the latter’s piety and superb knowledge of Greek and Latin literature, both pagan and Christian.119 There is no doubt that Jerome was not very receptive to the idea of Paulinus’s coming to Palestine and settling in Jerusalem, from which Jerome himself was excommunicated. Nor did he wish to see Paulinus visit all the holy places that he was forbidden to enter and forge ties with the rival congregation on the Mount of Olives; presumably Jerome had no expectation that Paulinus would settle in his monastery in Bethlehem, which was also condemned at that time. He therefore had no choice but to minimize the religious significance of the sacred topography and the importance of visiting the holy places—even though he had taken an opposite view when attempting earlier to convince Marcella to follow him. A closer look at Letter 58 may help to determine the degree to which he changed position and also to define the parameters of that change. Two main topics are addressed in Letter 58: what constitutes the suitable monastic life and Jerusalem as city and concept. The two issues are so intertwined throughout the letter that discussing them separately, as is sometimes done, might result in missing the kernel of Jerome’s argument.120 The letter focuses on Jerome’s attempt to convince Paulinus that it is not imperative for one who adopts the monastic way of life to visit the holy places 116. Contra Iohannem 42–43 (ed. J. L. Feiertag, CCL 79A: 79–80). 117. On Rufinus, see Murphy, Rufinus of Aquileia. For the settlement of Rufinus and Melania on Mount of Olives, see Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 168–71. 118. Ep. 29.10–13. Around the year 400, after twenty-seven years on the Mount of Olives, Melania returned to Italy, where she intended to visit Paulinus and present him with relics of the Holy Cross brought from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. On Melania’s stay in Palestine, see Palladius, Historia Lausiaca 54, pp. 146–48; Paulinus of Nola, Ep. 31.1. 119. Ep. 28.5. 120. Ep. 58.1–11.


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or live near them. Jerome does not go as far as Gregory of Nyssa, who in his Letter 2 asserts that visiting the holy places causes spiritual damage to monks; he merely expresses a cautious doubt about the practice. It should be noted that a number of the arguments used in Letter 58 to corroborate Jerome’s new stance opposing pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the holy places are identical to those that served him well in Letter 46 to boost the status of the earthly Jerusalem as a holy city. Similarly, several commonly used arguments against the sanctity of the earthly Jerusalem, which he had flatly rejected in Letter 46, are in Letter 58 enlisted to prove his new stance— indeed, an acrobatic act. The general aim of Letter 58 is apparent from the opening statement, which discusses the renunciation of property, one of the foundations of monasticism. Jerome emphasizes the importance of proper monastic behavior as opposed to a stay in Jerusalem: “What is praiseworthy is not to have been to Jerusalem, but to have lived well in Jerusalem.”121 Jerome appeals to the traditional Pauline view that assigns significance to the heavenly Jerusalem but rejects any spiritual role for the earthly city. One should aspire not to the city that “murdered the prophets and killed Christ” but to the one that the apostle calls “the mother of us all” (Gal. 4:26), whose inhabitants are the citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20).122 Jerome rejected this idea outright in Letter 46 (“This city is cursed because it drank the blood of the Lord. . . . It is not the city that has sinned, but its people”), but we should keep in mind Jerome’s convoluted interpretation here. Whereas in Letter 46 he uses special tactics and develops original arguments in rejecting the traditional view, in Letter 58 he adheres to traditional claims common in early Christian anti-Jewish apologetics.123 Similarly, the promotion of a moral way of life as opposed to visiting the holy places is a recurring motif in the writings of Christian thinkers who in one way or another disagree with the practice of pilgrimage. Thus Jerome’s arguments in Letter 58 are unoriginal and merely represent, to use Prawer’s words, the “official interpretation of the learned Church.”124 It should be emphasized that Jerome does not seek to substantiate the claim regarding Jerusalem’s earlier sins against Jesus but contents himself with airing the classic claim that rejects the city’s 121. Ep. 58.2. 122. Ibid. 123. See, for example, the common motif in which the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem is viewed as punishment for the crucifixion of Jesus. M. Simon, Verus Israel: A Study of the Relations between Christians and Jews in the Roman Empire a.d. 135–425 (Oxford, 1986), 89–90. 124. Prawer, “Christian Attitudes towards Jerusalem,” 320.


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spiritual status in light of his accusation. His words are banal, little more than popular rhetoric to defend his position, quite unlike the positive image of the city that he presents in the letter to Marcella. There, he diverts blame from the city itself to its inhabitants, defending the city’s integrity by developing his own original interpretation both of the traditional principles and of several biblical verses associated with the negative image of Jerusalem. Jerome, of course, was aware that his standpoint in Letter 58 overtly contradicted his own experience as a pilgrim and his choice to live near the holy places. His reaction is typical of the way in which he deals with the issue of Jerusalem and the holy places throughout the letter: rather than offering a profound theological discussion, he avoids the issue and hides behind wellworn Pauline perceptions. At first he declares that he does not regret his choice, reminding Paulinus of the biblical pattern that serves as his guide— that is, Abraham’s wandering from his homeland and abandonment of his family. In this way, he legitimizes his behavior, affirming that his action has not been pointless. He sees it as crucial to clarify that although he has visited the holy places, he is not suggesting that the divine presence dwells in one specific place. Jerome’s explanation is somewhat surprising, since he still has not said anything about the discrepancy between his own religious behavior as a pilgrim, to which he himself alludes, and the arguments against pilgrimage offered in Letter 58. Indeed, he never resolves the contradiction, only referring to the Pauline view of the divine presence, which in this context seems to have been somewhat hackneyed even in his day.125 In Letters 46 and 58 Jerome makes dual use of this argument: whether supporting the idea of pilgrimage or wishing to present it as devoid of significance for monks, he emphasizes that the notion of certain places being holy has nothing to do with restricting the divine presence to any specific place. Letter 58 repeatedly contrasts the moral way of life with mere proximity to the holy places. Believers should be respected not because of their dwelling place but because of their faith: “The true worshippers worship the Father neither at Jerusalem nor on Mount Gerizim: for ‘God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and truth’ [spiritu et veritate], and the spirit blows wherever it pleases.”126 Here again Jerome turns to the traditional Pauline ideas against sacred space rather than develop his own argument or interpretation. Thus he lays bare the contradiction between the idea of Christian holy space, as put forward in Letters 125. Ep. 58.3. 126. Ibid.


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46 and 47, and the Pauline view, which occurs several times in other writings of Jerome. In his Commentary on Isaiah, composed between 408 and 410, he wrote that to serve God and live in his presence is a question not of place but rather of merit (servire autem Domino et habitare coram eo, non est loci, sed meriti).127 Any alleged affinity between God and places connected with the life of Jesus is refuted by the fact that the Christian Gospel has been spread to every corner of the world, and God has thus ceased to be “known only in Judaea” and his name “praised only in Israel.”128 Jerome states that if heaven and earth pass from the world, so will everything earthly, and this will be the fate of the holy places as well. Therefore, the sites of the Crucifixion and Resurrection benefit only those who carry the Cross within themselves every day, and only those who have proven worthy to live in these revered places.129 A hint of the complexity of Jerome’s stance is revealed by his placing in opposition to each other the network of holy places and the Cross—not the mere wooden cross, but the cross of suffering (non lignum, sed passionem), to be found in Britain and India and throughout the world. Happy is he, declares Jerome, who carries within his heart the Cross, the Resurrection, the place of the Nativity, and the place of the Ascension.130 This statement was made before his disciples in Bethlehem around 390, at a time when Jerome’s relationship with the church in Jerusalem was intact, and thus there is no reason to construe it as opposing the church there, although in this passage he emphatically belittles the importance of sacred topography and views the holy places as mere symbols of the true faith. Similarly, Jerome’s message to Paulinus is meant not to dismiss entirely the idea of holy places but rather to emphasize that the attainment of spiritual reward through physical proximity to the holy places is conditional upon having faith and conducting a moral life. Such a line of argument is to be found also in his Commentary on Ezekiel, written between 411 and 414. There Jerome asserts that what is important is to attain spiritual closeness to God; physical proximity to the holy places when accompanied by improper behavior can only anger God.131 In light of the above, it is easy to assume that Letter 58 was directed also against Jerome’s opponents in Jerusalem, who claimed that their closeness 127. In Is. 23:18 (CCL 73: 223); ibid., 55:6 (CCL 73A: 623); ibid., 58:3–4 (CCL 73A: 661). For the date of composition, see Kelly, Jerome, 299 and n. 21. 128. Ep. 58.3. 129. Ibid. 130. Tractatus in Psalmos 95 (ed. D. G. Morin, CCL 78: 154). On the dating of this work, see Cavallera, Saint Jérôme, 2: 30; Kelly, Jerome, 157–58. 131. In Ez. 43:8, CCL 75: 625.


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to the holy places gave them a religious advantage over others: “As for those who repeatedly say the temple of God, the temple of God, the temple of God, they should listen to the Apostle: ‘Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?’ [1 Cor. 3:16].”132 Relying on Luke 17:21, Jerome firmly concludes that access to the Kingdom of Heaven is the same from Britain as it is from Jerusalem, “for, behold, the Kingdom of God is within you”—the main argument against pilgrimage used by Christian theologians from late antiquity onward.133 The impression that Letter 58 is apologetic in nature and contains tendentious remarks against the inhabitants of Jerusalem is reinforced by the fact that, throughout, Jerome directs himself only against the holy places in Jerusalem and does not refer at all to the site of the Nativity in Bethlehem, which was an integral element in the network of Christian holy places in Palestine. Moreover, in the very same letter, Jerome sees fit to declare that Bethlehem is the most august place in the world.134 Indeed, his clear preference for Bethlehem, his home, which he calls a “holy city,”135 emerges in a sermon delivered there before his disciples, when discussing the biblical identification of Ephratah with Bethlehem in Psalms 132:6 (LXX 131:6): “We heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the plains of the forests.” For him, all the places—the place of birth, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension— are holy and adored, but Bethlehem is more revered than any other.136 In Letter 58 Jerome substantiates his position by drawing on the example of such famous ascetics as Antony and the thousands of monks in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Cappadocia, and Armenia who never saw Jerusalem. Hilarion, who lived in Palestine, stayed only one day in Jerusalem, and even that solely lest he seem to despise the holy places since he was so near; he did not wish to confine the Lord to any one place.137 Yet in Letter 46, to Marcella, Jerome describes Jerusalem as the spiritual center to which the masses stream because they believe that they are less likely to gain piety, knowledge, and virtue if they fail to worship God in the holy 132. Ep. 58.3. 133. Ibid. 134. Ibid. 135. In Ez. prol. 3, CCL 75: 91. 136. Tractatus in Psalmos 131, CCL 78: 275. On his reverence for Bethlehem, see Ep. 64.8; P. Antin, “La ville chez saint Jérôme,” Latomus 20 (1961): 302–3, with additional sources listed there. On the idea of the city in writings of Origen and Eusebius, see D. Satran, “The Idea of the City in Early Christian Thought: Caesarean Perspectives,” in Caesarea Maritima: A Retrospective after Two Millennia, ed. A. Raban and K. Holum (Leiden, 1996), 531–40. 137. Ep. 58.3.


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places.138 Here we have yet another example of Jerome’s dual use of precisely the same claim both to support the act of pilgrimage and to minimize its religious significance. Finally, Jerome poses a rhetorical question to Paulinus of Nola: What has been the aim of this long treatise? It has been intended to persuade Paulinus not to feel that something is lacking in his faith if he does not see Jerusalem and not to hold in greater esteem those who have the pleasure of living there, but to know that here or elsewhere he will merit from God a just reward for his good deeds.139 Accordingly we may conclude that the greatest contradiction between Jerome’s letters to Marcella and to Paulinus stems from the issue of the earthly Jerusalem as a spiritual center for monks; indeed, most of his efforts are directed at proving his new position. This assertion, as noted, is directed specifically to his correspondent, and Jerome reiterates that the value of living in a city is doubtful, as it would hamper the pursuit of the monastic way of life, while stressing that this dictum applies only to monks and not to bishops and others whose various obligations in the service of the Church necessitate living in the city.140 In the same breath, he tells Paulinus that if the sites of the Crucifixion and Resurrection were not located within such a populous city, then it would be a fit dwelling place for monks. Having fled congestion and the proximity of both sexes in other places, now, against his wishes, he will have to endure these in Jerusalem. Jerome cites the example of such famous monks as Antony, Julian Saba, Hilarion, Macarius, and even Elijah, all of whom chose the desert as their dwelling place. His advice to Paulinus is to flee the crowds and the obligations of society.141 Ten years earlier, writing to Marcella, he had depicted the city of Jerusalem as unique, distinguished by calm and the piety of the inhabitants.142 Replacing this tendentious and naive description by a rather sober one reflects to some extent his complex and inconsistent attitude toward cities in general. Though valued as cultural and intellectual centers, he perceived them also as satanic places to be avoided.143

138. Ep. 46.9–10. 139. Ep. 58.4. 140. Ep. 58.4. 141. Ep. 58.4–6. 142. On Jerusalem as a crowded city in Jerome’s day, see Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 149–51. 143. Antin, “La ville chez saint Jérôme.” For a detailed study of Jerome’s attitude toward Rome, see P. Laurence, “Rome et Jérôme: Des amours contrariés,” Revue Bénédictine 107 (1997): 227–49.


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We can recognize the aim of Letter 58, then: it is not intended to reject the religious value of pilgrimage or the very idea of an earthly Christian holy place; nor, it should be emphasized, is it a deliberate retraction of the position developed in Letter 46. Similarly, it is not a theoretical discussion of the role of the holy places or the status of the earthly Jerusalem versus the heavenly one. It is precisely Paulinus’s choice of the monastic life and his wish to visit the holy places that have evoked the issues so closely intertwined throughout Letter 58.The essence of the discrepancy between the two letters revolves around the issue of preference for Jerusalem over other places as a site for the realization of the monastic ideal. Letter 46 argues that it is ideal for monks because of its proximity to the holy places; but ten years later the city has lost its appeal, its former charm having been erased as a result of the hostility toward Jerome and his excommunication. Letter 58 thus embodies the response of a man in a certain circumstance rather than a reflection of the tension between popular religion and the Church’s official interpretation.Yet we may ask, How convinced was Jerome himself of what he expressed to Paulinus, and to what degree did he retain this opinion over time? At the conclusion of his conflict with the church in Jerusalem in 397 and the cancellation of his excommunication, Jerome resumed his propagandist activity in favor of pilgrimage, although not as systematically as in his letter to Marcella. After his reconciliation with the church in Jerusalem in 397 through the intervention of Theophilus, Jerome did not hesitate to renew his appeals to friends to come to Palestine and visit the holy places. In a letter to Castricianus, written in 397 or 398, he encourages and praises him on his initiative in making a pilgrimage despite being afflicted by blindness.144 In a letter to his friend Lucinus, dated 398, he writes that he had a distinct reason for quoting so much from the Holy Scriptures in this letter: “And this, in other words, is to invite you hereby to make your place of residence in the holy places.”145 In a letter of 399 to Theodora, then in Egypt, he tries to persuade her to continue her journey and come ad terram sanctam.146 A letter in the same spirit was sent around the year 400 to Exoprantius;147 and a letter to Rustius in 407 begs him to follow his wife, who at the time is living close to the holy places, and to fulfill his vow to undertake a pilgrimage.148 It is clear that pilgrimage is still an important matter to Jerome. Note-

144. Ep 68.1. 145. Ep. 71.4. 146. Ep. 76.3. 147. Ep. 145. 148. Ep. 122.1, 4.


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worthy is his enthusiastic description of his pilgrimage with Paula in Letter 108. This letter, composed in 404, appears not to be tainted by his bitter conflict with the Jerusalem church. However, it is worth recalling that he here avoids any mention of the Mount of Olives, which he had included in the itinerary he had proposed to Marcella.149 That conflict, it would seem, had been forgiven but not forgotten. One might claim that his effusiveness about visiting the holy places is now little more than nostalgia for the days when he set out for Palestine, an anachronistic description of his journey. However, it is unlikely that Jerome would have written so ardently if he had been harboring substantial doubts about the essence of pilgrimage.150 Although the bitter taste of his conflict with the church in Jerusalem had not fully subsided, his deep affection for the holy places continued to be felt in his writings. Indeed, three years after the reconciliation, Jerome wrote, “What sustains us in the East are the dwellings themselves that we established there, and also our age-old tie with the holy places.”151 I believe, then, that the innovative attitudes found in Jerome’s letters to Marcella and Desiderius deserve greater credence, and that we should view Letter 58 as reflecting merely his short-lived association with those who had reservations toward pilgrimage rather than as his genuine point of view. Letter 58 is a product of circumstances and mirrors Jerome’s adherence to the traditional view on earthly sacred space—an approach that served him well for a brief time. Jerome’s conflicting approaches to the phenomenon of pilgrimage, for both of which he had adeptly argued, represent, then, not a tension between the official position of the Church and popular religion, but rather an idiosyncratic flexibility in espousing theological positions that arose out of personal rivalries between leaders of the various centers—in this case, between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

jerome on the cult of the martyrs Despite Jerome’s vacillating stance on pilgrimage to Palestine, it seems from the above analysis that he emerges, ultimately, as one of those who embraced the very idea of sacred geography. Moreover, in a further dispute in which 149. Ep. 46.13. 150. See especially the description of Paula in the holy places of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Ep. 108.9. 151. Ep. 77.8, addressed to Oceanus upon the death of the Roman widow Fabiola, who had spent some time with Jerome in Bethlehem. On their relationship, see Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 177–78.


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he was involved toward the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the fifth, he appears as a defender of the cult of the martyrs—a cult that shaped the religious landscape of the Christian world. This cult elicited an enthusiasm and a sympathy in Jerome that was already evident in his youth, without any relation to a specific locality. While studying in Rome in 365, he would go with his friends on Sundays to pray at the tombs of the martyrs and apostles.152 By the first half of the fourth century, the cult of the martyrs in Rome had already been integrated into the Church and the local liturgy, and it spread with the particular support of one of Jerome’s closest associates, Pope Damasus.153 By the second half of that century the growing interest in the cult was evident in the widespread practice of pilgrimage to the martyrs’ tombs.154 Christians who were unable to reach Rome and participate in the cult themselves were nevertheless aware of its extent and described it as giving rise to an endless stream of pilgrims: emperors and consuls coming to honor the tombs of simple martyrs such as a fisherman and a tent maker.155 The cult of the martyrs and apostles in Rome had gone beyond being merely local; Christians from many countries were flocking to the city. John Chrysostom’s praise of Rome exemplified the appeal of the cult in Christian consciousness. His admiration for the city of Rome does not stem, he says, from emotions stirred by its splendor: rather it is the tombs of the apostles that evoke his wonder, especially the tomb of Paul. His strong

152. Comm. in Ez. 40:5–13 (CCL 75: 556–57); Comm. in Ep. ad Galat. 2, PL 26: 355b–c. On Jerome’s first stay in Rome and his visit to the tombs of martyrs, see Kelly, Jerome, 21–23. On his second visit to Rome, in the years 382–384, Jerome does not mention any visits to martyrs’ shrines. Bardy (“Pèlerinages à Rome,” 228) finds this silence surprising and assumes it to be a result of Jerome’s poor relations with the Church in Rome during those years. 153. Delehaye’s study on the development of the cult of the martyrs in Rome (Origines du culte des martyrs, 298–387) is still relevant. On earlier evidence for the cult of the martyrs in Rome, see Pietri, Roma Christiana, 1: 121–23, 364–80. For Pope Damasus’s activity on behalf of the cult of the martyrs in Rome, see ibid., 603–18. See also C. Pietri, “Saints et démons,” 65–70; idem, “L’évolution du culte des saints,” 26–27. 154. On pilgrimage to Rome, see the example of Paulinus of Nola, who undertook a pilgrimage every year to the tombs of the apostles in Rome: Ep. 20.2, 46.1 (CSEL 29: 144–45, 379). See also Gorce, Les voyages, l’hospitalité, 4–5; Kötting, Peregrinatio religiosa, 228–45; Bardy, “Pèlerinages à Rome”; C. Pietri, “Rome, pèlerinage aux tombeaux des Apôtres et au tombeau de l’Apôtre des Gaules,” in Le pèlerinage: Colloque sur le pèlerinage (Pont-a-Mousson, 1982), 211–23; H. Chadwick, “St. Peter and St. Paul in Rome: The Problem of the Memoria Apostolorum and Catacumbas,” in his History and Thought of the Early Church (London, 1982; = JThS, n.s., 8 [1957]: 31–52). 155. John Chrysostom, Contra Iud. 9, quoted in Bardy, “Pèlerinages à Rome,” 227.


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desire is to prostrate himself on the tomb and to see the dust of the saint’s body.156 Only Chrysostom’s fear that his own body would not be able to endure such a long journey, and his obligations to the Church, prevent him from going to see for himself “the traces of Paul in the city.”157 Jerome appeared not only as a disputatious man but also as a champion of this cult in the face of vehement attacks by the Spanish priest Vigilantius, and his apologetic treatise Contra Vigilantium reveals clearly his views on the cult.158 Some of these views are expressed in a letter to Riperius in 404 (Letter 109); it was Riperius who had brought to Jerome’s attention the criticism of Vigilantius against him.159 Vigilantius had visited Palestine in 395 or 396, meeting both Jerome and his opponents Rufinus and Melania the Elder. Several years later, Jerome accused Rufinus of taking that opportunity to turn Vigilantius against him.160 Vigilantius had left Palestine suddenly without giving a reason, and later wrote a diatribe against Jerome, becoming one of his greatest opponents. Jerome responded with one of the most crude and aggressive attacks known in patristic literature. The conflict between the two apparently centered on the Origenist controversy that had inflamed the monastic communities in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, though Jerome does not refer to it at all in Contra Vigilantium.161 The controversy seems to have spurred Jerome to devote to it an entire composition containing mainly slanderous remarks rather than theological arguments.162 156. Ep. ad Rom., Homil. 32.2–3, PG 60: 678b–c. 157. Ep. ad Eph. 4, Homil. 8.2, PG 62: 57. 158. Contra Vigilantium, PL 23: 339–52. 159. For the dating of Letter 109, see Kelly, Jerome, 286 n. 14. 160. Contra Rufinum 19, 3: 264–67. 161. On the controversy between Jerome and Vigilantius, see Kelly, Jerome, 286–90; M. Massie, “Vigilance de Calaguris face à la polémique hiéronymienne,” BLE 81 (1980): 81–108; C. Stancliffe, St. Martin and His Hagiographer: History and Miracle in Sulpicius Severus (Oxford, 1983), 301–11. 162. Stancliffe (St. Martin and His Hagiographer, 303) tends to think that Vigilantius’s criticism of the cult of the martyrs is, at least in part, the result of what he witnessed on his visit to Palestine. Although we should not dismiss this hypothesis outright, it is worth nothing that Vigilantius’s attack does not refer to any specific location. Moreover, the prevalence of the cult of the martyrs at the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the fifth in Palestine is still shrouded in darkness, and it seems that the cult of the holy places to some extent took precedence over the local cult of the martyrs. Clearly, this subject needs further historical and archaeological study. H. Crouzel (“Saint Jérôme et ses amis toulousains,” BLE 73 [1972]: 135–38) has suggested that Vigilantius’s opposition to the cult of martyrs was perhaps influenced by the reservations expressed by his friend Exsuperius, the bishop of Toulouse.


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It is worth recalling that Vigilantius’s claims in this dispute are known only through Jerome’s writings. Underlying Vigilantius’s criticism as reflected in the Contra Vigilantium is the fundamental claim that martyrs cannot fulfill the role of intermediaries and intercessors on behalf of believers, since the soul of the martyr dwells in the tomb and cannot reach God.163 This perception is contrary to common beliefs of that time regarding the active power of the martyrs.164 However,Vigilantius also rejects the idea that the martyrs’ powers lie within their relics or, as he calls them, “a bit of powder wrapped up in a cloth.”165 Such relics he considers impure and unworthy of adoration, a form of idolatry to be avoided.166 Undoubtedly, Vigilantius’s view did not prevail, since his view essentially removes the raison d’être of the martyr cult. In reply, Jerome points out the distinction between two terms frequently used in the context of worship: “to adore” (adorare) and “to show honor to” (honorare), rejecting the claim that participants in the cult of the martyrs are performing acts of adoration; such criticism applies only to wrongdoers and pagans, whereas the cult of the martyrs merely honors them.167 He alludes to this distinction again in his response to Riperius, where he stresses that Christians do not adore the relics of the martyrs but only honor them.168 This distinction highlights two levels of Christian worship, raising the simple question as to the degree of importance that Christian society should accord to the cult of the martyrs. Indeed, Jerome does not accord the same importance to the cult of the martyrs as he does to the worship of God; rather, from his letter to Riperius it emerges that he views the cult of the martyrs as part of the ritual that must be performed to honor God: “We honor the servants that their honor may be reflected upon their Lord.”169 Jerome was of course not the only Christian thinker who distinguished between adorare and honorare in the context of the cult of the martyrs.170 163. Contra Vigilantium 6, PL 23: 344a–b. 164. On the perception of the martyr as an intercessor, see the brief elucidation and overview by Pietri, “Saints et démons,” 74–78; Brown, Cult of the Saints, 6, 50–68; Markus, End of Ancient Christianity, 139–55. 165. Contra Vigilantium 4–5, PL 23: 342b–343b. 166. Ibid., 8, PL 23: 346–47; Ep. 109.1–2, with Cavallera, Saint Jérôme, 1: 306–307; Brown, Cult of the Saints, 26; Maraval, Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient, 152–53. 167. Contra Vigilantium 5, PL 23: 343. 168. Ep. 109.1. 169. Ibid. 170. Maraval, Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient, 145–47. Maraval has pointed out that this clear distinction was blurred during the course of the fifth century, and


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Augustine, who accepted the distinction and referred to it specifically a number of times in his writings, unequivocally proclaimed: “For us, . . . the martyrs are not gods, because we know only one God, who is the God both of us and of the martyrs. . . . The pagans have built temples for their gods, they have set up altars, established priesthoods and offered sacrifices, whereas we Christians construct, in honor of our martyrs, not temples, as if for gods, but rather memorial shrines, as to men who are dead, but whose spirits are living with God.”171 It seems to have been the similarities between the cult of the martyrs and the pagan cults that made Christian thinkers anxious to draw a clear boundary between them. The resemblance to the pagan cult of the heroes continued to torment Christian thinkers even after the institutionalization of the cult of the martyrs into the routine religious life of the Christian Church. This predicament is clearly reflected in the Graecarum affectionum curatio, the mid-fifth-century antipagan apologetic of Theodoret of Cyrrhus.172 Theodoret discusses the issue at length in order to establish the difference between the two cults. Unlike the Greeks, Theodoret explains, Christians offer neither sacrifices nor libations to the martyrs: “We honor them like divine and God-loving people.”173 Though Theodoret’s statement was directed primarily against the pagans, it is possible that it was also directed at the internal Christian debate against those who vacillated regarding the cult of the martyrs. As for Vigilantius’s claim that dead martyrs cannot help believers, Jerome held that the martyrs were not dead but only sleeping, anchoring his response on the scriptural account of the raising of Lazarus, said to be sleeping before his resurrection (John 11:11).174 Jerome spells out the absurdity of Vigilantius’s claim: Could the martyrs be locked in a box and unable to escape? How is it possible that in life they can pray for believers, but in death—when they join Christ—their power is limited? In Jerome’s view, Vigilantius’s claim that the relics of the martyrs are impure and will defile anyone who comes into contact with them is no less absurd. If this is so, Jerome argues, are the relics of Paul and Peter defiled?

that Christians used the term adoratio to denote the cults of the holy places as well as that of the martyrs. 171. De civ. Dei 22.10; cf. Vera relig. 55; Contra Faustum 20, 21; see also Massie, “Vigilance de Calaguris,” 98; C. Pietri, “Saints et démon,” 75. 172. Graecarum affectionum curatio 8 (ed. P. Canivet, SC 57.2: 310–35). 173. Ibid., 8.34, SC 57.2: 322. 174. Contra Vigilantium 6, PL 23: 344c–d.


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Was the body of Moses unclean? Was the body of the Lord unclean when it was placed in the sepulchre? 175 Were the children of Israel defiled when they brought back Joseph’s bones?176 When Christians enter the church of the apostles, can one accuse them of profanation of the holy? He draws attention to many respected people who participated in transferring the relics of apostles and prophets, and building memorial shrines in their honor; among them were Emperor Constantius II, who transferred the relics of Andrew, Luke, and Timothy to Constantinople, and Emperor Arcadius, who conveyed the bones of Samuel from Palestine to Thrace. Jerome goes on to ask: Were they all guilty of profanation? Are all bishops and clergy ignorant and foolish because they practice the cult and accept the relics of martyrs?177 Because Jerome’s advocacy of the cult offers no theological arguments against Vigilantius’s assertions, it is crucial for him to see the roots of this religious practice as authorized in the past; the active participation of bishops and emperors thus provides validation. It is inconceivable that a bishop of Rome can have been mistaken when he made sacrifices to the Lord through the relics of the apostles Peter and Paul.178 Nevertheless, Jerome’s arguments are based on rhetoric and demagoguery rather than on sound theological reasoning. Vigilantius argued that the cult of the martyrs was a form of idolatry, since common customs such as lighting candles on the tombs of the martyrs, and holding vigils, were adaptations of pagan cultic patterns, well known in pagan as well as Christian Rome.179 Aristocratic Roman families buried their dead in the courtyard of the house, lighting candles on the tombs and holding feasts there.180 Jerome took the view that anything considered pagan and therefore rejected by Vigilantius was in fact pure Roman tradition and to be defended as such. Are Christians obliged not to perform the cult to God only because it appears identical to the cult of idols?181 175. Ep. 109.1–2; Contra Vigilantium 8 (PL 23: 346–47); Theodoret (Graecarum affectionum curatio 8.11, SC 57.2: 314) mentioned this as a pagan claim against the cult of the martyrs. 176. Ep. 109.2. 177. Contra Vigilantium 5, PL 23: 343b–c. Apparently, Vigilantius’s claim was a common one. See, for example, Chrysostom, Homilia 6, SC 362: 306–7. 178. Contra Vigilantium 8, PL 23: 346–47. 179. Ibid., 7, 9, PL 23: 345–48. The view of the cult of the martyrs as a Christian version of the Greek cult of the heroes is no longer considered tenable. See E. Dassmann, “Ambrosius und die Märtyer,” Antike und Christentum 18 (1975): 49–68, esp. 49 n. 1; C. Pietri, “L’évolution du culte des saints,” 15–16. 180. On the popularity of the cult in Rome, see Massie, “Vigilance de Calaguris,” 99–102; Bardy, “Pèlerinages à Rome,” 225–27; C. Pietri, “Saints et démons,” 65–66. 181. Contra Vigilantium 7, PL 23: 345b.


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The way Jerome tackled the problems concerning the ritual aspects of the cult reflects the fact that for him the existence of pagan elements in the Christian cult did not endanger its religious value, and such similarities had no ill effect. He does not treat in depth customs accompanying the cult of the martyrs that he believed arose out of ignorance and belonged to the domain, in his words, “of pious women.” Such customs he considered innocuous.182 For example, the custom of lighting candles on the tombs of martyrs, Jerome insists, was followed merely in order to illuminate the darkness of the night.183 He is familiar with such practices, he says, and performed them himself when visiting the tombs of the martyrs in Rome. The important thing is to clarify that whereas cults are to be rejected if their aim is to honor pagan gods, identical ceremonies in honor of the martyrs must be allowed. Whereas such customs are seen as problematic by Augustine, Jerome blurs the boundaries of what is permitted and forbidden to Christians. Jerome seems less anxious than Augustine about similarities in worship, since he appears well aware of the origin of the shared customs and almost banalizes the problem: “I do not deny that all of us who believe in Christ have passed from the error of idolatry. For we are not born Christians but become Christians by being born again. And because we formerly worshipped idols, does it follow that we ought not now to worship God lest we seem to pay like honor to him and to idols?”184 One of the most crucial points in Vigilantius’s attack on the cult of the martyrs was his denunciation of the belief that miracles occurred in their shrines: such miracles, he declared, serve the needs of the faithless, not of believers. Jerome saw nothing wrong in the faithless being convinced by miracles, since Jesus himself performed miracles for the faithless; the power of the miracle should be valued for leading people to believe. The important question for Jerome was how miracles occur, and not who derives benefit from them. Again, we find no profound discussion; his advice is for Vigilantius to go to the basilicas of martyrs and purify his soul, reflecting the dominant tone of his reaction—to ridicule and belittle the claims of his opponent.185 Vigilantius’s argument against the cult of the martyrs could apply to any Christian community; it does not reflect practices specific to Palestine. He does, however, directly criticize Jerusalem for its custom of collecting 182. Ibid., 7, 9 (PL 23: 345b, 347c). 183. Ibid., 7, PL 23: 345b. 184. Ibid., 7, PL 23: 345b. English translation NPNF vol. 6, p. 420. 185. Ibid., 10, PL 23: 348. 186. Ibid., 13, PL 23: 349–50.


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money for the city poor.186 Jerome points out, in response, that this custom is anchored in Scripture; for we know that Paul collected charity for the poor of Jerusalem (Acts 24:17). But couldn’t Paul have distributed charity in other Christian communities? Jerome replies that Paul preferred giving it to the poor of the holy places, who had abandoned their property in order to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and place themselves in the service of the Lord. To summarize, in the debate against Vigilantius, Jerome’s unconditional support for the cult of the martyrs is characterized by his lack of fear of pagan connotations adhering to the cult. Living in Bethlehem, Jerome could clearly see the victory of Christianity in Palestine at the end of the fourth century, though paganism still persisted elsewhere in this period.187 Vigilantius, on the other hand, lived in a city not entirely Christian, and this may account for his strong opposition to the adoption of some pagan customs in Christian rites.188 Jerome’s position may be viewed as part of his general attitude toward pagan culture: he saw the qualities inherent in this culture, including the importance of its literary legacy, rather than the religious danger it concealed.189 As far as we know, Jerome—who is certainly the author of not a few apologetic writings—never wrote any composition against pagans, since this was not where his own struggles lay. From the above we may conclude that Jerome’s support for the idea of Christian sacred space should not be doubted, and that his attitude is more coherent than may appear at first glance. His varied and seemingly contradictory standpoints at different times in his life do not reside in a tension between popular religion and the traditional conception regarding holy space rooted in the New Testament, as some scholars have suggested. Jerome’s writings do not hint at such a distinction, either in content or in terminology. He certainly did not perceive pilgrimage as an expression of popular religion. He was aware of the existence of popular customs that attended the cult of the martyrs, but as we have seen, these did not disturb him; rather, he minimized the similarities with pagan practices. Jerome’s overall percep187. MacMullen, Paganism; Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians, 27–168; P. Chuvin, Chronique des derniers païens (Paris, 1990). On the last stronghold of paganism in Gaza, see ibid., 82–84; Van Dam, “From Paganism to Christianity”; Trombley, Hellenic Religion, 1: 187–245. 188. Massie, “Vigilance de Calaguris,” 101–2; Crouzel, “Saint Jérôme et ses amis toulousains,” 146. 189. For Jerome’s advocacy of pagan literature, see for example, Ep. 20, 49, 70; P. Antin, “Jérôme antique et chrétien,” REAug 16 (1970): 35–46; idem, Recueil sur saint Jérôme (Brussels, 1968), 47–56; 328–30. On his famous Letter 22 in this context, see Bitton-Ashkelony, “Jérôme en Orient,” where further bibliography is mentioned.


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tion of pilgrimage seems to reect a stage of coping with a relatively new pattern of religious behavior in Christian society. Not only did he advocate this practice, but his Letters 46 and 47 articulated an attempt to institutionalize it as a religious obligation, and he emphatically declared sepulturae Domini locus esset ab omnibus honorandus—an attempt that, as we know, did not succeed.


3 Augustine on Holy Space

augustine’s silence on pilgrimage In any attempt to understand the reactions of Christian intellectuals to the phenomenon of pilgrimage in late antiquity, Augustine ( 354–430) presents more difficulty than any other figure. The main reasons for this difficulty are the absence in his wide-ranging literary works of any direct reference to the phenomenon and the lack of evidence that he visited any of the pilgrimage centers of the time, such as Rome or Jerusalem. Unlike other thinkers from the Latin-speaking West, Augustine never hinted that he desired to undertake such a visit. Paulinus of Nola, for example, Augustine’s friend and correspondent, did consider the idea, although he never set foot in the holy places in Palestine.1 Christian Jerusalem of the late fourth and early fifth centuries, with its growing number of churches, monasteries, and holy relics, did not entice Augustine, whereas Paulinus in his letters enthuses over the churches of Jerusalem, the discovery of the Cross,2 and the settle1. Jerome, Letter 58. On the relationship between Augustine and Paulinus of Nola, see Courcelle, “Paulin de Nole et saint Jérôme.” Paulinus’s relationship with the intellectual elite of the Latin West is discussed in W. H. C. Frend, “Paulinus of Nola and the Last Century of the Western Empire,” JRS 59 (1969): 1–11; Trout, Paulinus of Nola, 203–6, 230–38. 2. Ep. 31.1, 4–6; 32.7, 11, CSEL 29: 267–68, 271–75; 282–83, 286–87. News of the finding of the Cross most probably reached him through Melania the Elder on her visit to Nola in early 400, at the end of her long sojourn in Jerusalem. On Melania’s arrival at Nola, see Paulinus, Ep. 29.10–12, CSEL 29: 257–60. For a summary of various scholarly views regarding the dating of Melania’s return to the West, see N. Moine, “Melaniana,” RA 15 (1980): 3–79, esp. her conclusion on pp. 25–27; Trout, Paulinus of Nola, 207. On Paulinus of Nola’s version of the finding of the Cross, see Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 39–49; Drijvers, Helena Augusta, 113–17, 120–23; Borgehammar, How the Holy Cross Was Found, 66–71.

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ment of Western nuns on the Mount of Olives in a community headed by Melania the Elder.3 The differences in approach of these two figures are noteworthy and reinforce the impression of Augustine’s indifference vis-à-vis earthly Jerusalem as a Christian city. Given that the phenomenon of pilgrimage had already in his day existed for several generations and engaged many Christians, Augustine’s silence on the matter is surprising.While our sources indicate only a trickle of Christian pilgrims from North Africa throughout most of the fourth century, by its end and throughout the fifth century we find a marked increase in their numbers.4 Some of those who set off for the holy places were close to Augustine and very dear to him, among them the younger Melania and her husband, Pinianus, with whom he maintained a warm correspondence before they embarked on a pilgrimage to Palestine in 417.5 So Palestine was not for Augustine a remote and unthought-of province. Moreover, he corresponded with Jerome, already a famous pilgrim, settled in Bethlehem. Intellectual curiosity about the land of the Bible, the desire to investigate its biblical geography close up, and the search for “the Hebrew verity” had spurred Jerome to undertake his pilgrimage to Palestine; but Augustine’s interest was not similarly aroused. It is hard to detect in Augustine’s writings any hint of curiosity about the biblical topography such as is found in the writings of Eusebius and Jerome. Indeed, his letters to Jerome do not discuss the meaning and role of the sacred geography of this region but focus, without enthusiasm or delight, on problems of exegesis and translation of the Holy Scriptures.6 Moreover, the arena where important events in which Augustine took part and other Western intellectuals were involved at the end of the fourth 3. On the establishment of the Western monastic community in Jerusalem, see Gordini, “Il monachesimo Romano in Palestina”; Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 158–82. The establishment of monasteries near holy places was not peculiar to Jerusalem; see the example of Paulinus of Nola building his monastery beside the tomb of Saint Felix, in Trout, Paulinus of Nola, 124–29. 4. The sources are listed in Maraval, Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient, 107 and n. 9. 5. Ep. 32, (ed. and trans. J. H. Baxter, St. Augustine: Select Letters, LCL 239 [London, 1980]: 218–23). For Melania on the Mount of Olives, see Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 199–202. On Augustine’s relationship with this family, see his letter to Melania’s mother, Albina, Ep. 33, LCL 239: 222–51. 6. On the content of Jerome and Augustine’s correspondence, see Cavallera, Saint Jérôme, 1: 297–306. Its chronology is discussed ibid., 2: 47–50, 60–61; Kelly, Jerome, 263–72. On Augustine’s interpretation of the Scriptures, see the important discussion in R. Markus, Signs and Meanings: World and Text in Ancient Christianity (Liverpool, 1996), 1–43.


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century and the beginning of the fifth happened to be Palestine. For instance, Augustine sent the young Spanish priest Orosius as his ambassador to the East in 414–15 and provided him with letters to Jerome and to his archrival Pelagius.7 Orosius also participated in the synod of Lydda (415), which discussed the controversy with Pelagius.8 News from the synod and a short pamphlet containing Pelagius’s answer to Augustine reached Hippo very quickly, even before the official acts of the synod were published. The deacon Palatinus, a citizen of Hippo, was the person who brought the pamphlet to Augustine. Now Augustine, who recounted this event in detail in a sermon he delivered against Pelagius in his community in Hippo in the year 416, felt the need to justify regaling his audience with all this news: “Because there has been, heaven knows, so terrible a disturbance in Jerusalem, and the very sad event has also been reported to us that the rioting populace is said to have burned down two monasteries in Bethlehem.”9 And he immediately moved to explain to his faithful listeners what was wrong with this heresy.10 At that same time, simultaneously with the synod, the relics of Stephen the Protomartyr had been discovered near Jerusalem, and Orosius brought them with him when he returned to the West.11 It is not known for certain if it was Orosius who transmitted the relics to Hippo, Augustine’s home, but it is known that possession of them led to the spread of the cult of the martyrs in North Africa, and Augustine himself was involved in building a memorial church to Stephen. The arrival of the relics was undoubtedly a great event in Augustine’s eyes: “How so little a handful of dust,” he said,

7. Dolbeau 30 (= Sermon 348A). The text was published by F. Dolbeau in his article “Le sermon 348A de saint Augustin contre Pélage: Edition du texte intégrale,” RA 28 (1995): 37–63. For the English translation, see E. Hill, The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the Twenty-first Century, part 3, Sermons, vol. 11, Newly Discovered Sermons (New York, 1997): 310–18. On Orosius’s mission in Palestine, see Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 208–11. 8. On the aristocratic circle of Western refugees and pilgrims in Palestine involved in the Pelagian controversy, see P. Brown, “The Patrons of Pelagius:The Roman Aristocracy between East and West,” JThS, n.s., 21 (1970): 56–72. 9. Dolbeau 30.7 (Dolbeau, “Le sermon 348A de saint Augustine”), Engl. trans. 313. 10. Dolbeau 30.8 (Dolbeau, “Le sermon 348A de saint Augustine”), Engl. trans. 313. 11. Stephen’s inventio is discussed in Delehaye, Origines du culte des martyrs, 96–98, 105–106; P. Peeters, Le tréfonds oriental de l’hagiographie byzantine, Subsidia Hagiographica 26 (Brussels, 1950): 53–58; Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 211– 20; Maraval, Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient, 266–87; K. Holum and G. Vikan, “The Trier Ivory: Adventus Ceremonial and the Relics of St. Stephen,” DOP 33 (1979): 115–33.


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“can draw so great a multitude!”12 An account of miracles performed by virtue of the relics of Stephen occupies a large segment of the final book in the City of God. Another curious story in that collection (discussed in greater detail below) is that of Hesperius, who received a gift of soil or, as Augustine called it, terra sancta, taken from the tomb of Christ.13 Indeed, such incidents prove beyond a doubt that Augustine was familiar with the various pious expressions and the religious significance of the holy places in Palestine for Christian believers in his day. Augustine saw no need to discuss the religious function of Jerusalem’s holy places, unlike other thinkers of his day, who tended to take positions of support for or opposition to it. Even those who evidently never visited the holy places themselves—such as John Chrysostom in the East and Paulinus of Nola in the West—made reference to the phenomenon.14 Moreover, as Gustave Bardy has remarked, Augustine ignored the widespread practice of pilgrimage to the tombs of apostles and martyrs in Rome, even though he did refer to the apostles and martyrs in sermons preached to his local congregation.15 Augustine had visited the city in 383 and lived there from 387 to 388, and so it may be assumed that he was very familiar with the phenomenon of pilgrimage in Rome. It is instructive to note that among Christian intellectuals and in Roman aristocratic circles, visiting the tombs of the martyrs and other holy places was widely practiced, as is attested by Jerome and Paulinus of Nola, who regularly visited such sites, as well as by Melania the Elder, Rufinus, and many others.16 Certainly, in such a religious atmosphere, evidence of a visit on Augustine’s part would not surprise any historian. It is well known that Augustine hated travel: molesta est peregrinatio, he said. But it would be simplistic to assume that this was the reason why he did not undertake a pilgrimage to Palestine or elsewhere.17 Such apparent lack of interest in the relatively newly developed Chris-

12. Sermon 317.1.1, quoted in Markus, End of Ancient Christianity, 94. 13. City of God, 22.8; Wilken, Land Called Holy, 125. 14. Chrysostom, Expositio in Psalmum 109, PG 55: 274. Paulinus of Nola’s attitude toward pilgrimage is reflected in Ep. 49.14, CSEL 29: 402; and see above, Chap. 2. 15. Bardy, “Pèlerinages à Rome,” 228. Only with the fall of Rome in 410 does Augustine mention that the city contains holy bodies (Sermon 296, PL 38:1352). See also Sermons 295–99, 381. 16. Paulinus of Nola wrote to Augustine (Ep. 45.1, CSEL 29: 379) that he would participate in celebrations of the apostles and martyrs “as I do regularly”; idem, Ep. 17.1–2, CSEL 29: 128–29. 17. Sermon 378, PL 39: 1674; O. Perler, Les voyages de saint Augustin (Paris, 1969), 45–55.


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tian sacred geography of Palestine might suggest that earthly holy space and the religious feelings of believers toward it were insignificant to Augustine. However, we know he encouraged the cult of the martyrs in his bishopric in North Africa, as is reflected in the many sermons he delivered on feast days during his forty years of service in the Church ( 391–430); indeed, as Cyrille Lambot has remarked, Augustine seems to have missed no opportunity to address the topic.18 Augustine’s silence on and near total disregard for holy places in Palestine and the practice of pilgrimage requires reflection. Was it a deliberate denial of the historical and geographical dimensions of events connected with Jesus in this specific location as recounted in the New Testament? Does his silence reflect his theological thinking, or adherence to Pauline doctrine on earthly holy space? Or it was coincidental, simply the apathy of a philosopher and an extremely busy bishop as evidenced in his letters and sermons?19 Clearly, one must distinguish between Augustine’s attitude toward the holy places of Palestine and those in his immediate surroundings. This polarity— deep involvement in the local cult and silence about pilgrimage to other centers—would seem to justify an attempt, albeit only partial, to trace his general attitude toward Christian holy space.

augustine’s peregrinatio and peregrinus: spiritual pilgrimage? Peregrinatio and peregrinus—the terms that some scholars are inclined to translate as “pilgrimage” and “pilgrim”—proliferate throughout Augustine’s treatises, and they retain a central place in his thought, above all in

18. C. Lambot, “Sermons de saint Augustin pour les fêtes de martyrs,” AB 67 (1949): 249–66, esp. 250. For a comprehensive study of Augustine’s sermons on the occasion of the martyr celebrations, see G. Lapointe, “Le culte des martyrs en Afrique d’après les sermons de saint Augustin” (Ph.D. diss., Institute Catholique, Paris, 1968). 19. The new sermons discovered by François Dolbeau in 1990 (“Sermons inédits de saint Augustin dans un manuscrit de Mayence,” REAug 36 [1990]: 355– 59; reprinted in his Augustin d’Hippone: Vingt-six sermons au peuple d’Afrique, retrouvés à Mayence, Collection des Etudes Augustiniennes 147 [Paris, 1996]: 9–16) shed light on the early days of Augustine, the bishop from 397 to 404, whereas the last decade of his life is well represented in the Divjak Letters. On this corpus of letters, which reflects many problems of daily life in the Christian society of North Africa, see the collective volume Les lettres de saint Augustin découvertes par Johnnes Divjak: Communications présentées au colloque des 20 et 21 septembre 1982 (Paris, 1983).


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the City of God, in his Exposition of the Psalms, and in his sermons.20 Although there are sporadic occasions when Augustine does use the term peregrinatio to refer to earthly pilgrimage, it would be misleading, of course, to adopt such translation systematically.21 Likewise, we do not gain a better understanding of Augustine’s conception of peregrinatio by perceiving it as denoting a spiritual pilgrimage, the antithesis of earthly pilgrimage.22 The biblical imagery of exile, wandering in the desert, and foreignness, as well as the concept of heavenly Jerusalem adopted by Christianity from its infancy, prevailed in Christian literature before Augustine’s time.23 Nor was the concept of a spiritual journey an innovation of Augustine. The idea of wandering as a metaphor for the pious life is articulated in Greek philosophy and in the writings of Philo of Alexandria as well.24 This imagery pervaded early Christian writings, particularly the monastic literature.25 From the fourth century onward, and especially in the Middle Ages, the conception of spiritual pilgrimage as the antithesis of earthly pilgrimage became widespread in monastic circles in both the East and the West. An emphatic preference for peregrinatio in stabilitate over stabilitas in peregrinatione was articulated in monastic rules, since physical pilgrimage came to be seen as contrary to the monastic way of life.26 Apart from the theological ideas upon 20. On Augustine’s theological and political conceptions derived from the terms peregrinatio and peregrinus, see E. Lamirande, L’église céleste selon saint Augustin (Paris, 1963); P. Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography (London, 1967), 313–39; J. Van Oort, Jerusalem and Babylon: A Study into Augustine’s City of God and the Sources of His Doctrine of the Two Cities (Leiden, 1991). 21. For peregrinatio meaning earthly pilgrimage, see Ep. 78.3–4, CSEL 34.2: 335– 37; Ep. 29.10, LCL 239: 86. 22. See, for example, Perler, Les voyages de saint Augustin, 45. For reservations about such an interpretation, see P. Brown, Religion and Society in the Age of Saint Augustine (London, 1972), 37–38; idem, Augustine of Hippo, 323–24. 23. For a comprehensive survey of the term peregrinatio in the New Testament and early Christian literature, see C. Spicq, Vie chrétienne et pérégrination selon le Nouveau Testament, Lectio Divina 71 (Paris, 1972). The terminological question is discussed primarily ibid., 59–76, and briefly in Kötting, Peregrinatio religiosa, 302–4. See also Lamirande, L’église céleste, 163–65 and n. 3. On this idea in medieval Christian thought, see, extensively, G. B. Ladner, “Homo Viator: Medieval Ideas on Alienation and Order,” Speculum 42 (1967): 233–59. 24. On life as a journey in Philo, see, for example, Quis rerum Divinarum heres 275–76 (ed. F. H. Colson and G. H. Whitaker, Philo, LCL vol. 4 [London, 1929]: 425); C. Spicq, “L’épître aux Hébreux,” Etudes Bibliques 1 (1952): 278–79; idem, Vie chrétienne et pérégrination, 59 n. 17. 25. D. J. Leclercq, Aux sources de la spiritualité occidentale (Paris, 1964). 26. Idem, “Monachisme et pérégrination du IXe et XIIe siècles,” Studia Monastica 3 (1961): 33–52. On the idea of stabilitas as a central ideal in Benedictine monastic doctrine, see Ladner, “Homo Viator,” 240–41; Constable, “Opposition to Pilgrimage,”


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which the concept of a spiritual pilgrimage was based, economic, social, political, and moral factors also played a role in the growth of this ideal.27 Yet the question arises whether the medieval conception is derived at least in part from Augustine’s thinking.28 It is tempting to assume so in light of Augustine’s apathy vis-à-vis earthly pilgrimage and his well-known concept of the heavenly city.Yet it seems that Augustine’s peregrinatio has more to do with Christian identity than with sacred geography. “Who is the new man?” Augustine asks in his Commentary on John. It is the new Christian, who aspires to the true homeland in heaven.29 A Christian lives an earthly life aware that he is in exile:30 “At that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise” (Eph. 2:12). But with the coming of Christ “you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19). The Epistle to the Hebrews uses similar concepts to define the Christian identity—“They were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb. 11:13)—and to formulate the attitude of the Christian community toward the earthly Jerusalem: “For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Heb. 13:14).31 The author of the Epistle to Diognetus describes the Christians as aliens in the world, but not of the world; each lives in his fatherland, but as a foreigner—every foreign country is a fatherland to him, and every fatherland is a foreign country.32

125–46. On spiritual pilgrimage, see idem, “Monachisme et pèlerinage,” 3–27; Schein, “Jerusalem in Christian Spirituality,” 245–51. 27. To the best of my knowledge, a comprehensive study of all the factors leading to the formulation of the ideal of spiritual pilgrimage has not yet been undertaken. See, meanwhile, Constable, “Monachism et pèlerinage,” 20–27 and the bibliography there. See also Augustine’s perception of spiritual Jerusalem, in Stroumsa, “Mystical Jerusalems,” 358–66. 28. A hint at this approach may be found in Meslin, L’expérience humaine du divin, 174–95; Zacher, Curiosity and Pilgrimage, 42–45. 29. In Ioh. 30, 7, CCL 36: 293. 30. Sermon 111.2, PL 38: 642–43. On the themes of pilgrimage and exile in early Christianity, see G. H. Williams, Wilderness and Paradise in Christian Thought: The Biblical Experience of the Desert in the History of Christianity and the Paradise Theme in the Theological Idea of Universality (New York, 1962). 31. Spicq, “L’épître aux Hébreux”; idem, Vie chrétienne et pérégrination, 10–11, 59–69. On the relatively scant references to the Epistle to the Hebrews in Augustine’s writings, see M. La Bonnardière, “L’épître aux Hébreux dans l’oeuvre de saint Augustin,” REAug 3 (1957): 137–62. 32. Epistle to Diognetus 5.5 (ed. and trans. H. I. Marrou, A Diognète, SC 33 bis [Paris, 1965]: 62–63). On Christian identity according to the Epistle to Diognetus, see F. Blanchetière, “Au coeur de la cité: Le chrétien philosophe selon l’A Diognète 5–6,” RSR 63 (1989): 183–94.


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The imagery of peregrinatio and peregrinus was fundamental to Augustine’s perception of Christianity. The sustained use of these terms in the City of God in particular, as well as the space and emphasis that Augustine gives them in his sermons and in his Exposition of the Psalms,33 attests that they constitute one of his most obvious devices for shaping his perception of Christian identity. Johannes van Oort, in his erudite discussion of the City of God, has made a comprehensive study of Augustine’s use of these terms and has pointed to some fundamental aspects of Augustine’s thought.34 Examining their occurrence, one can discern Augustine’s conception of the essence and goals of the City of God—a city that sojourns as an alien in this world.35 The Christian must behave as if he is a foreigner far from his homeland, yearning for the heavenly city and in transit back to it.36 It is in hope, according to Augustine, “that the City of God lives, during its peregrinatio on earth, that city which is brought into being by faith in Christ’s Resurrection.”37 The citizens of God’s city during their earthly peregrinatio must live a life according to the spirit and not according to the flesh.38 Augustine devotes a number of sermons to Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 6–7, in which he depicts the believer as being in a peregrinatio in this world—in exile from the Garden of Eden, yet on his way to the heavenly Jerusalem.39 The uniqueness of Augustine’s approach lies in developing the concepts of peregrinus 33. Van Oort (Jerusalem and Babylon, 132–38) has compiled a list of occurrences of the terms peregrinatio and peregrinus in Augustine’s writings; see esp. 132–38, 140–42. Lamirande (L’église céleste, 160–70) and Brown (Augustine of Hippo, 313–29) have discussed these terms primarily in relation to the City of God. 34. For our purposes, see, mainly, Van Oort, Jerusalem and Babylon, 93–163. 35. See, for example, City of God 1.35; 12.9; 14.9, 13; 15.15, 18, 20–21, 26–27; 16.4, 9; 18.2, 51; 19.26. See also, R. R. Barr, “The Two Cities in Saint Augustine,” Laval Théologique et Philosophique 18 (1962): 211–20. 36. City of God 1.9; 19.14,17. Van Oort (Jerusalem and Babylon, 139) holds that there is no substantial difference between translating the term peregrinus as “alien” or as “pilgrim,” since “the constant element in its meaning is that it concerns a person who has no home here, but is on his way to his native city (patria) in heaven.” On the juridical meanings, see J. C. Guy, Unité et structure logique de la “Cité de Dieu” de saint Augustin (Paris, 1961), 113; Brown, Augustine of Hippo, 323. Lamirande (L’église céleste, 164–65 n. 4) also notes the juridical distinction made by Guy, but he prefers to emphasize the term’s metaphorical meaning. 37. City of God 15.18. 38. Ibid., 14.9; 15.1, 5, 17. On this imagery, see E. Gilson, Introduction à l’étude de saint Augustin (Paris, 1969), 230–31. 39. Sermon Mai 12, PLS II: 443–44. See also Sermon 20.1, PL 46: 898; Sermon Morin 3.5, PLS II: 665; Sermon 346, PL 39: 1522–24; Enarratio in Psalmos 137.12, 123.2, CCL 40: 1986, 1826. Further sources are cited in Perler, Les voyages de saint Augustin, 46 nn. 6, 7. On Augustine’s use of these terms, see Ladner, “Homo Viator,” 236 and notes.


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and peregrinatio into a broad theological system into which he weaves a definition of the Christian identity rather than laying the foundation for the idea of spiritual pilgrimage. An attempt to ascribe to Augustine the idea of spiritual pilgrimage is found in Luc Verheijen’s interpretation of Augustine’s De quantitate animae, written in Rome in 387–88.40 Citing the seven stations that the soul must traverse in order to attain the state of contemplation, Verheijen acknowledges that Augustine did not use the term “pilgrimage” to denote the spiritual journey of the believer’s soul to God. Yet Verheijen asserts that if the term can refer to a holy place, it can also be used to refer to a spiritual journey to a spiritual holy place.41 However,Verheijen’s own use of the word to describe the journey of the soul toward God is simply an example of the loose usage of the term “pilgrimage.” An examination of De quantitate animae in light of terms borrowed from Neoplatonic philosophy affords us a better understanding of its composition and philosophical underpinnings.42 It is easy to agree with Peter Brown’s assertion that Augustine’s peregrinus is closely related to the “true philosopher” in the Enneads of Plotinus.43 Obviously, using such imagery was not Augustine’s innovation. As noted above, the idea of a journey to the heavens, a journey of the soul, is anchored in Greek philosophy, shaped Philo of Alexandria’s perception of pilgrimage, and found its way into the fabric of Christian literature.44 What needs to be stressed, rather than the vague connotation of “spiritual pilgrimage”—a term proposed by Verheijen—is that spiritual pilgrimage, in most cases, is not a religious phenomenon in itself; the term is used mostly as the antithesis of undertaking pilgrimage to specific sites. According to Philo of Alexandria, for example, the introspective and contemplative journey to God is perceived primarily as an allegorical interpretation of the commandment to make pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem or as a reaction to earthly pil40. De quantitate animae 33.70–76, CSEL 89: 217–25; L. Verheijen, “Saint Augustin, pèlerinage vers le haut, pèlerinage vers le centre,” in Le pèlerinage: Colloque sur le pèlerinage (Pont-à-Mousson, 1982), 183–88. 41. Ibid., 188. See also B. Neil, “Neo-Platonic Influence on Augustine’s Conception of the Ascent of the Soul in De quantitate animae,” in Prayer and Spirituality, vol. 2, ed. P. Allen, W. Mayer, and L. Cross (Brisbane, 1999): 197–215. 42. See, for example, Plotinus’s journey of the soul: E. R. Dodds, Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety: Some Aspects of Religious Experience from Marcus Aurelius to Constantine (Cambridge, 1965), 84. 43. Enneads 5.9.2 (ed. and trans. A. H. Armstrong, Plotinus, LCL vol. 5 [London, 1966]: 288–90); Brown, Augustine of Hippo, 324. 44. Gilson, Introduction à l’étude de saint Augustin, 11–30; Blanchetièr, “Au coeur de la cité,” 190; Blanchard, “L’espace intérieur chez saint Augustin”; Brown, Augustine of Hippo, 152, 168–69.


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grimage to Jerusalem.45 Augustine, then, was using the terms peregrinatio and peregrinus without any connection to pilgrimage as defined in this study. We must next examine his attitude toward Christian holy space.

augustine on the place of god “The generation of Paul” is how Peter Brown characterizes the Christian intellectual circles in the West that concentrated on the teachings of Paul at the end of the fourth century.46 To some extent, this definition reflects what is deduced to be Augustine’s approach to pilgrimage and the holy places in Palestine. His adherence to Pauline doctrine on the divine presence in the world and the spiritualized idea of the temple of God is apparent throughout his writings. At the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the fifth, it was not unusual to speak of God as being everywhere and not in a defined earthly place. In writings of the second half of the fourth century concerning the debate on pilgrimage, we repeatedly encounter reservations about the idea of divine presence as located in a specific place. On this matter theologians derived their conceptions from those of Paul and continued to use his terminology, which by Augustine’s time had become somewhat hackneyed. Yet the question of the divine presence on earth remained an immediate and relevant issue for Christian intellectuals as Christian sacred topography took shape before their eyes. Augustine addresses the issue repeatedly in both early and late works, although not in the context of the debate on pilgrimage. He speaks, as others did, of the divine presence within the framework of a theological discussion on the divine nature, and also in relation to the power and status of martyrs.47 However, his silence regarding the holy places in Pales-

45. On Philo’s perception of pilgrimage, see Y. Amir, “Philo’s Version of the Pilgrimage to Jerusalem,” in Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period, ed. A. Oppenheimer, U. Rappaport, and M. Stern (Jerusalem, 1980), 154–65. 46. Brown, Augustine of Hippo, 151. 47. See, for example, Augustine’s Letter 187 to Dardanus, CSEL 57: 81–119 dated 417, which is devoted to the question of divine presence. In the festival of the martyr Quadratus in 397 Augustine reminded his listeners that “God is in no need of a temple, while this temple is certainly in need of God,” Sermon Dolbeau 18.4 (ed. F. Dolbeau, Augustin d’Hippone: Vingt-six sermons au peuple d’Afrique, retrouvés à Mayence, Collection des Etudes Augustiniennes 147 [Paris, 1996]; (English translation E. Hill, The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the Twenty-first Century, part 3, Sermons, vol. 11, Newly Discovered Sermons [New York, 1997]: 276).


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tine is reflected in the way he chooses to handle the question of the divine presence. From the fourth century onward, in the debate on pilgrimage Psalm 132:1–7 (LXX 131:1–7) served as a key text concerning the presence of God: Lord, remember David, and all his meekness: How he swore unto the Lord, and vowed a vow unto the Almighty God of Jacob; I will not come unto the tabernacle of my house, nor climb up into my bed; I will not suffer my eyes to sleep, nor my eyelids to slumber; Until I find out a place for the Lord, a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. We heard of it at Ephratah, we found it in the plains of the forests. We will go into His tabernacles, we will worship on the spot where His feet stood.

The gist of Augustine’s stance on the issue, and its idiosyncratic nature, can be grasped by comparing his interpretation with that of previous commentators: whereas Eusebius, Jerome, and Paulinus of Nola perceived these verses in terms of holy places associated with Christ’s death and Resurrection, and with the phenomenon of pilgrimage to such places, Augustine, in a long and convoluted commentary, stripped these verses of their simple meaning and dressed them in Pauline allegory.48 In verse 5, Augustine asks where David sought “a place for the Lord.” In his opinion, had David not been meek, as is written in the verse, then he would have looked for God’s place within himself, removing any possibility of understanding this scriptural passage as relating to a tangible place.49 Augustine reiterates Paul’s understanding that people themselves are the temple of God. Turning to Acts 4:32—“And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul,”— he enlarges this to mean that not only each individual but the community as a whole forms a temple of God.50 Augustine maintains that “We heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the plains of the forests” refers to the essence of what they heard and not to the place where they heard it. Here too he unequivocally differs from other commentators, who favor the latter interpretation. Surprisingly, he does not consider Ephratah to be the town of Bethlehem—as do other Christian writers, basing themselves on Micah 5:1 48. Enarratio in Psalmos 131.2–7, CCL 40: 1911–15. 49. Origen interpreted it metaphorically as a spiritual house of God. Comm. in Luc. 12.35, fragment 59, GCS 35: 261–62. See Walker (Holy City, Holy Places? 180), on Origen’s words as quoted by Jerome in Ep. 119.10. 50. Enarratio in Psalmos 131.3, CCL 40: 1913.


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and Genesis 35:19.51 Rather, he offers an enigmatic interpretation: that the Hebrew word Ephratah “is rendered in Latin by speculum [mirror], as the translators of Hebrew words in the Scriptures have handed down to us, that we might understand them. They have translated from Hebrew into Greek, and from Greek we have versions into Latin. . . . If therefore Ephratah means a mirror, that house which was found in the woodland plains, was heard of in a mirror. A mirror has an image; all prophecy is an image of things future. The future house of God, therefore, was declared in the image of prophecy.”52 Dismissing the simple interpretation of the second part of the verse, “we have found it in the plains of the forests [saltus],” Augustine emphatically stressed that “saltus is not here used in its common sense, as a plot of ground of so many hundred acres.”53 He understood the term saltus as “properly [signifying] a spot as yet untilled and woody,”54 symbolizing the nations of the world, idol worshippers who have yet to receive the word of the Lord. The temple is the soul of the Christian, where the Lord enters and dwells. Whereas other commentators generally take “Let us go into his tabernacles” to mean the holy places of Jerusalem, Augustine, in the spirit of Paul, explains “tabernacles” as the souls of believers where God is worshipped. “Who will come?” asks Augustine, and he replies, “Those who come belong to the God of Jacob, who come to dwell in God’s house.” And as the verse continues, “we will worship on the place where His feet stood,” Augustine’s unique interpretation again follows Paul’s lead: “Whose feet— God’s? Or those of God’s house itself?” The feet that stand in Christ are the way of truth, says Augustine; it is said of the devil, “he abode not in the truth” (John 8:44) and thus does not stand in Christ. Augustine’s allegorical interpretation of Psalm 132:1–7 may be convoluted, but its deliberate freedom from geographical connotations is in line with his Pauline stance. It is worth noting that even those Christian thinkers who rejected a terrestrial reading of this Scripture considered both interpretations.55 Augustine does not allude to his predecessors’ interpretations 51. See, for example, Theodoret of Cyrrhus “Ephratah is now called Bethlehem,” In Ps. 131.6, PG 80: 1905; similarly Jerome, Tract. in Ps. 131, CCL 78: 275. 52. Enarratio in Psalmos 131.3, CCL 40: 1914; English translation P. Schaff, NPNF 8 (Grand Rapids, 1956): 617. 53. Ibid. 54. Ibid. 55. See, for instance, Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Chap. 4 below; Chrysostom, In. Ps. 131, PG 55: 382.


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of Psalm 132 nor to those of his own contemporaries: this omission, deliberate or not, shows his utter lack of interest in the geographical dimension of this passage and the places associated with Jesus’ life. Nevertheless, he does not overlook the fund of stories about Jesus as recounted in the New Testament; he even finds it appropriate to refresh these Christian memories, retelling them during the annual festivities. Thus on one occasion, on Good Friday, he presents a series of fifteen detailed notes on the Passion narrative—almost all from the Gospel of John—in which he explores its figurative significance. It strikes one that geography plays no role in his representation. He simply mentions that “He was crucified at the Place of the Skull, Calvary, signifying the forgiveness of all sins through his passion.”56 Yet his principal aim in providing these detailed notes is to stress the universal dimension of the Passion narrative—for example, the story about the soldiers’ dividing Jesus’ garments into four parts and taking them away “signified his sacrament destined to traverse the four corners of the world.”57 Augustine deals in the same vein with Acts 1:8—“But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth”—in a sermon delivered on the Feast of the Ascension, asking, Where is the place of the testimony? and replying, from Scripture “In Jerusalem”: 58 He discusses the verse and derives from it a conception of the unity of the Church. He then returns to the verse, prompting the question: Which Jerusalem? Augustine declares: “In Jerusalem—where I was put to death and in all of Judaea and Samaria and even to the very ends of the earth.” In this he accepts that the teaching was transmitted to the disciples, and “Jerusalem” here means the earthly city. However, as he continues, Augustine repeatedly minimizes the importance of Jerusalem as a place of testimony, emphasizing instead the second part of the verse, “unto the uttermost part of the earth,” in this way upholding the universal significance of the Gospel. He even attempts to offer a rational argument for his interpretation, emphasizing that it was not only to acquire this area (i.e., Jerusalem) the Lord paid such a great price.59 Augustine concludes that God’s message has indeed reached the uttermost 56. Etaix 5 (= Sermon 218); English translation E. Hill, The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the Twenty-first Century, part 3, Sermons, vol. 11, Newly Discovered Sermons (New York, 1997): 238. 57. Ibid., p. 240. 58. Sermon 265.5, PL 38: 1221–22. 59. Ibid.


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part of the earth; thus no one can say, “See, it [Jerusalem] is here.”60 Earthly Jerusalem, then, has no uniqueness as the place of witness to Jesus’ message. On another occasion, Augustine says of the city: “See now this city [Jerusalem], on which so much praise has been showered. On earth it has been destroyed. . . . It is no longer what it once was. It has become an image, and it has passed like a shadow.”61 So Augustine’s position is more radical than that of Eusebius and Jerome, who in determining their relationship to the city distinguished between its Jewish past and the Christian presence taking shape there in the form of splendid churches and renowned monasteries. In another sermon, based on Psalm 132:6, Augustine again points to earthly life as an exile (peregrinatio) far from Jerusalem, the heavenly homeland of the saints. Indeed, Paul calls the homeland Jerusalem, but Augustine holds that this is not the earthly city but another, heavenly, Jerusalem above, which is the “mother of us all” (Gal. 4:26). Augustine comments on Paul calling Jerusalem mother—that is, metropolis—toward which Christians must hasten, realizing that they are peregrini.62 There is no clear proof that Augustine here had in mind the earthly city of Jerusalem and that he was directing his words against pilgrimage to it. Traces of perceiving Jerusalem as the heavenly city and thus of ignoring the importance of pilgrimage to the earthly city had been voiced already in the first century by Philo of Alexandria: “Now the City of God is called in Hebrew Jerusalem, and its name when translated is ‘vision of peace.’ Therefore, do not seek for the City of the Existent among the regions of the earth, since it is wrought not of wood or stone, but in a soul.”63 This theme recurs throughout the City of God and Augustine’s Exposition of the Psalms. The general reticence of Augustine regarding the notion of Christian sacred geography in Palestine is also clear from his emphasizing that Jesus’ remote place of birth was a deliberate choice: “He did not choose a most important city at least to be born in, but he was born in Bethlehem of Judah, which is not even considered to deserve the name of a city. I mean, those who live in that place today call it a village, so small it is, and tiny, and almost nonexistent.”64 Certainly Jerome, for whom Augustine in 416 declared “greatest veneration on account of his age, his sanctity, and his 60. Sermon 265.10, PL 38: 1224. 61. Enarratio in Psalmos 86.6, CCL 39: 1203. 62. Sermon Mai 12.1, PLS II: 443–44. 63. Philo, De somniis 2.250, LCL vol. 5: 554–55; see also Amir, “Philo’s Version of the Pilgrimage to Jerusalem,” 154. 64. Sermon Dolbeau 18, Engl. trans. 285.


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learning,”65 would not have agreed with Augustine’s view on Jesus’ birthplace. But Augustine’s chief goal in such a discourse was to underline Jesus’ humility and modesty rather than to present an objective view of Jesus’ origins or, alternatively, to refer to the actual Christian city. Thus he concluded: “So he [Jesus] came, not as one who would derive nobility from the place, but as one who would confer nobility on the place.”66 Indeed, in light of what he has stated here, one would expect Augustine to endow Bethlehem with a glorious status; yet it seems to have been the cherished task of Jerome to designate the Lord’s city of birth as the most august place in the world.67 •

In his Commentary on John, Augustine hints at the problem of sacred space, writing that he who hears the prayer dwells inside, in a secret place called in the Scriptures the bosom (Ps. 35:13: “And my prayer returned into mine own bosom”). For this reason, he claims, the Christian does not need to travel far or raise himself up as if he could reach God with his hands. Nor is there any need to raise one’s eyes to the hills, to lift one’s face to the stars, the sun, or the moon. Rather, he declares, one should purify one’s heart: “Wherever you wish to pray, that is where He will abide. He who hears you is within you.”68 Paulinus of Nola phrased it similarly: “The Temple of God is found in man: salvation dwells within the heart that believes; the Holy of Holies is in a breast that has been purified.”69 In his reflections on the Sermon on the Mount, Augustine indirectly touches on the problem of sacred spaces, asking the obvious question, where does God dwell besides in his temple?70 Drawing on Scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 3:16 (“Know you not that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”) and John 4:24 (“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth”), Augustine emphasizes the impossibility of God’s presence being connected to any geographical location. Indeed, according to Augustine, there is no need for the believer to prepare his eyes in order to see God, since visible things are found 65. Dolbeau 30 (Dolbeau, “Le sermon 348A de saint Augustine”), Engl. trans. 313. 66. Sermon Dolbeau 18, Engl. trans. 285. 67. Jerome, In Ez. prol. 3, CCL 75: 91; Tract. in Ps. 131, CCL 78: 275. On his reverence for Bethlehem, see also Ep. 64.8. 68. Tract. 10.1, In Ioh. 2.12, CCL 36: 100–101. See Cardman, “Rhetoric of Holy Places,” 19; Markus, End of Ancient Christianity, 139–40, pointing out the identical idea of Seneca and Philo. 69. Ep. 49.13, CSEL 29: 401. 70. De sermone Domini 2.5.17–18, CCL 35: 107–8.


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in a place, whereas that which is found everywhere in its entirety cannot be contained in any place. Rather, he stresses, God dwells within the saints and the righteous;71 he ridicules those who believe that God’s body dwells in the heavens, pointing out mockingly that if God in his body were in heaven, then nothing in the world would be happier than the birds, who are closer to him than any other creature.72 Referring to the common church practice of facing east when praying, Augustine repeatedly emphasizes that we should not mistakenly think that God dwells there, since he is present everywhere by the power of his majesty.73 And he explicitly states that in claiming God’s omnipresence, he is not referring to any earthly place; any carnal consideration should be dismissed.74 A similar aterritorial conception, leaving no room to interpret the Scriptures in terms of sacred geography, is indicated by Augustine’s interpretation of Psalm 76:1: “In Judah is God known. His name is great in Israel.” Augustine explains that one should not conclude that God is to be found in any one place more than another.75 Once again, Augustine dwells on the traditional exegesis, concentrating on the Pauline interpretation of where God may be found, without echoing or challenging the new Christian reality in Palestine. Yet a hint about his thinking on this matter may be found in his interpretation of John 7:37: “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying: If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” Augustine makes the obvious statement, that one who thirsts will come to Christ, not on foot, but through his feelings. Christ is to be approached not through wandering the earth but through love. One may move from one place to another by moving one’s body; but he who wanders with his heart changes his feelings through the movement of the heart.76 Of course, this interpretation has no direct relation to the holy places; Jerusalem is not mentioned at all. Yet some scholars see it as expressing reservations about pilgrimage.77 However, Augustine here appears to be more a philosopher than an anxious bishop who sees his flock flowing toward the holy places in Palestine. A similar reflection has been found in Plotinus’s passage about the way of the soul to God: “And so we have a homeland there, from the source from 71. De sermone Domini 2.5.17, CCL 35: 107. 72. Ibid. 73. Ibid., 2.5.18, CCL 35: 108. 74. Ep. 187.11, CSEL 57: 90. 75. De sermone Domini 2.5.19, CCL 35: 109. 76. Tract. 32.1, In Ioh. 7.37–39, CCL 36: 300. 77. See, for example, R. J. Z. Werblowsky, “Jerusalem: Holy City of Three Religions,” Jaarbericht Ex Oriente Lux 23 (1974): 430–31.


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which we came; also we have a father there. What, then, is the journey or the escape? Not by foot will you come to your destination, since the feet never move but from land to land. Also you do not have to prepare horses and a wagon nor a sailing vessel; all these are to be shunned and not looked at.”78 Augustine may have used an allegorical interpretation of John in the same spirit as Plotinus, but regarding the actual practice of monks’ wandering he was more explicit. In De opere monachorum, he voices opposition to the custom of some monks to wander from place to place visiting the holy sites, often without permission from any authority. Some, he reports, sell what they claim are relics of the martyrs.79 Of course, Augustine was neither the first nor the last to complain about this abuse. The cult of the martyrs, which defined the boundaries of sacred space in various Christian communities, would naturally raise the same questions as did the cult of the holy sites of Palestine about attaching holiness to particular places and encountering the divine presence. How did Augustine respond to the new networks of holy places in the Christian world that were attracting huge numbers of pilgrims? Did this reality conflict with the Pauline view of holy space, or did Augustine find himself trying to reconcile his theological position with the religious reality he witnessed?

augustine on what makes a place holy The transformation of neutral space into sacred space through the installation of holy relics—a growing trend toward the end of the fourth century— preoccupied Augustine, as it did other bishops in the East and the West. He appears at times to have headed this cult, as in his request to the deacon Heraclius to build a memoria for the remains of the protomartyr Stephen as well as a hostel for the comfort of pilgrims who would come to visit the site.80 Augustine’s attitude toward the process of creating holy places can be largely explained from an incident that he mentions in the City of God, in which Hesperius suffered misfortunes while retaining in his house a box containing terra sancta—soil from “Jerusalem, where Christ was buried and rose again on the third day.”81 Having great reverence for holy soil, Hesperius 78. Enneads 1.6.8., ed. and trans. A. H. Armstrong, Plotinus, LCL vol. 1 (London, 1996, 254–58). 79. De opere monachorum 28, PL 40: 575–76. 80. Sermon 356.7, PL 39: 1577, Sermon 390.8, PL 38: 1442. On sermons delivered by Augustine on the celebration for Stephen, see Lambot, “Sermons de saint Augustin,” 263. 81. City of God 22.8.7.


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invited Augustine and Maximinus, bishop of Sinitis, to visit him and requested that the soil be buried and the spot become a place of Christian worship. They had no objection, and according to Augustine the place was transformed into a locus sanctus. Augustine concludes the Hesperius incident with a story about a paralytic man who was healed in that place and thus attests to its function as a holy site. With this miracle story, Augustine confirms the new status of the holy place, achieved by virtue of the terra sancta of Christ’s tomb. Yet Augustine does not discuss the origin or significance of the relic that enabled this transformation to take place; the crux of the story is the miracle and the process by which a local place was transformed into a holy place, with the blessing of Augustine and Maximinus. Robert Wilken has argued that “here, as elsewhere, Augustine’s piety collides with his theology.”82 However, it seems to me that the context in which Augustine chooses to mention the story—book 22 of the City of God, where he vehemently attacks paganism—is crucial for understanding his perception of this account. Here he is describing many miracles performed by the martyrs, and in order to understand his position, we should first clarify the conception of miracles prevalent at that time and their role for Augustine. One of the features of a holy place as defined in the introduction to the present book is the theophany through miracles that God performs by virtue of the relics of martyrs and saints. Did Augustine agree with the widespread belief in such things? From Letter 78, sent to the church in Hippo in 402, in which he discusses a dispute between the priest Boniface and a monk named Spes, it appears that he did.83 After refusing to become the mediator in this scandal, on which the whole church at Hippo was divided,84 Augustine suggests that the two men travel “to a holy place,” the shrine of Saint Felix of Nola, where God will intervene and the truth will be known.85 Such advice is surprising, coming from someone who loyally adhered to the Pauline doctrine on holy space. Indeed, Augustine realizes the problem raised by his suggestion that the tomb of a martyr serves as a temple of righteousness, an earthly place of divine judgment, and he hastens to add his reservations by reiterating the traditional view, saying that “it is true that God is everywhere, that he is not confined or bounded by any place, because he is the creator of everything.” Augustine’s argument here is threadbare, contradicting, at least on the face of it, the very point of his letter. So Augustine asks rhetorically 82. Wilken, Land Called Holy, 125. 83. Ep. 78, CSEL 34.2: 331–45. 84. Ep. 77 and 78 attest that Augustine refused to accept this role. See Brown, Augustine of Hippo, 196. 85. Ep. 78.3–4, CSEL 34.2: 334–37.


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what advantage the tomb of Felix of Nola may have over others. His response is that the sanctity of this tomb is well known, and if divine revelation comes miraculously upon Boniface and Spes there, then he is sure he will receive a “trustworthy written report”; for the tomb is a “trustworthy holy place.” He corroborates this view by adding stories of revelations that have occurred there and bear witness to its authenticity. Yet the question remains, what in particular was powerful in this locus sanctus? After all, as Augustine acknowledges, martyrs’ tombs abounded in North Africa at that time. Augustine bases his choice of Felix’s tomb as an authentic holy place on the fact that there was no certain knowledge of similar miracles at other sites. Just as not all saints are gifted with the power of healing, he points out, so also not everyone is blessed with spiritual discernment. The tombs of martyrs have no inherent powers. Why, then, Augustine asks, do “miracles occur in some places but not in others?” Augustine’s explanation actually masks one important reason for his choosing this particular place: the presence of his friend Paulinus of Nola, the impresario of the cult of Saint Felix in that city.86 Whether or not it was the presence of Paulinus in Nola that led Augustine to single out this tomb as a holy place,87 what is most significant for the present discussion is that Augustine acknowledges perceiving a saint’s tomb as a miraculous earthly scene. Letter 78, then, demonstrates Augustine’s perception of the tomb of a martyr as an earthly sacred space to which he ascribes a major role. But there is a gap here between the Pauline conception that Augustine embraced and his pragmatic approach to resolving a problem in his own church. Indeed, Augustine was aware of this disparity, and to extricate himself from the predicament he fell back on a traditional exhortation drawn from Holy Scripture. In his old age, perhaps in 420 or 421, Augustine composed De cura pro mortuis gerenda, in which he addresses questions that Paulinus of Nola raised about the problems inherent in the cult of the martyrs, especially the religious value of burial near the tombs of saints (depositio ad sanctos).88 This custom appears to have become popular in the Christian world from the fourth century onward.89 Augustine was well aware of the relevance of 86. On Paulinus’s role in the cult of Saint Felix, see Trout, Paulinus of Nola, 160–97. 87. As has been suggested by Trout, Paulinus of Nola, 235–37. 88. De cura gerenda pro mortuis, ed. and trans. G. Combès, Œuvres de saint Augustin 2, BA, Première série (Paris, 1948): 462–523. On the date of composition, see Combès’s introduction, ibid., 457; Duval, Auprès des saints corps et âme, 3. 89. For the most up-to-date and comprehensive study on this custom, see Duval, Auprès des saints corps et âme. See also J. C. Picard, Le souvenir des évêques:


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the issue to many Christians; hence he devoted an extensive discussion to this subject and to the fundamental role of holy places in this context.90 Augustine’s response to Paulinus begins with an overview of basic issues: the treatment of the dead and the value of prayer after death. His first point rests on 2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to what he has done, whether it be good or bad.”91 A person’s way of life in this world is what determines the benefit he will gain by acts of piety made by others on his behalf after his death. Augustine then asks: Does the soul of the deceased receive any benefit from the specific place in which the body is buried? He takes the question to its extreme: If the body has not been buried, will this affect the soul? Aware of the widespread beliefs among Christians of his day about the custom of burial near saints’ tombs, Augustine immediately states that he will clarify the issue not in light of popular opinion (opinionem vulgatam) but rather according to Holy Scripture (sacras litteras).92 Attacking pagan beliefs about the importance of the tomb, Augustine replies at length, quoting from the City of God.93 He concludes that such burial of the dead does not constitute wrongdoing; he states emphatically that the location of the body’s burial is of no significance: the place in itself has no function, even if burial is near the tomb of a martyr; nevertheless, such a burial place may be consoling to the relatives of the deceased, and there is nothing wrong in

Sepultures, listes épiscopales et culte des évêques en Italie du Nord des origines au Xe siècle (Rome, 1988), 271–314; E. Dyggve, History of Salonitan Christianity (Oslo, 1951), 71–78; Delehaye, Origines du culte des martyrs, 158–64. 90. On the De cura pro mortuis gerenda, see P. Courcelle, Les “Confessions” de saint Augustin dans la tradition littéraire: Antécédents et postérité, Collection des Etudes Augustiniennes 15 (Paris, 1963): 595–600; V. Saxer, Morts, martyrs, reliques en Afrique chrétienne aux premiers siècles: Les témoignages de Tertullien, Cyprien et Augustin à la lumière de l’archéologie africane, Théologie Historique 55 (Paris, 1980):165–69; Hamman, Vie quotidienne, 332; Duval, Loca sanctorum Africae, 501–23; idem, Auprès des saints corps et âme, 3–21; P. I. Kaufman, “Augustine, Martyrs and Misery,” Church History 63 (1994): 1–14. 91. De cura gerenda pro mortuis 1.2, 464. For the commemoration of the departed in Augustine’s teachings, see H. Kotila, Memoria Mortuorum: Commemoration of the Departed in Augustine. Studia Ephemeridis Augustinianum 38 (Rome, 1992). 92. De cura gerenda pro mortuis 2.3, 466. On Augustine’s unique attitude, see V. Saxer, “Mort et culte des morts à partir de l’archéologie et de la liturgie d’Afrique dans l’oeuvre de saint Augustin,” Augustinianum 18 (1978): 221, 224; Kotila, Memoria Mortuorum; Trout, Paulinus of Nola, 245–51. 93. De cura gerenda pro mortuis 2.4–3.5, 468–74. Cf. City of God 1.12–13.


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it.94 Augustine here shifts the focus of the investigation from the dead to the living.95 He goes on to assert that even the souls of bodies never buried, including those devoured by animals, will not be harmed and will also be brought to resurrection.96 Throughout this work, he emphasizes the good intentions that underlie the desire of believers to care for the dead; yet he insists that it makes no difference whether the deceased is buried near a martyr or not.97 Augustine’s views on burial ad sanctos clearly did not coincide with prevalent beliefs and were diametrically opposed to the thinking of such Christian theologians as Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzus, Paulinus of Nola, and others. Augustine’s view on this topic carried no weight for the average Christian, and his standpoint seems to have had no impact on the spread of this popular practice, as demonstrated by archaeological finds dated to the fifth century in North Africa.98 In denying the value of burial near a martyr’s tomb, Augustine indirectly diminished the importance and function of the tomb as a holy place. He addressed this point on several occasions, as for example at the church in Carthage on the feast day of the martyr Laurentius. Augustine commiserated with his audience that the body of this martyr was not among them, saying that although they could not be in Rome with the masses who were commemorating the martyr there, they were with them in spirit. Augustine thus denied any necessary connection between the cult of a local martyr and the place of his interment. The celebration, he declared, need not be confined to the place where the body was buried; the martyr was deserving of commemoration even though his body rested elsewhere.99 Thus the religious significance of a specific geographical site was diminished, though not eradicated entirely. For Augustine, the truly crucial work of memory resided in the prayers of the faithful for the dead at the Eucharist. It seems that in North Africa, burial churches became key sites for concentrated communal memory.100 No other lieu de mémoire was needed. 94. De cura gerenda pro mortuis 4.6 (474), 18.22 ( 520). For the inefficacy of the place in itself, see Markus, Signs and Meanings, 143–45. 95. As has been pointed out by Trout, Paulinus of Nola, 245. 96. He is referring specifically to the mutilation of the bodies of the martyrs of Lyons as described by Eusebius, HE 5.1; De cura gerenda pro mortuis 2.4 (468), 6.8, (480). 97. De cura gerenda pro mortuis 4–5.7, 478–81. 98. See Duval, Loca sanctorum Africae, esp. her conclusion, p. 752. 99. Sermon 325.1, PL 38: 1447–48; Contra Faustum 20.21 (CSEL 25: 561–65). 100. As attested by Yasin, “Commemorating the Dead.”


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augustine on miracles at the tombs of martyrs It has long been recognized that one of the primary motivations for pilgrimage is the quest for miracles of healing associated with particular holy places. Christians and new converts sought divine assistance for every aspect of their lives, and from the fourth century onward the tombs of martyrs and memorial churches built in their honor served as cult centers at which such assistance could be obtained. Embracing this tool of salvation, pilgrims put their faith in such places and attributed to the martyrs every conceivable power.Theodoret of Cyrrhus, in the mid-fifth century, presented a long and impressive list of requests and benefits that believers had solicited through the intercession of the martyrs.101 Hagiographical literature from North Africa reflects similar beliefs.102 What was Augustine’s reaction to this religious device for individual salvation? In the second part of De cura pro mortuis gerenda, Augustine confronts a question obviously asked by many: How does the intervention of a martyr on a believer’s behalf actually work? Discerning the difficulty of the question, he replies that it is beyond his intelligence.103 He ponders whether a martyr is present simultaneously in various places, whether his tomb is there or not, again admitting that he has no answers. It is important to note, however, that at a time when cult sites for the martyrs were proliferating, this new mechanism for obtaining divine intervention was highly relevant for Augustine. The prevalence of such questions reflects the problem that this cult presented for a religion that from its beginnings had conceived of itself as transcending earthly sacred space. While admitting the enigma of a martyr’s intervention, Augustine clearly accepts as real the miracles associated with a martyr’s tomb. Although “the [power of the] dust is hidden,” he says, “the merciful gifts bestowed through it are manifest.”104 A long list of such miracles appears in the last section of the City of God (22.8). Especially notable are those occurring through the relics of Stephen transferred from Palestine.105 It was in this context that Augustine chose to introduce the story of the soil from Christ’s tomb that was in Hesperius’s possession. 101. Graecarum affectionum curatio 8.63. 102. Hamman, Vie quotidienne, 332–39; De miraculis S. Stephani, PL 41: 833–54. 103. De cura gerenda pro mortuis 16.20, 512. 104. Sermon 317.1, PL 38: 1435, quoted in Markus, End of Ancient Christianity, 94. 105. On the miracles associated with Stephen, see H. Delehaye, “Les premiers libelli miraculorum,” AB 29 (1910): 427–34; idem, Les origines du culte des martyrs,


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Augustine asserts that many miracles have occurred through the power of the martyrs, and a record of those that took place in Hippo and Calama would fill many volumes.106 His repertoire of miracles is typical of those of other Christian writers: he reports healing that occurs through oil taken from a saint’s tomb and claims that special powers adhere to flowers or clothing brought into contact with a martyr’s relics.107 Some decades earlier, Cyril of Jerusalem, drawing on Acts 19:12, noted that if handkerchiefs (soudavria) and aprons (shmikivnqia) could heal the sick, he was not surprised that the bodies of the martyrs were blessed with the same power.108 For Gregory of Nazianzus, soil from the tomb of Saint Cyprian had the same function: it could, like faith, exorcise demons, heal illness, and foretell the future.109 John Chrysostom likewise enthusiastically suggested that believers should spread oil taken from martyrs’ tombs on every part of their bodies.110 On this matter, Augustine showed himself to be a man of his time: he added nothing new to the miracle repertory but rather gave voice to the widespread beliefs then current. Where Augustine is unique, however, is in his urge to publish, almost to canonize, such miracle stories, to validate the belief that miracles continued to occur as they had in the past.111 This was, in fact, a new literary genre—libelli miraculorum—rooted in pagan writings about heroes and gods.112 Augustine said that “the canon of Holy Scripture, which had to be defined, ensured that those earlier miracles should be read everywhere and should stick in the memory of the people everywhere, whereas

147–49; Brown, Augustine of Hippo, 413–14; Saxer, Morts, martyrs, reliques, 245– 81. Courcelle (Recherches sur les “Confessions,” 148) attributes the great increase in the number of healing miracles in North Africa to the arrival of Stephen’s relics. See also, P. Force, “La spiritualité des miracles de saint Etienne,” SP 30 (1997): 183–90. 106. City of God 22.8. 107. Ibid., 8.10, 16–17. Paulinus of Nola (Carm. 21.590–600, CSEL 39: 117–78) gives a detailed description of a ceremony in which the believers poured incense on the tomb of the saint. 108. Catech. 18.16, PG 33: 1037. 109. Oration 24.18 (ed. and trans. G. Mossay, Grégoire de Nazianze: Discours 24–26, SC 284 [Paris, 1981]: 80). 110. Homilia in martyres, PG 50: 664. 111. City of God 22.8; Sermons 320, 324, PL 38: 1442, 1446–47. 112. Delehaye, Les origines du culte des martyrs, 156; idem, “Les premiers libelli miraculorum”; idem, “Les recueils antiques,” 305–25. Delehaye believes, however, that Augustine’s contribution to the development of this literary genre, and to the compilation and publication of the miracles, was very modest in comparison with that of Gregory of Tours, for example, who wrote down the many miracles performed by Saint Martin of Tours. On this work, see Van Dam, Saints and Their Miracles.


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the more recent examples, wherever they occur, are scarcely known to the whole community.”113 Yet Augustine’s abrupt switch—from discussing the philosophical works of Cicero, Plato, Porphyry, and others in the earlier chapters of the City of God to listing miracles by category in the last chapter—raises a number of questions among scholars.114 Augustine’s stance is even more problematic when we consider that previously, in De vera religione, written early in his career, between 387 and 391, he maintained that for various reasons miracles did not occur in his day,115 whereas in the City of God, in his last sermons, and in De cura pro mortuis gerenda he asserts the opposite.116 Of course, Augustine never doubted the authenticity of the miracles described in the Scriptures. To prove his credence in miracles he emphasized that the New Testament miracles are not more wonderful than the everyday miracles that God performs in nature: “I’m still admiring the work that goes on in the root . . . how small it is, how almost nothing, and yet in it are all the numbers of the root that is to come,” said Augustine.117 He was well aware, of course, that what he was saying about the veracity of the New Testament miracles was totally unnecessary for believers—“but let me be, for the moment, like one trying to convince unbelievers, so that you for your part can be well equipped against unbelievers.”118 Indeed, in his Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, he accepts that Christ performed miracles specifically in order to create a community of believers (credentium congregata) and to draw nonbelievers into the Church.119 An assessment of the apparent discrepancy in Augustine’s writings on

113. City of God 22.8. 114. Brown, Cult of the Saints, 27–30; Wilken, Land Called Holy, 125. 115. De vera rel. 25.47. He expressed the same standpoint in a sermon composed in Milan in 386: Sermon 88.3.3, PL 38: 540. 116. On the miracles in his day, see, for example, Sermon 286; De cura gerenda pro mortuis 17.21, 516–18. On Augustine’s contradictory position on miracles performed in his time, see D. De Vooght, “Les miracles dans la vie de saint Augustin,” Recherches de Théologie Ancienne et Médiévale 11 (1939): 5–16; idem, “La théologie du miracle selon saint Augustin,” Recherches de Théologie Ancienne et Médiévale 10 (1938): 197–222; Courcelle, Recherches sur les “Confessions,” 141–53; Brown, Augustine of Hippo, 415–18; idem, The Cult of the Saints, 27–28, 77–78; W. H. C. Frend, “North African Cult of Martyrs,” JAC 9 (1982): 163; Saxer, Morts, martyrs, reliques, 245–47; Markus, End of Ancient Christianity, 149. Van Uytfanghe (“Bible et miracles,” 211–12) preferred to see Augustine’s view on miracles in terms of evolution rather then as a contradiction. 117. Sermon Dolbeau 23, Engl. trans. 398–99. 118. Ibid. 119. De sermone Domini 2.25, 84, CCL 35: 184–85.


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miracles is beyond the scope of this study. However, any attempt to understand his change of attitude as evidenced in the City of God should not ignore its polemical flavor; for it is in this work that Augustine launched one of his most vehement attacks on paganism.120 Around 430, when Augustine took up the challenge of the pagan denial of Christ’s divinity, he had at his disposal a set of arguments and proofs that were already part of the pagan-Christian polemic: Miracles were always an integral part of this debate.121 Book 22 of the City of God addresses an old argument invoked by pagans, namely the credibility of Christian miracles. If Christians claim that miracles occurred in the past—particularly those of Jesus and his disciples— then why do they no longer occur? Augustine responds that miracles were necessary in the past before the world received the Gospel. He saw the pagans’ rejection of the truth of past miracles as a challenge that aimed, inter alia, to cast doubt on Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension.122 Therefore, it was fundamental for Augustine to claim in this framework that miracles continued to occur in his own day—“in Christ’s name, either by his sacraments, or by the prayers or the memorials of his saints.”123 In Augustine’s view, the goal of all such miracles is the same:124 To testify to that one supreme miracle of salvation, the miracle of Christ’s ascension into heaven in the flesh in which he rose from the dead. Those miracles are all recorded, as we know, in the Scriptures, which never lie. There we are told what happened and the belief they were intended to support. They have become known in order to promote faith; they have become more widely known through the faith 120. On the role of the cult of the martyrs in the antipagan debate, see H. Chadwick, “Augustine on Pagans and Christians: Reflections on Religious and Social Change,” in History, Society and the Churches: Essays in Honour of Owen Chadwick, ed. D. Beales and G. Best (Cambridge, 1985), 9–27. From the collection Sermons Dolbeau it has become clear that Augustine had an urgent need to instruct the congregations in belief and conduct, and to focus his audience’s attention on differences between Christian and pagan cults. See, for example, H. Chadwick, “Augustin et les païens,” in Augustin prédicateur (395–411): Actes du Colloque international de Chantilly (5–7 septembre 1996), ed. G. Madec, Collection des Etudes Augustiniennes 159 (Paris, 1998): 323–26; R. Dodaro, “Christus sacerdos: Augustine’s Preaching against Pagan Priests in the Light of S. Dolbeau 26 and 23,” ibid., 377–93; J. Pépin, “Falsi mediatores duo: Aspects de la mediation dans le sermon d’Augustin Contra paganos (S. Dolbeau 26),” ibid., 395–417. 121. See, for example, the role of miracles in Eusebius’s polemical writings, in Kofsky, Eusebius of Caesarea against Paganism, 165–214. 122. City of God 22.8. 123. Ibid. 124. Ibid.


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which they promoted. The accounts are read among the nations, so that the people may believe.

He laments that unlike the miracles recorded in the Scriptures those of the present are known only in the places where they occur, and for this reason they should be written down and widely publicized. In this context he cites miracles known to him from the cities of Milan and Carthage, where he had lived.125 Describing a number of healing miracles resulting from the intercession of the martyrs, he unequivocally concludes that what is happening in the present could have happened in the past, thus offering proof of the divinity of Jesus. Indeed, he repeatedly reminds his readers that “these miracles attest but the faith which proclaims that Christ rose in the flesh and ascended into heaven with the flesh,” and, after all, he stresses, the martyrs gave their lives for this faith.126 One could say that the ongoing miraculous actions in the memoriae of the martyrs constituted the ultimate proof of the veracity of Christianity, particularly the divinity of Jesus, and played a pedagogical role in bolstering Christian faith.127 Augustine’s description of healing miracles and other forms of personal salvation in book 22 of the City of God can therefore be seen as a fundamental weapon used to rebut the pagan claim that Christians have no miracles. In light of this motive, the change in his discourse evident in book 22 may appear in a different perspective: rather than indicating the victory of popular religion over theology, or a collision between the two, it shows a leading Christian thinker of the early fifth century using miracles—an element that a modern scholar would associate with popular religion—as decisive evidence for the truth of the Gospel and Jesus’ divinity. Citing miracles for this purpose in the fifth century was not peculiar to Augustine; in the East, Theodoret of Cyrrhus was using the same tactic.128 What was different in this case, however, was that Augustine specifically drew on contemporary miracles of the martyrs in his immediate vicinity to prove the Christian faith.This traditional argument in the new dress of martyr miracles, an expression of the religious mentality and practices prevailing in Augustine’s time, was much more convincing for his audience than recalling biblical miracles. He was speaking to 125. Ibid. 126. Ibid., 22.9. 127. In this context Chadwick (“Augustine on Pagans and Christians”) comments that according to Augustine the miracles should not serve as a device of persuasion for young catechists (Augustine, De catechizandis rudibus 6.10). 128. See, for example, the list of powers attributed to the martyrs appearing in Theodoret of Cyrrhus’s antipagan work Graecarum affectionum curatio 8.63–64.


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the hearts of contemporary people, whose religious activity focused on the tomb and the power of the martyr, in an age when such beliefs were popular even among intellectuals. All this, of course, was despite his earlier view that the true miracle occurs within the believer’s soul. The phenomenon of miracles at the tombs of martyrs, one of the primary motivations for pilgrimage, was therefore accepted by Augustine not as a belief befitting the faith of the average believer but rather as an instructive apologetic and theological tool.

augustine on the cult of the martyrs Martyrdom and the local cult of the martyrs were among the formative features of the North African Christian Church from its early days, as attested by Tertullian, Cyprian, and Augustine, and by archaeological and epigraphical finds.129 From the letters of Cyprian, bishop of Carthage in the mid-third century, we learn that the cult of the martyrs had already begun to filter into the liturgy of the local church.130 Over the generations the process consolidated, until the cult became integrated into the daily routine of religious life in the various Christian communities. A brief glance at the list drawn up by Cyrille Lambot, based on sermons delivered by Augustine on these occasions as well as on the sermons newly discovered by François Dolbeau, provides evidence as to the centrality of the cult of the martyrs to the religious agenda of the local bishops of the period.131 Augustine himself testifies that it was difficult to find a single day of the year on which no martyr’s memory was being celebrated.132 Although the role of the cult of the martyrs in shaping holy Christian 129. R. Markus, Saeculum: History and Society in the Theology of St. Augustine (Cambridge, 1970), 109; Lamirande, L’église céleste, 205. Much has been written about martyrdom and martyrs from North Africa. I shall mention here only a few of the most important studies consulted for this book: Delehaye, Origines du culte des martyrs, 422–57; Frend, “North African Cult of Martyrs”; Rordorf, “Aux origines du culte des martyrs,” 445–61; idem, Liturgie, foi et vie, 363–79. On the cult of the martyrs in the works of Tertullian, Cyprian, and Augustine, see esp. Saxer, Morts, martyrs, reliques. On the idea of martyrdom in North Africa, see Frend, Martyrdom and Persecution. For an archaeological study on the cult of the martyrs in North Africa, see Duval, Loca sanctorum Africae; idem, Auprès des saints corps et âme. 130. Ep. 12.2, 39.3; Saxer, Morts, martyrs, reliques, 104–14. 131. Lambot, “Les sermons de saint Augustin,” 258–63; Dolbeau, ed., Augustin d’Hippone: Vingt-six sermons au peuple d’Afrique, 177–224 (reprinted as F. Dolbeau, “Nouveaux sermons de saint Augustin pour les fêtes de martyrs,” AB 110 [1992]: 263–310). 132. Sermon Denis 13.1.


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topography is well attested in Augustine’s writings,133 nevertheless, it seems to me that in his eyes it was not after all the most burning issue stemming from the cult of the martyrs. Augustine’s crucial concern as bishop was the irrepressible desire of his congregation to have fun and enjoy themselves during feast days, as was common among the pagans.134 Raucous behavior of the crowds and mingling of the sexes in the church during martyrs’ festivals were common phenomena.135 Augustine preached in 397 during the feast of the martyrs of Maxula that “there are two things by which people are either drawn or driven into sin—pleasure and pain; pleasure draws, pain drives”: hence the need for self-control.136 Thus on these occasions Augustine did not confine himself to preaching about the martyrs’ nature, virtues, and function. Nor did he merely devote his energies to distinguishing between false and true martyrs.137 Rather, he focused his efforts on controlling the festivals and shaping cultic practice, in particular urging the avoidance of all merriment, which he systematically identified as pagan conduct, all the while stressing the sole raison d’être of the festival: imitation of the saints.138 Such celebrations were reduced sometimes to orgies of gluttony and bacchanalian behavior,139 leading Augustine, already at the beginning of his career as a presbyter, to feel an urgent need to set new patterns of conduct in the martyr commemorations, at a time when such rites were becoming established in the North African Christian community.140 In his quest to reshape Christian worship, Augustine sent a letter to Bishop Aurelius of Carthage in 392 asking for collaboration on what Peter Brown has identified as “nothing less than a thorough-going reform of Catholic piety.”141 In this letter he denounced drunkenness and rioting, which, he added, were bad enough in private gatherings but worse when they occurred in the holy 133. Markus, End of Ancient Christianity, 139–55. 134. As Peter Brown has observed (“Enjoying the Saints in Late Antiquity,” 2), the problem of enjoyment during feasts was less problematic among pagans. 135. Sermon Dolbeau 2, Engl. trans. 331–34. 136. Sermon Dolbeau 15.1, Engl. trans. 245. 137. Sermon Dolbeau 2, Engl. trans. 346–49. 138. A point made clear by Brown, “Enjoying the Saints in Late Antiquity.” 139. Augustine, Sermons 198.1, 196.4, PL 38: 1024, 1020–21. 140. On the social aspects of Augustine’s standpoint, see Brown, Cult of the Saints, 35–36; idem, Augustine of Hippo, 207–8. 141. Brown, “Enjoying the Saints in Late Antiquity,” 3. On Augustine’s attempt to avoid the practice of adoration of columns of those who entered the Church, see P. Brown, “Augustine and a Practice of the imperiti,” in Augustin prédicateur (395– 411): Actes du Colloque international de Chantilly (5–7 septembre 1996), ed. G. Madec, Collection des Etudes Augustiniennes 159 (Paris, 1998): 367–75.


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places themselves on occasions commemorating the martyrs.142 Nor was this riotous behavior confined to feast days: “Rioting and drunkenness are considered so permissible and tolerable that they are practised not only on holy days, when the blessed martyrs are honoured . . . but even on any and every day.” He pleaded: “At least let such a disgraceful practice be removed from the cemeteries where the bodies of the saints are laid, and from the place where the sacraments are celebrated, and from the house of prayer.”143 Realizing the magnetism of the feasts as well as the power of long-established habit, Augustine as a church leader recognizes the difficulty entailed in drawing believers away from impious and improper behavior: “For who may venture to forbid the use in private life of that [i.e., excesses] which, when they are practised in holy places, are called an honouring of the martyrs?” The sickness, he writes, is so chronic that complete recovery appears impossible, unless by the authority of a church council.144 Recognizing the need of believers for some means to commemorate the dead, he suggests that the offerings placed on tombs should not be sumptuous and should be available freely to anyone wanting to participate, not sold; and those wishing to make a monetary offering should be allowed to distribute it to the poor.145 According to Augustine, if the common practice were to be modified rather than forbidden, people would not feel they were “neglecting their own burial places”; he hoped the example of Africa might come to be worthy of imitation throughout the Christian world.146 Three years later, in a letter to Alypius, bishop of Thagaste, Augustine again tackled disorderly behavior during the martyr commemorations on the anniversary of the birth of Leontius, an earlier bishop of Hippo who had suffered martyrdom around 303.147 Drawing on the Scriptures, Augustine had on that occasion moved the congregation to tears with his denunciation, only to discover that the revels continued the following day. In the letter to Alypius he reported that in a subsequent sermon he explained to his 142. Ep. 22, LCL 239: 40–54. On this letter, see H. I. Marrou, “Survivances païennes dans les rites funéraires des donatistes,” Collection Latomus 2 (1949), 200– 201; Brown, Augustine of Hippo, 206–7; A. G. Hamman, “Les repas religieux et l’agape chez saint Augustin,” in Mélanges Capanaga Augustinus (Madrid, 1967), 187–88. 143. Ep. 22.3, LCL 239: 44–47. 144. Ibid., 4, 46–47. 145. Ep. 22.6, LCL 239: 48. Cf. Sermon 66.5, PL 38: 433. 146. Ep. 22.4. See also Hamman, “Repas religieux,” 181–92; P. A. Février, “A propos du repas funéraire: Culte et sociabilité,” Cahiers Archéologiques 26 (1977): 42–43. 147. Ep. 29, LCL 239: 69–91.


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audience the circumstances out of which this custom had arisen in the Church. When peace returned to the Christian community, after the period of violent persecutions, so many had joined the Church that “our predecessors thought it good to make concessions for the time being to those weaker brethren, and to let them celebrate in honour of the holy martyrs other feast-days, in place of those they were giving up, unlike them, at any rate, in profanation, though like them in excess.”148 But changes were hard to establish. Thus in 404, while the pagans were celebrating their new year, Augustine preached what is probably his longest sermon ever—a “deliberate filibuster”—intended to keep his audience as long as possible in the church, to prevent them from taking part in the pagan feast.149 After heaping scorn on the pagans’ extravagant pleasures and condemning their unrestrained drunkenness and gambling, he implored the public not to celebrate the feast days of Christian saints in the same way.150 Instead, he advised his congregation to fast and pray during the pagan festive days.151 As part of his overall struggle against lingering of pagan customs and forms of worship, which were so attractive to his congregation, Augustine also denounced the custom of dancing in churches during the martyr celebrations.152 Yet dancing in the memorial churches in the fourth and fifth centuries was not unusual. Paulinus of Nola reported that during the feast of Saint Felix of Nola he was forced to postpone evening prayers until late into the night, when the noise had died down.153 Augustine concentrated much of his energies on combatting the custom of taking meals at the tombs of the dead—a widespread practice in North Africa in his day—desiring to separate the pagan and Christian cults by drawing a clear boundary between them in their customs.154 Hippolyte Delehaye has pointed out the resemblance between the pagan cult of the dead and the 148. Ep. 29.9, LCL 239: 84–85. 149. Sermon Dolbeau 198, Engl. trans. 180–229 and n. 1. On Augustine’s attitude toward civic festivals, see Markus, End of Ancient Christianity, 110–21; Chadwick, “Augustine on Pagans and Christians.” 150. Sermon Dolbeau 198.8–9, Engl. trans. 187. 151. Sermon Dolbeau 22.26, Engl. trans. 304. 152. Dyggve, Salonitan Christianity, 79 and nn. 44, 45. Augustine, Sermon 311.5–6, PL 38: 1115. 153. Carmina 23.111, CSEL 30: 198. On the problem of dancing, see MacMullen, Christianizing the Roman Empire, 74–75 and n. 2. 154. On the cult of the dead, see, extensively, A. C. Rush, “Death and Burial in Christian Antiquity” (Ph.D. diss., Catholic University of America, 1941), 50–71. Rush reveals the pagan roots of the custom of feeding the dead, which was adopted by Christians and according to which the deceased is in a state of migratio ad dominum. On this idea in the New Testament and early Christian literature, see ibid., 72–87.


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cult of the Christian martyrs—including prayers for the dead, entreaties to them, and feasts held at their tombs.155 Pagan feasts for the dead, which were originally held mostly in a familial setting, eventually took on the character of public gatherings.156 Hence the changes that occurred in the pagan cult of the dead paved the way for the cult of the martyrs and provided a sense of continuity.The custom persisted among pagans in the fourth century, and the followers of the two religions shared the same cemeteries.157 Indeed, the fourth-century author of Constitutio Apostolorum ordered Christians who participated in the pagan feasts for the dead to celebrate in a proper manner, in contrast to the usual drunkenness and wild behavior— a command directed at both priests and laity.158 For our purposes, it is important to note here that purely pagan burial customs continued to be observed in Augustine’s area into the fifth century.159 The similarity in the commemoration rituals has led many scholars to conclude that the cult of the martyrs was nothing more than a memorial day for the deceased.160 The custom of taking meals at the tombs of the martyrs, to which Augustine was so opposed, derived from the pagan refrigerium, feeding the dead, whose initial meaning in the ancient world was the provision of physical comfort through adequate food, drink, and rest. In Christian literature, the meaning of the term went through several metamorphoses, finally taking on a spiritual connotation: the sojourn of the soul after death, or the prayer requesting that the deceased dwell with God. Nevertheless, the original meaning of the term to denote meals for the dead

155. Delehaye, Origines du culte des martyrs, 120–30. On the similarity between the processions in which relics were transferred to churches and the funeral procession for the individual dead, see G. Rowell, The Liturgy of Christian Burial: An Introductory Survey of the Historical Development of Christian Burial Rites, Alcuin Club Collections 59 (London, 1977), esp. his conclusion (10–13) regarding Jewish and pagan influences on Christian customs for taking care of the dead. 156. Février, “Culte des morts,” 211–74; F. Van der Meer, Saint Augustin pasteur d’âmes (Paris, 1955), 327–31. 157. Ibid., 336. For Christian and pagan shared tombs, see the new arguments of M. J. Johnson, “Pagan-Christian Burial Practices of the Fourth Century: Shared Tombs?” JECS 5 (1997): 37–59. 158. Constitutio Apostolorum 8.44. 159. Hamman, “Repas religieux,” 181. 160. See, for example, Hamman, “Repas religieux,” 186; idem, Vie quotidienne, 327; J. Quasten, “Vetus superstitio et nova religio: The Problem of Refrigerium in the Ancient Church of North Africa,” HTR 33 (1940): 256; Saxer, Morts, martyrs, reliques, 104.


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persisted in Christian society.161 Literary and archaeological evidence— including tables (mensae) found in the context of private tombs and the tombs of martyrs—points to the fact that in Augustine’s day the pagan cult of the dead, and especially the custom of feeding the dead and having feasts at their tombs, still persisted all around him.162 In his Confessions, Augustine cites the most renowned instance of this practice: that his mother, Monica, once brought a basket of food and wine with her to the cemetery in Milan, where the guard at the gate refused her entry because Ambrose had prohibited the custom on the grounds that it resembled the pagan Parentalia.163 161. On the term refrigerium and its various meanings, see Delehaye, “Refrigerare, Refrigerium,” 385–90; A. Parrot, Le refrigerium dans l’au-delà (Paris, 1937); Quasten, “Vetus superstitio et nova religio,” 257; Van der Meer, Saint Augustin, 336–44. On the custom of feeding the dead, see Parrot, Le refrigerium dans l’au-delà, 131–33. Stone bowls with holes in their bases have been found in both pagan and Christian tombs. See the surveys of J. Prieur, La mort dans l’antiquité romaine (Paris, 1986), 31–35, 172–75; Dyggve, Salonitan Christianity, 107–12. Tombs with special installations, including an external pipe leading into the tomb for giving food and drink to the dead, are well known in the Roman world and were widespread in the Mediterranean basin. But according to W. Wolski and I. Berciu (“Contribution au problème des tombes romaines à dispositif pour les libations funéraires,” Latomus 32 [1973]: 370–79), tombs with similar installations are rare in areas distant from the Mediterranean basin. On the cult of the dead in the Greek polis, see Février, “A propos du repas funéraire,” 36–37 and n. 50 for bibliography on classical Greece. 162. Archaeological evidence from Augustine’s time for feeding the dead is discussed in Marrou, “Survivances païennes,” 193–203. Marrou attributes the Timgad find (which included a tomb with an installation for feeding the dead) to the Donatists, primarily on the basis that the tomb was found in an area known to be inhabited by Donatist believers. On the Donatist population in North Africa, see W. H. C. Frend, “Early Christian Church in Carthage,” in Excavation at Carthage (Ann Arbor, 1977), 21–40. For identical tombs in areas populated by Catholic Christians, see P. A. Février, “Deux inscriptions chrétiennes de Tebessa et d’Henchir Touta,” R AC 44 (1968): 177–87; Saxer, Morts, martyrs, reliques, 302–8; Marrou, “Survivance païennes,” 195–97; Wolski and Berciu, “Contribution au problème des tombes romaines.” On these finds in North Africa, see R. Krautheimer, “Mensa-CoemeteriumMartyrium,” Cahiers Archéologiques 11 (1960): 15–40; N. Duval, “Brèves observations sur l’usage des mensae funéraires dans l’Illyricum,” RAC 60 (1984): 259–75; Février, “A propos du repas funéraire,” 29–45. Quasten (“Vetus superstitio et nova religio,” 257) cites a Christian inscription in North Africa dated to 299 that describes the custom of bringing food and drink for dining at the tomb. On the typology of the tables, see Duval, Loca sanctorum Africae, 525–42. For the iconographic evidence, see the comprehensive study of E. Jastrzebowska, “Les scènes de banquet dans les peintures et sculptures chrétiennes des IIIe et IVe siècles,” RA 14 (1979): 3–90. 163. Confessions 6.2.2 (ed. J. J. O’Donnell, Augustine: Confessions, vol. 1 [Oxford, 1992]: 73–74). Regarding Monica’s deed, see Courcelle, Recherches sur les “Confessions,” 87, 91, 230.164.


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Christian writers criticized these cultic practices and drew distinctions between the old religions and Christianity, aimed at leading believers away from their former customs.164 In an early work, Augustine had already tried to define Christianity in terms of the negation of pagan practices, including the cult of the dead, in the hope that Christianity would not come to resemble them.165 Augustine repeatedly tried to dissociate the two cults, attempting to prove to believers that there was no parallel or resemblance between the martyrs and the pagan heroes: the martyrs were not gods, but the pagan gods and heroes were also no more than dead people.166 Forestalling the possible pagan claim that the cult of the martyrs was in fact the worship of multiple gods, similar to that of the pagans, Augustine stressed the worship of the one God and pointed out that in the Church’s sacraments no sacrifice was offered to any of the martyrs: “At all their memorial shrines we offer the one sacrifice, and not to any of them either, but to the Lord of us all; and in this sacrifice we also honour the martyrs according to their status, not in themselves but in the one through whom they defeated the devil.”167 •

Needless to say, this study has not exhausted the topic of Augustine’s attitude to sacred space or his attempts to reform the Catholic Church. However, from what has been said above it is evident that Augustine’s attempt to reform Christian worship proclaimed very clearly his propensity for deep involvement in various issues concerning his congregation, whether trivial or philosophical. Two features that mark his involvement in the local cult are worth noting. First, Augustine deliberately abstained from the kind of radical response that one might have expected. In Henri-Irénée Marrou’s words, “[il] n’est pas allé jusqu’à critiquer cette forme aigüe de la superstition”168— not because he felt overwhelmed by the popularity of the phenomenon but rather because of his sensitivity toward the believers. He did not wish to 164. Augustine, Contra Faustum 20.21, CSEL 25: 561–65. On Zeno of Verona’s disapproval (second half of the fourth century) of eating meals on the tombs of the dead as well as his interpretation of the spiritual significance of the refrigerium, see J. Doignon, “Refrigerium et catéchèse à Verrone au IVe siècle,” Collection Latomus 102 (1969): 220–39. 165. De vera rel. 55.108. 166. City of God 22.10; Sermon 273.7, PL 38: 1251. Delehaye (Origines du culte des martyrs, 30–32, 462–65) was the first to reject the possibility that the Christian martyrs were, in fact, the heirs of the Greek heroes. See also Lapointe, “Culte des martyrs en Afrique,” 263–68; Lamirande, L’église céleste, 206–7. 167. Sermon Dolbeau 198.47, Engl. trans. 216. 168. Marrou, “Survivances païennes,” 201.


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hurt their feelings and realized that his ability to introduce reforms in Christian worship was limited. Radical reform that failed to take into account people’s religious customs could drive them away from Christianity or create a barrier for potential converts. The second feature characterizing Augustine’s stance on the local cult of the martyrs is the absence of a geographical dimension. The above survey portrays Augustine not merely as a prominent theologian who had little interest in the sacred geography of Palestine but also as a bishop deeply involved in shaping the local cult of the martyrs, which was of major pedagogical importance to him, all the while leaving aside the notion and the function of sacred space. The aspect of the local cult most precious to him was the tropos—the pious behavior of believers—not the place itself. Therefore it is not surprising that earthly Jerusalem and its sacred topography were alien to his world. I have been unable to detect in Augustine’s works further clues to his attitude toward the holy places of Palestine and the phenomenon of pilgrimage to those sites. He simply disregarded the theological difficulties raised by the creation of a holy Christian topography in Palestine and was not troubled by the idea of pilgrimage to the Holy Land per se. What was ultimately existential for Jerome, for instance, was far removed from Augustine’s heart.


4 Pilgrimage in Monastic Culture

Pilgrimage in late antiquity was widespread in all strata of society in the Christian world, especially among monks and nuns.1 The monastic literature of fourth-century Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Asia Minor abounds in descriptions of monks who journeyed to the holy places in Palestine. Egeria’s Itinerary and Jerome’s letters in the 380s are good examples. Jerome grumbles that his monastery in Bethlehem is overwhelmed with monks from all over the world.2 But the tombs of martyrs and holy men—that is, “Heaven’s family on earth,” in the words of Jerome—exerted no less appeal than did the holy places associated with the life of Christ. Egeria describes the commemoration of a certain Helpidius, a holy man whose martyrium, according to tradition, was located outside the city of Haran, in a place where the home of Abraham once stood.3 On that day, she wrote, all the monks of Mesopotamia have to come to the city, including those who dwell alone in the desert.4 Despite travels to famous holy places and shrines of martyrs, the monastic literature reveals another type of journey—of an intellectual nature—visits to famous figures for the acquisition of monastic paideia. 1. Maraval, Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient, 116–25. 2. Egeria, Itinerary 25.12, 254, 49.1–2, 318–19; Jerome, Ep. 66.14. 3. This is an example of the pattern, mentioned by Marcel Simon (“Saints d’Israël”), in which Jewish traditions are attributed to Christian martyrs and holy men, and especially the ancestors and the prophets; idem, “Pèlerinages dans l’antiquité chrétienne,” 96–115. 4. Egeria, Itinerary 20.5–6. On the relationship between monastic life and the city, see P. A. Février, “La ville et le ‘désert’ (A propos de la vie religieuse aux IVe et Ve siècles),” in Les mystiques du désert dans l’Islam, le Judaïsme et le Christianisme (Paris, 1975), 39–61, esp. 58–59; J. Dagron, “Les moines et la ville: Le monachisme à Constantinopole jusqu’au concile de Chalcédoine (451),” Travaux et Mémoires 4 (1970): 229–76.

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From the fourth century on, it seems that all roads led to Egypt, which was one of the main intellectual centers for monks coming from both the East and the West.5 Hence, an impressive network of sacred topography came into being in late-antique Egypt, consisting of monasteries, charismatic figures, and local martyrs, such as the center of Abu Mina, southwest of Alexandria, as well as of Thecla, the “invading saint,” whose cult spread throughout the Mediterranean world.6 Pilgrimage—particularly of monks to the Holy Land from the fourth century on—has been widely studied by contemporary scholars, but little has been said about the relationship between pilgrimage and the very idea of monastic life.7 The discussion here will focus on the affinity between the two. It is precisely this affinity that shaped the views of monastic leaders on pilgrimage in late antiquity and became the foundation for perceptions that arose within Western monasticism in the Middle Ages.8

the nature of the sources Before proceeding to clarify the role of pilgrimage in monastic culture, some general remarks regarding the literary yield of the monastic circles seems in order. In contrast to the scanty allusions to pilgrimage in the patristic sources, the literature of the monastic movement in the period under discussion in Syria, Egypt, and Palestine abounds with descriptions of visits to holy men and pilgrimage to holy places. Yet it is difficult to retrace the attitudes on pilgrimage in monastic milieux from these sources, since references to the very idea of pilgrimage are sparse—in some works, totally absent. In this regard, however, Palestinian hagiography stands apart and offers a privileged glimpse of the theological history of the holy places, especially 5. P. Rousseau, Ascetics, Authority, and the Church in the Age of Jerome and Cassian (Oxford, 1978), 79–95. In the Nestorian literature we find a fair amount of testimony for the intellectual journeying and pilgrimage of monks to Egypt from the fourth to the twelfth century. See O. Meinardus, “The Nestorians in Egypt,” Oriens Christianus 51 (1967): 112–29. See also the rich materials provided in Frankfurter, ed. Pilgrimage and Holy Space; Papaconstantinou, Le culte des saints en Egypte. 6. Davis, Cult of St. Thecla, 113–94. 7. On pilgrimages of monks to Palestine in general, see Kötting, Peregrinatio religiosa, 302–7; Wilkinson, “Christian Pilgrims in Jerusalem”; Saulnier, “Vie monastique en Terre Sainte”; Maraval, Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient, 105–36; Sivan, “Pilgrimage, Monasticism,” 54–65. 8. On the attitudes to pilgrimage in monastic circles in the Middle Ages, see Leclercq, “Monachisme et pérégrination”; Constable, “Opposition to Pilgrimage”; idem, “Monachisme et pèlerinage au Moyen Age.”


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in relation to the Christological controversies after the Council of Chalcedon (451). Lorenzo Perrone remarks that theology and dogmatic issues were closely linked, both positively but more often negatively, to the notion of holy places and pilgrimage.9 In his opinion, “positively, with the elaboration of a new theological consciousness of the important space and history, from Eusebius of Caesarea to the Chalcedonian monks of the sixth century. Negatively, with the disciplinary restrictions and exclusion imposed in a confessional perspective, that could lead on the one hand to an emphasis on the sanctity of the places, and on the other to relativize it.”10 Glancing at the Life of Peter the Iberian and at the collection of anti-Chalcedonian propaganda known as the Plerophoriae, written by John Rufus at the end of the fifth century, one can sense the relativization of the practice of pilgrimage in an age of dogmatic conflicts in this milieu.11 The power of the Church in Jerusalem was greatly enhanced by its control over the holy places—a fact that was crucial during the Christological controversies of the period. In effect, deviation from the norm—the orthodoxy of the church of Jerusalem—became a factor in exclusion from holy places. However, exploiting holy places as a weapon of ecclesiastical power during controversies and debating the very idea of sacred space and the encounter with the holy are two different matters. The literature generated in monastic circles was primarily focused on rules and instructions directed to monks and virgins. It was meant to forge and foster monastic culture and generally left no room for theological or speculative discussion. Rules intended to restrict the monks’ habit of wandering from one monastic community to another included no discussion, theological or otherwise. Similarly, the hagiographic literature born in these circles—works describing the lives of ascetic heroes and their environment, and directed toward their society as whole—are almost entirely lacking in philosophical or theological argument. John Moschus, for example, who lived in the Judaean desert at the end of the sixth and the beginning of the seventh century, often wandered among the monastic centers of the Eastern Roman Empire, where he collected stories and anecdotes about the holy men he encountered, recorded in his Pratum spirituale. Yet he re9. Perrone, “Christian Holy Places and Pilgrimage.” 10. Ibid., 36. On the concept of the Holy Land among the monks of the Judaean desert, see Wilken, Land Called Holy, 150–72. 11. A. Kofsky, “Peter the Iberian: Pilgrimage, Monasticism and Ecclesiastical Politics in Byzantine Palestine,” Liber Annuus 47 (1997): 209–22; Perrone, “Christian Holy Places and Pilgrimage,” 18–27; B. Bitton-Ashkelony, “Imitatio Mosis and Pilgrimage in the Life of Peter the Iberian,” in Christian Gaza in Late Antiquity, ed. B. Bitton-Ashkelony and A. Kofsky (Leiden, 2004), 107–29.


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peatedly mentions the wandering monks who visited holy men and holy places, as well as the exclusion of heretics from the holy places in Palestine.12 But he nowhere discusses the religious value of these visits; nor does he prompt any theological question concerning this sort of devotion. Rather, he depicts these journeys in a very schematic style. About a recluse near the village of Socho, about twenty miles from Jerusalem, he simply writes:13 Sometimes this elder would decide to go somewhere on a journey; maybe a great distance into the wilderness, or to Jerusalem to rever ence the holy Cross and the holy places, or to pray at Mount Sinai, or to visit martyrs’ [shrines] many long days’ travel from Jerusalem. He was greatly devoted to the martyrs, this elder. Now he would visit Saint John at Ephesos; another time, Saint Theodore at Euchaita or Saint Thecla the Isaurian at Seleucia or Saint Sergios at Saphas. Sometimes he would go to visit this saint, sometimes another.

Despite the fact that this passage reflects the Christian sacred topography in Moschus’s day—the sites most frequented by pilgrims in the Mediterranean world—it also exemplifies the opacity of monastic writings as regards attitudes toward pilgrimage. Another difficulty arises from the nature of the hagiographic literature. Motifs were copied from one composition to another, to such an extent that characteristics peculiar to a specific period are sometimes blurred.14 Moreover, as Patricia Cox Miller has observed concerning collective biographies, “when the interest of a collection is in depicting human identity by means of its exemplars, the result is a parade of metaphors each of which tells essentially the same story.”15 Thus at first sight it is easy to agree with Evelyne Patlagean’s general conclusion about the hagiography’s freedom from the limits of time and space, and the significance of the information therein, even on a stereo12. See, for example, the cases of those barred from entering the Church of the Anastasis, Pratum spirituale 48–49, PG 87.3: 2904–5. 13. Pratum spirituale 180, PG 87.3: 3052; Engl. trans. 149–50. 14. E. Patlagean, “Ancienne hagiographie byzantine et histoire sociale,” Annales ESC 23 (1968): 106–26; published in English as “Ancient Byzantine Hagiography and Social History,” in Saints and Their Cults: Studies in Religious Sociology, Folklore and History, ed. S.Wilson (Cambridge, 1985), 101–21. On the originality of Christian hagiography and the concept of hagiographical discourse, see Van M. Uytfanghe, “L’hagiographie: Un ‘genre’ chrétien ou antique tardif?” AB 111 (1993): 135–88. See also, P. Cox Miller, Biography in Late Antiquity: A Quest for the Holy Man (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1983). Various aspects of the hagiographical genre are discussed in Hagiographie, cultures et sociétés, IVe–XIIe siècles, Etudes Augustiniennes (Paris, 1981). 15. P. Cox Miller, “Strategies of Representation in Collective Biography: Constructing the Subject as Holy,” in Greek Biography and Panegyric in Late Antiquity, ed. T. Hägg and P. Rousseau (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 2000), 209–54, esp. 229.


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typical level—an assumption that rests upon a structuralist approach developed by Claude Lévi-Strauss.16 But as Robin Lane Fox remarks in the course of his analysis of the Life of Daniel, one can detect more history in hagiography than might seem warranted.17 This conclusion is supported, for instance, by the writings of Cyril of Scythopolis regarding monastic settlement in the Judaean desert—as now confirmed by archaeological evidence.18 Nevertheless, we have to take into account the function and context of the text, and to go beyond the boundaries of the genre and highlight those nuances that allow us to recognize the author’s perception.19 Another difficulty common in hagiographic works derives from the distance between the time of their composition and the time of the events that they describe. The authors often write about holy men and women whom they never met and whose life stories they learned only through hearsay— a fact that casts doubt on the accuracy of some of the biographical data and the religious perceptions of those about whom they were writing. Palladius, for example, knew only a few of the holy men and women about whom he wrote.20 Other Christian authors, however, among them Theodoret of Cyrrhus, deliberately emphasize their personal acquaintance with their heroes.21 John of Ephesus, when composing his Lives of the Eastern Saints in the sixth century, was writing largely from firsthand knowledge, since he describes the lives of saints from Mesopotamia and Syria whom he himself knew or had at least met.22 Cyril of Scythopolis felt it was important to inform his readers that he himself had experienced some of the events he recorded. He had interrogated the elders about the monks who had known his heroes— Euthymius and Sabas—and claimed to have witnessed miracles performed

16. Patlagean, “Ancient Byzantine Hagiography and Social History,” 104–5, 109. For a similar conclusion, see S. Ashbrook-Harvey, Asceticism and Society in Crisis: John of Ephesus and the Lives of the Eastern Saints (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1990), xiii–xiv, 37–39, 145–46. 17. R. Lane Fox, “The Life of Daniel,” in Portraits, ed. Edwards and Swain, 175–225. 18. See especially Hirschfeld, The Judean Desert Monasteries; Patrich, Sabas, Leader of Palestinian Monasticism. 19. See further methodological remarks on the function of hagiographic texts: P. Rousseau, “Ascetics as Mediators and as Teachers,” in The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages: Essays on the Contribution of Peter Brown, ed. J. Howard-Johnston and P. A. Hayward (Oxford, 1999), 45–59. 20. In this regard, see R. T. Meyer, “Palladius as Biographer and Autobiographer,” SP 17 (1982): 66–71. On the literary genre and the function of the Historia Lausiaca and the History of the Monks in Egypt, see Frank, Memory of the Eyes, 3–6, 35–78. 21. Historia religiosa pref. 11, SC 234: 143. 22. Ashbrook-Harvey (Asceticism and Society in Crisis, 30–40, 134–46) discusses the peculiar literary style of John of Ephesus in his Lives of the Eastern Saints.


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at the tomb of Euthymius.23 Apart from the hagiographers’ prevalent claims of credibility, and the attempts of modern scholars to find more evidence of historical events in this literature than is warranted,24 we also need to tackle the problem of anachronism in certain texts. The question arises, for example, whether the Life of Chariton—most likely written by a monk of one of Chariton’s monasteries in the Judaean desert in the sixth century—articulates the hero’s attitude toward Jerusalem in the early 330s or, as is more likely, the author’s own outlook.25 Should we accept the author’s assertion that Chariton “entered the path that leads to the holy city of God, having chosen to imitate Elijah’s and John’s life in the desert,”26 as one of the early testimonies to what became later a prevailing pattern of religious behavior among monks—to visit the holy city of Jerusalem before withdrawing to the nearby desert?27 Or should we view this yearning to see Jerusalem as an anachronism, recorded by an author writing in an age in which the conception of Palestine as a Christian Holy Land was well developed and anchored in monastic circles of the Judaean desert, whose leaders played a decisive role in the religious and political life of the church in Jerusalem?28 This also applies to the Life of Daniel, whose protagonist (409–93) struggles to decide whether to visit the holy places in Palestine or go to Constantinople.29 For our purposes, it is irrelevant whether Daniel’s dilemma was real or a projection of the anonymous author, for the author was in fact reflecting the ambivalent attitude toward pilgrimage in the period in which he wrote. In this regard Theodoret of Cyrrhus’s Historia religiosa, written in the 440s, is exceptional.30 Theodoret pretended to write as a historian; he repeatedly informs his readers of the re-

23. Vita Euthymii 60, 82–83. 24. For such an attempt, see Lane Fox, “The Life of Daniel.” 25. On the chronological aspects, see L. Di Segni, “The Life of Chariton,” in Ascetic Behavior in Greco-Roman Antiquity: A Sourcebook, ed. V. L. Wimbush (Minneapolis, 1990), 393–421, esp. 394. 26. Life of Chariton 8, Engl. trans. 402. 27. See, for example, Vita sancti Theodosii, ed. Usener, 7–8; Vita Euthymii 6, 14. 28. A point made clear in Wilken, Land Called Holy, 150–72. 29. On the reliability of this work, see Lane Fox, “The Life of Daniel,” 175–225. 30. On the literary genre, see the introduction to Historia religiosa, 1: 41–43; P. Canivet, Le monachisme syrien selon Théodoret de Cyr, Théologie Historique 42 (Paris, 1977): 65–79; idem, “Théodoret et le monachisme syrien avant le concile de Chalcédoine,” in Théologie de la vie monastique (Aubier, 1961), 241–82. The importance of this work is discussed also in A. Vööbus, History of Asceticism in the Syrian Orient: Early Monasticism in Mesopotamia and Syria, CSCO 197.2 (Louvain, 1960), 11–13; F. Young, From Nicaea to Chalcedon: A Guide to the Literature and Its Background. (Philadelphia, 1983), 35–37, 50–56. For the regional dimension of this work, see Frank, Memory of the Eyes, 39, 41–42.


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liability of his sources, emphasizing that he is describing what he has seen for himself.31 He is not imitating the Life of Antony, as was fashionable at the time, and the spiritual terminology he uses is unlike that used in Historia Lausiaca.32 The deliberate historical approach, together with its hagiographic style, are what characterize the Historia religiosa—which is not to say, however, that no anachronism is to be found in this composition. It should be stressed that in some hagiographic treatises the geographical arenas of the holy men and women receive only marginal attention, having no function in the text. Indeed it is hard to believe that Melania the Elder, as portrayed by Palladius in his Historia Lausiaca, would have been satisfied with an account that focuses merely on her activities, while the place chosen by her to realize the ascetic life—the Mount of Olives, one of the principal settings of the Christian Church—was completely ignored. After all, she had left her family and aristocratic milieu and renounced her wealth in order to follow a pious life precisely in this place, where she established a monastic settlement and presided over it for more then twenty-seven years.33 Nevertheless, despite the drawbacks involved in using the hagiographic literature, such literature undoubtedly reflects the religious and social history of late-antique monastic culture and captures its pervasive piety, elements vital to an understanding of the various attitudes to pilgrimage at the time.34

xeniteia, hesychia, and pilgrimage La vie monastique est conçue comme un pèlerinage jamais achevé, le moine est un éternel pèlerin, ou un perpétuel vagabond. a. guillaumont

In his definition of the monastic life Antoine Guillaumont undoubtedly succeeds in describing the lives of monks in many monastic communities

31. Historia religiosa pref. 11, SC 234: 143. 32. Canivet points to a specifically Platonic influence. Scholars recognize the work’s importance beyond its description of fifth-century Syrian monasticism, and its influence on later hagiographic works such as that of Cyril of Scythopolis is already attested. See, for example, B. Flusin, Miracle et histoire dans l’œuvre de Cyrille de Scythopolis (Paris, 1983), 67–70. 33. Historia Lausiaca 46: 135–36; 54: 146–48. 34. See, for instance, E. A. Clark, “Holy Women, Holy Words: Early Christian Women, Social History, and the Linguistic Turn,” JECS 6 (1998): 413–30, discussing problematic issues of historicity in late-antique women’s vitae.


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throughout the Byzantine period.35 From its inception, the idea of journeying and wandering held an important place in Christian thought, both in practice and especially symbolically.36 The theme of travel pervades monastic culture from its beginnings, as can be detected in the Life of Antony, one of the earliest compositions written in those circles.37 For monastic culture travel was an effective way of shaping its identity. The journey served not merely as a devotional act; it also marked a new spiritual departure in the life of the monk—an exodus toward self-transformation. Thus in describing Antony’s withdrawal to the inner mountain the author intended to chart his spiritual aims and progress.38 Cyril of Scythopolis, likewise, exploited the idea of journeying, around which he structured the lives of his heroes. While sketching their journeys, and linking pilgrimage to the holy city of Jerusalem and anachoresis to the nearby desert, he was in fact outlining the main stages of their holy careers, as well as establishing their monastic identity and goals.39 The Apophthegmata patrum—a collection of sayings and stories of the fourth- and fifth-century Desert Fathers of Lower Egypt and Palestine— often describes journeys of monks and their impulse to move from place to place.40 Both tendencies, the impulse to wander and the need to guard against excessive monastic wandering, are to be found in the Apophthegmata.41

35. The epigraph to this section is quoted from A. Guillaumont, “Le dépaysement comme forme d’ascèse dans le monachisme ancien,” EPHE 76 (1968): 46; reprinted in his Aux origines du monachisme chrétien, 104. 36. Spicq, Vie chrétienne et pérégrination; Leclercq, Aux sources de la spiritualité occidentale, 35–52; Rousseau, Ascetics, Authority, and the Church, 43–49. For a thorough discussion on the very idea of wandering monks in its social, economic, and ecclesiastical contexts, see D. Caner, Wandering, Begging Monks: Spiritual Authority and the Promotion of Monasticism in Late Antiquity (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 2002). 37. For a comparison of pilgrimage in the Life of Antony and Jerome’s Life of Paul, see Frank, Memory of the Eyes, 96–101. 38. Vita Antonii 49, 54–55. J. Sutera, “Place and Stability in the Life of Antony,” CSQ 28 (1993): 101–14; H. F. von Campenhausen, “The Ascetic Idea of Exile in Ancient and Early Medieval Monasticism,” in idem, Tradition and Life in the Church, trans. A. V. Littledale (Philadelphia, 1968), 231–51. G. Gould, in “Moving on and Staying Put in the Apophthegmata patrum,” SP 20 (1989): 232, correctly argues that “Antony’s life was not characterized by instability, but by attachment to two different places which served different purposes.” 39. On the function of the travels in Cyril’s composition, see Flusin, Miracle et histoire, 113–19, 145–48. 40. See esp. Caner, Wandering, Begging Monks, 19–82. 41. Rousseau, Ascetics, Authority, and the Church, 43–48; idem, “The Spiritual Authority of the ‘Monk-Bishop’: Eastern Elements in Some Western Hagiography


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These differing perspectives, as Graham Gould points out, result from the nature of the text, “which is a product of many different minds and experiences of monastic life.”42 The monk is represented in these sources as a stranger, one who can never settle but must wander from his birthplace, leaving his family and becoming estranged from all worldly ties. Abraham served as a prototype of sacred mobility in this context. Genesis 12:1—“Get you out of your country and from your kindred and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you”—became the maxim of the monks who left their homeland for foreign countries in which they initiated their new life, as well as that of the monks who undertook pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the Byzantine period.43 Combining the ideas of alienation and pilgrimage was not an innovation of the monastic movement. Philo of Alexandria had already paved the way, drawing on Genesis 12:1 to describe his own attitude toward pilgrimage to the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.44 But the question remains: Is there any conceptual affinity between pilgrimage and the monastic ideal of voluntary exile on the one hand, and xeniteia on the other, the state of being a traveler, a stranger to the world?45 The term xeniteia (xeniteiva, usually translated into Latin as peregrinatio and borrowed into Syriac as aksaniutha) implies wandering, leaving one’s birthplace, as well as pilgrimage to holy places, holy

of the Fourth and Fifth Centuries,” JThS, n.s., 22 (1971): 381–97. Gould (“Moving on and Staying Put,” 237 and n. 35) argues against Rousseau’s view that wandering was an early phenomenon gradually overtaken by an increasing emphasis on stability; he postulates the coexistence of different attitudes among the Desert Fathers. On this issue, see now Caner, Wandering, Begging Monks, 20–23. 42. Gould, “Moving on and Staying Put,” 234. 43. On this verse in relation to the monks of the Judaean desert, see Wilken, Land Called Holy, 165. On the image of Abraham as a stranger in the early patristic texts, see E. Lanne, “La xeniteia d’Abraham dans l’œuvre d’Irénée: Aux origines du thème monastique de la peregrinatio,” Irénikon 47 (1974): 163–87. 44. Amir, “Philo’s Version of Pilgrimage.” See also A. Kerkeslager, “Jewish Pilgrimage and Jewish Identity in Hellenistic and Early Roman Egypt,” in Pilgrimage and Holy Space, ed. Frankfurter, 107–9; B. Bitton-Ashkelony, “Pilgrimage in Monastic Culture in Late Antiquity,” in The Armenians in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, ed. M. Stone, R. Ervine, and N. Stone (Louvain, 2002), 1–17. 45. On the term xeniteiva, see Lampe, Patristic Greek Lexicon, 931. This survey is based largely on Guillaumont, “Dépaysement.” For further bibliography on the term xeniteiva, see ibid., 90 n. 2; Rousseau, Ascetics,Authority, and the Church, 48–49. The Syriac term has three meanings: a state of solitude, a visit to a holy place or holy man, and hospitality. John of Ephesus (Lives of the Eastern Saints, chap. 17, p. 250) uses the term aksaniutha to designate hospitality. This last meaning does not exist in Greek or Latin.


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men, and the shrines of martyrs. Its significance lies in the notion that the monk is a stranger (xevnoˇ) to the world—an alienation that could take internal or external form. The monk could realize xeniteia anywhere and at any stage of his monastic life. Likewise, when a monk ceased to be a stranger in a place, he could again go wandering and realize xeniteia anew. From the mid-fourth century on, many of the monks who came to Palestine from the East and the West to fulfill their xeniteia actually settled there and created a cosmopolitan monastic community, incorporating their traditions and languages.46 We may detect a clear affinity between xeniteia and pilgrimage in John Rufus’s Life of Peter the Iberian, written at the end of the fifth century in Greek and surviving in a Syriac version, which preserves an account of Peter the Iberian’s journey to Jerusalem in 439.47 It is significant that in the Life of Peter the Iberian one of the goals that Peter most cherishes is “to put on the crown of good aksaniutha.”48 John Rufus recounts that as Peter “had advanced in age and spiritual love . . . he longed to go far from the world and its vanity, and run to that first of virtues which is aksaniutha.”49 His destination was Jerusalem. As he and his companion approached the city and saw, from a distance of five stadia, the glistening roofs of the churches 46. The hagiographic literature written in Palestine, especially that of John Rufus, Cyril of Scythopolis, and John Moschus, clearly reflects this reality. Burial inscriptions from the monastery of Choziba in Wadi Qelt compiled by Schneider (“Kloster der Theotokos zu Choziba,” 317–29) attest to a similar situation to that described by the literary sources: 213 burial inscriptions dating from the fifth to the tenth century were found. Of these, 73 inscriptions indicate the origin of the monks: most of them came from northern Syria and Asia Minor, and a few came from Palestine and the Latin-speaking West; monks from Egypt are not mentioned. For the cosmopolitan nature of Palestinian monasticism, see Schwartz, Kyrillos von Skythopolis, 359–60; Perrone, Chiesa di Palestine, 37; idem, “Monasticism in the Holy Land: From the Beginning to the Crusaders,” POC 45 (1995): 31–63; Wilken, Land Called Holy, 157. 47. On John Rufus and his identification as the author of the anonymous biography of Peter the Iberian, see E. Schwartz, Johannes Rufus, ein monophysitischer Schriftsteller (Heidelberg, 1912); D. M. Lang, “Peter the Iberian and His Biographers,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 2 (1951): 158–68; J. E. Steppa, John Rufus and the World Vision of Anti-Chalcedonian Culture (Piscataway, 2002). On Rufus and the anti-Chalcedonian Palestinian hagiography, see B. Flusin, “L’hagiographie palestinienne et la réception du concile de Chalcédoine,” in LEIMWN: Studies Presented to Lennart Rydén on His Sixty-fifth Birthday (Uppsala, 1996), 25–47, esp. 30–38. 48. V. Petri Ib. 122. 49. Ibid., 20. I wish to thank Sebastian Brock for putting at my disposal Derwas J. Chitty’s unpublished English translation of the Life of Peter the Iberian.


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of the Holy Cross, the Anastasis, and the Ascension, they cried out: “Look upon Zion, the city of our salvation: thine eyes will see Jerusalem” (Isaiah 33:20 [LXX]). The two prostrated themselves and advanced on their knees until they entered the city and arrived at the Church of the Anastasis, where “they wept and gave praise as if they were with Jesus in heaven.”50 Peter’s exercising his aksaniutha in the Holy Land expressed more than a simple act of devotion or the fulfillment of a central monastic ideal. It was in fact a journey toward his new identity as a monk of the Monophysite creed, which in this composition is considered to be the true faith, the orthodoxy. It is noteworthy that at the very beginning of the composition the author stresses that Peter was previously called Nabarnugius, “but when he was counted worthy of holy habit of the monk, then his name was changed to Peter . . . that is to say, the Rock, and on this rock was founded the Orthodox Church.”51 John Rufus portrays Peter as a second Moses, a comparison compatible with the intent of the author: to present Peter as one who held the true faith.52 The notion of imitatio Mosis is depicted at an early stage of the journey: Peter and his companion traveled alone, accompanied only by “those holy martyrs who were their guardians and companions, carrying [the] precious bones in a little golden reliquary, as great Moses carried the Ark of God with the Cherubim.”53 In the Lives of the Eastern Saints, written by John of Ephesus in the sixth century, we may detect a similar affinity between xeniteia and pilgrimage. Describing the pilgrimage to Jerusalem of the sixth-century anchoritic virgin Mary from Amida, John writes:54 This Mary was a pure virgin, and from her childhood she chose for her part quiet, renunciation, great feats of fasting, many vigils, constant prayers, and exertion in grace, or aksaniutha. At last she set her mind on going to Jerusalem and to that holy place of the divine incarnation that took place for the salvation of all, so that in it she might worship

50. V. Petri Ib. 26–27. 51. Ibid., 4. 52. Symeon the Stylite was given the title “New Moses” by the author of the Syriac version of the vita; see Vita Syriaca Symeonis Stylitae 41, 125; see also R. Doran, The Lives of Symeon Stylites, CS 112 (Kalamazoo, 1992), 18. 53. Ibid., 23. See also B. Bitton-Ashkelony, “The Pilgrimages of Peter the Iberian,” Cathedra 91 (1999): 97–112; idem, “Imitatio Mosis and Pilgrimage in the Life of Peter the Iberian,” in Christian Gaza in Late Antiquity, ed. Bitton-Ashkelony and Kofsky, 107–29. 54. Lives of the Eastern Saints 12, PO 17:167. English translation is mine; see also Engl. trans. Brock and Ashbrook-Harvey, Holy Women, 124. On Mary’s way of life, see Ashbrook-Harvey, Asceticism and Society in Crisis, 122–26.


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and then return to her service. Now when she had gone and prayed, she stood in front of the site of Golgotha and was lifted up in wonder. There she remained standing for three days and three nights.

The question arises as to how one should interpret the term aksaniutha here. In his English translation E. W. Brooks chose “pilgrimage,” which, however, appears not to express all the connotations of aksaniutha that the author wished to convey. In a new translation of the Lives of Mary and Euphemia, the term is translated as “wandering.”55 If this is what is meant here, we may say that Mary chose to roam the holy places in Jerusalem, particularly Golgotha, in order to realize the ideal of aksaniutha—to be a stranger to the world. Paradoxically, Mary chose to dwell in solitude and to exercise her aksaniutha at the entrance to the Church of the Golgotha—one of the busiest places in the city. But from John’s description it is clear that she did indeed live in complete detachment from her surroundings. She spent three years sitting at the entrance to the Golgotha, without entering anyone’s home and without talking to a soul; her eyes were raised up, gazing in wonder and tears, as though gazing upon God transfixed on the Cross. According to John, people at first believed she was mad, but after a time she was recognized by those who had known her in childhood and who praised her lofty way of life.56 Thereafter all who had previously thought her a mad peddler began to honor her as a holy woman, begging her to pray for them; but she refused to take on this role of intercessor.57 Now, with her anonymity gone, she fled to her homeland, vowing to return every year to worship “in the place where God suffered.”58 Mary’s story, as transmitted to us by John of Ephesus, reveals very clearly the perfect blend of an extremely ascetic life in which the ideal of aksaniutha is fully realized together with the religious experience of pilgrimage in the holy places. The two are so interwoven in this story that a firm distinction is difficult. Hagiographic literature contains other instances of women who abandoned their families and chose to live the monastic life close to holy places. Palladius, for instance, used the term xeniteia in referring to Melania the Elder, who left her family and friends in Rome to journey to a foreign land 55. Ibid., 124. 56. On madness as a way of detaching oneself from people, see Guillaumont, “Dépaysement,” 48, where the example of Abba Or, who recommended this choice, is mentioned (Apophthegmata, Or 14, PG 65: 440c). 57. Ashbrook-Harvey, Asceticism and Society in Crisis, 122. In the early Syrian sources the term qadishta refers to celibacy: see Vööbus, History of Asceticism in the Syrian Orient, 2: 104–6. 58. Lives of the Eastern Saints 12, PO 17:169.


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and found her monastery on the Mount of Olives.59 The holy places in Jerusalem and its vicinity were not the only location where female devotees chose to exercise their xeniteia. Central pilgrimage sites throughout the Christian world attracted them.We know of a certain Matrona who abandoned her family, gave her daughter up for adoption, and joined the virgins who lodged in the porticoes around the shrine of the apostles in Constantinople.60 In fourth- and fifth-century Seleucia, the tomb of Saint Thecla was among the privileged gathering places chosen by ascetics who yearned to experience inner withdrawal.61 There were various ways of practicing xeniteia. Antoine Guillaumont has pointed out that the phenomenon of wandering was more prevalent among the Syrian monks than among the Egyptians, since the two regions held significantly different conceptions of xeniteia, as a result of differing social circumstances. Whereas the Syrians generally had been merchants and had traveled extensively, the majority of Egyptian monks had been farmers who had abandoned their villages and retreated to the nearby desert.62 The conception of xeniteia among the monks of Egypt, as Guillaumont has demonstrated, was profoundly spiritual and internal—a process of detachment from society and inner withdrawal rather than a physical act of journeying and wandering. This propensity for inner xeniteia is clearly captured in the writings of the fifth-century Egyptian monk Abba Isaiah,63 who stated that “before everything, the first struggle is that of xeniteia [pro; pavntwn, oJ prw¸ toˇ ajgwvn ejstin hJ xeniteiva].” He described xeniteia as a long combat against enemies surrounding the monk in order to reach the goal of apatheia (ajpavqeia), the state of the soul entirely liberated of its passions.64 The author painted

59. Historia Lausiaca 54: 11–12, 146. On the circumstances that moved Melania to settle in Jerusalem, see Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 168–71. 60. Vita Matronae 30, 792A; Acta sanctarum Nov. III, quoted in P. Brown, Body and Society: Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York, 1988), 272. 61. Gregory of Nazianzus, De vita sua 548–551, Engl. trans. White, Autobiographical Poems, 50–51; Egeria, Itinerary 23.1–6; Historia religiosa 29.7, SC 257: 234–36; Vita Theclae, Miracles 46, 408. For additional examples and a discussion of the phenomenon, see Brown, Body and Society, 271–73. 62. Guillaumont, “Dépaysement,” 52–58. 63. On Abba Isaiah, see D. Chitty, “Abba Isaiah,” JThS, n.s., 22 (1971): 47–72; S. Vailhé, “Un mystique monophysite, le moine Isaïe,” Echos d’Orient 9 (1906): 81–91; L. Regnault, “Isaïe de Scété ou de Gaza? Notes critiques en marge d’une introduction au problème isaïen,” RAM 46 (1970): 33–44; B. Bitton-Ashkelony and A. Kofsky, “Gazan Monasticism in the Fourth–Sixth Centuries: From Anchoritic to Cenobitic,” POC 50 (2000): 30–38. 64. Asceticon 17.1.


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his ideas on xeniteia in Evagrian terminology; thus the enemies he listed in this context—vainglory (kenodoxiva), anger (ojrghv ), sadness (luvph), listlessness (ajkhdiva)—are in fact the well-known logismoi (logismoiv ), evil thoughts, identified by Evagrius Ponticus, that the monk must fight in order to reach the apatheia he seeks.65 According to Abba Isaiah, one became a stranger for precisely this end, to prepare himself to attain the state of apatheia.66 The life of Abba Isaiah, like that of many other monks, is far from being marked by stability, although he beseeched his monks to stay in their cells and limit their interaction with monks and others once they decided to be “strangers for God.”67 From the brief Syriac biography of Abba Isaiah attributed to Zachariah Rhetor, it appears that after receiving his monastic training in a cenobium in Egypt he secluded himself in the desert. In order to escape his admirers he decided to emigrate to Palestine; then, after a visit to Jerusalem and its holy places, he settled in the desert near Eleutheropolis, but there too he became known.68 Finally, Isaiah withdrew to the Gaza region in an effort to elude the multitudes of his admirers, both monks and laymen, who congregated at his door seeking assistance and spiritual direction. This course of monastic life should not be interpreted as a realization of the ideal of xeniteia, a term missing from the vita;69 for Abba Isaiah, wandering from place to place was one of four things that deserted the monk’s soul (Dia; tessavrwn pragmavtwn givnetai e[rhmoˇ hJ yuchv dia; to; perievrcesqai ajpo; tovpou eijˇ tovpon . . . ).70 Rather, from this representation there emerges the portrait of a prominent escaping monk who was constantly engaged in a search for his tranquillity. Xeniteia as an inner process of detachment from society can be clearly seen in the Apophthegmata patrum, although the persistence of wandering is also well attested in these sources. For Abba Tithoes, xeniteia meant control over one’s tongue.71 When Abba Longinus expressed his desire to live in xeniteia, Abba Lucius said to him: “If you cannot control your tongue, 65. Ibid., 17.2–3. For Evagrius’s Logismoi, see Praktikos, ed. A. Guillaumont, SC 170: 63–93; On Thoughts (ed. P. Géhin, C. Guillaumont, and A. Guillaumont, Evagre le Pontique: Traité sur les pensées, SC 438 [Paris 1998]). 66. Asceticon 17.1. 67. Ibid., 4.16–18. 68. Vita Isaiae Monachi 3–16. René Draguet cast doubt on the attribution of the vita to Zacharias and on its authenticity; he saw it as a late hagiographic text. His doubts were convincingly rejected by Chitty (“Abba Isaiah”), whose conclusions were accepted by Lucien Regnault, “Isaïe de Scété ou de Gaza?” 69. For such an understanding, see Guillaumont, “Dépaysement,” 41–42. 70. Asceticon 7.47. 71. Apoph. Tithoes 2, PG 65: 428b.


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you will not be a foreigner [xevnoˇ] anywhere. Therefore control your tongue here, and you will be a foreigner.”72 When one of Antony’s disciples asked him what he should do to please God, Antony advised, among other things, “In whatever place you live, do not easily leave it.”73 But he himself is represented in his vita as a monk who flees to the desert and to the inner mountain because, according to his biographer, “the crowds do not permit me to be quiet . . . and especially because I am asked by them for things beyond my power.”74 However, Athanasius depicted Antony not as the ultimate wandering monk, but rather as one forced to move in order to gain his spiritual goal. Two opposing tendencies can thus be seen in the desert tradition: on the one hand, a propensity to travel, to seek out ascetic authority figures for various reasons; on the other hand, calls for stability and persistent warnings against wandering.The tension between these two impulses in the desert tradition never lets up.Thus despite the fact that Evagrius Ponticus, for instance, preached to his monks to embrace xeniteia, he also advised them to stay in their cells.75 For Evagrius, the encounter with the “vagabond demon” (daivmwn plavnoˇ) who “promenades the monk’s intellect from city to city, from village to village, from house to house” was no less dangerous for the anchorite monk than real wandering.76 In his Praktikos the demons are those who attempt to lure the monk away from his cell and instill in him negative feelings toward his dwelling place, tempting him to look out his window at the world.77 Evagrius explained the demons’ words by imputing to them a traditional argument alluded to in John 4:21–24: that pleasing God has nothing to do with a particular place.The divinity, Evagrius said, can be worshipped everywhere; therefore the monk should not hesitate to move elsewhere if he so wishes. This argument was mostly voiced in order to reject attributing significance or importance to any specific sacred space. Here, however, Evagrius applies this reasoning in opposition to the widespread phenomenon of wandering monks. As Susanna Elm has pointed out, Evagrius often expressed deep disapproval of wandering.78 His objections were directed not against any

72. Apoph. Longinus 1, PG 65: 265c. 73. Apoph. Antony 3, PG 65: 76. 74. Vita Antonii 49. On Antony’s withdrawal, see Gould, “Moving on and Staying Put,” 231–32; D. Brakke, Athanasius and the Politics of Asceticism (Oxford, 1995), 226–39. 75. Rerum monachalium rationes, PG 40: 1257c–d; Apoph. Evagrius 1, PG 65:173. 76. On Thoughts 9, SC 438: 180–81. 77. Evagrius, Praktikos 12, 2: 520–25. 78. S. Elm, “Evagrius Ponticus’ Sententiae ad Virginem,” DOP 45 (1991): 97–120.


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specific destination but rather against the very notion of the wandering monk (kukleuth;ˇ monacovˇ).79 In a letter apparently sent to Melania and Rufinus on the Mount of Olives, Evagrius thus expressed his opposition to a particular virgin’s desire to journey to Egypt: “I do not see what she will gain by going so far on such a tiring route. Even if this is with the Lord’s help, I could easily demonstrate the damage she and those with her will suffer. Therefore, I beg your Holiness to prevent those who have renounced the world from this unnecessary walking around on such roads. . . . Such behavior is misguided for those who live in chastity.”80 Clearly, Evagrius preferred that this virgin remain in her place. It should be noted that he directed such an instruction not only to women but to monks as well.81 His attitude on the issue is embodied in one of his instructions to monks: “Sit in your cell, collecting your thoughts.”82 As we shall see, this fundamental standpoint, shared by many monastic thinkers, had a profound effect on pilgrimage to holy places. Barsanuphius, the sixth-century holy recluse of the Gaza region, responded in the same spirit to his disciple Dorotheus, who expressed an interest in traveling to a foreign country in search of salvation.83 Barsanuphius clearly perceived the idea as a transgression instigated by the dia79. Ad monachos 81, Greek and Engl. trans. J. Driscoll, The ‘Ad Monachos’ of Evagrius Ponticus, 59. On this terminology, see Elm, “Evagrius Ponticus’ Sententiae ad Virginem,” 102. For a spiritual understanding of this proverb—that is, wandering in the mind—see Driscoll, “‘Ad Monachos,’” 116. 80. Letter 7, ed. Frankenberg, 571–73, G. Bunge, Evagrios Pontikos: Briefe aus der Wüste (Trier, 1986), 220. 81. See, for example, Ad monachos 81; Letter 8, 573; Sententiae ad virginem 13, 26, 147–48, quoted in Elm, “Evagrius Ponticus’ Sententiae ad Virginem,” 115–16; idem, “Virgins of God,” 277–78. On this composition, see S. Elm, “The Sententiae ad Virginem by Evagrius Ponticus and the Problem of Early Monastic Rules,” Augustinianum 30 (1990): 393–404. 82. Apoph. Evagrius 1, PG 65: 173. 83. On Barsanuphius’s leadership and his rich correspondence, see D. Chitty, The Desert a City: An Introduction to the Study of Egyptian and Palestinian Monasticism under the Christian Empire (Oxford, 1966), 132–40; L. Regnault, “Théologie de la vie monastique selon Barsanuphe et Dorothée,” in Théologie de la vie monastique: Etudes sur la tradition patristique (Aubier, 1961), 315–22; Perrone, Chiesa di Palestine, 296–311; idem, “Le lettere a Giovanni di Beersheva nella corrispondenza di Barsanufio e Giovanni di Gaza,” in Mémorial Dom Jean Gribomont (1920–1986) (Rome, 1988), 463–86; idem, “I padri del monchesimo di Gaza IV–VI: La fedeltà allo spirito delle origini,” La Chiesa nel Tempo 13 (1997): 90–100; S. Tugwell, Ways of Imperfection:An Exploration of Christian Spirituality (London, 1984), 83–92; F. Neyt and P. Angelis-Noah, Barsanuphe et Jean de Gaza: Correspondance, introd., SC 426 (Paris, 1997): 11–148; J. Chryssavgis, “Aspects of Spiritual Direction: The Palestinian Tradition,” in The Sixth Century: End or Beginning? ed. P. Allen and E. Jeffreys (Bris-


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bolos and angrily rejected it: cursed be he who harbors in his heart thoughts of leaving this place, for wherever he may go, from one end of the earth to the other, “nowhere will you receive help as you do here.” He advised Dorotheus to acquire stability, distance himself from parrhesia, dismiss his fears, and devote himself to God: “Be dead to all persons; this is xeniteia.”84 The wandering monk was not always perceived negatively.Thus John Rufus portrayed Silvanus’s disciple Zeno (d. 451)—a leading figure in the Palestinian monasticism of the fifth century—as a wandering monk (metkarkana) in a very positive light, describing him as a prophet, a wandering monk, and a hermit, as well as the spiritual father of Peter the Iberian and of many monks from Egypt and Palestine.85 Likewise, in the Apophthegmata patrum, he appears as an outstanding example of the eremitic ideal, one who preferred not to settle down in a permanent location.86 The problem of monks’ moving about is closely related to the requirement of obedience to the abbot. A certain monk of Barsanuphius’s monastery was once ordered to go on a mission to Jerusalem. In the course of fulfilling his mission he took the opportunity to go down to the Jordan River to pray. Anxious about whether he had done right to take this initiative, he hastened to consult John, Barsanuphius’s partner in the spiritual leadership of the monastery. John categorically denounced taking such a liberty; basing himself on John 6:38, he stressed that a monk could not go anywhere without permission. In his view, the pious motive for the monk’s digression was irrelevant.87 It should be recalled that Barsanuphius had been born in Egypt, where he had initiated his monastic way of life. In the course of the sixth century he had moved to Gaza and settled there in seclusion, in which he and his disciple John maintained contact with their monks through correspondence. The attitude of the two spiritual leaders, then, reflects the conception of xeniteia prevalent in the Egyptian tradition, with its emphasis on inner rather then physical xeniteia. This predilection for stability was not always directed against pilgrimage, but the particular perception of xeniteia

bane, 1996), 126–30; Bitton-Ashkelony and Kofsky, “Gazan Monasticism in the Fourth–Sixth Centuries,” 51–54. 84. Questions and Answers 259, SC 450: 230–32. 85. John Rufus, Plerophoriae 8, 136; V. Petri Ib. 49–50. 86. Apoph. Zeno 1–8, PG 65: 176b–d. The information about Zeno in the various collections of the Apophthegmata was collected by M. Van Parys, “Abba Silvanus et ses disciples: Une famille monastique entre Scété et la Palestine à la fin du IVe et dans la première moitié du Ve siècles,” Irénikon 61 (1988): 315–31, 451–80. 87. Questions and Answers 356, SC 450: 378.


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in that monastic culture had direct implications for the overall monastic position on pilgrimage. The Egyptian conception of xeniteia sheds light on the relatively small number of pilgrims who made the journey from Egypt to Jerusalem. David Hunt has claimed that Egyptian monks were often to be seen on pilgrimages and participating in worship at the holy places.88 But close examination of the monastic literature from the fourth to the seventh century reveals a rather different reality; pilgrims from Egyptian monastic circles were few in comparison with those from the West, Syria, Cappadocia, and Armenia. Movement from Palestine to Egypt was greater, except that many monks fled Egypt as a result of the theological controversies at the end of the fourth century, and others were forced to depart when barbarian tribes invaded the monastic center at Scetis during the first half of the fifth century.89 Some of them reached Palestine, but there is a clear distinction between these refugees in Palestine and pilgrims per se. Hunt bases his claim on the Life of Porphyry ascribed to Mark the Deacon (early fifth century).90 That vita relates how Porphyry, a native of Thessalonica, after residing about five years in the desert of Scetis traveled to Palestine “to worship in the holy places.” He then withdrew to the desert near the Jordan River for about five years ( 377–82), whence he set forth, from time to time, to visit the Church of the Anastasis, despite his physical weakness.91 Since Porphyry was not Egyptian by birth, he should not be categorized with the pilgrims from Egypt. Hunt supports his claim—that Egyptian monks often traveled to Palestine—with Cassian’s account of Pinufius, a muchadmired presbyter in the great monastery in Egypt who repeatedly fled the place in order to escape being honored and having to serve in various official roles, as did many others likewise.92 Once he fled to a monastery in Bethlehem where no one knew him; however, before long he was recognized by visiting Egyptian monks, and they took him back to his monastery in Egypt.93 Hunt’s third piece of evidence rests on Egeria’s ac88. Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 186 and n. 28. Hunt seems to make generalizations that do not relate to the bulk of monastic literature. 89. On the flight from Egypt to Palestine during the Origenist controversy and the invasion of Scetis by the Mazices, see Chitty, The Desert a City, 58; Evelyn-White, History of the Monasteries of Nitria and Scetis, 150–67. 90. For a reassessment of the historicity of the Life of Porphyry, see Z. Rubin, “Porphyrius of Gaza and the Conflict between Christianity and Paganism in Southern Palestine,” in Sharing the Sacred, ed. Kofsky and Stroumsa, 31–65. 91. Vita Porphyrii 4.15–18, 5.4–7. 92. For this phenomenon, see below, Chap. 5. 93. Institutions 4.30–31, SC 109: 165–71.


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count of monks’ traveling to Jerusalem from other lands, including Egypt, to participate in the Encaenia, the yearly commemoration of the dedication of the Holy Sepulchre.94 Such examples of travelers from Egypt to Palestine could easily be multiplied.95 However, this would not substantially change the impression gained from the sources that for the Egyptian monks sacred journey to Palestine was fairly marginal. It is to a large extent the Egyptian view of xeniteia—which emphatically called for settling in one place—that accounts for the infrequency of pilgrimage to Palestine among Egyptian monks.96 Although Guillaumont’s conclusions about the differing attitudes of Syrian and Egyptian monks is corroborated by the sources, traces of the spiritual perception of xeniteia can be found in the Syrian monastic literature— for instance, in the writings of Philoxenus of Mabbug (440–523), who was greatly influenced by the teachings of Evagrius Ponticus. In response to one monk’s question about the appropriate way to behave, Philoxenus replied that a monk’s cell is the Promised Land.97 The monk who stays in his cell and fulfills his obligations with obedience and humility receives divine grace.98 In other words, Philoxenus put forward the notion that the cell, and not any holy place, is the exclusive territory of grace. Hesychia is another important ideal often mentioned in connection with pilgrimage. It is a state of silence, tranquillity, and stillness that leads the monk to contemplation. In order to attain hesychia, the monks had at times to wander, withdraw from their surroundings, and live in seclusion.99 Evagrius Ponticus advises monks suffering from contact with the outside world to move elsewhere and, in effect, to realize xeniteia in order to attain hesychia. Evagrius suggests that they should conduct themselves as would a good merchant, who looks to the benefit to be gained; the monk should judge 94. Itinerary 49.1, 318. On the feast of Encaenia, see Vita Constantini 4.40–46. 95. On the famous Egyptian virgins who came to the holy places in the fourth century, see the discussion below. Cyril of Scythopolis tells of Euthymius’s contact with the Egyptian monks who came to visit him and told him about Egyptian monasticism: see Vita Euthymii 19.30–31, 24.36–37. However, we should remember that monks from Egypt are not mentioned in burial inscriptions from the monastery of Choziba; see above, n. 46. 96. On the trend of stability in Egyptian monasticism at its inception, see Rousseau, Ascetics, Authority, and the Church, 44–49. 97. Letter of Philoxenus, 11. On Philoxenus, see A. de Halleux, Philoxène de Mabboug: Sa vie, ses écrits, sa théologie (Louvain, 1963). 98. Letter of Philoxenus, 38–39. This subject warrants extensive and thorough investigation. 99. The standard work on this subject is still I. Hausherr, Hésychasme et prière, Orientalia Christiana Analecta 176 (Rome, 1966).


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everything according to the ideal of hesychia: “Attach yourself to everything that protects it and leads to it.” But Evagrius then immediately qualifies his statement, adding that this goal should not become an excuse for wandering. On the contrary: the monk should stay in his cell.100 Famous monks and holy men who suffered from the admiration of the masses would flee in order to attain the hesychia so essential to their life. Cyril of Scythopolis reports that once Euthymius became known as a healer, people flocked to see him, and he decided to flee in secret and wander in the Roubâ desert.101 Of significance here are those instances in which the monks who sought to withdraw from society, particularly in order to attain the ideal of hesychia, reached the holy places. Like many Syrian monks, Julian Saba, a famous holy man of fourth-century Syria, would often wander with his disciples, usually on short journeys lasting only a few days. Theodoret of Cyrrhus in the fifth century tells us that when Julian Saba wished to avoid being honored, he would journey to Mount Sinai with a select group of disciples.102 After many days, they would reach the mountain, worship there, and stay a while, relishing the seclusion of the place and the tranquillity of soul that it engendered, which was their supreme delight. Julian’s choice of Sinai for attaining hesychia is of particular interest. Certainly there was no shortage of secluded places in Syria; but as Theodoret stressed, it was the hesychia attained by sojourning on Mount Sinai that gave ultimate purpose to their journey. He described a journey of Symeon the Elder’s in the 380s in the same terms: longing for hesychia, he conceived the desire to repair to Mount Sinai.103 The deliberate choice by Theodoret’s heroes of the Sinai as a place for reaching hesychia speaks for the unique charisma of this desert in the fourth century; here the appeal was anchored in the Holy Scriptures and not, as with the Egyptian desert, the presence of holy men. Literary and archaeological evidence from the Byzantine period attests to the importance of the Sinai desert as one of the most sacred spots in the entire 100. Rerum monachalium rationes, PG 40: 1257b–c; A. Guillaumont, “Un philosophe au désert: Evagre le Pontique,” RHR 181 (1972): 33–36 (= Aux origines du monachisme chrétien, 189–92). 101. Vita Euthymii 11, 21, 20–25; 14, 24, 1; Vita Sabae 6, 90, 5–9. On Cyril of Scythopolis’s use of the term hJsuciva, see Festugière, Les moines d’Orient 3.1: 55 n. 1; Flusin, Miracle et histoire, 117–19. 102. Historia religiosa 2.13, 1: 222. On Julian’s visit, see also Jerome’s remark in Ep. 58.5. For a portrait of Julian Saba as holy man, based on Ephrem’s twenty-fourth hymn, see S. H. Griffith, “Julian Saba, ‘Father of the Monks,’” JECS 2 (1994): 185– 216; Vööbus, History of Asceticism in the Syrian Orient, 2: 48–49. 103. Historia religiosa 6.7, 1: 354.


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network of Christian holy topography then taking shape.104 However, the literary testimonies on pilgrimage to Sinai, though plentiful, are usually devoid of any theological discussion or polemics, unlike the sources on pilgrimage to the holy places in Palestine connected with the life of Jesus. It would seem that the rivalry between proponents of the sacred topography of Palestine and those of other parts of the Christian world—mainly the shrines of martyrs and holy men—did not affect Sinai. During the entire Byzantine period it remained one of the preferred places of seclusion, attractive for living in hesychia. The association of hesychia with visiting the holy places in Palestine is evident in the writings of Cyril of Scythopolis, who among others was influenced by Theodoret’s Historia religiosa. He counted hesychia as one of the impulses that led monks to visit Jerusalem. Cyril tells of Sabas, who at the age of eighteen asked permission from the abbot of his monastery “to go to the holy city and live in hesychia in its desert.”105

curiosity and pilgrimage In addition to the desire to realize the two major ideals of xeniteia and hesychia, there was another impulse for pilgrimage among monks: the longing for monastic paideia. Famous thinkers such as Basil of Caesarea, Jerome, Evagrius Ponticus, and Cassian (accompanied by his friend Germanius), were among the leading late fourth-century figures who wandered from one monastic center to another in order to school themselves in monastic life. Likewise, many simple monks who sought to enhance their knowledge of the monastic way of life, and to observe and learn from the famous holy men, set out for the monastic communities all over the Eastern Roman Empire, the colonies of monks at Nitria, Cellia, and Scetis being apparently among the most popular and attractive places in late antiquity. After initial training in a monastery in Syria, Cassian and his companion, aspiring to greater perfection, journeyed to Egypt in hopes of visiting the famous holy men dwelling in the depths of the Theban desert. In one of his first visits to the Desert Fathers, Cassian made clear his desire: to learn the rules of spiritual life through the fathers’ teachings or by closely observing their way 104. For the archaeological finds, see U. Dahari, Monastic Settlements in South Sinai in the Byzantine Period: The Archaeological Remains (Jerusalem, 2000); Y. Tsafrir, “Monks and Monasteries in Southern Sinai,” Qadmoniot 9 (1980): 2–18; I. Finkelstein, “Byzantine Monastic Remains in Southern Sinai,” DOP 39 (1985): 39–75. 105. Vita Sabae 6, 90, 5–8.


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of life.106 Significantly, the anonymous author of the Historia monachorum, who wanted “to provide a paradigm and a testimony for the perfect,”107 opens his composition with an account of the visit of seven monks from the Mount of Olives to John of Lycopolis in Egypt in 394 or 395.108 Their purpose was obvious: “We have come to you from Jerusalem for the good of our souls, so that what we have heard with our ears we might perceive with our eyes.”109 But John questioned their motive: “What remarkable thing did you expect to find . . . that you have undertaken such a long journey?” This question was often raised by intellectuals in the fourth and fifth centuries with regard to the holy places in Palestine; in this case, however, it relates to visiting a holy man. For John, “those who are worthy of admiration and praise are everywhere: the apostles and prophets of God, who are read in the churches.”110 But for these admirers, seeing the “new prophets” living the angelic life was a goal worthy of such arduous travel.111 John himself, seeing no purpose in journeys to him or any other holy man, alludes to another ideal prevalent throughout monastic culture in late antiquity— the imitatio of biblical figures and apostles. In the words of David Satran: “The authors of the formative works of monastic hagiography understood that the spiritual proximity of their subjects to the patriarchs, prophets, and

apostles lay at the very foundation of their enterprise.”112 106. Cassian, Conlationes 11.1–5. On the dating of Cassian’s arrival in Bethlehem to before 385–386, prior to Jerome’s arrival there, see Pichery’s conclusion in the introduction to Conlationes, 13. Pichery based himself on the fact that Cassian did not mention any meeting with Jerome during the period he was in Bethlehem. See also Chitty, The Desert a City, 52; C. Stewart, Cassian the Monk (Oxford, 1998), 6–7. 107. Historia monachorum prol. 12, Engl. trans. 50–51. On this composition see B. Ward and N. Russell, The Lives of the Desert Fathers, CS 34 (Kalamazoo, 1980): 3–19. On the literary aspects, see Frank, Memory of the Eyes, 49–61; idem, “Miracles, Monks, and Monuments: The Historia Monachorum in Aegypto as Pilgrims’ Tales,” in Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt, ed. D. Frankfurter (Leiden, 1998), 483–505. 108. Historia monachorum 1.19–23. For the date, see Festugière, Les moines d’Orient 4.1: 27 n. 430. 109. Historia monachorum 1.19–20; ed. Festugière, 15–16; Engl. trans. 55. Festugière (Les moines d’Orient, 123, 142) did not doubt this journey and accepted it as authentic. For the same opinion, see Ward and Russell’s introduction to The Lives of the Desert Fathers, 4–5. On whether or not the Historia monachorum describes an actual journey, see the bibliography in Elm, “Virgins of God,” 313 n. 4. 110. Historia monachorum 1.20, Engl. trans. 55. 111. Ibid., prol. 4, Engl. trans. 49. 112. Satran, Biblical Prophets in Byzantine Palestine, 104. See also the presentation of Simeon the Stylite’s prophetic behavior in the Syriac hagiography in S. Ashbrook Harvey, “The Edessan Martyrs and Ascetic Tradition,” V Symposium Syriacum 1988, ed. René Lavenant, Orientalia Christiana Analecta 236 (Rome, 1990): 205.


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The Egyptian desert retained its magnetism even after monastic communities grew up elsewhere in the eastern part of the empire, with visits to Egyptian monastic authorities lasting throughout the Byzantine period.113 Such was the case, for example, with Sophronius and his friend Moschus, who came to Egypt in 578 to seek a more complete paideia.114 Besides the wave of pilgrims from foreign countries, many pilgrims came from monastic circles within Egypt itself to see local holy men.115 In the Apophthegmata patrum there is abundant evidence of such visits.116 One of the most striking compositions in this context is undoubtedly the History of the Monks of Upper Egypt, written by Paphnutius at the end of the fourth century.117 He wandered continually among the Egyptian monks, writing down their sayings and teachings.118 He tells of the journeys of Egyptian monks to holy fathers, especially in the areas of Aswan and Phila, to acquire monastic habits and rules.119 Sometimes, it appears, the spiritual father accompanied his disciples into the desert, as in the case of Abba Zacchaeus, who was asked by his monks to lead them “to dwell where you know we will be saved”: he journeyed with them until they reached a suitable place in the desert, supplying them with bread and two books, and he even remained with them for a few days until they learned how to live there.120 At times in the accounts of travels the two motivations—intellectual inspiration and the search for personal salvation via the holy man—are interwoven to such an extent that a clear distinction is not always easily made. Thus Melania the Younger, visiting Egypt in 417, repaired to Alexandria in order to receive a blessing from the charismatic Nestorius, who came to the city once a year to heal the sick. After traveling through the Egyptian desert, Melania returned to Alexandria, where she met with many 113. The implications of this phenomenon for the shaping of Western monasticism are discussed in Rousseau, Ascetics, Authority, and the Church, 79–95. 114. C. Schönborn, Sophrone de Jérusalem: Vie monastique et confession dogmatique, Théologie Historique 20 (Paris, 1972): 57. 115. See, for example, the case of Shenoute’s monastery: H. Behlmer, “Visitors to Shenoute’s Monastery,” in Pilgrimage and Holy Space, ed. Frankfurter, 343–68. 116. G. Gould, The Desert Fathers on Monastic Community (Oxford, 1993), 5–25. On travels of monks in the Apophthegmata, see L. Regnault, La vie quotidienne des pères du désert en Egypte au IVe siècle (Paris, 1990), 165–75. 117. On the author’s identity, see T.Vivian, Histories of the Monks of Upper Egypt and the Life of Onnophrius, CS 140 (Kalamazoo, 1993): 42–50. 118. Pophnutius, ed. Budge, Miscellaneous Coptic Texts, 73–161. Engl. trans. Vivian, Histories of the Monks of Upper Egypt. 119. See, for example, ibid., 46, 76–77, 93; Engl. trans. 93, 109–110, 118. 120. Ibid., 23, p. 82.


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monks and holy men in order to benefit from witnessing their virtuous lives.121 Once sacred journeys had become common in the monastic culture, they prompted conflicting reactions among influential writers in this milieu concerning the relationship between monks and the religious landscape. I shall examine here the attitudes of three prominent figures engaged in this debate—Athanasius of Alexandria and Evagrius Ponticus, both writing from Egypt, and Theodoret of Cyrrhus, who represents the story of the northern Syrian ascetics.

athanasius of alexandria (296–373) Historically speaking, Athanasius was ideally placed to clarify the relationship between the monastic movement in Egypt and the Christian religious landscape both inside and outside Egypt. He lived in a period when Egyptian monasticism was flourishing, and at the very time when the phenomenon of pilgrimage was on the rise; the concept of earthly sacred space had taken root in Christianity, and the cult of the holy places and holy martyrs had gained impetus. His ties with monks and his intensive efforts to integrate the monastic movement and its values into his church in Alexandria, as well as his writings concerning the cult of martyrs and pilgrimage to Palestine, attest that Athanasius did not remain indifferent to the ongoing interaction of monks and virgins with the religious landscape.122 As has often been the case, the geography of religion expressed political, social, and theological claims.123 From this perspective, Athanasius was not exceptional. As David Brakke has observed, “Athanasius’s ambivalence toward the localization of the holy was consistent throughout his long career and reflected some of his deepest theological commitments and his most critical political struggles.”124 In line with this conclusion, and though much has been said on this point in recent decades, it seems to me relevant in this context to review once more Athanasius’s stance regarding sacred mobility toward the holy places in Palestine. 121. Vita Melaniae Junioris 34, 38–39, SC 90: 190–92, 199–202. 122. As is well attested by Brakke, Athanasius; idem, “‘Outside the Places, within the Truth’: Athanasius of Alexandria and the Localization of the Holy,” in Pilgrimage and Holy Space, ed. Frankfurter, 445–81. 123. For a discussion of this issue in Mediterranean history, see P. Horden and N. Purcell, The Corrupting Sea: A Study of Mediterranean History (Oxford, 2000), 456–59. 124. Brakke, “‘Outside the Places, within the Truth,’” 472.


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Given the prevalent motif of sacred journeying to Palestine in late-antique Christian hagiography, one would expect to find early traces of it in the Life of Antony, the paradigm for this literature. But it appears that the idea of pilgrimage to Jerusalem was not so precious to Athanasius. In his Life of Antony, written in 356, he never leads his hero to the holy places, even though the vita represents Antony as a monk not totally wedded to stability.125 Nor does he record that Antony expressed any desire to see the holy places—unlike, for example, Chariton, the mid-fourth-century monk from Iconium who settled in the Judaean desert, even though he too never reached Jerusalem.126 At least one Christian author, Jerome, at the end of the fourth century, noticed this lacuna in the Life of Antony, and he exploited it extensively for propaganda purposes. In Letter 58, to Paulinus of Nola, in which he casts doubt on the religious value of pilgrimage, he reinforces his position by arguing that though Antony and many of the monks from Egypt did not see Jerusalem, the gates of heaven still remained open to them.127 It is interesting to note that in his Life of Hilarion—which imitated the literary model of Athanasius’s Life of Antony—Jerome all but ignored Hilarion’s visit to Jerusalem, as if he wished to conceal it and thus place Hilarion on a par with the ideal, Antony.128 In Letter 58 he does mention Hilarion’s visit to Jerusalem, but in an apologetic tone.129 Athanasius’s explicit attitude on pilgrimage to the holy places in Palestine is conveyed in a letter of consolation that he sent to a group of Egyptian virgins who had recently returned with reluctance to Alexandria from Palestine. The letter, written originally in Greek but preserved in Syriac, is entitled “By Athanasius, Archbishop of the Alexandrians, a Letter to Virgins Who Went and Prayed in Jerusalem and Returned.”130 Accepted as 125. On Antony’s wanderings, see Sutera, “Place and Stability in the Life of Antony”; Gould, “Moving On and Staying Put,” 231–32 and our discussion above. 126. Life of Chariton 9–12, Engl. trans. 402–404. 127. Ep. 58.3. 128. For a survey of Jerome’s imitation of the Life of Antony and related bibliography, see A. A. R. Bastiaensen, “Jérôme hagiographe,” in Du héros païen au saint chrétien, ed. G. Freyburger and L. Pernot, Collection des Etudes Augustiniennes 14 (Paris, 1997): 97–123. 129. Jerome, Ep. 58.3. According to Jerome, Hilarion, a native of Palestine, saw Jerusalem only once, and that was in order to avoid showing disrespect to the holy places, not because he believed God to be confined to any one place more than another. 130. The Syriac text is edited by J. Lebon, “Athanasiana Syriaca II: Une lettre attribuée à saint Athanase d’Alexandrie,” Le Muséon 41 (1928): 170–88; French translation ibid., “De saint Athanase, archevêque des Alexandrins: Lettre à des vierges qui étaient allées prier à Jérusalem et étaient revenues,” 189–203. The English translation is from Brakke, Athanasius, 292–94.


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genuine since its publication in 1928, only in recent years has it received serious scholarly attention.131 The date of the letter’s composition is unknown; J. Lebon, who published it, suggests it was written in the latter part of Athanasius’s life, between 350 and 370.132 The importance of this letter for our discussion derives from its being probably one of the earliest sources to articulate a clear and detailed reaction to the debate on pilgrimage to the holy places in Palestine. In fact, the virgins in question seem to be among the earliest recorded female pilgrims. Later, in the 380s, female pilgrimage became common practice, as attested in Jerome’s letters and by Egeria’s travels. In his letter Athanasius addresses two main subjects: in the first part he reacts to the virgins’ visit to the holy places; in the second part—which might be considered a sort of De virginitate—he discusses the monastic way of life suitable for the virgins and gives them some instructions. The two sections are intimately related. His recommendations in the first part of the letter, which at first glance seems very general, serve as an introduction to and framework for the traditional principles of female ascetic behavior that he outlines in the second part: obedience to the female elders, limited conversation with men, silence in church, and the avoidance of laughter and of public bathing, with the extolling of virginity and spiritual marriage being among the most central.133 Athanasius informs us that the virgins visited the Cave of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the holy Cave of the Resurrection, Golgotha, and the site of the Ascension.134 He opens with words of consolation for the virgins in their distress at having to return to Alexandria and shedding streams of bitter tears at being separated from the holy places.135 They weep because they are far from the Cave of the Lord, which, in the words of Athanasius, resembles Paradise or even surpasses it. Indeed, according to him, it is there

131. Rivers, “Pattern and Process in Early Christian Pilgrimage,” 292–95; S. Elm, “Perceptions of Jerusalem Pilgrimage as Reflected in Two Early Sources on Female Pilgrimage ( 3rd and 4th centuries a.d.),” SP 20 (1989): 219–20; idem, “Virgins of God,” 332–33; Brakke, Athanasius, 36–41; idem, “‘Outside the Places, within the Truth,’” 452–53; Frank, The Memory of the Eyes, 108–111. 132. Lebon, “De saint Athanase,” 204–5. See also, D. Brakke, “The Authenticity of the Ascetic Athanasiana,” Orientalia 63 (1994), 25–27, which dates the letter to the last decade of Athanasius’s reign, given the absence of any explicit reference to the Arian conflict. 133. On Athanasius’s ascetic discipline in the Second Letter to Virgins (hereinafterLV ), see Brakke, Athanasius, 34–57; Elm, “Virgins of God,” 334–37. 134. LV 170–71, 174. 135. LV 170.3–4.


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that “the first human being was formed.”136 Striving to console them about their departure from “holy Bethlehem,” he writes: “Take heart and do not be grieved.You have not journeyed far from the holy places; for where Christ dwells, there is holiness. And where Christ’s presence is, there too is an abundance of joys of holiness. He lives also in our temples, if we keep [its] holiness undefiled always.”137 These words echo the traditional Pauline view regarding sacred space expressed in 2 Corinthians 6:16: “For you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them and walk in them.” A decade later, this principle was the main theological argument voiced by those who rejected the idea of pilgrimage to the holy places in Palestine. Athanasius then cites four scriptural exemplars, all symbolizing how to follow God and adhere to him: Do not love the world, lest you have enmity with your God, especially you who have walked in the holy places. Peter saw our Lord Jesus, abandoned his net, and followed him [Matt. 4:18–20]. Zacchaeus the tax collector saw him, rejected fraudulent profits, and accepted the Savior [Luke 19:1–10]. That evildoing woman saw him and wiped his feet with her tears and hair [Luke 7:37–38].138 Mary saw him and did not depart from before his feet [Luke 10:39]. . . . You too hasten139 to the holy places, and in the lifegiving places you see, so to speak, Christ walking.140

As Susanna Elm has observed, Athanasius is suggesting that the virgins should journey to Jerusalem in their minds instead of physically.141 However, what we have here is not some vague advice on the spiritual journey toward God. Rather, Athanasius in this letter is being quite specific: his words appear to be an allegory for the monastic way of life itself and for the principles that he spells out in the second part of his letter. He interprets the allegory explicitly, suggesting that the virgins should conduct themselves like Peter, who abandoned his fishing net—symbolizing ties with the world— in order to follow Christ. Athanasius is here advising them to adopt the ideal of withdrawal from society—relevant for these virgins, who probably still live in their fathers’ houses.142 Later on he became more explicit and de-

136. LV 170.5–7. 137. LV 172.42–45. 138. LV 173.78–82 139. Ashtayin, imperative pl. f. of sha. This is slightly different from Brakke’s translation, which renders ashtayin here “have visited.” 140. LV 173.82–174.84. 141. Elm, “Perceptions,” 220; Brakke, Athanasius, 38. 142. LV 174.95.


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voted a long section of the letter to the ideal of virginity and spiritual marriage against some virgins whom he had heard lived among and kept the company of men.143 The second exemplar is Zacchaeus: Athanasius is urging the virgins to renounce wealth, to “abandon everything like Zacchaeus.”144 The third exemplar is Martha, who symbolizes spiritual devotion in welcoming Christ into her home, and her sister, Mary, who sat at Jesus’ feet (Luke 10:38–42): “Love the Lord like that woman, shedding tears in prayer. . . . Sit at the feet of Jesus: choose for yourselves the better portion and do not forsake hearing the divine words [Luke 7:37–38].”145 Athanasius advises: “Do not depart from Jerusalem, but await the promise of the Father [Acts 1:4].”146 But which Jerusalem did Athanasius have in mind when quoting Acts 1:4 in this context? Obviously not the earthly Jerusalem, for which Cyril of Jerusalem argued in the 350s; nor was it the heavenly one.147 For Athanasius, closeness to Jerusalem symbolizes the closeness to God achieved by the monastic way of life. His imagery is specific and applies an allegorical interpretation to the holy places themselves: “You have seen the place of the Nativity: he has given birth to your souls anew. You have seen the place of the Crucifixion: let the world be crucified to you, and you to the world [Gal. 6:14]. You have seen the place of the Ascension: your minds are raised up. Let your bodies be on earth, but your minds in heaven. Your dwelling place is your father’s house, but your way of life is with the Heavenly Father.”148 Athanasius’s letter is not a theoretical treatise on pilgrimage but rather a direct reaction to the devotional act of the virgins. It is a reaction that was not innocent of the episcopal interests of a bishop striving to integrate the monastic movement into his church. However, Athanasius’s words here are devoid of any polemical tone. Unlike some contemporary Christian intellectuals, he does not disparage the holy places or those who have chosen to live near them.149 For him the holy places hold no religious significance in themselves, and any interaction of the believer with this religious landscape

143. LV 181–88. 144. LV 174.86–87. 145. LV 174.87–90. 146. LV 174.91–92. 147. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catecheses 16.9, PG 33: 929b. 148. LV 174.91–95. On Athanasius’s great emphasis on seeing in this letter, see Frank, Memory of the Eyes, 110–11. 149. As do, for example, Gregory of Nyssa (Ep. 2.10, SC 363: 116) and Jerome (Ep. 58). See also J. T. Lienhard, Paulinus of Nola and Early Western Monasticism (Cologne, 1977), 98–104.


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is not indispensable. He does not directly reject the idea of pilgrimage and the search for physical proximity to God, but in effect he divorces the holy places in Jerusalem and Bethlehem from their geographical context and dismisses their religious value by urging the alternative of the monastic life. In this sense, Athanasius’s standpoint in this letter clearly reflects one major aim of the monastic movement in his day: to shape a new culture by emulating biblical figures. Thus through allegorical interpretation he demonstrates another path leading to the encounter with the divine—at home, in Alexandria. Athanasius in his letter to the virgins does not develop a new set of theological arguments against the practice of pilgrimage. Rather, he offers the traditional New Testament stance on the idea of earthly sacred space. His innovation here lies in his considering the encounter with the divine as capable of being achieved through the monastic way of life, as opposed to the search for God by the devotional act of pilgrimage. Moreover, Athanasius’s statements in this letter do not reflect any tension between the concept of the earthly and the heavenly Jerusalem; rather they represent his promotion of the monastic life that he was shaping in Alexandria and his ongoing efforts to intertwine this movement into his bishopric. From this point of view, sacred Christian geography, which was beginning to take shape in his day, was irrelevant to him. In the ensuing generation, a similar attitude toward the holy places, though approached from a different angle, stated in different terms, and serving a different goal, was voiced by Evagrius Ponticus.

evagrius ponticus and the holy places (345–399) Sometime around the year 382, Evagrius Ponticus—who was later seen as one of the most profound theologians to have emerged from the monastic milieu in the East—arrived in Jerusalem and joined Melania the Elder and Rufinus on the Mount of Olives.150 Six months later, probably on Melania’s advice, Evagrius went to Egypt, where he lived for sixteen years, until his death in 399.151 It was there that he wrote most of his extensive works, which 150. For Evagrius’s ties with Melania the Elder and Rufinus, and their correspondence, see Clark, The Origenist Controversy, 22, 190–93. 151. On Evagrius’s life and writings, see Guillaumont, “Evagre le Pontique,” Dictionnaire de spiritualité 4 (Paris, 1964), 1731–43; idem, Un philosophe au désert: Evagre le Pontique (Paris, 2004); idem, Les “Kephalaia Gnostica” d’Evagre le Pontique; A. Guillaumont and C. Guillaumont, eds. Evagre le Pontique: Traité pratique 1, SC


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exercised considerable influence on Christian thought and shaped the monastic culture of both the East and the West.152 What was Evagrius’s motivation for coming to Jerusalem in the early 380s? Evagrius was in Jerusalem at a time when monks and pilgrims were flocking to the city. It is tempting to associate his arrival there with this great stream of monks and nuns—Egeria, Jerome, Melania, Rufinus, and many others. However, even if we incline to the assumption that Evagrius was swept along with all the other pilgrims who came to this part of the world, the perception of the holy places, to which he alludes in his writings, and the account of his journey to Jerusalem leave no room for such an assumption. Judging from Chapter 38 of the Historia Lausiaca—the main biographical source for Evagrius’s life, written around 420 by his disciple Palladius—it seems to have been devoid of any outright religious purpose.153 Palladius recounts that Evagrius, while in Constantinople, fell in love with an aristocratic married woman, and was advised by an angel in a dream that it was not in his best interest to stay in the city. So he immediately left and moved to Jerusalem. In others words, according to Palladius, Evagrius’s journey to Jerusalem was undertaken to escape a love affair rather than as a devotional act.154 Nevertheless, Evagrius’s choice of Jerusalem as a place of refuge attests to some extent the widespread appeal of the city at the end of the fourth century. This choice also reflects his curiosity about the monastic center on the Mount of Olives guided by Mela-

170: 21–37; Bunge, Briefe aus der Wüste, 17–111; idem, Geistliche Vaterschaft: Christliche Gnosis bei Evagrios Pontikos (Regensburg, 1988). On Evagrius’s involvement in the Origenist cause, see Clark, The Origenist Controversy, 61–84; M. O’Laughlin, “Origenism in the Desert: Anthropology and Integration in Evagrius Ponticus” (Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1987), 6–71; D. Bundy, “Evagrius Ponticus:The Kephalaia Gnostica,” in Ascetic Behavior in Greco-Roman Antiquity, ed.Wimbush, 175–86; R. E. Sinkwicz, Evagrius of Pontus: The Greek Ascetic Corpus (Oxford, 2003), xvii–xl. 152. For Evagrius’s influence on the West, via Cassian, see O. Chadwick, John Cassian (Cambridge, 1968), 25–28, 86–87. On Rufinus’s translation of the Praktikos, see Guillaumont, Traité pratique 1: 29, 98–99; Chitty, The Desert a City, 110–12; M. O’Laughlin, “Evagrius Ponticus in Spiritual Perspective,” SP 30 (1997): 224–30. On his influence on the East, see Guillaumont, “Kephalaia Gnostica,” 207–13; idem, “Les versions syriaques de l’œuvre d’Evagre le Pontique,” 35–41. 153. Historia Lausiaca 38, 116–23. 154.This story appeared also in the Coptic version of the Historia Lausiaca (hereinafter HL): see the French translation in Vogüé and Bunge, “Palladiana III: La version copte de l’Histoire Lausiaque,” 10–11. On this version, see Bunge, “Palladiana I.” Cf. Sozomen, HE 6.30. But in the account of Socrates (HE 4.23) the love affair and the ensuing journey are not mentioned. According to him, Evagrius left Constantinople with Gregory of Nazianzus, bound for Egypt.


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nia the Elder (who came to Jerusalem in 373) and Rufinus (who joined her in 380),155 to whom he later addressed some letters and probably his compositions Ad monachos and Ad virginem.156 In a similarly prosaic tone Palladius later sketches the circumstances that resulted in his own return to Jerusalem after a stay in Egypt. Palladius’s monastic life began on his first visit to the Mount of Olives, together with Innocent, around 385–88;157 later he lived near Jericho in the company of Elpidius. In 388 he journeyed to Alexandria, where he lived for about three years;158 but he left Egypt on account of poor health and on his doctor’s advice that the air in Palestine would be better for him.159 Reducing the motivation for these journeys to personal health and an affair of the heart prompts us to recall the deliberate and primary goal of Palladius’s Historia Lausiaca—to describe the virtue of its protagonists rather than their choice of Jerusalem or Egypt as the setting for their enterprise. In the words of Palladius, “the object of our inquiry is not the place [tovpoˇ] where they have settled but the fashion [trovpoˇ] of their plan of life.”160 Thus it is not surprising that this author did not assign any particular importance to the visit to the holy city and the holy places in Palestine but used the physical act of travel merely as a metaphor for the spiritual life of his heroes. 161 Indeed, Palladius and Evagrius show no inclination in their writings to attribute any special significance to their stays, or those of other monks, near the holy places.162 It is noteworthy that the terms “holy city” and “holy place” appear nowhere in the Historia Lausiaca—a composition that, after all, presents Jerusalem as the arena for the spiritual struggles and successes of some of its heroes; Melania the Elder, Innocent, and Evagrius are cases in point. This fact is all the more striking given that in the early fifth century, when the work was 155. Rufinus, Apologia contra Hieronymum 2.15 (CCL 20: 94–95); with Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 170. 156. G. Bunge, “Origenismus-Gnostizismus: Zum geistesgeschichtlichen Standort des Evagrios Pontikos,” VC 40 (1986), 35–39; Driscoll, “Ad Monachos,” 37–42. 157. HL 44, 131. On Palladius’s relationship with the monastic community on the Mount of Olives, see Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 180–202. 158. For the chronology of Palladius’s life, see Butler, HL 2: 237–47. A different chronology is suggested by D. F. Buck, “The Structure of the Lausiac History,” Byzantion 46 (1976): 292–307. 159. HL 35, 105. 160. HL prol. 15. 161. For the function of travel in the Historia Lausiaca, see Frank, Memory of the Eyes, 61–69. 162. Only once does Palladius describe a monk who was devoted to an ascetic life in the holy places; he would pray standing on the Mount of Olives, on the hill of the Ascension: see HL 43, 130.


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composed, such terms were frequently used with reference to the earthly Jerusalem and other holy places in Palestine.163 We may assume that, at least from a terminological point of view and at a literary level, the holy places have no religious function in the Historia Lausiaca. If we recall that the Historia Lausiaca was heavily influenced by Evagrius’s teachings, then we may conclude that its regard for the very idea of holy places in Palestine reflects to some extent Evagrius’s own standpoint.164 Evagrius rarely faced the issue of pilgrimage and the holy places, and it is indeed difficult to evaluate his attitude on this issue. His Letter 25 is one of the rare instances when he clearly addresses the matter of physical proximity to the holy places—in this case those associated with the main events of the Incarnation.165 Evagrius sent this letter in replying to an anonymous correspondent living in Jerusalem. Any attempt to determine the identity of this correspondent is speculative, as is the precise date of Evagrius’s response;166 but it is clear that it was sent from Egypt between 383 and 399. Evagrius at the beginning of this letter writes that he would wish his correspondent to live a monastic life and to reject all evil thoughts,167 warning him against arrogance and advising him to take care lest while he dwells physically in Jerusalem his mind should be beyond Bethany.168 According to Evagrius, the correspondent, a resident of Jerusalem, had written to him that he lived in a place that receives God (John 13:20, Luke 10:8–9). Evagrius seems sensitive to such a statement, which apparently implies that receiving God could be a matter of place:169 You wrote [to me] that you dwell in the place that receives God, the One who created Heaven and Earth. You should realize that he stands in your midst, according to the witness of John the Baptist [John 1:26], 163. See, for example, the terminology used by Cyril of Jerusalem, in Walker, Holy City, Holy Places? 311–46. For Egeria’s terminology, see Vermeer, Observations sur le vocabulaire du pèlerinage chez Egérie. See also Jerome, Ep. 46. 164. On Evagrius’s influence on Palladius’s work, see R. Draguet, “L’Histoire Lausiaque: Une œuvre écrite dans l’esprit d’Evagre,” RHE 41 (1946): 321–64; ibid., 42 (1947): 5–49. 165. Ep. 25. I use the Syriac version published by Frankenberg, Evagrius Ponticus, 580–83. 166. Bunge (Evagrios Pontikos: Briefe aus der Wüste, 347 n. 1) claims that the letter was addressed to Anatolius, but there is no clear evidence in the letter to support the claim. On Anatolius’s relationship with Evagrius, see Clark, The Origenist Controversy, 189–190, based mainly on Bunge’s analysis of Evagrius’s letters. 167. Ep. 25, 580. 168. Ibid., 582. 169. Ibid. I wish to thank S. P. Brock for reading my translation from the Syriac version and providing useful corrections and comments.


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and expects you to become Bethlehem through your deeds, and to become the Anastasis through the spiritual vision of the purity of the nature of your own created being, and to become the Ascension through your insight into the divine words, and to be called Mount of Olives.

One could scarcely wish for a testimony that more clearly confirms the internalization of the experience of dwelling near the holy places. The main theme of this letter—a deliberate emphasis on God’s dwelling in people by virtue of their deeds—was not a new idea in Evagrius’s day. The innovation lies in the close parallel Evagrius draws between his mystical theology and the holy places. In fact, Evagrius is here highlighting, with an elegant brevity, the gist of his ideas on the spiritual progression of the soul, which consists of three essential stages. The first, the praktike (praktikhv ), corresponds to deeds—a cultivation of the virtues and a struggle with evil thoughts (logismoiv ), to which he devoted an extensive treatise.170 In this stage the soul struggles with its desirous part until it attains the state of apatheia (ajpavqeia), in which it is no longer disturbed by its passions. The second stage is the physike (fusikhv )—the spiritual vision, the natural contemplation of created beings. Last comes the theologike (qeologikhv )—the knowledge (gnw¸ siˇ) of God.171 For Evagrius, these are the three important stages that lead one to God, whereas the holy places themselves are only symbols of these theological foundations. The place has no significance in itself. Rather, like his predecessors, among them Origen and Eusebius, Evagrius assigns a symbolic interpretation not only to the places connected with the central events of the Incarnation but also to the places associated in the Bible with Jewish history.172 Thus, in line with Origen, Evagrius holds that the Promised Land is not a defined geographical region in Judaea but rather a symbolic sign of the knowledge of God.173 In another instance, Evagrius views Jerusalem as a symbol for natural contemplation, a central theme in his mysti-

170. Praktikos, ed. by A. Guillaumont and C. Guillaumont, SC 170–71. 171. On Evagrius’s terminology, see Guillaumont, “Les versions syriaques de l’œuvre d’Evagre.” For a comprehensive survey of Evagrius’s mystical theology, see idem, Un philosophe au désert, 279–306, 337–356; A. Louth, The Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition from Plato to Denys (Oxford, 1981), 100–113; B. McGinn, The Foundations of Mysticism (New York, 1991), 1: 144–57; G. Bunge, “The Spiritual Prayer: On the Trinitarian Mysticism of Evagrius of Pontus,” Monastic Studies 17 (1986): 191–208; R. D. Young, “Evagrius the Iconographer: The Monastic Pedagogy in the Gnostikos,” JECS 9 (2001): 53–71. 172. On the political and spiritual exegesis of the Bible in Origen’s works, see Wilken, Land Called Holy, 67–75; on Eusebius and the Promised Land, see Walker, Holy City, Holy Places? 59–62. 173. Origen, Contra Celsum 7.28; Evagrius, Scholia on Proverbs 153, SC 340: 248.


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cal theology:174 Zion is a symbol of the Trinity,175 and going to the holy city is merely an allegory for the contemplative life.176 One clear conclusion may be drawn: that spiritual significance is not inherent either in dwelling near the holy places or in the places themselves. In common with his contemporaries, Evagrius adheres to the traditional view that God is omnipresent. As he says in his Kephalaia Gnostica, God is found in the place where he acts; where his action is the more evident, the more is he present. He is everywhere, because “the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3:10) is to be found in everything that exists. God is not in one specific place, because he is not to be found among the entities.177 This assertion does not apply specifically to holy places; rather, Evagrius was simply sharing the traditional idea about the presence of God prevailing in Christian thought. As Francine Cardman has pointed out in another context, to say in the fourth century that God is not in one specific place was nothing new.178 But in Letter 25 this idea emerges in direct reference to the question of the religious benefit of dwelling close to the holy places. Evagrius’s innovation lies in his attempt to promote the three stages of his mystical theology—praktike, physike, and theologike—rather than the triad of holy places, Bethlehem, the Anastasis, and the Mount of Olives. Evagrius’s stance was adopted by Christian thinkers in the generation that followed. Philoxenus, the bishop of Mabbug whose thought was profoundly shaped by Evagrius’s teachings, further elaborated this imagery and declared the monk’s cell to be the Promised Land.179 Immersed in Evagrius’s terminology and concepts though he was, Philoxenus does not seem to have overlooked the increasing appeal of the holy places, as we shall see below. However, the letters of Evagrius and Athanasius presented here explicitly reflect the inclination of these two leaders—one speaking from the world of the Desert Fathers, the other from his bishopric—to belittle the religious role of earthly sacred space, with no hint of preference for local shrines, whether of martyrs or of holy men. It has become increasingly apparent in 174. Kephalaia Gnostica 5.88, 213. 175. Ibid., 6.49, 237. For this imagery in Evagrius’s works, see further examples in Bunge, Geistliche Vaterschaft: Christliche Gnosis bei Evagrios Pontikos. (I quote from the French translation, Paternité spirituelle: La gnose chrétienne chez Evagre le Pontique, 98–101.) 176. Ep. 39. 177. Kephalaia Gnostica 1.42–43, 39. 178. Cardman, “The Rhetoric of Holy Places.” 179. Philoxenus, A Letter of Philoxenus of Mabbug Sent to a Friend, 2, 16 (ed. and trans. G. Olinder, Acta Universitatis Gotoburgensis, Göteborgs Högskolas Arsskrift 56 [Göteborg, 1950]: 11).


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recent studies that Athanasius was not among those bishops who promoted these cults.180 We are not able to draw a similarly clear-cut conclusion about Evagrius, since nothing in his works attests his having faced the issue headon. However, both figures share the same viewpoint regarding the Christians’ acquisition of sacred topography: the gist of their innovations resides in their strong emphasis on encounter with the divine through the monastic paideia, which in the case of Evagrius is embodied in his mystical theology. This approach to holy places and pilgrimage, original in the fourth century, would become widespread by the Middle Ages.181

theodoret of cyrrhus (393–466) The wide-ranging literary compositions of Theodoret of Cyrrhus—including Ecclesiastical History, biblical exegesis, correspondence, and apologetic and dogmatic treatises—are among the most important fifth-century sources for examining the attitude of Christian thinkers to the phenomenon of pilgrimage. The Historia religiosa, written in the 440s, is a primary source for the life of ascetics in northern Syria from the time of Constantine to the fifth century.182 In its thirty chapters, Theodoret focuses on the lives of twenty-eight monks and three nuns, most of whom lived near Antioch and the surrounding villages.183 The author depicts a world familiar to him since childhood in which turning to holy men was commonplace— after all, he owed his own birth to the intercession of the holy man Macedonius.184 Throughout the Historia religiosa Theodoret shows himself as a witness to the cult of holy men; in his account of Aphrahat, a hermit of Persian origin who moved to Antioch, he writes: “I myself saw him and reaped the blessing of that holy hand when still an adolescent, accompanying my mother on a journey to the man.”185 Whether or not he had direct contact 180. This topic is discussed at length in Brakke, “‘Outside the Places, within the Truth.’” 181. See the bibliography above in the introduction to this volume. 182. For the date of the composition, see Canivet, Monachisme syrien selon Théodoret de Cyr, 1: 31–35; Price, A History of the Monks of Syria, xiii–xv. 183. On Theodoret’s life and the Syrian monasticism in his writings, see Young, From Nicaea to Chalcedon, 35–37, 50–56; Canivet, “Théodoret et le monachisme syrien,” 241–82; idem, Monachisme syrien selon Théodoret; as well as the introduction to the English translation by Price, A History of the Monks of Syria, ix–xxxiv; P. Escolan, Monachisme et église: Le monachisme syrien du IVe au VIIe siècle—Un monachisme charismatique, Théologie Historique 109 (Paris, 1999). 184. HR 13.16–17, 1: 502–6. 185. HR 8.15, 2: 402–3.


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with Aphrahat, the practice of pilgrimage was not alien to him. He himself made pilgrimages to Jerusalem and to holy men in their monasteries near and far, as well as to their tombs.186 The cult of the martyrs was especially dear to him; he was involved in transferring the relics of martyrs and encouraged others to participate in ceremonies for the deposition of relics.187 His enthusiastic support for this cult is recorded in his Graecarum affectionum curatio, in which he defends the cult against the mockery of pagans.188 Theodoret repeatedly stressed the difference between the cult of the martyrs and the holy dead and that of the pagan gods and heroes; in particular, he contrasted the efficacy of the cult of the martyrs with the ineffectiveness of the pagan cult. For Theodoret, the martyrs were “the saviors of the souls and healers of the body” and therefore worthy of honor, like “the guardians and protectors of the city.”189 In advocating the cult of the martyrs, Theodoret drew without hesitation on Homer, Plato, Herodotus, and many famous as well as lesser-known Greek philosophers, thereby demonstrating his very broad education. By Theodoret’s time, pilgrimage of all kinds was widespread in his vicinity and had become part of the established pattern of religious life. His varied and valuable works clearly address all these foci of pilgrimage: to local and regional martyrs’ shrines and holy men are described alongside pilgrimages to Jerusalem and Mount Sinai. Can we detect in the Historia religiosa a preference for any one particular kind of pilgrimage? That is, did Theodoret show any inclination to prefer local pilgrimage over pilgrimage to Jerusalem? And what for him was the function of pilgrimage to the Holy Land? Theodoret did not write about these journeys as a historian observing from the sidelines. The Historia religiosa repeatedly mentions his involvement, and he knew many of the holy men about whom he wrote—a fact that imparts an intimate tone to this work. Leaving aside his descriptions of the pilgrimages, I shall examine here his response to the phenomenon itself, turning first to Theodoret’s own pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The story appears only incidentally in Graecarum affectionum curatio, his apologetic treatise against the pagans. He is using here an ancient weapon; like his predecessors, Theodoret enlists Jewish history to serve his apologetic purposes:190 186. HR 4.10, 2: 312–14. 187. Ep. 66; HR 21.30, 2: 114–16. 188. See, for example, Graecarum affectionum curatio 8, 2:310–35. 189. Ibid., 313–14. 190. See, for example, the use of this argument by Eusebius of Caesarea, whose apologetic works greatly influenced Theodoret, in Kofsky, Eusebius of Caesarea


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With regard to the Jews, I think you do not doubt, because they were chased out of the famous city. . . . And with regard to the desolation of the Temple and its complete destruction, you who saw the spectacle are sincerely convinced of it, while the others believed those who spoke to you. I saw with my own eyes the destruction; and the prophecy which my ears heard I saw with my eyes, and I sang the truth and prostrated myself. Therefore, this is not a falsehood: the facts declare this out loud.191

This is the only occasion on which Theodoret refers to his visit to Jerusalem, but he offers no historical details.192 Thus the motive, the date, and the circumstances of his journey remain obscure—surprising for an author who wrote in detail about the journeys of others. Moreover, this brief account is highly problematic because of its apologetic framework.Theodoret is struggling here with the difficulty of proving the truth of Jesus’ prophecies for the days to come.193 To this end, he distinguishes between prophecies about the distant future and those that came to pass. The latter, especially Jesus’ prophecy about the destruction of the Temple and the sacking of city of Jerusalem (Luke 21:5–6, 20–24), serves as decisive proof of the fulfillment of prophecies about the days to come. Having seen the ruins for himself, Theodoret’s personal testimony corroborates the classic, well-worn apologetic argument. Robert Wilken has claimed, in his discussion on the Jewish-Christian debate in the fifth century, that Theodoret’s purpose in traveling to Jerusalem was to see the desolation with his own eyes.194 However, Theodoret is not very explicit about his reason for going to Jerusalem; he merely mentions in passing that he saw the ruins with his own eyes, as presumably did many pilgrims who went to the city. Indeed, Christians saw in the destruction of the Temple emphatic confirmation of the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy, and there were those who visited the city expressly to see this proof of the Christian triumph over Judaism. Such an impulse was introduced by Eusebius of Caesarea in his Demonstratio evangelica, written around 318–23, before

against Paganism, 148–51. See also Guinot’s assertion (Commentaire sur Isaie, I, 77–84) that Theodoret used classic arguments and not original ones in his apologetic writings. 191. Graecarum affectionum curatio 11.71, 2: 414–15. 192. It is impossible to determine with certainty the year of the visit. Canivet (Graecarum affectionum curatio 1: 15) is of the opinion that the journey should be dated to his twenties, after his parents had died. 193. Graecarum affectionum curatio 11.69–70, 2: 414. 194. Wilken, Land Called Holy, 143.


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the discovery of the tomb of Jesus. He recounts that Christians from all parts of the world went to the Mount of Olives, whence they saw the ruins of the Temple Mount.195 It is within this apologetic context that Theodoret chose to write about his journey, which might explain the brevity of his description as well as the absence of any allusion to Christian holy places. Whether intentionally or not, no elaborate description is given;Theodoret focuses here on the destruction of the Temple because this is all he needs for his argument in this apologetic context against the pagans. References to the Christian holy places in Jerusalem are irrelevant in this narrative. Theodoret’s position on Christian pilgrimage is set out in Chapter 9 of his Historia religiosa, devoted to the life of Peter the Galatian.196 He relates that Peter began his monastic career in Galatia and then went to Palestine to investigate “the places where occurred the sufferings of salvation, and to worship in them God who saved us.”197 “Investigation” (iJstoriva) seems to have been quite a common reason for pilgrimage.198 Eusebius of Caesarea writes that Alexander the Cappadocian visited Palestine around the year 212 to pray and to investigate the place.199 As Hunt has suggested in Alexander’s case, the purpose seems to have been to become acquainted with the holy places rather than to investigate in the strict sense of learning history as per Herodotus.200 Having aligned devotion and curiosity in the account of Peter’s pilgrimage, Theodoret tackles the main theological obstacles raised by Christian pilgrimage from its inception: Do such visits imply a belief that the divine presence is confined to this one place? By posing the question, Theodoret reveals that he shares the doubts and religious sensitivity of many Christians concerning the act of pilgrimage. In this particular case, he assures readers that Peter the Galatian of course did not believe that God is circumscribed in any place. Yet Theodoret still needs to provide a reason for Peter’s going to the holy places. Instead of citing the value of standing in the places where Jesus’ feet stood—almost a pilgrim’s maxim at that period—Theodoret indicates another dimension of this sacred journey: the spiritual contemplation that lies at the heart of the act of pilgrimage. He views the act of pilgrimage as 195. Demonstratio evangelica 6.18.20–23; Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 96–97. 196. HR 9, 1: 406–33. 197. Ibid., 9.2, 1: 408. 198. See, for example, Palladius’s use of this term to describe Poemenia’s visit to Alexandria (Historia Lausiaca 35, 106). 199. HE 6.11.2. 200. Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 77–78, 94; see also Taylor, Christians and the Holy Places, 311.


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a perfect and harmonious combination of “the eyes of the soul” and “the sense of sight”—to feast the eyes with seeing what is desired so that the eyes of the soul should not, through faith, enjoy spiritual delight on their own, without the sense of sight.201 Theodoret goes on to explain that it is somehow natural for those who are lovingly inclined to someone not only to reap delight from seeing him but also to gaze in great joy at his home and clothing and footwear. It is with this love for the bridegroom that the bride mentioned in the Song of Songs exclaims, “As an apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons; in his shadow I yearned and sat, and his fruit was sweet in my mouth” (Sg. 2:3). So, according to Theodoret, this divine man was not acting unreasonably when he fell in love with the same bridegroom and used the words of the bride, “I am wounded with love” (Sg. 5:8). Rather, out of a desire to behold, as it were, a shadow of the bridegroom, he set out to see the places that had poured forth for all men the streams of salvation.202 Theodoret’s words leave no room for doubt that he perceived the act of seeing holy places as a means to attain contemplation, as a journey into one’s soul. Theodoret’s interpretation of Psalm 132:7 (LXX 131:7)—“Let us enter into his tabernacles, let us worship at the place where his feet stood,” articulates his feelings on this subject.203 As noted earlier, Christian writers have interpreted this verse as referring to worship at the holy places. Theodoret, familiar with the exegetical works of his predecessors, acknowledges the existence of other interpretations of this verse and stresses that people should worship in the very place where God’s feet once stood, since they believe that divine revelation is to be received in his temple (ejkei¸ eijsiovnteˇ proskunou¸men, qeivaˇ ejpifaneivaˇ to;n new;n hjxiw¸ sqai pisteuvonteˇ). However, being aware of the theological dangers implicit in such a statement, he goes on to reject this concrete line of interpretation, saying: “We believe not only that the divinity is not corporeal, but that it is also not restricted to one place.”204 Nevertheless, the adoption of this traditional view was insufficient in the face of the Christian acquisition of earthly holy space. Theodoret proposed a somewhat evasive defense of the alternative interpretation, one that incorporated the physical meaning of the verse by pointing out that it had been verbally transmitted to the people and hence had to be couched in concrete language. Toward the end of his Historia religiosa, having recorded the way of life 201. On the visual vocabulary of pilgrimage, see Frank, Memory of the Eyes, 102–33. 202. HR 9.2, 1: 408. 203. In Psal. 131, PG 80: 1905. 204. Ibid.


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of the heroic men,Theodoret feels the need to tell his readers about two nuns, Marana and Cyra: “Despite having a weaker nature, they display the same zeal as the men and free their sex from its ancestral disgrace.”205 The prominent focus of his account is the nuns’ asceticism: they have emulated the fasts of Moses, having three times spent an equal length of time without food; and like Daniel, they refrained from eating for three weeks. Precisely within this context he places the account of their pilgrimage to Jerusalem: “On one occasion, out of a desire to behold the sacred places of the saving suffering of Christ, they hastened to Aelia, enjoying no nutriment on the way. It was after reaching that city and accomplishing their worship that they took nourishment, and then returning back they completed the journey without food— and there are no less than twenty stages.”206 On another occasion Marana and Cyra embarked on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Thecla in Isauria, “both there and back without food.” Theodoret underlines that these nuns in their way of life “adorned the female sex, becoming models [ajrcevtupa] for other women.”207 In this selective account— in which asceticism and pilgrimage perfectly converge—Theodoret provides no details regarding their visits to the holy places, nor any discussion of the ideas underlying their journeys; hence we learn very little about his own attitude toward pilgrimage. In the nuns’ case his account describes not merely a journey through topography but rather a journey into their politeia. After all, the main goal of the Historia religiosa is to transmit to posterity the way of life of those who appeared like stars in the East, reaching the ends of the earth with their rays, and not to recount the whole course of their journeyings.208 Theodoret makes clear his intentions: “We shall narrate a selection from the life and actions of each and display through this selection the character of the whole life.”209 In a further example of juxtaposing saints’ asceticism with their pilgrimages, Theodoret writes about Julian Saba’s traveling to Mount Sinai with his disciples, “entering no city or village, but making passable the impassable desert and taking nothing with them on this tiring journey but bread, salt, and a drinking cup.210 Such asceticism during journeys to holy places and holy men was not uncommon in the Byzantine period.211 In sum, the above examples tes205. HR 29.1, 2: 232. 206. Ibid., 7, 2: 238. 207. Ibid. 208. Historia religiosa prol. 8, 9. 209. Ibid. 210. Ibid., 2.13, 1: 222. 211. For additional examples, see Maraval, “Le temps du pèlerin,” 482–83.


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tify to pilgrimage being one more element in the ascetic way of life of all these protagonists. It is clear from his accounts of pilgrimage to the holy places in Palestine and Mount Sinai that Theodoret was not particularly enthusiastic about sacred space per se in this part of the world. His depictions are characterized by a lack of any reference to Jerusalem as a Christian city, and no mention is made of the area surrounding the city. We do not even know if Theodoret’s pilgrims went to nearby Bethlehem. Likewise, he mentions only in a very general manner the holy places associated with Jesus “in Aelia,” and the term “holy city”—prevalent in his day—is missing entirely. Does this indicate an intentional choice of terminology, implying reservations on his part about the earthly Jerusalem that had bloomed as a Christian city in the fifth century? Or is his use of “Aelia”—the city’s pagan name—devoid of any significance? In the absence of a comprehensive survey of the use of “Aelia” in the works of Theodoret and other fifth-century writers, this question cannot be answered decisively.212 The magnetism of Jerusalem for masses of Christians in the fifth century, though already evident for more than a century, is not taken for granted; it is, rather, a fact requiring explanation. In his Commentary on Isaiah (1:26, “Afterwards you shall be called city of righteousness, the faithful city”), completed around the year 448, Theodoret argues that neither monuments, nor beautiful structures, nor a large population were promised to the city, but rather righteousness and faith, since Jerusalem is the mother of believers.213 Those streaming to it, he says, want to see neither the greatness of its walls nor the height of its towers, but merely the tomb of the Lord, the Cross, and the site of the Nativity.214 He thus explicitly delineates the boundaries of his own sacred map of the city, reflecting Jerusalem’s restricted appeal for him and hence limiting its sanctity to those sites directly related to the life of Jesus. It is difficult to know, however, whether this restricted map was deliberately drawn or was merely born of his ignorance of the city in his time. Yet from his Commentary on Isaiah, Theodoret’s perspective on the essence of Christian pilgrimage becomes clear: one can glean that for him the importance of pilgrimage goes far beyond the boundaries of the monastic milieu; the existence of a Christian network of holy places is of

212. However, the name Aelia continued to be used in travelers’ diaries for many generations. 213. Guinot, ed. and trans., Commentaire sur Isaie, pref. 17. 214. Commentaire sur Isaie, SC 276: 181–83.


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supreme importance to the author in his polemic against the Jews. Theodoret’s general aim in the Commentary on Isaiah is to present a historical interpretation of Isaiah’s prophecies, and within this framework he perceives pilgrimage to the holy places in Jerusalem as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s foretelling that the people of Israel would return to their land. For instance, the verse Isaiah 19:17—“And the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt, every one that makes mention thereof shall be afraid in himself”—he interprets as follows: the Egyptians represent the Christians after abandoning the gods and receiving the kerygma from the apostles.They found themselves frightened by the land of Judah in part because the Savior was born there, and there endured his redeeming Passion, but primarily because the Cross and the tomb were sanctified there. This is the reason, says Theodoret, that still today the Egyptians and other peoples flock to this region.215 As in all his descriptions of pilgrimage, he refers in this commentary only to the places in Jerusalem that are associated with Jesus, and not to the entire city. Theodoret stresses that we are not to misinterpret the words of Isaiah 49:22–23: “I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people; and they shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders. And kings shall be your nursing fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers: they shall bow down to you with their face toward the earth.” According to Theodoret, Isaiah refers here not to those returning from Babylonia but rather to the events that occurred after the Incarnation. It is because of the apostles that the kerygma was spread among the nations and among the Jews. Everyone, he says, “until today runs to Jerusalem rapt with passion to see the three desired places: the place of the Cross, of the Resurrection, and of the Ascension.”216 His interpretation combines polemic against the Jews with the Christian triumph and the acquisition of a sacred topography. The appeal of the famous holy places gains here a new meaning: it is the realization of Isaiah’s prophecy about the return of the people of Israel to their land after the exile. Furthermore, he stresses that Isaiah 60:4—“Lift up your eyes around about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side”—does not refer to the Jews. Historical reality furnished Theodoret with the necessary proof “that not everyone will return. . . . Only the tribe of Judah, and not even in

215. Isa. 19:17, SC 295: 138–40. 216. Isa. 49:23, SC 315: 94.


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its entirety. . . . They were spread among all the nations.” But in contrast to the Jews who remained in exile, says Theodoret, the Church gathered its sons from among the nations: “One may even see them running from the world over to the city of Jerusalem, not to worship God in the Temple of the Jews, but to see the famous places of the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and the Ascension.”217 Theodoret sometimes prefers one translation of the Bible over others in order to prove that pilgrimage—in this case to the shrines of martyrs—is not at odds with Christianity. Therefore, in Isaiah 60:8—“Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as doves to their windows?”—Theodoret chooses the Septuagint: “Who are these who fly like clouds, and like doves with their offspring to me? This is Zion.” He acknowledged that this version is far removed from the Hebrew text and from the translations of Aquilas, Symmachus, and others, where the word “Zion” does not appear. According to Theodoret, if one wishes to understand the verse precisely, he should look at what takes place during the festivals of the Lord and the holy martyrs, when one can see a stream of people, women carrying their daughters, men walking with their children, and the spiritual doves flying with their offspring toward the New Zion (th;n nevan Siwvn).218 It is evident that Isaiah’s repeated prophecies about the return of the people of Israel to their land cause a certain difficulty for Theodoret. In all these prophecies, the link between the people and a particular earthly location is crucial. Theodoret was well aware that since its inception Christianity had avoided expressing its identity in geographical terms but rather had emerged with a distinctly universal message. Pilgrimage to Palestine, however, provided the only occasion for gathering many Christians from around the world for religious purposes there, and in this respect Theodoret’s interpretation is extraordinary. He perceives pilgrimage to Palestine as an essentially positive act, presenting it in its full splendor while at the same time tackling its theological problems. It appears that for Theodoret, Christian pilgrimage to Palestine was a fundamental apologetic weapon against the Jews, as well as an expression of Christianity’s triumph. He invokes to it in order to resolve the difficulty raised by prophecies that indicate a close affinity between the Jewish people and their land. Theodoret’s perception of Christian pilgrimage to Jerusalem in his day as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies is striking in its consistency and scope. However, such an interpretation was not uncommon among Chris217. Isa. 60:4, SC 315: 242–45. 218. Isa. 60:8, SC 315: 250–51.


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tians in the fifth century. John Rufus, at the end of fifth century or early in the sixth, presented a vivid and enthusiastic account of Peter the Iberian’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem as the fulfillment of Isaiah 33:20. In this account, viewing the holy places is both a journey to the biblical past and a journey toward Christ.219 The same approach appears in the Life of Theodore of Sykeon. The anonymous author presents the holy man as one who was “seized with the desire to travel and to worship at the holy places of Christ which His immaculate feet had trodden, and also because of the words of the prophet Zechariah [14:17], ‘And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.”220 This verse, explicitly referring to Jewish pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem on the Feast of Sukkoth (Zech. 14:16: “Every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King . . . and to keep the feast of tabernacles”),was perceived by Theodore’s hagiographer as a command to Christians to embark on pilgrimage to the holy places in Jerusalem. This nouvelle vague of biblical exegesis, in which Christian commentators interpret the act of pilgrimage as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy, was an elegant exegetical solution for a society repeatedly recalling that “the Temple of God is found in man; salvation dwells within the heart that believes; the Holy of Holies is in a breast that has been purified”221— all the while yearning every day to enhance its religious landscape and to enjoy encountering the sacred. 219. V. Petri Ib. 26–27. 220. Life of Theodore 23, Engl. trans. 104. 221. Paulinus of Nola, Ep. 49.13, CSEL 29: 401.


5 Local versus Central Pilgrimage He who visits the holy monastery of Qartamin seven times with faith is like one who goes to Jerusalem. philoxenus of mabbug

The above declaration by Philoxenus (440–523), bishop of Mabbug, a leading thinker of the anti-Chalcedonian Church and one of the most admired figures among the Syrian monks, expresses concisely the dilemma in monastic circles concerning pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the rivalry between the two foci of pilgrimage: the holy places in the Holy Land and the new network of holy sites consisting of monasteries and tombs of holy men.1 The comparison between visiting a monastery and visiting Jerusalem that Philoxenus addresses here, in a letter to a certain Astorkius, may seem surprising at first glance. But given that Philoxenus had been nurtured in Evagrian terminology and thought, which among other things belittled the religious significance of the holy places, it is not at all surprising.2 For Philoxenus, the exodus from Egypt and the crossing of the Jordan River refers allegorically to the monastic life, and to worship in the Promised Land means to reside in a monk’s cell.3 His assertion about visiting Qartamin—extraordinary and rare in its formulation in late antiquity—may have arisen out of the theological debate between the Monophysites and their rivals, the Chalcedonians, 1. Ms. Br. Mus. 17, 265, fol. 24b. The letter is quoted by Vööbus, History of Asceticism in the Syrian Orient, 2: 319 n. 14. 2. On the Evagrian elements in Philoxenus’s works, see I. Hausherr, “Contemplation et sainteté: Une remarquable mis au point par Philoxène de Mabboug,” in his Hésychasme et prière, 13–38; R. C. Chesnut, Three Monophysite Christologies: Severus of Antioch, Philoxenus of Mabbug, and Jacob of Serug (Oxford, 1976), 106–7. 3. A Letter of Philoxenus of Mabbug Sent to a Friend, 2, 16, ed. and trans. G. Olinder, Acta Universitatis Gotoburgensis, Göteborgs Högskolas Arsskrift 56 (Goteborg, 1950): 11, 45.

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in Palestine; in the early sixth century, under the leadership of Sabas and Theodosius, Palestine remained the final stronghold of the non-Monophysite East.4 Philoxenus, who was deeply involved in this controversy, banned communion with the bishop of Jerusalem.5 It may be that Chalcedonian domination over the holy places in Jerusalem and the undermining there of the anti-Chalcedonians are what led Philoxenus to suggest an alternative or substitute for visiting the city. In fact, as noted earlier, there were instances of anti-Chalcedonians’ being barred from the holy places, and problematic attitudes toward the holy places among radical anti-Chalcedonians in Palestine as well. This reality is well attested in the Plerophoriae and in the Life of Peter the Iberian.6 John Rufus, the author of these compositions, recounts several anecdotes reflecting the anti-Chalcedonian dilemma vis-à-vis the holy places in Jerusalem.7 This dilemma figures also in the Church History of Zachariah Rhetor, who felt the need to justify the fact that Peter the Iberian remained in Palestine after the expulsion of the anti-Chalcedonians from the country, saying that Peter stayed because of his exemption by the emperor and his wife. The gravity in his eyes of Peter remaining in Palestine is clear from the ensuing anecdote: Jesus scolded Peter in a vision, saying: “How now, Peter! Am I being expelled in my believing servants, and you are remaining quiet and at rest?” Peter hastened to depart from his dwelling place in Gaza and joined those who had been expelled.8 Presumably, this atmosphere of tension between the two camps in Palestine, and particularly in Jerusalem, might explain why (as his disciples wondered) Peter the Iberian, an enthusiastic pilgrim,9 refrained from visiting the holy places in Jerusalem on one occasion when “he was so close to the city.”10 One of his monks tried to ad4. For Sabas’s role in the struggle for Chalcedonian orthodoxy, See Patrich, Sabas, Leader of Palestinian Monasticism, 301–19. 5. Philoxène de Mabboug: Lettre aux moines de Sénoun, ed. and trans. A. de Halleux, CSCO 232, Scriptores Syri 99 (Louvain, 1963), 61. On Philoxenus’s theological perceptions, see Chesnut, Three Monophysite Christologies, 57–112. His involvement in the Monophysite controversy is discussed in Frend, Rise of the Monophysite Movement, 214–19, 228. 6. Kofsky, “Peter the Iberian”; L. Perrone, “Dissenso dottrinale e propaganda visionaria: Le Pleroforie di Giovanni di Maiuma,” Augustinianum 29 (1989): 451–95. 7. Plerophoriae 29, 30, 79; Kofsky, “Peter the Iberian,” 216–19. 8. Zachariah Rhetor, The Syriac Chronicle 3.7; Engl. trans. F. J. Hamilton and E. W. Brooks, The Syriac Chronicle Known as That of Zachariah of Mitylene (London, 1899; reprint: New York, 1979), 54. 9. Or at least portrayed as such by his biographer: Vita Petri. Ib. 26–27, 85–86 with Bitton-Ashkelony, “Imitatio Mosis and Pilgrimage in the Life of Peter the Iberian.” 10. Vita Petri Ib. 98–100.


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just the facts, telling us that Peter did indeed visit the holy places, though in a vision: After this, when the autumn had arrived, the blessed man [Peter] returned to his brethren in the plain. When he left, people were indignant and said: “How, when he [Peter] stayed all these days near Jerusalem, did the blessed not desire to enter the holy city, even by night, and worship at places of worship, and especially at holy Golgotha and the life-giving Sepulchre?” One day after his departure, one of the brothers who was a perfect and very simple man said to them: “This night I saw a fearful vision. For it seemed to me that I was seeing Abba Peter the bishop, who said to me, ‘Brother, can you give me a hand?’ And in this vision he alone took me to the holy city, on the same night during which he was about to depart.11 He entered first the Martyrium of St. Stephen, whom he had met before.12 Afterward, he went down to the cave and worshipped his sarcophagus there. Coming out of there he hastened to the holy Golgotha and the holy Sepulchre.13 From there he went down to the church named after Pilate [Matt. 27:11–14], and from there to that of the Paralytic [John 5:2–15], and then to Gethsemane. Having made the circuit also of the holy places around it, he then went up to the Upper Room of the disciples [Mark 14:14–16, Luke 22:11–13], and after that to the holy Ascension [Luke 24:50–51, Acts 1:9], and from there to the house of Lazarus. He then went on the road leading from there until he arrived at holy Bethlehem. After praying there, he turned to the tomb of Rachel [Gen. 35:19], and having prayed there and in the rest of the shrines and oratories on the way, he descended to Siloam [John 9:7]; from there, going up to holy Zion and completing a holy course, and having worshipped the Lord in every place, he finally returned to the village Beit Tafsha. And I in every place was supporting him. And the very next day after I had seen the vision, the father went on his way. All this occurred in order to persuade those who were indignant that the blessed one was in every holy place every day, or perhaps every hour, offering in spirit worship to the Lord. For it is written: “Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny” [1 Cor. 2:15].14 11. For the literary sources related to the various places mentioned in this description, see Maraval, Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient, 251–73; Limor, Holy Land Travels: Christian Pilgrims in Late Antiquity. 12. This may refer to a vision of Stephen the Protomartyr that Peter had had earlier. 13. On Golgotha and the Holy Sepulchre, see Taylor, Christians and the Holy Places, 113–42; idem, “Golgotha: A Reconsideration of the Evidence for the Sites of Jesus’ Crucifixion and Burial,” New Testament Studies 44 (1998): 180–203. 14. V. Petri Ib. 98–100.


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This imaginative journey maps with great exactitude the actual network of holy sites in Jerusalem—a journey that every Christian pilgrim might undertake at the end of the fifth century.15 The author was here drawing the boundaries of the sacred space of Jerusalem, while at the same time proclaiming possession of this territory of grace—that this network of holy places belonged to his hero too, and not only to the Chalcedonians currently in possession of them. Although Peter could not undertake this sacred journey, or was prevented from doing so, he did not renounce the holy places. This visionary pilgrimage was in fact a provisional solution, a perfect device used in troubled times in the city for tackling the tension between access to and debarment from the holy places in Jerusalem.16 Indeed, John Moschus, writing after the time of John Rufus, alludes also to such tension; he recounts the story of the anti-Chalcedonian Cosmiana, who came one night wishing to worship alone at the Holy Sepulchre. When she approached the sanctuary, “the Mother of God, together with other women, met her in visible form, and said to her: ‘As you are not one of us, you are not to come in here, for you are none of ours,’” and she was refused entry.17 The quotation from Philoxenus that opens this chapter, however, is too brief to shed much light on his motives for drawing such a comparison; nevertheless, its assertion that seven visits to a monastery could substitute for visiting the holy places is important. It marks a pronounced shift of perception, in which monasteries—“heaven on earth”18—had become a new focus of pilgrimage, and it alludes as well as to the tension between the main pilgrimage sites, such as those in Jerusalem, and local centers. In the course of the fourth and fifth centuries, especially the latter, a sacred Christian topography had come into being in the East and the West that owed its existence, inter alia, to the rise of the holy man in late-antique Christian society. A gallery of holy men, living in monasteries or isolated cells, in tombs, or on pillars, all broadened the network of holy space. All those blessed with charisma and gifted with parrhesia served as a focus of divine power and delineated a new territory of grace. Encountering “the assistant of Christ”19 or the opportunity to touch his clothing or his tomb lies 15. See Wilkinson’s map of Peter’s visionary pilgrimage, Jerusalem Pilgrims, 41. 16. On the clergy’s control of the access to the holy in early medieval shrines, see Hahn, “Seeing and Believing,” esp. 1105–6. 17. Pratum spirituale 49, PG 87.3: 2904–5, Engl. trans. 39. For other examples, and on the Monophysite dilemma regarding the holy places under Chalcedonian domination, see Kofsky, “Peter the Iberian,” 219. 18. As termed by John Climacus, The Ladder 4, Engl. trans. 111. 19. A definition given by Cyril of Scythopolis, Vita Sabae 58, 158.


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at the heart of this type of pilgrimage. Every dwelling place of a holy man became a sacred site and a locus of personal salvation. In Palestine, a cult of local holy men developed from the fourth century on. Among early accounts is the testimony of Epiphanius of Salamis about a certain Eutactus who traveled from Armenia to Palestine and Egypt around the time of the death of Constantius, about 361. On his return home from Egypt, he stopped to visit Petrus, a famous recluse living in Capharbaricha near Eleutheropolis.20 From the early fifth century, as monasticism became more deeply entrenched in the Judaean desert, founders of communities and other famous figures became the focus of pilgrimage—as confirmed by the writings of Cyril of Scythopolis as well as by the considerable archaeological evidence uncovered in recent years.21 Euthymius ( 377–473), for example, came from Armenia to Jerusalem in 405 as a pilgrim; but after worshipping at the holy places there, he settled in the Judaean desert and became himself a focus of pilgrimage.22 A crowd of around four hundred Armenians, on their way from the holy city to the Jordan, made a detour to the laura of Euthymius.23 A severe drought once led the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the nearby villages to consult Euthymius in the Judaean desert. Yet he refused to intercede with God on their behalf, saying that he did not have the power of intercession—in his words, the freedom of speech (oujk e[cw parrhsivan). The people nevertheless expressed unequivocal faith in his special powers: “You yourself, venerable Father, must entreat God for us, for we have faith that the Lord listens to your prayer.”24 Cyril of Scythopolis tells the story of a Saracen who on another occasion solicited Euthymius’s help for a barren wife, saying, “I know and am convinced, honorable Father,

20. Panarion 1.40, PG 41: 677–80. For the identification of Capharbaricha with Bani Na’im, see Tsafrir, Di Segni, and Green, Tabula Imperii Romani, 98. On this pilgrim, see Stone, “An Armenian Pilgrim to the Holy Land.” 21. Y. Hirschfeld, The Judean Desert Monasteries in the Byzantine Period (New Haven, 1992), 56, 223–34. On hospices in the Judean desert, see ibid., 26, 43, 196–200; Hirschfeld, The Early Byzantine Monastery at Khirbet Ed-Deir in the Judean Desert: The Excavation in 1981–1987, Qedem 38 (Jerusalem, 1999): 168–67; Patrich, Sabas, Leader of Palestinian Monasticism, 180–83; Y. Magen, “The Monastery of St. Martyrius at Ma’ale Adummim,” in Ancient Churches Revealed, ed. Y. Tsafrir (Jerusalem, 1993), 170–96, esp. 188–89. 22. Vita Euthymii 6, 14, 1–10. 23. Ibid., 17, 27, 5–28.5. On Armenian pilgrimage, see Stone, “An Armenian Pilgrim to the Holy Land,” 173–78; idem, “Holy Land Pilgrimage of Armenians,” 93–110; R. W. Thomson, “A Seventh Century Armenian Pilgrim on Mount Tabor,” JThS, n.s., 18 (1967): 27–33. 24. Vita Euthymii 25, 38, 16–29. On the term parrhsiva in this composition, see Flusin, Miracle et histoire, 178–79.


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that God listens to your prayers.”25 Precisely this conviction would lead to the transformation of an ordinary monastery to a holy site bustling with pilgrims. The inhabitants of the city of Medaba in Arabia visited Sabas for spiritual help (yucika;ˇ eujergesivaˇ) and in return sent wheat and vegetables to the monastery.26 Theodore of Sykeon, for instance, at the end of the sixth century, after undertaking a grand tour of the holy sites in Jerusalem, felt the need to visit “all the monasteries and the various fathers confined in cells around the city, and the hermits in the inner desert. After receiving a blessing from them he would inquire into the manner of life of each of the more earnest ones and record their answers that he might imitate their example.”27 It is apparent, then, that the appeal of the holy places in Palestine did not weaken the magnetic powers of the holy men in the Judaean desert, since this type of pilgrimage arose from different religious and personal needs than those that prompted pilgrimage to the holy places. This perhaps explains why reports of miracles in the holy places associated with Jesus were extremely rare, in contrast to those recorded about holy men continuously exercising their charisma. Indeed, many sources describe holy men refusing to perform miracles; miracles were the restricted realm of God, whereas the holy man saw himself as merely the instrument of God’s will.28 Yet as “the divine conduit, the funnel between heaven and earth,”29 he came to be the object of pilgrimage. Crowds of pilgrims, however, disturbed the monks’ routine, a fact that directly affected their concept of hospitality and their degree of openness to the outside world.30 In the Sinai monastic rule of Mar Saba, the anonymous author tried to regulate visits: “The strangers who come from outside, if any of them want to make a start in the laura, we shall accept them for a stay of seven days; but if they are [monks?] who dwell in the city or visitors who come in order to genuflect, a respite of three days is sufficient for them, because of the masses of the poor who arrive every day.”31 25. Vita Euthymii 23, 35, 26–30. 26. Vita Sabae 45, 136, 1–5. 27. Life of Theodore of Sykeon 24, Engl. trans. 104 28. See, for example, Vita Antonii 48; Flusin, Miracle et histoire, 160–62; Theodoret of Cyrrhus, HR 14.3, 2: 12. See also the case of Marcianus (ibid., 3.9, 1: 258), who refused to perform miracles or did so only reluctantly. 29. R. Kirschner, “The Vocation of Holiness in Late Antiquity,” VC 38 (1984): 120. 30. On the various attitudes toward hospitality in the Apophthegmata, see Regnault, La vie quotidienne des pères, 153–63; Gould, The Desert Fathers, 146–50. In Gaza, Barsanuphius shows himself quite reserved vis-à-vis visitors to the monastery. See Questions and Answers 584, SC 451: 776–80. 31. Rule 13, published in Patrich, Sabas, Leader of Palestinian Monasticism, 275.


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The Life of Symeon the Stylite, one of Byzantine hagiography’s most prominent figures, furnishes a vivid picture of pilgrimage to holy men in Syria, reflecting the religious behavior of those searching for a palpable presence of the divine.32 Masses of visitors tried to make physical contact with Symeon the Stylite ( 390–459) and receive a blessing by touching his garment, since it was believed that being in direct physical contact with a holy man could cause a miracle to occur, just as touching the tomb of a martyr could heal the sick.33 Symeon became famous not only in his immediate surroundings but also among those who lived at some distance from him and even in other countries.34 A distinctive feature of this particular pilgrimage was that those who flocked to him represented every level of society, including rulers, farmers, and monks. Theodoret tells of bishops, councilors, and distinguished servants of city and Church who came to Marcianus, a holy man less famous than Symeon.35 On one occasion, the author himself accompanied the governor of the province of Euphratensis on a pilgrimage to the great ascetics of Syria.36 Visitors to Euthymius likewise came from all strata of society, among them the empress Eudocia, who according to Cyril of Scythopolis ordered the building of “a huge number of churches,” monasteries, a tower, and a cistern.37 The same was true of Sabas, whose socially disparate visitors came from near and far.38

32. Three hagiographic sources describe the life of Symeon the Stylite. A comparative discussion and translation of the three versions appears in Doran, Lives of Simeon Stylites. See also Peeters, Trefonds oriental de l’hagiographie byzantine, 93–136; Ashbrook-Harvey, “Sense of a Stylite,” 376–94, esp. 376–78, and nn. 11–13; B. Flusin, “Syméon et les philologues, ou la mort du stylite,” in Les saints et leur sanctuaire à Byzance: Textes, images et monuments, ed. C. Jolivet-Lévy, M. Kaplan, and J. P. Sodini (Paris, 1993), 1–19. 33. HR 26.12, 2: 184; Vita Sabae 62. Flusin (Miracle et histoire, 180–81) has remarked on this common element in the two cults. 34. HR 26.11, 2: 180–82. On Symeon as a holy man, see Vööbus, History of Asceticism in the Syrian Orient, 2: 208–23; Doran, Lives of Simeon Stylites, 15–36. 35. HR 3.11, 1: 266. Cf. Vita Theclae 28, 280. On the composition of the pilgrim population visiting the tomb of Thecla, see Dagron, Vie et miracles de sainte Thècle, 123–35. 36. HR 24.8, 2: 150. 37. Vita Euthymii, 5–17, 24–27; 25, 38; 30, 47.5–49.20. On Eudocia’s building projects in the Judaean desert, see Hirschfeld, Judean Desert Monasteries, 62, 130, 224. For the historical background to Eudocia’s visit to Palestine and her activity in Jerusalem, see Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage, 224–46. 38. Vita Sabae 62–63, 163–64; 69, 170–71. See also Patrich, Sabas, Leader of Palestinian Monasticism, 279–84; Vita Johannis Hesychastae 15, 213.


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A similar picture emerges in the West, as revealed, for example, in Gregory of Tours’s sixth-century hagiographic work on the cult of Saint Martin. A close examination of the sources shows again pilgrims to Saint Martin and other holy men in the region coming from all strata of society: farmers, aristocrats, and religious men from nearby and far afield.39 Unlike pilgrimage to the Second Temple in Jerusalem and in the religion of the ancient Greek cities, in which the participation of foreigners was restricted or even prohibited,40 the boundaries of the Christian holy man’s influence extended beyond the fringes of his own faith to include adherents of other religions. Symeon the Elder attracted many of the neighboring barbarians, while Symeon the Stylite’s dwelling place was frequented by Ishmaelites, Persians, and Armenians, as well as by pilgrims from Gaul and Britain.41 For the Ishmaelites—arriving in groups of two or three hundred, or at times even a thousand42—the religious affiliation of the holy man was of no significance; they required only his services. Likewise, John Rufus, the biographer of Peter the Iberian, deliberately tells his readers that “God wrought by [Peter’s] hands many wonders and signs and casting out of demons, not only on believers and Christians, but also on Jews and Samaritans, and especially on those inhabitants of the village and of the city of Jamnia [in Palestine] and its surroundings.”43 As David Frankfurter has observed with respect to Egypt: “The saints’ power is a function of their ‘being there,’ prophets in the landscape, rather than of their being servants of Christ specifically.”44 If pilgrimage was also a journey into one’s identity, then it was fully realized by those who during the pilgrimage to a holy man converted to Christianity once they had seen him and heard his preaching. The holy men were thus the new apostles.Theodoret himself witnessed the attraction of Symeon the Stylite even for nonbelievers wishing to hear him preach. The unprecedented spectacle of the holy man perched on a pillar was sufficient to 39. Such as that conducted by Van Dam, Saints and Their Miracles, 117–25, and Pietri, Ville de Tours, 521–99. 40. Dillon, Pilgrims and Pilgrimage in Ancient Greece, 124–53. 41. HR 6.4, 1: 350; 26.11, 2: 182. 42. Ibid., 26.13, 2: 190.These numbers may hint at organized pilgrimage, although that was rare in this period. Such is the opinion of A. J. Festugière, Antioche païenne et chrétienne: Libanius, Chrysostome et les moines de Syrie (Paris, 1959), 352; Ashbrook-Harvey, “Sense of a Stylite,” 376 and n. 3. On further groups of pilgrims, see Vita Euthymii 17, 27, 5–11. 43. V. Petri Ib. 126–27. 44. Frankfurter, “Syncretism and the Holy Man,” 350. For this conclusion, see Papaconstantinou, Le culte des saints en Egypte des Byzantins aux Abbassides.


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guarantee the truth of his doctrine, and whoever came to witness it departed instructed in things divine.45 Theodoret recounts that “the Ishmaelites, who were enslaved in their many tens of thousands to the darkness of impiety, have been illuminated by his standing on the pillar. . . . It is possible, as I have said, to see Iberians and Armenians and Persians arriving to receive the benefit of divine baptism. . . . They receive the benefit of the divine mysteries [tw¸ n qeivwn musthrivwn], accepting laws from this sacred tongue.”46 Theodoret testifies that he himself saw people abandoning their ancestral beliefs and accepting the teaching of the Gospel.47 Cyril of Scythopolis also provides evidence of conversions following encounters with holy men.48 In this context, the miracle stories have a deliberate purpose: to attest to the truth of the New Testament miracles of Jesus, since the holy man could perform their like. The author of the Life of Theodore of Sykeon declares: “Through the miracles that occur in the present we shall also believe those that happened in the past, and so faith will increase.”49 According to Theodoret, the miracles of Symeon the Stylite imitated those of the Lord.50 Pursuing this idea to its end, and well aware of the efficacy of this device in spreading Christianity, Theodoret states about Peter the Galatian: “Such are the miracles that in our times, too, the Lord works through the prayers of his servants. Even the skin of this man, acting through his clothes, had a similar power, as in the case of the most godly Paul [Acts 19:11–12]. I have stated this without any exaggeration.”51 Theodoret, like other hagiographers, strives to prove his heroes’ authority and credibility by rooting their acts in the Christian tradition. All these holy men were thus in the same rank

45. HR 26.12, 2: 188. 46. HR 26.13, 2: 190. For the expression tw¸ n qeivwn musthrivwn denoting the celebration of the Eucharist, see ibid., 191 n. 3. 47. HR 26.14, 2: 192; with MacMullen, Christianizing the Roman Empire,1–9. 48. Vita Euthymii 10, 18–21. For more on conversions of the Saracens, see ibid., 15, 24, 11–25, 12; Z. Rubin, “The Conversion of Mavia, the Saracen Queen,” Cathedra 47 (1988): 25–49. 49. Vita Theod. 61, Engl. trans. 131. This motif appears also in Gregory of Nyssa’s Vita Gregorii Thaumaturgi (PG 46: 893–957); see also Van Dam, “Hagiography and History,” 272–308; Mitchell, Anatolia, 2:53–57. On Theodore of Sykeon as holy man, see ibid, 2: 134–50. 50. HR 26.17, 2: 196. On miracles in the Historia religiosa, see P. Canivet and A. Adnes, “Guérisons miraculeuses et exorcismes dans l’Histoire Philothée de Théodoret de Cyr,” RHR 171 (1967): 52–82; Canivet, Monachisme syrien selon Théodoret de Cyr, 117–46. The terminology of miracles in the monastic literature is discussed in Ward, “Signs and Wonders,” 539–42. 51. HR 9.15, 1: 434. For similarity in Cyril of Scythopolis’s miracles, see Flusin, Miracle et histoire, 156–58.


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as the apostles and prophets; their intercession on behalf of the pilgrims was a continuation of divine action in this world and best demonstrated the validity of Christian faith in their day. This spatialization of charisma resulted in, among other things, the Christianization of the empire, reinforcing the impression that pilgrimage to holy men in late antiquity was not a phenomenon of popular religion with regard to either its participants or its religious content. It was an individual, spontaneous, and uninstitutionalized act performed according to the various needs of an assortment of people— a deed that invariably shaped their religious identity thereafter. •

In contrast to pilgrimage to the tombs of martyrs, an annual gathering orchestrated by local bishops, pilgrimage to holy men usually required no such institutional support. Eager for an encounter with the holy man, imbued with a desire to become more familiar with his way of life or to gain monastic teaching and instruction, or motivated by personal distress, people came to him en masse. This was essentially a local or regional pilgrimage, although the more famous holy men were recognized in other countries as well.52 Such pilgrimage crossed geographical, cultural, and religious boundaries and did not encounter opposition from Christian thinkers of the period—unlike the denunciation of the veneration of saints (ziyara) by some Islamic intellectuals.53 The only reservations were voiced by the holy men themselves. Expressions of disapproval and reservation by the great ascetics regarding their many visitors occur fairly frequently in the hagiographic literature. The constant flow of pilgrims disrupted their solitude and the tranquility to which they aspired. When Antony realized that he was unable to enjoy the solitude he sought, he decided to repair to Thebes, where no one knew him. While waiting on the riverbank for the boat to take him, he heard a voice saying: “Antony, where are you going, and why?” He replied: “The crowds will not allow me to be alone. I want to go to the upper Thebes because of the many annoyances of those who beset me here, and especially because they ask me for things that are beyond my power.”54 The fact that the Life of Antony was widely read in late antiquity resulted in the prominence in later works of the theme of a holy man’s seeking to escape the

52. On the local dimension and the classification of Egyptian holy men as regional prophets, see Frankfurter, “Syncretism and the Holy Man,” 348–50, 364–81. 53. On the opposition to the ziyara, see Meri, “The Etiquette of Devotion in the Islamic Cult of Saints.” 54. Vita Antonii 49, Engl. trans. 68.


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crowds. The Life of Hilarion, written by Jerome in 390 and modeled to a large extent on the Life of Antony, is shaped around Hilarion’s attempts to escape society, symbolizing his increasing holiness. The same trend is seen in the Life of Abba Isaiah. In order to escape his admirers he emigrated to Palestine, but his fame had gone before him, and soon even members of the government were taking an interest in him. As a result, he decided to withdrew to the Gaza region, where he established a cenobium, apparently immediately after the Council of Chalcedon (451).55 Finally, he shut himself up in his cell and lived a life of retreat, maintaining contact with the outside world only through his disciple Peter the Egyptian.56 In describing the different kinds of monastic life, Theodoret of Cyrrhus also distinguishes between monks who, “immured in enclosures, shun the company of the many, [and] others with no such covering, [who] are exposed to all who wish to see them.”57 Thus Julian Saba went to Mount Sinai to escape being lionized.58 Theodoret reports a discussion with the holy man James of Cyrrhestica on the problem of visitors who become upset at being driven away without receiving a blessing after making a journey of many days. James explains at length that these visits prevent him from serving God correctly.59 Regarding Thelasius, Theodoret recounts that he sealed his door with mud and opened it only to Theodoret himself. When it became known that Theodoret was staying with the holy man, crowds came from all around in the hope that they, too, might be able to enter and gain his blessing.60 To a certain degree, the role of the holy man in his society contradicted his ascetic pursuits—especially the monastic principles of xeniteia and hesychia. Through his spiritual powers he was able to serve society and in some cases even to become a political leader involved in church affairs;61 yet he constantly battled the wish to escape all social and political responsibility. It might be said that the life of a holy man was a story of constant flight. Essentially, the holy man of late antiquity belonged simultaneously to the earthly and the heavenly world. Cyril of Scythopolis describes Sabas 55. Plerophoriae 48, 101. 56. Vita Isaiae Monachi 9–10; Plerophoriae, Addenda, 164–65. 57. HR 27.1, 2: 218. 58. HR 2.13, 1: 222. 59. HR 21.33, 2: 118–20. 60. HR 22.3, 2: 126–28. 61. See the case of Peter the Iberian, discussed by Kofsky, “Peter the Iberian”; see also C. B. Horn, “Beyond Theology: The Career of Peter the Iberian in the Christological Controversies of Fifth-Century Palestine,” Ph.D. diss., Catholic University of America, 2001.


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as “this angel on earth and heavenly man [oJ ejpivgeioˇ a[ggeloˇ kai; oujravnioˇ a[nqrwpoˇ].”62 Death, then, changed neither his status nor his role, for he continued to perform miracles at his tomb.63 At the conclusion of the Life of Euthymius, Cyril finds it incumbent upon him to report the miracles that occurred in his day at Euthymius’s tomb,64 to inform his readers of the power of divine grace that invested the holy man’s tomb—for he performed miracles not only in his lifetime but even after his death; indeed, declared Cyril, “he has not left us.”65 Theodoret in the fifth century shared the same perception, saying of the monk Abraham: “To the splendor of his life the miracles performed after his death bear witness; even today his tomb pours forth cures of every kind.”66 Antony, author of the Life of Georgius of Choziba, written in the early seventh century, states: “We buried him in the tomb of the holy ancestors; now he is with the choir of holy men, and with them he serves on our behalf and on behalf of the entire world.”67 The funeral ceremony for a well-known holy man, usually conducted with great splendor, could accordingly be an important manifestation of his everlasting power.68 Riots and turmoil were not a rare spectacle at the funeral procession of a holy man in this period. Emperors and peasants all surged forward to touch the coffin or the corpse in their desire for his blessing.69 Nor was the theft of a holy man’s body infrequent. The prevalent perception of the tomb as a center of holiness, where the holy man’s spiritual power was confirmed by miracles after his death, in some cases led to disputes between neighboring towns over possession of the body. Such disputes centered on the creation of a new local holy site and place of healing,70 an unceasing source of local pride and an attraction for pilgrims. For Cyril of Scythopolis, Sabas “did not

62. Vita Sabae 58, 158, 12. 63. Flusin, Miracle et histoire, 119–37. See also the case of Cyriacus (449–557) in the Judaean desert, Vita Cyriaci 21, 235, 22–23. 64. Vita Euthymii 49, 71, 5–10. 65. Ibid., 60, 82, 15–24. 66. HR 7.4, 1: 370. 67. Vita Georgii Chozibitae 57, 357. 68. Vita sancti Simeonis Stylitae, Antonios 31, 75. In the Syriac version of the Life (127), one of the two versions in which the story appears, the author expresses this very concretely: the sick person threw himself onto the coffin and was cured through this physical contact. This miracle does not appear in Theodoret’s version. For a comparison of the various versions, see Doran, Lives of Simeon Stylites, 54– 57. On healing miracles during the transfer of relics, see Brown, Cult of the Saints, 90–100. 69. HR 17.10, 2: 46–48, 10.8, 1: 450; Vita Sabae 77, 184.2–6. 70. HR 24.2, 2: 140; Vita Euthymii 51, 75, 13–28; Vita Georgii Chozibitae 5, 100–101.


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die, however, but is asleep. . . . Certainly his body has been kept sound and incorrupt to this day. This I witnessed with my own eyes in the recent tenth indiction.”71 Such concrete perceptions of holiness—belief in the physical and spiritual presence of the holy man in his tomb—became a very important catalyst for pilgrimage.72 Upon the death of the holy man, pilgrimage to his tomb became institutionalized, and every year a panegyris would be held in his honor.73 From Theodoret’s account of the bitter war between Maron’s neighbors over possession of his body, it appears that the villagers had no doubts about the genuine advantages to be gained from being close to the tomb; Theodoret himself, however, did not exaggerate the value of physical proximity: “We ourselves reap his blessing even at a distance; for sufficient for us instead of his tomb is his memory.”74 An atmosphere of competition between the local and central cultic sites, and a sense of local pride because of the presence of a saint’s tomb, can be gleaned from the sources. Sidney Griffith detects such a thread in the songs in praise of Julian Saba attributed to Ephrem (d. 373).75 Some of these hymns express the author’s sense of local pride in the fact that the tomb of the holy man is to be found in his city:76 How much does our country give thanks that she is worthy, That a deposit of such incense is deposited within her! For her scent attracts people to come to her. He is the occasion of benefits on all sides, Who enriches us not only with his treasure, But the place of his grave has become A great harbor. There are invited All the merchants to come to our country with their treasures.

The poet goes on to celebrate the environs of Edessa as the homeland of the patriarchs and to claim its advantages even over the Holy Land:77

71. Vita Sabae 77–78, 184.10–20. On Cyril of Scythopolis’s perception of the holy man’s death, see Flusin, Miracle et histoire, 131–37. 72. Vita Sabae 79, 185; 81, 186.15–187; Vita Euthymii 42, 61. 73. See, for example, HR 16.4, 2:32; 24.2, 2: 140. 74. HR 16.4, 2: 32. For further examples of the battle over possession of a saint’s body, see ibid., 15.5, 2:22–24; 17.10, 2: 46–48. See also Delehaye, Saints stylites, clxxxvii. 75. S. H. Griffith, “Julian Saba: ‘Father of the Monks,’” JECS 2 (1994), 202–6. On the problem of the authorship of the Hymns, see ibid., 198–203. Mainly on the basis of the theological ideas expressed in these hymns, Griffith concluded that the Hymns came from Ephrem’s pen. 76. Beck, Hymnen auf Julianos Saba, 322.45–46, 4.4–5; Engl. trans. Griffith, “Julian Saba,” 202. 77. Beck, Hymnen auf Julianos Saba 322.46, 4.9–10; Griffith, “Julian Saba,” 202.


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The name of our country is even greater than that of her consort. For in her was born Levi, the chief of the priests, And Judah, the chief of royalty, And Joseph, the child who went forth and became The lord of Egypt. In the light from her The world is enlightened. For the new sun which appeared in creation Was of Judah, who was born in our country. And within our country, His light appeared and was brought to shine From Bethlehem. As from you there sprang The beginning, so in you he enriches the end.

The city of Edessa, then, was enriched by Julian Saba’s tomb. But going beyond this, a later poem in the collection celebrates the entire monastic development in Syrian monasticism:78 Our country wept that Jacob left her And led his flock to the land of promise. You have consoled our country with your monasteries; You and your flock have become ours.

A similar sentiment of local pride in the Latin West is apparent in the hagiographer Paulinus of Périgeux’s Life of Martin of Tours in the last quarter of the fifth century.79 The author agrees that the places in which Jesus was born, suffered, and was resurrected are holy; but he says that holy sites are also to be found in other places in the world that they were blessed with the presence of martyrs and righteous men. According to him, this blessing was bestowed on Gaul, with the city of Tours at its center, because it was the dwelling place of Martin; there he officiated as bishop, and there his body will always remain.80 Both authors, Ephrem and Paulinus of Périgeux, testify to the ongoing competitive discourse in Christian society regarding the quest for a well-defined territory of grace in their immediate vicinity. The holy men themselves objected to their tombs’ being built in the style of monuments to the martyrs. Antony opposed the Egyptian burial customs of embalming and venerating the dead, and demanded that they be

78. Beck, Hymnen auf Julianos Saba, 322.61, 14.8–9; Griffith, “Julian Saba,” 203. 79. Vita Martini 5, CSEL 16: 111–12. 80. On this source and pilgrimage to St. Martin, see Pietri, “Loca sancta”; idem, La ville de Tours, 521–99. On the composition of Paulinus of Périgueux, see Van Dam, “Paulinus of Périgueux and Perpetus of Tours.”


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changed. According to Athanasius, as Antony’s life neared its end, he withdrew to the “inner mountain” for fear lest he be treated according to Egyptian practice, ordering his two assistants to bury his body in the earth.81 Emulating the biblical model of Moses, whose burial place is unknown, Antony asked his disciples to keep the site of his burial a secret.82 Over the generations this too became a recurring motif in accounts of the deaths of holy men from Palestine, Syria, and Egypt. Pachomius twice asked Theodore not to leave his body in its burial place after his death but to transfer it elsewhere. Theodore, according to the author, believed that Pachomius was saying this “out of fear some people would steal his body and build a martyrium for it as they do for the holy martyrs; for many times he had heard him criticize those who did such things,” since they were thus commercializing the bodies of the saints.83 Theodoret of Cyrrhus tells us that the competition for the tomb of Marcianus began even during his lifetime: “Many everywhere built him burial shrines.” Knowing this, he forced his disciple to swear to reveal his burial place to only two intimate companions.84 The coffin of James was built while he was still alive; but when the work was completed, he asked Theodoret to place the holy relics of the martyrs in it, while James himself wished to be buried as a stranger in another tomb.85 Theodoret, nevertheless, cites many examples of holy men being buried in great splendor.86 Upon the death of a saint, his monastery was transformed into a holy place and martyrium. Burial of a founding father in his monastery created a sacred space to which pilgrims came, expecting the holy man to reveal his power. The process by which the tombs of known ascetics became holy places and pilgrimage sites encountered no resistance or criticism from Christians thinkers, and no negative connotations became associated with the practice. These sites emerged largely from the fourth century onward, creating a new map of Christian sacred geography that brought local pilgrimage along with it. This perception of sacred space was shared by the whole society, thinkers 81. Vita Antonii 90–91. SC 400: 364–71. 82. On Athanasius’s position on the Egyptian burial customs, see Alexandre, “Récit de la mort d’Antoine,” esp. 270; Brakke, “Athanasius of Alexandria and the Cult of the Holy Dead.” 83. Pachomian Koinonia 122, 1: 177. 84. HR 3.18, 1: 282. 85. HR 21.30, 2: 116. 86. HR 10.8, 1: 450; 13.19, 1: 508. But there were also superior monks buried in simple tombs. See, for example, the case of Gerasimus, a founder of the first monastery in the Jordan Valley, Vita Gerasimi 9, 9; Moschus, Pratum spirituale 107, PG 87.3: 2969; Hirschfeld, Judean Desert Monasteries, 132.


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and ordinary people alike. Such a perception was not a new theological innovation of the monastic culture but rather a natural development, a continuation of the cult of the martyrs:87 from the fourth century, asceticism was considered a new expression of martyrdom,88 and holy men were perceived as the successors of the martyrs; even though religious persecution had ended long before, they thus became “the new martyrs.”89 Hagiographers cherished martyrdom, and thus many prominent holy men were given the title “martyr” despite the fact that they never suffered religious persecution. Thus Antony is called a martyr,90 and Gregory of Nyssa describes the life and death of his sister Macrina as resembling no ordinary person’s but rather those of a martyr par excellence: so large were the crowds that came to her burial site that the place was too small to hold everyone, and they passed the night nearby singing hymns “as at a panegyris of the martyrs.”91 The anonymous author of the sixth-century Life of Chariton emphatically represents his hero as a martyr who endured torture and persecution before deciding to go to Jerusalem, although there is no evidence of religious persecution in the days of Aurelian (270–75), when Chariton reached Palestine.92 At the end of this vita, Chariton is referred to as “apostle, prophet, and an

87. For a comparison between the roles of the martyr and the holy man, see Canivet, Monachism syrien selon Théodoret de Cyr, 258–59; Delehaye, Saints stylites, xxxi, clxxxvii. 88. This is the assertion of Van Loveren (“Once Again”), who, refining Malone’s theory (The Monk and the Martyr), attempts to show precisely when the identification of martyr with monk was conceived. According to Van Loveren (“Once Again,” 528–38) the identification of spiritual martyrdom with asceticism is absent from the writings of Clemens of Alexandria, Origen, and Methodius of Olympus, and appears for the first time in the Life of Antony. 89. This is the definition of Monique Alexandre, “Nouveaux martyrs,” 33–70. Several studies have been devoted to the trend in fourth-century Christian literature that attempted to identify the monk with the martyr and pointed to their common theological basis: Delehaye, Sanctus: Essai sur le culte des saints, 104–42; Viller, “Martyr et l’ascèse,” 105–42; Malone, Monk and Martyr; idem, “Martyrdom and Monastic Profession”; Maraval, ed., Vie de Macrine, 25–32; idem, “La Vie de sainte Macrine de Grégoire de Nysse: Continuité et nouveauté d’un genre littéraire,” in Du héros païen au saint chrétien, ed. Freyburger and Pernot, 133–38. On the idea of spiritual martyrdom, see Van Loveren, “Once Again.” 90. Vita Antonii 46–47, SC 400: 258–63. 91. Vita Macrinae 33, SC 178: 248–49. On this motif in Gregory of Nyssa’s writings, see Alexandre, “Nouveaux martyrs.” On Macrina, see Elm, ‘Virgins of God,’ 78–105. The motif of holiness attributed to martyrs and monks in the biographical works of Gregory of Nyssa is discussed in E. Moutsoulas, “La sainteté dans les œuvres biographiques de Grégoire de Nysse,” in The Biographical Works of Gregory of Nyssa, ed. A. Spira, Patristic Monography Series 12 (Philadelphia, 1984.): 221–40. 92. Life of Chariton 2–8, Engl. trans. 397–402.


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indisputable martyr.” The author, however, feels the need to explain these attributes, saying that his hero is worthy of these titles because he was tortured in body and soul by enemies both visible and invisible.93 The monastic movement contributed to the dissemination of concepts concerning the sanctity of the tomb and its special powers well beyond the walls of the monasteries.This network of sacred tombs within the monasteries reinforced the practice of regional and local pilgrimage; access to the sacred became available to believers in every remotest corner of Christendom. I have indicated some features that distinguished the two types of pilgrimage—the local and the central—but in the religious consciousness of some hagiographers and Christian thinkers this distinction seems to have been ignored. What was the relationship between a sacred geography that spanned the entire Christian world and the holy places associated with the life and death of Jesus? In other words, what was the relationship between the local and the central cults in monastic circles? It is clear that a marked tension characterized the relationship between the two networks. Though it is not well documented, one can easily imagine that the diversion of donations and alms to the monasteries and holy places of the Holy Land by monks who came on pilgrimage was one cause of this tension. J. M. Fiey clearly detected this trend in Nestorian circles from the sixth through the thirteenth century, which he termed the “fuite des capitaux.”94 Our sources, mainly those of the fourth and fifth centuries, do not provide much evidence in this matter, but it seems reasonable to assume that this problem may have contributed to the preference, clearly expressed by leading figures, for local pilgrimage over that to the holy sites of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Another reason for discouraging pilgrimage to Jerusalem in late antiquity was that embarking on this journey was often a pretext to escape the burdens of a bishopric and other duties in the service of the Church. The author of the Life of Peter the Iberian tells of a Cappadocian monk, a deacon in his country, who fled from the burden of the diaconate, came to Jerusalem, and dwelt there in hesychia, later making a pilgrimage with Peter to “the holy mountain of Moses” in Madeba.95 A similar situation can be found in the Life of Saint Nicholas of Sion, written in the sixth century. 93. Ibid., 38–40, 417–19. 94. J. M. Fiey, “Le pèlerinage des Nestoriens et Jacobites à Jérusalem,” Cahiers de Civilisation Médiévale 12 (1969): 113–26; H. G. B. Teule, “The Perception of the Jerusalem Pilgrimage in Syriac Monastic Circles,” in VIe Symposium Syriacum 1992, ed. R. Lavenant, Orientalia Christiana Analecta 247 (Rome, 1994): 311–21. 95. V. Petri Ib. 85–86.


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After Nicholas spent eight days venerating the holy places in Jerusalem and visiting holy fathers in the Jordan River Valley, an angel appeared, urging him: “Make haste and proceed to Lycia, to your country.”96 The problem raised by attraction to the holy places emerges also in the Life of Theodore of Sykeon, written in the seventh century. On his third pilgrimage to the holy places in Jerusalem and nearby monasteries, Theodore decided to settle for a while in one of the monasteries in Jerusalem, “for he thought that since he had been absorbed in the cares and administration of his bishopric, he had fallen away from the monastic standard.”97 He repaired to the Monastery of Mar Saba, intending to live there a while; but when the time came to return home, he refused to leave the monastery. It was only after Saint George appeared to Theodore in a vision and bade him take the road for Galatia immediately, promising to free him from the burden of the bishopric, that he agreed to return home.98 Whatever the reasons for the tension between local and central pilgrimage, whether theological or mundane, this tension would create a new concept—that of a Second Jerusalem.

a second jerusalem The anonymous author of the Life of Daniel tells a story that despite its legendary elements is interesting for its clear articulation of an ongoing competition among the various sacred sites. Daniel received the blessing of Symeon the Stylite in the words “God will be your escort on the road” and planned to go next to the holy places, worship at the Church of the Anastasis, and afterward to withdraw to the “inner desert.”99 He had heard that the road to Palestine was unsafe because of Samaritan revolts, but set out on his journey nonetheless. The author introduces the following story reflecting Daniel’s hesitation and dilemma about the holy places in Jerusalem. On his way to Jerusalem, he met a strange old man resembling Symeon who asked where he was going. Daniel replied: “To the holy places, if it is the will of God.” A long conversation ensued, in the course of which the old man tried to dissuade Daniel from his journey: “Do not go in this direction; rather go to Byzantium. There you will see the Second Jerusalem, namely Constantinople. There you will be able to benefit from the tombs 96. Life of Nicolas 35, Engl. trans. 63. 97. Life of Theodore of Sykeon 62, Engl. trans. 132. 98. Ibid., 63. 99. Life of Daniel 6, 10, Engl. trans. 98.


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of the martyrs and the places that inspire honor . . . and if you wish to retreat to a desert place, which would be in Thrace or Pontus, the Lord will not abandon you.”100 Daniel thereupon changes his plans. Rather than being solely a product of the hagiographer’s imagination, this story seems to illustrate the emerging competition between the proponents of local pilgrimage sites as opposed to those in Jerusalem and its environment. But this conclusion does not entitle us to dismiss the reason given for Daniel’s canceling his visit to Jerusalem—namely the political instability and danger on the road to Palestine. As argued by Robin Lane Fox, the historical information in the Life of Daniel should not be underestimated.101 Nevertheless, it is important to emphasize here the alternative that the hagiographer has provided—visits to the shrines of martyrs instead of to the holy places in Jerusalem. The story typifies the stance already announced by Gregory of Nyssa in his Letter 2: an emphatic preference for local pilgrimage. This position, formulated over generations, became a prevalent motif in the hagiographic literature and infiltrated the monastic milieux of the Middle Ages.102 From this passage in the Life of Daniel, it has become increasingly apparent that the local network of holy places, which expanded rapidly from the fourth century onward, counterbalanced the holy places in Palestine. The author does not dismiss the value of pilgrimage to the holy places, as does Gregory of Nyssa, but rather expresses a preference for the local cult. The words of the old man on the road to Palestine echo the gist of the dilemma in which the monks and Christian intellectuals found themselves: Undertake a journey to the holy places in Palestine, or worship God in one’s own place? To seek an encounter with the sacred, to see and touch the very places “where Christ was physically present,”103 or to be content with the local shrines and one’s own monastery? On this crucial issue, Shenoute of Atripe ( 385–465) chose to consult Jesus himself. According to the author of the Arabic Life of Shenoute, Shenoute addressed Jesus as follows: “I choose, Master, that my children visit Jerusalem to prostrate themselves before your Holy Cross and where your feet have left their prints, and purify themselves.”104

100. Ibid., 8, 10, 99. 101. Lane Fox, “The Life of Daniel.” 102. Stroumsa, “Which Jerusalem?” 122–23. See the extensive discussion of this literary genre in the Middle Ages in Schein, “Jerusalem in Christian Spirituality.” 103. Paulinus of Nola, Ep. 49.14. 104. Vita Arab., ed. Amélineau, Monuments, 333f, quoted and discussed in H. Behlmer, “Visitors to Shenoute’s Monastery,” in Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt, ed. Frankfurter, 366–67.


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One can surmise that the author, cognizant of the problems of obedience and authority that Shenoute faced as the abbot of a huge monastery with monks probably desirous of undertaking pilgrimages to Jerusalem, chose his words carefully in framing Jesus’ response in a way that would satisfy Shenoute: “You—you shall glorify Jerusalem in your monastery, which you have dedicated to my name together with those who will hear and obey you, as equals of the angels. . . . You must know that my Cross is everywhere for whoever desires to repent.”105 This conversation paves the way for Shenoute to enhance the status of his monastery and transform it into a cultic place. It is hard to guess at the author’s purpose in writing this episode. However, as has been observed by Heike Behlmer, this conversation is missing from Shenoute’s Coptic Lives, the original version written by Besa, Shenoute’s disciple. Possibly it reflects the Egyptian author’s desire to distance his readers from any contact with the Chalcedonians, who at that time dominated the holy places in Jerusalem.106Or it may have arisen in the author’s empathy for an abbot fearing lest any monk making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem might be buying only a one-way ticket. Shenoute would obviously have been ready to offer much in order to keep his monks tied to his apron strings: “He who cannot visit Jerusalem in order to prostate himself before the Cross on which Jesus the Messiah has died should come to offer in this church together with all the angels, and I shall pray for the sins they have committed previously, and whoever hears me, his sins shall not be held against him, even including the dead buried in this mountain, because I shall intercede with the Lord on their behalf.”107 Despite the fact that Shenoute showed his eagerness to intercede on behalf of his monks, he evoked here a major problem directly concerning each individual monk in the monastery—atonement for his sins.To deflect potential pilgrims toward his White Monastery and away from the holy places of Jerusalem, Shenoute invoked here one of his most powerful roles as an abbot, the ability to aid monks in their penitence, as one who could save their souls.108He clearly rowed hard to arrive at his goal of establishing his monastery as a substitute for the holy places in Jerusalem. 105. Ibid. 106. Behlmer, “Visitors to Shenoute’s Monastery,” 366. 107. Vita Arab., ed. Amélineau, 392f. 108. See, for instance, the role of the abbot in monks’ penitence in the monastic community of Gaza: B. Bitton-Ashkelony, “Penitence in Late Antique Monastic Literature,” in Transformations of the Inner Self in the Ancient Religions, ed. J. Assmann and G. G. Stroumsa (Leiden, 1999), 179–94.


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conclusion This study has examined one of the most spectacular changes to occur in early Christianity, a change clearly perceived from the time of Constantine onward: the rise of sacred geography all over the Christian world. This altered landscape, which greatly affected Christian religious identity and behavior, challenged the leading figures of Christian society, among them bishops, abbots of monasteries, and intellectuals. Many of them perceived the arrival of this new phenomenon on the religious scene as marking new boundaries of earthly devotion for their flocks and as a new arena for exercising their leadership. Sacred geography and ecclesiastical power thus came to be inextricably entangled. I have tried to show that this reality profoundly influenced the leading elite’s attitude toward sacred geography and sacred mobility. Given that I do not view the network of holy places as intended simply to satisfy the pious desires of Christians and intensify their belief, I have been inclined to interpret the debate on pilgrimage in patristic and monastic literature not merely from the theological point of view, as might be expected, but also in terms of ecclesiastical power and personal relationships. The territory of grace was then in the process of being transformed into the territory of power all over the Christian world. It is my hope that this study has revealed that process as an important factor in the debate on late-antique pilgrimage. Consequently the involvement of bishops in the cults of the martyrs and their efforts to keep the corpses of holy men in their territories were but a natural outcome. The issue of sacred geography and pilgrimage precipitated an important debate in the mid-fourth century, just when the phenomenon had begun to penetrate Christian society. It became essential for leading figures in Eastern and Western Christian society to decide upon and clarify their stance on this phenomenon—a stance that in fact contributed to the shaping of the Christian identity. It is noteworthy that I was unable in the course of this investigation to identify any difference in approach toward sacred geography and pilgrimage between Christian thought in the East and in the West. It is easy to grasp, however, the predilection and enthusiasm of church leaders for local pilgrimage; the majority of them set about eagerly promoting their local network of holy places and transforming their environment— by the mere presence of saints and martyrs—into a religious landscape, thus enhancing their power. It emerged that they were thinking less in terms of such broad concepts as sacred geography or sacred space than in terms of local shrines and local cults. The texts discussed in this study provided four different approaches to


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pilgrimage to the Holy Land: rejection (Gregory of Nyssa), apathy (Augustine), vacillation (Jerome), and adjustment of one’s stance as a result of social relationships, ecclesiastical crises, or theological controversies. Attitudes on the matter were expressed mainly in letters and sermons—modes of communication that relatively easily reached a wide audience, the very audience that Christian leaders kept permanently in mind. Purely theological discussions of pilgrimage in late antiquity seldom surfaced in the sources, presumably attesting that we are dealing here first and foremost with questions of social and ecclesiastical politics rather than theoretical ones. It was not my intention to advance only social and political explanations for this debate. Nevertheless, it is difficult to disregard how few the theological discussions are, even though the language of the claims is in many cases purely theological. It would seem, then, that the emergence of Christian sacred geography scarcely affected Christian theology as such. Cyril of Jerusalem and (at certain moments) Jerome, who attempted to launch such a theology, had no influential successors in late antiquity. Although the religious experience of pilgrimage was deeply rooted in monastic culture, it was not wholeheartedly endorsed by monastic leaders. It is difficult to find among such figures any enthusiastic proponent of this mode of religious behavior. In this regard Paulinus of Nola stands apart. One notices, rather, the inherent dilemma and everlasting tension in monastic culture vis-à-vis the act of pilgrimage, a tension usually perceived by scholars as a clash between two ideals: stability and ascetic wandering. This study has laid bare an additional factor heightening this tension—namely the anxiety of famous monastic figures about the widespread trend of one-way pilgrimage to the Holy Land, their fear of the likely depletion in numbers of the monks and nuns in their monasteries. Their desire to keep their flocks close to them led them to embrace the alternative of local pilgrimage. As we have seen, Christians in the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries—the period investigated here—were not unanimously ready to endow Jerusalem and the Holy Land with exclusive religious and holy status simply because it was the cradle of Christianity. Nevertheless, neither was it easy for them to belittle the prestige and allure of the territory that was home to Christianity’s first collective memory. In my view, this attractiveness of the Holy Land, and the dilemma about it, gave rise to the development of an impressive new concept—that of a Second Jerusalem. In the late-antique debate on pilgrimage, this new concept virtually overwhelmed the traditional dichotomy of a heavenly and an earthly Jerusalem. The multiplicity of holy places lent itself on the one hand to grounding the concept of a Second Jerusalem and at the same time caused the evanescence of heavenly Jerusalem as a ma-


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jor argument in the debate on earthly sacred space and pilgrimage. Why did Christianity in that period embrace the concept of a Second Jerusalem? In the preceding chapters we have witnessed the element of rivalry among sacred sites as a factor in forging this alternative. This transformation seems to me quite natural for a society that perceived the advantages inhering in an earthly sacred geography—whether in Edessa, Gaul, Jerusalem, Qartamin, or Cappadocia—as providing a point where salvation, pride in the martyrs and saints, and ecclesiastical power converged. The concept of a Second Jerusalem was subject to perpetual change in the Middle Ages, bringing in its wake “the duplication of sacred places—the medieval translatio of Jerusalem to various European cities”109—and giving birth to the fully developed notion of multiple Jerusalems. 109. Stroumsa, “Mystical Jerusalems,” 352.


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———. “L’hagiographie: Un ‘genre’ chrétien ou antique tardif?” AB 111 (1993): 135–88. Verheijen, L. “Saint Augustin, pèlerinage vers le haut, pèlerinage vers le centre.” In Le pèlerinage: Colloque sur le pèlerinage, 183–88. Pont-à-Mousson, 1982. Vermeer, G. F. M. Observations sur le vocabulaire du pèlerinage chez Egérie et chez Antoin de Plaisance. Latinitas Christianorum Primaeva 11. Nijmegen, 1965. Vessey, M. “Jerome’s Origen: The Making of a Christian Literary Persona.” SP 28 (1993): 135–45. Viller, M. “Le martyre et l’ascèse.” RAM 6 (1925): 105–42. Vinel, F. “Sainteté anonyme, sainteté collective? Les quarante martyrs de Sébastée dans quelques textes du IVe siècle.” In Du héros païen au saint chrétien, edited by G. Freyburger and L. Peront, Collection des Etudes Augustiniennes, Série Antiquité 154: 125–31. Paris, 1997. Vogel, C. “Le pèlerinage pénitentiel.” RSR 38 (1964): 113–52. Vogüé, A. “Monachisme et église dans la pensée de Cassian.” In Théologie de la vie monastique, 213–40. Aubier, 1961. Vogüé, A., and G. Bunge. “Palladiana III: La version copte de l’Histoire Lausiaque.” Studia Monastica 33 (1991): 7–21. Vööbus, A. History of Asceticism in the Syrian Orient: A Contribution to the History of Culture in the Near East. CSCO 500. Louvain, 1988. ———. History of Asceticism in the Syrian Orient: Early Monasticism in Mesopotamia and Syria. CSCO 197. Louvain, 1960. ———. History of Asceticism in the Syrian Orient: The Origin of Asceticism and Early Monasticism in Persia. CSCO 184. Louvain, 1958. ———, ed. and trans. Syriac and Arabic Documents Regarding Legislation Relative to Syrian Asceticism. Stockholm, 1960. Vryonis, S. “The Panegyris of the Byzantine Saint: A Study in the Nature of a Medieval Institution, Its Origins and Fate.” In The Byzantine Saint, edited by S. Hackel (q.v.), 195–226. Walker, P. W. L. Holy City, Holy Places? Christian Attitudes to Jerusalem and the Holy Land in the Fourth Century. Oxford, 1990. ———. Jesus and the Holy City: New Testament Perspectives on Jerusalem. Grand Rapids, 1996. Ward, B. “Signs and Wonders: Miracles in the Desert Tradition.” In Signs and Wonders: Saints, Miracles and Prayers from the 4th Century to the 14th, 539–42. Aldershot, 1992. Weber, C. “Egeria’s Norman Homeland.” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 92 (1989): 437–56. Werblowsky, R. J. Z. “Jerusalem: Holy City of Three Religions.” Jaarbericht Ex Oriente Lux 23 (1974): 4 3–39. Werbner, R. P., ed. Regional Cults. London, 1977. White, C. The Correspondence (394–419) between Jerome and Augustine of Hippo. Studies in Bible and Early Christianity 23. Lewiston, 1990.


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General Index

Modern authors are noted only in cases that they have been directly cited or their viewpoints expressly discussed. Abba Isaiah: Life of, 194; settled in Palestine, 153; Syriac biography, 153; on xeniteia, 152–53 Abba Longinus, 153 Abba Lucius, 153 Abba Tithes, 153 Aemilia (mother of Basil and Gregory of Nyssa), 41 Aksaniutha, 148–51 Alexander (bishop of Cappadocia), 19, 177 Alexandre, Monique, 43; “the new martyrs,” 199 Alypius (bishop Carthage), 134 Am Ha-Aretz, 11 Amphilocius (bishop of Iconium), 34 Anachoresis, 147 Andaemon (tomb of the martyr), 35–36 Antony (monk), 94–95, 154; called martyr, 199; on Egyptian burial customs, 197–98; emulating Moses, 198; Life of Antony, 146, 147, 164, 193–94; pilgrimage to, 193; withdrawal to the inner mountain, 147 Antony: The Life of Georgius of Choziba, 195 Apatheia, 152–53, 172 Apollonius of Tyana, 69

Apophthegmata partum: monastic wandering, 147, 156; pilgrimage to holy men, 162; xeniteia as an inner process, 153 Armenians: pilgrims, 188, 191, 192 Asterius of Amaseia: comparing with the shrine of the patriarch at Mamre, 75; cult of the martyrs, 38, 43–44; on visiting Phocas’ martyrium, 75–76 Athanasius of Alexandria: on Antony, 154, 164; Christ’s presence, 166– 68; Letter to Virgins, 164–68; on pilgrimage and to Palestine and sacred space, 164–68 Augustine: on Ambrose prohibiting custom, 137; bacchanalian behavior during the martyrs’ celebrations, 133–35; City of God, 109, 111, 113, 119, 122, 127, 129, 130, 131; Commentary on John, 112, 120; on the cult of the martyrs, 101, 103, 110, 122, 132–39; De cura pro mortuis gerenda, 124–27, 129; De opera monachorum, 122; depositio ad sanctos, 124–26; De quantitate animae, 114; De vera religione, 129; earthly Jerusalem, place of testimony, 118–19, 139; Exposition of

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Augustine (continued) the Psalms, 111, 113; Jerusalem “mother of us all,” 119; Letter 78, 123–24; libelli miraculorum, 128; meals at the tombs of the dead, 135– 38; miracles at tombs of martyrs, 127–32; Monica’s behavior, 137; on the Passion narrative, 118; the place of God, divine presence, 115–22; on Psalms 132:1–7, 116–19; reform at the Church, 138–39; Sermon on the Mount, 120, 129; silence on pilgrimage to Palestine, 106–10; what makes a place holy, 122–26 Aurelius (bishop of Carthage), 133 Bardy, Gustave, 109 Barsanuphius (monk of Gaza): monastic wandering, 155–56 Basil of Caesarea: on the cult of the martyrs, 31, 33–39, 43–44, 56; journey to the East, 44–45; journey to Palestine, 44, 46–48; monastic way of life, 44; wandering, 146–60; writings: Letter 1, 45–46; Letter 207, 47; Letter 223, 44–47; Letter 252, 33–34n17; Sermon 14, 38 Behlmer, Heike, 203 Bernardi, Jean, 33 Brakke, David, 163 Brown, Peter, 2, 14–16, 114, 115, 133 Burial ad sanctos, 41–42 Cameron, Avril, 2 Canon, 53; of Nicaea, 57, 63 Cappadocia: cult of martyrs, 32, 56; network of holy places, 40, 44, 56, 62; pilgrimage to tombs of martyrs, 56; power of relics, 39–41; sacred geography, 40; vulgar atmosphere during the celebration of martyrs, 37–38 Cardman, Francine, 87, 88 Cassian, John: as a pilgrim, 46; on Pinufius, 157 Chalcedonians: anti-Chalcedonians, 185, 187; in Palestine, 184–85, 187, 203

Charisma, 187, 189, 193 Chariton: called martyr, 199; Life of Chariton, 145, 199; pilgrimage to Jerusalem, 145, 164 Chrysostom, John: on Babylas, 42; on bacchanalian behavior during the martyrs’ celebrations, 38–39; on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, 109; power of oil from martyrs’ tomb, 128; power of the relics of Babylas, 42 Clement of Alexandria: on Psalm 132:7, 82 Constantine: buildings, 22–24, 78, 82 Constitution Apostolorum, 136 Council of Chalcedon, 194 Council of Constantinople, 57, 61, 63–64 Courtonne, Yves, 45 Cox-Miller, Patricia, 143 Cross: the holy, 82, 93, 106, 143, 149, 151, 180; place of, 181, 202–3 Curiositas, 9 Curiosity: about biblical topography, 107; about monastic paideia, 160– 63; and pilgrimage, 68–70 Cyprian (bishop of Carthage), 132 Cyril of Jerusalem, 52–53, 64; conflict with Caesarea, 58; discovery of the True Cross, 58; earthly Jerusalem, 167; holy wood of the Cross, 59; on Matthew 27:52–53, 80, 81; praise of Rome, 98–99; promoting Jerusalem, 57–62, 80, 85; the power of the martyrs, 128; writings: Letter to Constantius, 58; Catechetical Lectures, 58, 61, 80; Lecture 10.19, 59; Lecture 13.9–22, 60 Cyril of Scythopolis: on Euthymius’s miracles, 195; hesychia and pilgrimage, 160; the idea of journeying, 147, 159; pilgrimage and conversion, 192; pilgrimage to holy man, 188, 190. See also Euthymius; Sabas Damas (martyr), 34 Daniel (holy man): journey, 145, 201–2; Life of Daniel, 145


General Index Delehaye, Hippolyte, 135 Deposition ad sanctos, 124 Divine presence: in Augustine, 115– 22; in Cappadocia, 54; in earthly place, 56; Gregory of Nyssa on in Jerusalem, 84; Jerome on in Jerusalem, 72, 83–84 Dorotheus (monk of Gaza), 155–56 Dupront, Alphonse, 4, 9–10, 12–13 Duval, Yvette, 15 Educia, empress, 190 Egeria: Itinerary, 7, 10, 13, 18, 49, 88, 140; as a pilgrim, 46, 68; pilgrimage to Palestine, 157–58 Egypt: concept of xeniteia, 152, 156– 57; network of holy places, 141; pilgrimage, 162 Eliade, Mircea, 27 Elm, Susana, 154, 166 Ephrem, hymns, 196–97 Epiphanius (bishop of Salamis), 47, 88–90, 188 Eupsychius (martyr), 34 Eusebius: Demonstration evangelica, 20, 176; early pilgrims, 19–20, 177; on Jerusalem, 56, 73, 79, 80; Latine translation, 68; Life of Constantine, 15, 23–24, 78, 82; New Jerusalem, 78; Onomasticon, 20; on Psalm 132:7, 82, 116; veneration of holy places in Palestine, 20, 177 Eusebius (bishop of Samosata), 34 Eustathius of Sebastia, 45 Eutactus (Armenian pilgrim), 188 Euthymius: laura of, 188; miracles, 188–89, 195; tomb of, 145; visit of Armenians, 188; visitors to, 190; wandering in the Judaean desert, 159 Evagrius Ponticus, 46, 48, 174; Ad monachos and Ad virginem, 170; in Constantinople, 169; divine presence and Letter 25, 171–73; evil thoughts, 172; joined Melania and Rufinus on Mount of Olives, 168–70; journey to Jerusalem, 169–

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70; Kephalaia Gnostica, 173 ; knowledge of God, 172; letter to Melania and Rufinus, 155; life, 169–70; symbolic interpretation of the holy places, 171–73; terminology, 153; Theologike, 172–73; on wandering and xeniteia, 154–55, 158–59 Firmilianus (bishop of Cappadocia), 19 Forty Martyrs of Sebastia: celebration of, 35, 37; intercession, miracles and relics, 41; sermons, 43 Frank, Georgia, 17 Frankfurter, David, 17, 191 Geoffrey of Vandôm, 1–2 Gordius (martyr in Cappadocia), 37 Gould, Graham, 148 Gregory Barhebraeus, 1–2 Gregory of Nazianzus: on Basil’s travels, 46; concept of ecclesiastical power, 63; in Constantinople, 62– 64; critic of the cult of the martyrs, 38; De vita sua, 63; Epigrammata 32; family tomb next to the martyrs, 42; power of the martyrs, 128; primacy of the East, 62–64; religion of uneducated people, 4; support for the cult of the martyrs, 32 Gregory of Nyssa: ambivalence regarding the holy places in Jerusalem, 51–53; on burial ad sanctos, 41–42, 126; family’s tomb, 41–42; holy places in Jerusalem, 52, 56–57, 84; Holy Spirit, 52, 55; Holy Spirit in Jerusalem, 60; inhabitants of Jerusalem, 52; local cult, 61; on Macrina, 199; mission to Arabia, 50; pilgrimage to the tombs of martyrs in Cappadocia, 35; “the places of Jerusalem,” 53; reservation about pilgrimage to Jerusalem, 30–31, 39, 51–57, 84; sacred place, 40, 52; support for the cult of the martyrs, 32, 35–37, 40, 44, 53, 56; terminology of holy places, 39–40; his visit to Jerusalem, 48–53, 61, 62; writings:


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Gregory of Nyssa (continued) Contra Apollinarium, 55; Letter 1, 35; Letter 2, 5, 30–31, 40, 42–57, 61, 62, 87, 91, 202; Letter 3, 40, 48, 51–53, 61; The Life of Macrina, 48– 45, 61, 199; Sermon on the Forty Martyrs of Sebastia, 35; On Theodore martyr, 35–35 Gregory of Tour: on the cult of Saint Martin, 191 Griffith, Sidney, 196 Guillaumont, Antoine, 146, 152, 158 Hagiographic literature, 141–46 Hajj, 12 Helena (mother of Constantine), 82 Helpidius (holy man), 140 Hesperius, 109, 122–23, 127 Hesychia, 158–60, 194, 200 Hilarion (monk), 94–95; Life of Hilarion, 164, 194 Historia monachorum in Aegypto, 17, 161 Holy place: term, 39–40. See also Gregory of Nyssa Holy places: pedagogical role, 62 Horbury, William, 25–26 Hunt, David, 14, 157, 177 Iberians: pilgrims, 192 Imitatio Mosis, 150 Incarnation, 56 Innocent (Palestinian monk), 47 Irenaeus, 77 Ishmaelites: groups of pilgrims, 191, 192 Jerome, 3, 18, 107, 119, 164; in Bethlehem, 68, 70, 71, 72, 107, 140; conflict with Mount of Olives, 70, 87– 90; Hebraica veritas, 67; intellectual journeys, 69, 107, 140; journey to the East (Antioch, Maronia, and Constantinople), 66–67, 68; journey to Egypt, 46, 65, 67, 68, 70; journey with Paula to Palestine, 10, 46, 65–68, 70, 71, 75, 82, 97; relation-

ship with the church of Jerusalem, 70, 85–97; vir trilinguis, 67; writings: Contra Iohannem, 89; Letter 46, 68, 70–72, 79, 81, 83–85, 87–88, 91–94, 96, 105; Letter 47, 5, 71, 81, 85, 87–88, 93, 105; Letter 53, 69; Letter 58, 70, 87–88, 90–94, 96– 97, 164; Letter 59, 83; Letter 76, 68; Letter 108, 67, 70, 82, 97; Letter 109, 99; Letter 120, 74; on Psalm 132:7, 82, 83, 116 Jerome’s friends: Asella, 66; Castricianus, 96; Damasus (Pope), 65, 98; Desiderius, 81, 85, 97; Eustochium, 67, 71; Exoprantius, 96; Heliodorus, 80; Lucinus, 96; Marcella, 66, 68– 69, 71–75, 77–78, 83–85, 90, 92, 94–97; Nepotian, 80; Paula, 65, 67– 69, 71, 75; Riperius, 99–100; Rustius, 96; Theodora, 68, 96; Theophilus, 96. See also Paulinus of Nola Jerome: on the cult of the martyrs, 97– 104; on Jerusalem as a holy city, 77, 79, 85; Jerusalem as the location of New Testament events, 73, 84, 85; Jerusalem as monastic centre, 84; on pilgrimage to Palestine, 70–97; on Rome, 65–66, 74, 84, 109; writings: Apology against Rufinus, 67, 99; Commentary on Ezekiel, 93; Commentary on Isaiah, 93; Commentary on Matthew, 73, 79–80; Contra vigilantium, 71, 99–100; on Mathew 27:52–53, 79–81; Preface to the translation of the Book of Chronicles, 69 Jerusalem on pilgimage: an apostolic see, 57; called “holy city,” 81; a city of sin, 39, 53–54; conflict with Caesarea, 58; destruction of, 74–75; earthly Jerusalem a Christian city, 59, 61–62, 76, 78, 80, 83, 85, 91, 95– 97, 107, 118, 167; heavenly Jerusalem, 56, 62, 73, 76, 79–80, 85, 91, 96, 111, 113, 119, 167; holy city, 79, 80; holy places in, 56–57, 85; Jesus’s prophesy, 74; Jewish past, 74, 75, 119;


General Index Jewish pilgrimage to, 11; names, 73; New Jerusalem of Revelation, 77– 78, 85; place of Crucifixion, 76; place in which the Holy Spirit descended, 60; sanctity of the earthly city, 72– 85; Second Jerusalem, 201–3; sin of the people of Jerusalem, 75; Sodom, 76–79, 81; special status, 59; spiritual center for monks, 95; status in the New Testament, 75–76, 85, 118; superior to Judaea, 73; a symbol for contemplation, 172; the Temple, 176; unique history, 59, 73 Jewish cult of saints, 26 Jews: pilgrims, 191 John (bishop of Jerusalem), 88 John of Ephesus: on Mary from Amida, 150–51 John of Lycopolis, 161 Julian Saba (Syrian monk), 95; praise of, 196; tomb of, 197; wandering to Mount Sinai, 159, 179, 194 Justin Martyr, 20 Kerygma, 181 Kötting, Bernard, 14 Lactantius, 77 Lambot, Cyrille, 110, 132 Lan-Fox, Robin, 202 Macarius (Egyptian monk), 95 Macrina: tomb, 41–42 Mamas, martyr, 32 Marana and Cyra (Syriac nuns): pilgrimage to Jerusalem, 179 Maraval, Pierre, 14, 49–51, 70, 87–88 Mark the Deacon: Life of Porphyry, 157 Markus, Robert: Christian concept of sacred space, 16, 27, 87 Marrou, Henri-Irénée, 138 Marthha, 167 Mary (sister of Martha) 166, 167 Maximinus (bishop of Sinitis), 122–23 Melania the Elder, 46, 67, 82, 89, 90, 99, 107, 109, 146, 151–52, 155, 168–70

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Melania the Younger, 107; visiting Egypt, 162–63 Melito of Sardis, 19 Meslin, Michel, 6 Metkarkana, 156 Momigliano, Arnaldo, 2 Monastic community: in Bethlehem, 99; in Egypt, 141, 162; in Jerusalem, 99; in Mesopotamia, 140; rules, 111, 142, 189 Monophysites, 184. See also Chalcedonians, anti-Chalcedonians Montanus, Pepuza and Tymion, 22 Moschus, John: on the anti-Chalcedonian Cosmiana, 187; pilgrimage to Egypt, 162; Spiritual Meadow, 7, 142 Mystery cults at Eleusis, 12 Nestorians, 200 Nicholas of Sion, 200–201 Opinionem vulgatam, 125 Orationis causa, 13 Orationis gratia, 13 Origen: attitude regarding Jerusalem, 56, 73, 79–80; Commentary on Matthew, 80; doctrine, 89; on “simple faith, 3–4 Origenist controversy, 88–89, 99 Orosius: in the synod of Lydda, 108 Pachomius: burial place, 198 Paideia, 10, 45; monastic, 45, 140, 160, 162, 174 Palestine: cult of holy man, 188–89; early holy places, 21–22; network of holy places, 187; topography of, 68 Palladius, 46–47; on Evagrius, 169–70; Historia Lausiaca, 17, 49, 146, 169; on Melania the Elder, 146, 151; near Jericho with Elpidius, 170; his stay in Jerusalem, 170; terminology, 170 Panegyris, 34, 37, 43, 196, 199 Paphnutius: History of the Monks of Upper Egypt, 162 Parentalia, 137


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General Index

Parrhesia, 156, 187 Patlagean, Evelyne, 143 Paulinus of Nola, 3, 18, 69, 90, 106; on the behavior of believers during S. Felix’s feast, 135; impresario of the cult of Saint Felix, 124; on sacred geography in Jerusalem, 82, 84, 86, 90, 92–95, 109, 116; on the Temple of God, 120, 183 Paulinus of Périgeux, 197 Pelagius, 108 Peregrinatio, 13, 18, 110–15, 119, 148 Peregrinus, 110–15 Perrone, Lorenzo, 60, 142 Persians: pilgrims, 192 Peter the Galatian, 177 Peter the Iberian, 11, 185; miracles, 191; pilgrimage to Jerusalem, 149– 50; pilgrimage to Medeba, 200; second Moses, 150; vision, 186–87 Petrus (Palestinian recluse), 188 Philo of Alexandria: ; concept of pilgrimage, 114; on divine presence, 56; Jerusalem as the City of God, 119; on the metaphor of wandering, 111, 148 Philoxenus of Mabbug: anti-Chalcedonian, 185, 187; pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Qartamin, 184, 187; on the Promised Land, 158, 173 Physike, 172 Pietri, Charles, 14 Pilgrim of Bordeaux, 68 Pilgrimage to Palestine: the beginning of, 17–26; terminology, 17–19 Plotinus: Enneads, 114, 121–22 Politeia, 179 popular religion, 4–5, 71 Praktike, 172–73 Prawer, Joshua, 71, 86–87, 91 Prima vox Dei ad Abraham, 73 Promise Land, 73; as holy land, 66, 68, 72 Refrigerium, 136–37 Relics of: Andrew, 102; Luke, 102; Paul and Peter, 101; Timothy, 102; Samuel,

102; Stephen the Protomartyr, 108– 9, 122, 127 Resurrection: of Jesus, 80–81; place of, 60, 79; proofs for, 60, 80; of saints, 80; time of, 40–41 Rufinus, 89–90, 109, 155, 168–70 Rufus, John: account of Peter the Iberian’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem, 183, 187; Life of Peter the Iberian, 142, 149, 185, 200; Plerophoriae, 142, 185; on Zeno and wandering, 156 Sabas (monk of the Judaean desert), 160; holy man, 189; leadership, 185; source of local pride, 195–96; visitors to, 190 Sacramentum Iudaeae, 74 Samaritans: pilgrims, 191; revolts, 201 Satran, David: imitation of biblical figures, 161; Lives of the Prophets, 2, 25 Secundam circumcisionem, 68 Shenoute of Atripe, 202–3 Simon, Marcel, 13, 21 Speculum, 117 Spiritual journey, spiritual pilgrimage, 111, 114; and identity, 191 Sulpicius Severus, 82; Life of Saint Martin, 18, 191 Symeon the Elder, 159, 191 Symeon Stylite, 190, 191, 201 Taylor, Joan, 22 Temple of Jerusalem, 21, 79; pilgrimage to, 114, 191; Temple of the Jews, 182 Terra aliena, 66 Terra sancta, 68, 109, 122–23 Tertullian, 77, 132 Thecla: cult of, 141; pilgrimage of Marana and Cyra, 179; tomb at Seleucia, 7, 143, 152 Theodore (martyr): celebration, 37, 40; description of the martyrium, 36; holy place at Euchaita, 39–40, 143; power of, 36–37, 40


General Index Theodore of Sykeon: Life of, 183; miracles, 192; pilgrimage in Palestine, 189, 201 Theodoret of Cyrrhus: on Abraham’s miracles, 195; on competition for Macarius’s tomb, 198; on the cult of the martyrs, 101, 131; cult of holy men, 175, 194; intercession, 127, 175; on James of Cyrrhestica, 194; on Macarius, 190; on Marana and Cyra’s pilgrimage, 179; on Maron’s body, 196; miracles, 192; on Symeon Stylite, 190, 192; on Peter the Galatian’s pilgrimage, 177–78; pilgrimage and conversion, 192; his pilgrimage to Jerusalem, 175–77; polemic against the Jews, 181–82; relics of the martyrs, 198; on Thelasius, 194; writings: Commentary on Isaiah (pilgrimage and holy places in Palestine in, 180–83); Graecarum affectionum curatio, 101, 175; Historia religiosa, 145–46, 174–75, 177–79; on Psalm 132:7, 178

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Theodosius (Palestinian monk), 185 Theophilus (bishop of Alexandria), 89 Turner, Victor, 10–12; Communitas, 10–11 Verheijen, Luc, 114 Victorinus, 77 Vigilantius: on the cult of the martyrs, 100–104 Wilken, Robert: Holy Land, 24–25, 123; on Theodoret’s pilgrimage, 176 Wilkinson, John, 25 Xeniteia, 66, 146–58, 160, 194 Yasin, Ann Marie, 15 Zacchaeus (the tax collector), 166–67 Zachariah Rhetor, Church History, 185 Zacher, Christian: curiosity and pilgrimage, 9 Ziyara, 193


Index of Places

Abu Mina (in Egypt), 141 Aelia, 179–80 Ai, 69 Ascension: site of, 60, 94, 165, 167, 172, 181, 182, 185 Anastasis, 51, 54, 172; church of, 59, 149–50, 157, 201 Antioch, 8, 67; bishopric of, 63 Armenia, 188 Bethany, 171 Bethlehem, 8, 93, 172, 180, 186, 197; cave of the Nativity, 20, 23, 51, 56, 60, 68, 69, 70, 81, 82, 84, 94, 165, 173; church of the Nativity, 23, 90, 93; “holy city,” 94, 166; monastery in Bethlehem, 90, 108, 140, 157; the most august place in the world, 120; place of the Nativity, 167, 180; superiority over Jerusalem, 74, 94; a village where Jesus was born, 119–20 Caesarea (in Palestine), 57 Cellia (monastic colony), 160 Capernaum, 68 Capharbaricha, 188 Constantinople, 63, 67, 145; as Second Jerusalem, 201 Crucifixion: the first human being was formed, 166; site, 73, 93, 94, 95, 151, 167, 182

Daphne, 43 Edessa, 8, 196–97 Eleutheropolis, 188 Ephratah, 94, 116, 117 Galatia, 201 Garden of Eden, 113 Gaza, 185, 194 Gethsemane, 20, 59, 186 Gilgal, 68 Golgotha, 51, 54, 58, 59, 165, 186; Adam’s burial place, 73; center of the earth, 60; place of the Skull, 118; soil from, 127. See also Crucifixion Haran, 140 Hippo, 123 Holy Sepulchre, 24, 59, 89, 186, 187 Ibura, 41 Jamnia (in Palestine), 191 Jericho, 68 Jordan River, 59, 68, 156, 157, 184; valley of, 201 Judaea (province of Palestine), 73, 74, 93, 118; where the Savior was born, 181 Judaean desert, 142, 188, 189; monastery of Mar Saba, 201

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Index of Places

Lazarus’s house, 186

Rome, 8, 63, 74

Mamre, 9, 76 Maronia, 67 Martyrium of Stephen, 186 Medaba (in Arabia), 189, 200 Mount Gerizim, 92 Mount Nebo, 68 Mount of Olives, 20, 23, 51, 54, 57, 58, 59, 60, 68, 97, 172, 173, 177; church on, 23, 82; Melania’s monastery, 151–52, 168–70; monks of, 47, 70, 107, 146, 161 Mount Sinai, 8, 143, 159–60, 175, 179–80, 194 Mount Tabor, 68

Samaria, 118 Scetis, monastic centre, 157, 160 See of Galilee, 59 Shrine of Saint Felix of Nola, 123–24 Siloam, 186 Socho (village in Palestine), 143

Nazareth, 68 Nitrian desert, 68, 160 Paralytic (church in Jerusalem), 186 Phargamus in Armenia, 34 Pilate (church in Jerusalem), 186 Pontus, 202

Temple Mount, 177 Theban desert, 160 Thebes (in Egypt), 193 Thrace, 202 Tomb of: Amos, 68; David, 68; John of Ephesos, 143; the Patriarchs, 26, 68; Rachel, 186; Sergios at Saphas, 143; Thecla at Seleucia, 143; Theodore at Euchaita, 143 Tomb of Jesus, 68, 75; Cave of the Lord, 165; tomb of the Lord, 75, 76, 81, 85, 180 Tours, 8, 197 Upper Room of the disciples, 186

Qartamin, monastery, 184

White Monastery, 203

Resurrection: Cave of, 165; site of, 60, 93, 94, 95, 181, 182

Zion, 150, 186; symbol of Trinity, 173; New Zion, 182


Index of Biblical Citations

hebrew bible Genesis 4:17 12:1 35:19

77 66, 73, 148 117, 186

60:4 60:8

181 182

Ezekiel 16:55–56

77

Exodus 23:17 34:23

30 30

Micah 5:1

116

Deuteronomy 16:16

30

Zecharia 14:16 14:17

183 183

Judges 4:12–16

68

Psalms 35:13 76:1 132:1–7 132:6 (LXX 131:6) 132:7 (LXX 131:7)

120 121 116–19 94 81–83, 178

1 Samuel 28:7

68

Song of Songs 2:3 5:8

178 178

new testament

Isaiah 1:26 11:10 19:17 33:20 49:22–23

180 76 181 150, 183 181

Matthew 4:18–20 5:3–11 23:37–38 25:34 27:11–14

166 54 74 30 186

249


250

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Index of Biblical Citations

27:52–53 28:19

79–81 4

19:11–12 19:12 24:17

192 128 104

Mark 14:14–16

186

Romans 12:6

55

1 Corinthians 2:15 3:16

186 94, 120

2 Corinthians 5:8 5:10 6–7 6:16

55 125 113 54, 166

Luke 7:37–38 10:8–9 10:38–42 10:39 17:21 19:1–10 19:41–42 21:5–6 21:20–24 22:11–13 23:34 24:49 24:50–51

166, 167 171 167 166 94 166 74 176 176 186 74 55, 60 186

John 1:26 3:8 4:21–24 4:24 5:2–15 6:38 7:37 8:44 9:7 11:11 11:35–36 13:20

171 55 154 1, 120 186 156 121 117 186 101 74 171

Acts 1:4 1:8 1:9 4:32 13:46

55, 167 118 186 116 74

Galatians 4:26 6:14

1, 56, 85, 91, 119 167

Ephesians 2:12 2:19

112 112

Philippians 3:20

44, 91

Hebrews 11:9–11 11:13 12:22 13:14

85 44, 112 56, 85 112

Revelation 11:1–2 11:8 21:2 21:16

77 76 77 77


REVELATION



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