Hagiography and History: Proclaiming the Holy

Fr. Prof. Sidney H. Griffith
Professor in the Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures
Catholic University of America

The tombs of early Christian martyrs and confessors became the first churches in which Christian liturgies were said, and fostered the practices of veneration of saints and pilgrimage to these shrines. Miracles are always associated with saints in the Christian tradition, and early pilgrims brought back portraits or even vials of lamp oil from shrines. This lecture also traces the development of monasticism after Roman persecution of Christians ended, and describes early mystical and ascetic theologies: One example was that of Evagrius of Pontis (d.399) whose description of wrestling with ‘demons’ or logismoi became the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’. The growth of a formal declaration process, ranging from simple beatification to the naming of early Fathers and later Doctors of the Church is described.