Selected Papers from the XV Oxford University Byzantine Society International Graduate Conference
Exploring Ecclesiastical Landscapes: Holy Men in the Peloponnese During the Middle Byzantine Period and their Role in the Formation of Religious Landscapes in the Region
The eleventh and twelfth centuries saw an unprecedented surge in church building in the Peloponnese. Yet there is no strong evidence that any of these buildings are monastic.2 At first sight this would be surprising when one considers the hagiographical sources of the Middle Byzantine period, which point to a significant presence of wandering holy men and monks, travelling and preaching saints in Peloponnesian localities. Elsewhere in the Byzantine empire during this period the evidence indicates that holy men founded monastic houses and communities; and their presence was instrumental in church building activity and in forming a monastic landscape in various regions.3
← 143 | 144 → In the Peloponnese, however, holy men were not the typical founders of monasteries, which poses several intriguing questions. How and why did they act in various Peloponnesian localities? Is it possible that the Peloponnesian saints had a different agenda for their actions? Through parallel and complementary pathways, from monuments to texts, this paper investigates the role of Peloponnesian saints within local communities as portrayed in hagiographical accounts and, importantly, their implication for the type of churches created in the Peloponnesian countryside. By doing so, this paper provides a clearer understanding of the ecclesiastical landscape of the Peloponnese in the socio-political environment of the Middle Byzantine period.
Hagiography of the eighth and ninth period reveals several names of monks wandering around the Peloponnese. Saint Elias the Younger of Enna and his disciple, Daniel, travelled from Sicily to the Peloponnese and...
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