"An investigation of the origins and development of a central feature of late-antique, medieval and modern culture: the belief that dead saints can act as mediators between a distant God and humankind, and that they are active on earth in many different ways (such as healing the sick, punishing the irreverent, or even controlling the weather).
The project will investigate the emergence of this belief by systematically collecting all the available evidence - across several academic disciplines and six linguistic cultures (Latin, Greek, Syriac, Coptic, Armenian and Georgian), from the first stirrings of the phenomenon in the third century until around the year 700, by which time the cult of saints was fully developed and firmly rooted throughout the Christian world, from Ireland to Iran.
The work will be done by a team of researchers (under expert supervision for four of the eastern languages), closely co-ordinated by the PI. The project will operate concurrently at two levels. The individual researchers will produce free-standing regional studies on aspects of the cult of saints that are essential to the wider project, but at present under-researched. While doing this, they will collect the full range of evidence from their regions within a single searchable database. This will provide the basis for a christendom-wide monograph on the emergence of the cult of saints authored by the PI, and also the context essential to give breadth and depth to the regional studies.
For the first time it will be possible to tell the history of the emergence of the cult of saints across the full geographical and cultural range of early Christendom. Of great importance in itself, this will also link, and thereby enhance, the many pre-existing works of scholarship on aspects of the cult of saints.
The ‘Cult of Saints’ will result in a major summative monograph, a comprehensive international conference, a series of ground-breaking regional studies, and a freely-available database."
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