Sunday, September 27, 2009

Miscellaneous Churches

Boucher states: "Among other churches were those of St. Cosmas and St. Damianus; of Cassianus, where the jewelled mantle of Justinian was displayed; of St. Stephen on the west of the city; and the martyrium of St. Leontius". We have spoken of the Cassianus elsewhere. 

A very interesting source (though unfortunately short on references) is JOHN CHRYSOSTOM AND HIS TIME,  VOLUME ONE,  PART ONE, ANTIOCH: The Early Years (1929), by the evocatively named Reverend Chrysostomus Baur, O. S. B. who comments "Very near the Maccabees' grave, on the slope of Mount Tauris, and near the synagogue, was located the Grotto of St. Paul, in which the Apostle was said to have preached. Also a house in which he once dwelt, was held in honor, and his bed and table were shown there.

The Martyrium of St. Drosis seems to have been a fairly large mausoleum. When a visitor entered the vestibule, a multitude of graves appeared before his eyes, and he saw all around him sarcophagi, urns and monuments to the dead. As probably the custom prevailed in Antioch, as in Rome, that pious Christians wished to be buried as near as possible to the graves of the saints and martyrs, so that many a Martyrium became the focal point of a large cemetery. Another chapel (or church) which certainly was still standing in the time of Chrysostom was the Martyrium of St. Ignatius, the famous martyr bishop of Antioch, who died in Rome; Chrysostom preached a sermon on him which still survives.

Under Theodosius the Younger, the bones of St. Ignatius were transferred to the former temple of Tyche, which had been transformed into a Christian church. A piece of good fortune, that Libanius, the enthusiastic worshiper of Tyche (Fortune) did not live to see it. Also Bishop Eustathius, who had died in exile in Thrace, had his memorial chapel in Antioch.' Then there was a Church of Saint Simeon, in which the adherents of Paulinus held divine service. Other saints and blood witnesses from the times of the persecutions may have had their martyria or memorial chapels already in the fourth century, for example, Sts. Juventinus and Maximus, Pelagia, Berenice and Prosdoce; St. Lucian, the founder of the older schools of Antioch, and others. For a number of martyrs, who still rested in the common cemetery, " together with heretics (Arians), so that the people had difficulty finding their graves,''the Patriarch Flavian later built a common martyrium before the city, " in Romanesia." Here Chrysostom gave a still surviving sermon on a certain Ascension Day. This martyrium of Romanesia attained a special significance in the later life of our John".

This excerpt is rich in detail and meshes with some other information. We had wondered why the Bridge Gate was called the Romanesia Gate (and also seemingly Philonauta) and now we find that the area across the river (sometimes also referred to as the site of the Campus Martius military camps) was called Romanesia. We have the obligatory mention of the Maccabean graves but here locating them near the Grotto of Saint Paul (which in our view is somewhere near the Charonion) rather than the Kerateion where the Maccabean synagogue is usually thought to have been located. By Mount Tauris we wonder if he means Staurin, but if not then the debate turns to the subject of the gates again, with Catherine Saliou's work on the Porta Tauris which features on the Megalopsychia mosaic and has been thought to be on the Island and giving egress in the direction of the mountain range on the other side of the Orontes. We also have here the Temple of Tyche being converted into the resting place of St Ignatius' earthly remains, which is novel and something we have not seen elsewhere. It is as if Baur has access to a totally new source no one in the "nothing new under the sun" world of Antiochene studies has ever seen.   

The Palaia (or Old Church)

Palaia means "ancient" and was used to refer to one of the major churches in Antioch to discriminate it from the Great Church (the Golden Octagon) that I have written on elsewhere. Boucher states in his Short History that "the earliest ecclesiastical building, called Palaia, or Apostolic, traditionally ascribed to Theophilus the friend of St. Luke, was believed to stand on the spot where the Apostles first delivered their addresses. This seems to have disappeared in the persecution of Diocletian, and it is doubtful whether the church begun by Constantine and also called Apostolic was on the same site". 

If Boucher was right (and he was wrong on some other details in his book) then the site of the first preaching was the Singon (or Siagon) Street that I have discussed elsewhere. This, by implication might also signal that the Palaia was at this site which some feel might be closer to the Beroea Gate than the old centre of the Seleucid city.

The Palaia, according to Wendy Mayer, was the main preaching pulpit for John Chrysostom. She speaks of it dating back to the time of the Apostles and cites Eltester 1937 (pgs 272-3). She sites it in the Old Town because it was the Old Church... The Siagon ("jawbone") street was so called because it was not straight and that does not appear to signify a street in the strictly Hippodamian Old Town. Just because the church was called "ancient" does not mean it must be in the  most "ancient" part of the town. 

Pietro Rentinck in his book "La cura pastorale in Antiochia nel IV secolo" says that the church was rebuilt and expanded under the bishop Vitale (around 314 AD) and after his death the work was completed by Filogonio (319-324 AD). He feels the church may have been reconstructed in a basilica form at that time. He says the sources are silent on the dimensions of the structure.