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.   

1 comment:

Al Sandalow said...

Just wanted to thank you for this blog. If there is a city with such a rich Christin history that is buried in more obscurity than Antioch, I don't know what it would be.

I know of no other city so potentially rich in history that is so completely covered and poorly studied.