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Death and Veneration: Treatment of a Martyr Death by Severus, Patriarch of Antioch (512–518)

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Among the homiletic corpora of late antiquity the 125 surviving homilies of Severus, patriarch of Antioch (512–518), provide us with a rich lode of works on martyrs. This is not surprising, given that Antioch was second only to Rome in the number of martyrs and saints it venerated. Previously I have examined Severus’ treatment of the deaths of two local martyrs, Barlaam/Barlaha and Romanus (in Martyrdom and Persecution in Late Antique Christianity. Festschrift Boudewijn Dehandschutter, ed. J. Leemans, Leuven – Paris – Walpole, MA, 2010, pp. 1–14) and of four martyrs foreign to Antioch, Drosis/Drosina, Julian, Dometius, and Leontius ( Journal of the Australian Early Medieval Association, 5 [2009], pp. 9–20), an examination that proved the quality of the sources which the patriarch used in his preaching. In this paper I intend to carry the discussion further by concentrating on Severus’ treatment of the death of St Babylas in one homily and two hymns, particularly in relation to the treatment accorded to the martyr in John Chrysostom, in order to situate Severus’ homily in the martyrial homiletic tradition and to trace the history of the veneration of this saint in the city of Antioch.

Affiliations: 1: Australian Catholic University, Brisbane, Australia, and University of Pretoria, South African Republic


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