Volume 5 Issue 3 CONTENTS


Strangers to Patrons: Bishop Damasus and the Foreign Martyrs of Rome

Marianne Sághy

Central European University, Department of Medieval Studies


According to Christian theology, Christians are foreigners on earth. This paper focuses on the theme of foreigners and foreignness in the epigrams of Bishop Damasus of Rome. What motivated the bishop to highlight this theme at a time when Christianity was growing “respectable” in Roman society? How did the Church integrate foreign Christians into the social fabric of the Roman town? In late fourth-century Rome, not only foreign martyrs were identified as such, but entire groups of foreigners for whom “national” enclaves were created in the catacombs. I examine the Damasian epigrams in the context of their religious substrate of “alienation” and in light of the cosmopolitan heritage of Rome. As bishop of the Nicene Catholic fraction in the Vrbs, whose enterprise aimed at making Rome a new Jerusalem in part through the “importation” of holy martyrs, Damasus sought to represent his Church at its most “universal” in the teeth of his local schismatic and/or heretical opponents. Roman tradition buttressed the universalist aspirations of Catholicism. As the largest metropolis of the ancient world, Rome was a “cosmopolis,” a melting pot of peoples, and Damasus did not remain a stranger to the Catholicity of Rome’s cosmopolitan history at a time when conflicting loyalties to ciuitas, Romanitas and Christianitas were hotly debated political, religious and cultural issues.

Volume 5 Issue 3 CONTENTS


Saint Martin of Tours, the Honorary Hungarian

Levente Seláf

Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest


St Martin was one of the most important hagiographical figures of France in the Middle Ages. Because of his Pannonian origins, he was also an important saint for the Hungarian kings and for the monks of the abbey of Pannonhalma, Martin’s supposed birthplace in medieval times, where his cult was the strongest in Hungary. Martin’s connection to Pannonia, which became part of Hungary after the settlement of Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin, was not totally ignored in France, where Martin’s cult took root. In the late twelfth century, the Historia septem sanctorum dormientium, a curious hagiographical story invented to support a new cult of the seven hermit saints of the abbey of Marmoutier, claimed that St Martin of Tours descended from the royal family of the Huns or Hungarians. Hungarian scholars investigated the origins and the spread of this motif in the early twentieth century, but on the basis of a mistaken, much earlier dating of the Historia.
In this essay, I establish the exact relationship and chronology of the known texts containing the motif of St Martin’s royal and Hungarian origins. Moreover, I offer a systematic survey of the saint’s medieval French biographies, showing how limited knowledge of this motif was outside the texts descending directly from the Historia. At the same time, I examine a hitherto unedited Old French legend contained in a single manuscript (Paris, BNF fr. 1534), a legend which constitutes an addition to the corpus of texts referring to Martin as a Hungarian prince.

Volume 5 Issue 3 CONTENTS


A Sister in the World: Saint Elizabeth of Hungary in the Golden Legend

Linda Burke

Elmhurst College


I begin this essay with background information for a study of Elizabeth’s life story as disseminated throughout Western Christendom by Jacobus de Voragine’s Golden Legend: first, her historical originality as a model of sanctity, and second, the remarkable transmission of the Legend itself, both in Latin and the vernacular. I conclude this section with a note on the larger political agenda of the Legend. The essay continues with sections on the uniqueness of Elizabeth’s example as a “sister in the world” within the context of other saints’ lives in the Legend, the author’s evidently purposeful deletions and additions to his source for her life, and Elizabeth’s legacy as perpetuated by the Golden Legend.

Volume 5 Issue 3 CONTENTS


The Saint and His Finger: Dominican Legends and Exempla from Thirteenth-Century Hungary

Attila Györkös

University of Debrecen / MTA Lendület “Hungary in Medieval Europe” Research Group


The implantation of the Black Friars in Hungary (1221) was followed by the emergence of Dominican written culture in Hungary. The major evidence of this activity was undoubtedly the Life of St Margaret (before 1274), but there were other attempts to collect legends or written accounts of miraculous acts from among members of the Order in Hungary.

Numerous Vitae Dominici or exempla collections relate stories from the missionary work of the Friars in the Balkans and present the political influence of the Order of the Preachers in the kingdom of Hungary. But most of these legends concern a largely forgotten relic of St Dominic, which, indisputably, was one of his fingers.

In this essay, I examine how a Dominican cult emerged around this complex activity of the Preachers in the Eastern frontiers of Western Christendom. I also show how the Hungarian exempla influenced the memory of St Dominic in the thirteenth century. Interestingly, late medieval Hungarian copies of Dominican collections do not include this “Eastern tradition” at all, and they make no mention either of the relic or of the stories inspired in the Hungarian milieu.

A tradition is disappearing. In this essay, I make efforts to reestablish some of its elements through an analysis of the corpus of available documents.

Volume 5 Issue 3 CONTENTS


The Cult of Saint Katherine of Alexandria in Medieval Upper Hungarian Towns

Dorottya Uhrin

Eötvös Loránd University, School for Historical Studies, Medieval Hungarian History Doctoral Program


The aim of this article is to survey the cult of St Katherine of Alexandria in towns of medieval Upper Hungary (today mostly in Slovakia). In the first part, I briefly summarize the origin of the veneration of St Katherine and the beginning of her cult in Hungary. The geographical scope of my own research is the Upper Hungarian region, mainly the towns. The veneration of St Katherine has left most traces in the towns settled by Germans. Some of her earliest churches were established by families of German origin in the thirteenth century. Interestingly, St Katherine’s cult became significant in several mining towns, presumably from the fourteenth century, and her popularity there suggests that she might have been venerated as a miners’ saint (together with St Barbara). The heyday of Katherine’s cult was the late Middle Ages, when her veneration spread to other towns: confraternities and altars were dedicated to her honor and her life was depicted on several altarpieces.

Volume 5 Issue 3 CONTENTS


A New sancta et fidelis societas for Saint Sigismund of Burgundy: His Cult and Iconography in Hungary during the Reign of Sigismund of Luxemburg

Dragoş Gh. Năstăsoiu

Central European University, Department of Medieval Studies


Examining both written and pictorial evidence, this study addresses the diffusion of the cult of St Sigismund from Bohemia to Hungary during the late fourteenth century and the saint’s subsequent transformation during the fifteenth century into one of the Hungarian kingdom’s patrons. In doing so, it assesses the significance of the actions that King Sigismund took to promote Sigismund of Burgundy, his personal patron, in Hungary and shows that the king emulated the model of his father, Charles IV of Luxemburg. King Sigismund promoted his spiritual patron within his kingdom and associated him with the traditional Hungarian patrons, the sancti reges Hungariae. The king thus succeeded in accommodating the foreign saint to a new home and transforming him for a short interval into one of Hungary’s holy protectors. The natural consequence of this “holy and faithful fellowship” was the transfer of the cult from the royal milieu to the nobility of the kingdom. Willing to prove their loyalty to the king, Hungarian noblemen decorated their churches with St Sigismund’s image and depicted him in the company of the saints Stephen, Emeric, and Ladislas. The study’s larger aim is to illustrate how the political transformations of a certain period could facilitate the spread of a new saint’s cult from the cult center to another region and that a saint’s veneration could sometimes be politically motivated.

Volume 5 Issue 3 CONTENTS


Jerome Comes Home: The Cult of Saint Jerome in Late Medieval Dalmatia

Ines Ivić

Central European University, Department of Medieval Studies


In present day Croatia, St Jerome is considered a national saint, the outcome of a long period of appropriation beginning in the Middle Ages. The spread of his cult in medieval Dalmatia can be traced to the fifteenth century, when Jerome became a synonym for Dalmatia and the Dalmatians. This article discusses the historical circumstances which led to the formation of the common Dalmatian identity: establishment of the Venetian government after 1409, changes in the social structure in the Dalmatian communes and the rise of humanism there. This research focuses on the first two towns to adopt official celebrations of Jerome’s feast, Dubrovnik and Trogir. They still hold the largest numbers of artistic representations of the saint. We take the perspective of the private and public veneration expressed in these artworks.



HHR logo