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Debating the Saints’ Cult in the Age of Gregory the Great$
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Matthew Dal Santo

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199646791

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199646791.001.0001

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Gregory the Great and Eustratius of Constantinople

Gregory the Great and Eustratius of Constantinople

The Dialogues on the Miracles of the Italian Fathers as an apology for the cult of the saints

(p.21) 1 Gregory the Great and Eustratius of Constantinople
Debating the Saints’ Cult in the Age of Gregory the Great

Matthew Dal Santo

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that Gregory the Great’s Dialogues represent an extended apology for the cult of the saints and their miracles. It achieves this through a detailed comparison between Gregory’s text and Eustratius of Constantinople’s On the Souls of the Saints. A much less well known text composed in Greek at Constantinople at the same time as Gregory’s at Rome, Eustratius’s On the State of Souls defended the saints’ cult against rationalistic and theological objections, including the charge that God or the angels performed the miracles attributed to the saints, but rather God or the angels. The chapter argues that many of the same themes appear in Gregory’s Dialogues, with a particular concentration in the second dialogue, or Life of Saint Benedict. Both Gregory’s and Eustratius’s texts, it is argued, were intended to address contemporary anxieties about the plausibility and propriety of saintly miracles or wonder-working. Both writers also clearly understood the implications this debate about the saints held for other aspects of Christian piety, especially the so-called ‘care of the dead’ through the Eucharist.

Keywords:   saints, miracles, doubt, scepticism, Eustratius of Constantinople, God, Angels, Benedict

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