"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Friday, April 1, 2011

Monastics in the City of Constantine

Monasticism originated, of course, in the East with such towering figures as St. Anthony the Great, St. Pachomius, and St. Basil the Great. It was not merely a desert phenomenon, but there were important houses in major metropolitan centres including the famous Stoudion in Constantinople most closely associated with St. Theodore Studite.

Cambridge University Press is soon to bring out a paperback version of a book first published just over three years ago on the topic of monastics in the imperial capital:

Peter Hattie, The Monks and Monasteries of Constantinople, ca. 350-850 (CUP, 2011), 566pp.

About this book, the publisher tells us:

Between 350 and 850 Constantinople emerged as both the greatest city of the Mediterranean world and a monastic centre of unparalleled importance. Drawing upon a wide range of sources, including a rich body of hagiographical evidence, this 2008 study documents the historical relationship between the city and its monks during this crucial formative period. Monks and nuns played a key role from the beginning. In 350 their numbers were few, yet their impact on local politics and the church was significant. By 850 their presence was felt everywhere - from the world of the imperial court and church, to the local economy, elite culture, social services and popular piety. This dramatic rise in the influence of local monasticism was the result of its impressive numerical growth over time, and hard-won success in adapting the singular call of the monastic life to the challenges of the great medieval metropolis and imperial capital.

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