History of Byzantine Eastern Roman Empire for Kids

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Ancient Byzantine Saints

The early Christians used to meet on the name-day of a saint, which in practice usually was the day of his death. These gatherings took place either around the tomb of the saint or in the church, which kept and preserved his holy relics, or in churches with great historical and theological significance. Such a gathering, called a feast-day or festival (Panegyris), commemorates the memory of the saint.

The Orthodox Church does not follow any official procedure for the "recognition" of saints. Initially the Church accepted as saints those who had suffered martyrdom for Christ. The saints are saints thanks to the grace of God, and they do not need official ecclesiastical recognition. The Christian people, reading their lives and witnessing their performance of miracles, accept and honor them as saints. St. John Chrysostom, persecuted and exiled by the civil and ecclesiastical authorities, was accepted as a saint of the Church by popular acclaim. St. Basil the Great was accepted immediately after his death as a saint of the Church by the people.

Saint Helena- was the mother of the Emperor Constantine, who, upon her conversion to Christianity, went to the Holy Land where she is credited by some with having discovered the True Cross.

A very popular religious figure, for example, was Theodore Teron, the warrior saint traditionally represented with a dark pointed beard and either riding a horse or slaying a beast.

John Chrysostom- was known for his eloquence; hence, his name Chrysostom (golden mouth). John was born at Antioch, the second city of the Eastern half of the Roman Empire. John became bishop in Constantinople, but his preaching against corruption led to his exile.

Saint Catherine also appears in many works of art from the period. Catherine was beheaded in Rome and then carried to the top of Mount Sinai by angels. Though this scene is depicted in the French Manuscript, The Belles Heures (54.1.1 on Folio 20), Byzantine art typically does not feature this bodily transportation. Unlike Western depictions of Catherine, in which she is most often seen with a spiked wheel, Byzantine artists chose to show her in imperial vestments and holding a martyr's cross.

In cities such as Jerusalem, Constantinople, and Rome, where objects associated with Christ's Passion were kept and where bodies of saints and martyrs were buried, soon developed into important cult centers, drawing pilgrims in large numbers from across the Late Roman Empire.

Enshrined in sumptuous metal, ivory, or stone containers, relics formed an important physical and spiritual bond between heaven and earth, linking humankind to their saintly advocates in heaven. As they were carried in liturgical processions, used in imperial ceremonies, and called upon in legal disputes and crises, relics—and, by extension, their precious containers and built shrines—provided a visible link between the living and the venerated dead.

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