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Cyprian of Carthage

(603 words)

Author(s): Wischmeyer, Wolfgang
[German Version] (Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus; after 200 – Sep 14, 258; feast day: in the West orig. Sep 14, now Sep 16; also in the East; in Russia Aug 31) is known for his literary works, distinguished by their clear style and the ubiquitous prose rhythm, for the impact of measures he took as bishop of Carthage in connection with the Decian (Decius) persecution of Christians (I), in the ensuing conflict over whether to accept the lapsi, and in the heresy dispute with Rome (from 255). He is also known for the Vita of Pontius (“presumably the first full-fledged literary Christian…

Agnes, Saint

(165 words)

Author(s): Wischmeyer, Wolfgang
[German Version] was a Roman martyr (Western feast day Jan 21, Eastern Jul 5). According to 4th-century tradition ( Depositio Martyrum of 354), the Roman martyr – spared from the flames – was stabbed or beheaded under Diocletian (or Valerian?). The name and legend of Agnes, who suffered dual martyrdom for the sake of decency and religion (Ambr., Virg. I 2.9), could have developed in Rome (as well as in Trier) from the Greek virtue ἁγνός ( hagnos). Since late Constantinian times, her cult has been localized in the via Nomentana in the vicinity of the circul…

Innocent I, Pope (Saint)

(242 words)

Author(s): Wischmeyer, Wolfgang
[German Version] (papacy Dec 21, 402 – Mar 12, 417; feast day July 28). According to Jerome Ep. 130.60, Innocent became bishop of Rome as the son of his predecessor Anastasius I (399–402); he aspired to a primatial status ( caput et apex episcopatus: Ep. 37.1; right to appoint all bishops: Ep. 25.21) that clearly went beyond canon 3 of the Council of Constantinople (IV, 1) in ¶ 381 and claimed authority for Rome in doctrinal questions. In the West, against the background of contemporary political and military troubles, he partially attained his goal, resolving t…

Apollinaris of Ravenna (Saint)

(161 words)

Author(s): Wischmeyer, Wolfgang
[German Version] (feast day Jul 23). According to Peter Chrysologus ( Sermo 128), Apollinaris was the first bishop of Ravenna and a martyr; his translation inscription (CIL 11/1, 295) calls him confessor. In the Ravenna episcopal list, Severus, the first bishop for whom there is clear evidence (343 in Serdica), appears in eleventh place after Apollinaris. As an expression of the exarchate's desir…

Rossi, Giovanni Battista de

(201 words)

Author(s): Wischmeyer, Wolfgang
[German Version] (Feb 22, 1822, Rome – Sep 20, 1894, Castel Gandolfo). The jurist Rossi distinguished himself with many archaeological initiatives and publications on the Early Church, thereby found-¶ ing Christian archaeology (III) as an independent discipline. Rossi apologetically championed a focus on Rome which was a longlasting influence on the Roman school of the discipline, though he also worked to maintain contacts with the international study of antiquity. He made outstanding contributions (partly in collaboration with T. Mommsen) in his special field, epigraphy. Wolfg…

Cosmas and Damian, Saints

(265 words)

Author(s): Wischmeyer, Wolfgang
[German Version] (feast day: Sep 26). As probably the most beloved of the Anargyroi (“those ¶ who heal without payment”), this uncertain eastern hagiological tradition (Syr., Gk, Arab., Georg., Lat.; three versions of the legend are distinguished: Passio Asiatica, BHG 372, 385–393, feast day: Nov 1; Passio Romana, BHG 376, feast day: Jul 1; Passio Arabica, BHG 378f., feast day: Oct 18), which is important for the history of medicine, knows of three pairs of physician brothers by this name in a large geographical area, including Rome, C…

Stephen I, Pope (Saint)

(191 words)

Author(s): Wischmeyer, Wolfgang
[German Version] episcopate May 254 – 256/257 (Aug 2, 255, according to the Catalogus Liberianu s and the Depositio episcoporum [CPL 2028/2250]). He is venerated as a martyr; his tomb is in the Cripta dei Papi in the catacombs of San Callisto. All we know ¶ of Stephen comes from the statements of Firmilian of Caesarea and Cyprian of Carthage ( Ep. 67–75) protesting against the position taken by the Roman bishop, who wanted to exclude rebaptizing returning schismatics and simply lay hands on them (Rebaptism controversy). The North African opposition to thi…

Carpus, Papylus, and Agathonice

(178 words)

Author(s): Wischmeyer, Wolfgang
[German Version] (feast: Apr 13); Eus. Hist. eccl. IV 15.48 relates that the hypomnemata of the martyrdom of these two clergymen and of Agathonice, the sister of Papylus, were still extant in Pergamon. The rich and divergent hagiological tradition, which includes an epic version, attributes various origins and ecclesial ranks to the martyrs and emphasizes that it was the woman who urged the others to accept martyrdom. According to Eusebius, their martyrdom took place in the reign …

Apollonius, Roman martyr

(130 words)

Author(s): Wischmeyer, Wolfgang
[German Version] (feast day Apr 18). At the end of Eusebius's brief account of the martyrdom of Apollonius, “a man who stood in high esteem among the faithful of that time on account of his culture and erudition” ( Hist. eccl. V 21.2–5), he refers to a text that he had “in his collection of the early acts of the martyrs.” These acts may be identical with the so-called Acts of Apollonius, a largely apologetic work surviving in Greek and Armenian; its literary quality and fictional style led Jerome ( Vir. ill. 42) to identify Apollonius as a Roman senator. Wolfgang Wischmeyer Bibliography BHG, 149 BH…

Acts of the Martyrs

(852 words)

Author(s): Wischmeyer, Wolfgang
[German Version] In his new edition of the Martyrologium Romanum (1583–; cf. esp. the appended “De martyrologio Romano praecapitulatio dicendorum”), C. Baronius borrowed the expression acta martyrum from Pontius's Vita Cypriani 11 (cf. Cyprian Epis. 77, 2), understanding the martyr literature handed down in protocol form as original trial transcripts or as protocols recorded by ecclesiastical notarii (combining Cyprian Epis. 12, 2, 1 with LP 1, 148) to serve as documentation for liturgical commemoration. In 1643 the Acta sanctorum of the Bollandists …


(302 words)

Author(s): Wischmeyer, Wolfgang
[German Version] The Roman Colonia Arelate was established in 46 bceon the Rhône in southern France. Although its episcopal list begins c. 240 with Trophimus, the first bishop for whom we have clear evidence is Marcianus, a follower of Novatian, in 254. Arles served repeatedly as a meeting place for synods, including one in 314 (dealing among other issues with Donatis…

Scillitan Martyrs

(166 words)

Author(s): Wischmeyer, Wolfgang
[German Version] The account, in the form of a legal transcript, of a group of Christians in Africa Proconsularis who suffered martyrdom in Carthage on July 17 (their feast day), 180, is probably the earliest evidence of Christianity in North Africa (III); it is also the earliest text of Christian literature in Latin (Literature, History of: V). Although we do not know where Scillium was, how many Christians were condemned, and when the earliest version of our text was written, its indigenous name…

Martyrs, Veneration of

(688 words)

Author(s): Wischmeyer, Wolfgang
[German Version] The veneration of martyrs and the related descriptions in the literature of martyrs shaped the figure of the martyr and in some cases even created it. It gave the type of the martyr its characteristic features, which survived even after the confrontations that led to martyrdom had ended. Given differing processes of socialization and acculturation of the various Christian communities in the Roman Empire during the principate and Late Antiquity, the charisma of the martyr became a …

Apollonia of Alexandria, Saint

(123 words)

Author(s): Wischmeyer, Wolfgang
[German Version] (feast day Feb 9). A letter of Dionysius of Alexandria concerning Alexandrian martyrs (Eusebius Hist. eccl. VI 41.7) describes Apollonia as “an elderly woman of high standing who had remained a virgin”; during the uprising against Christians in 248, after abuse that broke off her teeth, she voluntarily leapt into the fire. Later legend speaks of a Roman princess under Julian or a siste…


(896 words)

Author(s): Wischmeyer, Wolfgang
[German Version] Milan, the ancient capital of the Gallic Insubres, came under Roman rule in the 2nd century bce. Since the time of Augustus, it became increasingly important as a transportation hub. From 286 to 406, when it was the imperial capital of the West, it developed into a major city with architecture befitting its role. The church shared in the city's growth in the 3rd century and even more in the 4th; 4th-century churches include Sta. Maria Maggiore, Sta. Tecla, S. Giovanni al Fonte, the Basilica Apost…

Discipline of the Secret

(1,180 words)

Author(s): Graf, Fritz | Wischmeyer, Wolfgang
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Christian Secrecy I. Religious Studies Discipline of the Secret ( disciplina arcani) is a modern expression coined in the context of post-Reformation controversial theology (first used by J. Daillé, De usu patrum ad ea definienda capita, Geneva, 1686). It refers to the ancient Christian demand, made especially in the 4th and early 5th centuries, that central parts of the ritual (baptism and Eucharist) and the …


(6,592 words)

Author(s): Beinhauer-Köhler, Bärbel | Wischmeyer, Wolfgang | Köpf, Ulrich | Strohm, Christoph | Hauptmann, Peter | Et al.
[German Version] I. History of Religion – II. The Early Church – III. Middle Ages, Reformation, Counter-reformation – IV. The Modern Period – V. Martyrs of the Orthodox Church – VI. Judaism – VII. Islam – VIII. Missiology I. History of Religion The term martyrium (Greek μαρτύριον/ martúrion) was coined in early Christianity, where it denotes a self-sacrificial death in religious conflict as a witness to faith Historical and systematic references are found in many contexts, in which comparable terms imply something slightly different. For example, the Islamic šahīd, “witness…

Poor, Care of the

(5,426 words)

Author(s): Tworuschka, Udo | Ebach, Jürgen | Gager, John G. | Caplan, Kimmy | Nagel, Tilman | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies We can speak of care for the poor in the sense of public and private relief of poverty only when there has been a certain degree of institutionalization. Religions have treated poor relief with varying degrees emphasis. It is important to distinguish caregivers (including families, clans, congregations, orders, foundations, societies, and associations), the kind of help given (material, personal, structural), and the recipients (different levels of poverty). The Greeks and Romans felt no obligation to help the poor, or at most a g…


(11,663 words)

Author(s): Figal, Günter | Ahn, Gregor | Janowski, Bernd | Furley, David J. | Sellin, Gerhard | Et al.
[German Version] I. Philosophy The word Weltbild (“worldview”; more lit. “world picture”) is already found in early medieval German; it is defined as a “conceptual view of the world that emerges from the totality of impressions made by the world and ideas of one’s Weltanschauung” ( DWb 28 [14.1.1], 1955, 1553). Its meaning is thus related to the meaning of Weltanschauung . Philosophy usually treats both together. A Weltbild can be understood as both a premise and a product of a Weltanschauung. W. Dilthey called a Weltbild “the basis of one’s appreciation of life and understanding…