On the Churches and Saints of Corinth

Kodratos of CorinthTomorrow marks the feast day of Kodratos, Corinth’s most famous ancient country saint martyred during the reign of the Emperor Decius. As I noted a number of years ago when I paraphrased a Latin version of his life, Kodratos was Corinth’s quintessential rural saint: an orphan raised by his Father God in the fields and mountains after his parents’ early death. When he descended into the city of sin and pleasure as an adult, smelling of the country (in a good way — as his biographer notes), he preached with eloquence and attracted a small group of like-minded associates (the famous Leonidas of Lechaion was a friend of his) until he and a few others were martyred by Jason the provincial governor. When confronted with torture, Kodratos responded: “Bring it on!”

The stories and biographies of Corinth’s martyrs and saints such as Kodratos remain largely inaccessible to an anglophone public today because they have rarely been translated, let alone paraphrased, from their Byzantine Greek and Medieval Latin sources (or the modern Greek summaries). In a similar way, most of the late antique churches around Corinth associated with Corinth’s martyrs were excavated by Greek archaeologists (Dimitrios Pallas, especially) who published their findings in Greek (or French and German), rarely in English.

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Church of Kodratos in Ancient Corinth

Strangely, then, an English-speaking public is somewhat disconnected from the abundant early Christian remains in the Corinthia and the description of martyrs noted in Byzantine martyrologies and the Acta Sanctorum. This is unfortunate given both the popular interest in religion in Corinth and a healthy tourist industry oriented specifically around St. Paul and Christian pilgrimage.

 

There is, however, a growing body of scholarship in English discussing the churches around Corinth. These include:

  • William Caraher, “Church, Society, and the Sacred in Early Christian Greece,” PhD Dissertation, Columbus, 2003: Ohio State University. See also his two recent articles on the Lechaion basilica, which he has discussed and posted on his blog.
  • Brown, Amelia R. “Medieval Pilgrimage to Corinth and Southern Greece.” HEROM: Journal on Hellenistic and Roman Material Culture 1 (2012): 197–223.
  • Brown, Amelia R. “The City of Corinth and Urbanism in Late Antique Greece,” PhD Dissertation, Berkeley, 2008: University of California- Berkeley. Available as PDF here.
  • Richard Rothaus, Corinth: The First City of Greece, Leiden, 2000: Brill. See especially his chapter on Christianizing the city. Snippet view of part of the book available via Google Books
  • G.D.R. Sanders, “Archaeological Evidence for Early Christianity and the End of Hellenic Religion in Corinth,” in Schowalter and S.J. Friesen (eds.), Urban Religion in Roman Corinth, Cambridge, MA, 2005, 419-42. Freely available via Academia
  • V. Limberis, “Ecclesiastical Ambiguities: Corinth in the Fourth and Fifth Century,” in Schowalter and Friesen (eds.), Urban Religion in Roman Corinth, Cambridge, MA 2005, 443-457.
  • Sweetman, Rebecca J. “Memory, Tradition, and Christianization of the Peloponnese.” American Journal of Archaeology 119, no. 4 (2015): 501–31. Available for free download here.
  • Sweetman, Rebecca. “The Christianization of the Peloponnese: The Topography and Function of Late Antique Churches.” Journal of Late Antiquity 3, no. 2 (2010): 203–61.

I hope to work with a student or two at Messiah College next year to produce DIY English translations of some of these lives and perhaps descriptions of the churches. That would be a fun project.

This marks the fourth in a (mostly) Wednesday Lenten series on resources for the study of religion and Christianity in Corinth. Earlier posts include

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Byzantine, Late Antiquity, Periods, Late Antiquity, Religion, Churches, Religion, Post-Pauline, Religion, Saints, Religion, St. Paul

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