CfP: Late Antique Cult of Saints in Eastern Christianity

We are happy to spread the word about a Call for Papers for a conference on the Late Antique Cult of Saints in Eastern Christianity, 4–5 May 2023 at the University of Oxford.

Scholarship on Late Antique Christianity has long focused on the Christian West, often ignoring communities and liturgical traditions in the Eastern regions of the early Christian world.

This resulted in a relative lack of interest, and therefore, scholarship, on numerous communities whose heritage is in danger of disappearing. However, the last couple of decades has seen an increasing focus on these arguably long-forgotten ‘Christianities’ and their communities, heritage, and literary productions.

Following this crucial shift in scholarship, young scholars (doctoral students and early career researchers from disciplines such as archaeology, philology, gender and sexuality studies, anthropology, theology, religious studies, art history, the social sciences and history) are are invited to a conference at the University of Oxford to further explore the various traditions cultivated in Christian communities residing in these marginalised areas of the Late Antique world. As a tribute to Peter Brown’s legacy in the study of Late Antiquity, the conference will survey these communities through the prism of the cult of saints.

Attention will be given to the function of saints within Eastern Christianity in Late Antiquity, focusing on, but not limited, to Syriac, Armenian, Greek, Ethiopic, Coptic, and Arabic communities. Proposals on a wide range of topics are welcome, including, but not limited to: 

– The role of saints within the Christian community as models of intercession
– Divination and magical practices within the cult of saints
– Gendered saints and gendered cults, and the contribution of women to the cultivation of narratives and practices
– The developing theology of the cult of the saints
– The construction of saints’ narratives
– Bodily practices associated with the cult of the saints
– The utilisation of saints in legal contexts and legislation around saints and their worship
– Appropriation and adoption of saints and their holy sites by other religious or Christian traditions
– Saints and martyrs as intermediaries and interconnectors between different religious or Christian traditions
– The economic and political functions of saints and their shrines

Papers may last no more than 20 minutes and will be followed by 5 minutes for questions. A number of accepted speakers will be asked to submit a shortened version of their paper to Oxford University’s The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity Database ( following the conference. Interested scholars are asked to submit an abstract of no more than 200 words alongside a short academic bio (max. 100 words) and an academic CV (max. 2 pages) to before 1st March 2023. 

For more information on the Ertegun Graduate Scholarship Programme wich the conference is part of click here.

(picture by ABR)