Antioch as ‘the Holy City’ in Coptic Hagiography

Rogozhina Anna A.

This article discusses the literary topos of Antioch as the holy city, ‘equal to Jerusalem’. Looking at evidence from martyr passions and encomia created in Egypt between the 7th and the 9th centuries, one sees that a great number of martyrs venerated by the Coptic Church are said to have had a connection with Antioch. They were either born there or were brought to Antioch for trial; moreover, Antiochene connections might be inserted into the stories of saints whose tradition originally had nothing to do with Antioch. Antioch is also firmly connected with the two emperors, Diocletian and Constantine, who played a vital role in the formation of the identity of the Church of the Martyrs. The article discusses historical evidence of the links between the two miaphysite communities of Alexandria and Antioch and the reasons that compelled Coptic hagiographers to re-imagine Antioch as the birthplace of popular martyrs and the place of their glorious death.

Keywords: Antioch, Alexandria, Constantine, Coptic hagiography, Egypt, Diocletian, martyrs, miaphysite (monophysite) community, monasteries

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