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date: 17 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Veneration of holy people was a significant feature of early Christian piety. Through a collection of ritualized practices, Christians both received traditions handed down to them and contributed to the expansion of the image of the saints. Thus, ritual was a central factor in the creation of the cult of the saints. This chapter focuses on three of these practices: (1) the telling of stories; (2) pilgrimage; (3) and relic veneration. It then argues that the cult of the saints functioned to create the image of the martyrs as a special class of Christians, to promote the idea that suffering was the mark of true Christianity, to implant a distrust of government officials in Christian collective memory, and to provide opportunities for certain church leaders to control expressions of piety by the populace.

Keywords: apocryphal acts, cult of the saints, ecclesiastical politics, pilgrimage, relics

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