When our colleague Lois Drewer died she left behind a number of unpublished book-length manuscripts. Among these were her Calendar of Saints in Byzantine Manuscripts and Frescos-a work she had undertaken for a number of years. It is substantially complete but without her knowledge and expertise we have decided to publish it “as is” with the realization that there may be errors but also with the hope that it is of use.
This was intended to be a reference work on illustrated calendars of saints in Byzantine manuscripts and frescoes. This is not a reference work on Byzantine saints alone but only for those represented in illustrated church calendars, where they are assembled according to date. Lois dealt only with those portraits of saints in the calendar context. The two fullest illustrated calendars in manuscripts are the Menologion of Basil II (Vatican gr. 1613), and the Oxford Picture-book Menologion(Oxford, Bodl. gr. th. fol. 1)-both of which are included in this work (see Abbreviations Section for citations). The entries are arranged according to feast days in the Constantinopolitan calendar, and each entry consists of a brief identification of the saint, links to standard reference tools, and concise descriptions of calendar illuminations and frescoes for that feast. A number of additional indices provide access by saint, type, costume, narrative scene, iconographic motifs, etc.
Lois’s stated aims were to provide a research tool which will make the study of Byzantine saints more accessible to students and scholars of all aspects of medieval studies, both Western and Eastern. The indexes provide multiple access points to information of interest to students of literature, history and religion as well as art history.
She also hoped to provide access to representations of Byzantine saints who can be securely identified because of their association with feast days in the Constantinopolitan calendar.
Her third wish was to provide an index to Byzantine calendar illustrations, including the saints represented, and their costumes, attributes, and narrative scenes.
This was a hardcopy text when Lois died and as wonderful as it was we decided to transfer it to an electronic format which we like to believe she would have approved.
The core of this work consists of the calendar itself but accompanying it are a number of indices and files which for example explain the abbreviations and bibliography she used in the calendar entries but which also extend their value by providing access under a number of additional headings.
Calendar of Saints
Although she originally intended the organization of the calendar to be based on the standard publication of the calendar of feast days for Constantinople, Synaxarium Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae, ed. H. Delehaye, in Propylaeum ad Acta SS. Novembris, Brussels, 1900-the current electronic presentation allows the user more flexibility. The researcher can move through the year by simply changing the month option and then simply clicking on the day they wish to see the entry for. The daily entry is displayed to the right and consists of the Name of the saint or feast day, with variants which is followed by a brief identification of the saint, including type, place and period of activity.
The Synaxarion reference which follows is given to the column and paragraph numbers of the synaxarion published by Delehaye in full. Where there are discrepancies in the feast days, further references are given to the variant manuscripts cited by Delehaye (the “Synaxaria selecta.”)
The third element consists of the Simeon Metaphrastes reference to the feast day in the popular Byzantine collection of saints’ lives, the Menologion of Simeon Metaphrastes.
A list of relevant citations in standard modern reference works on Byzantine saints was intended but unfortunately left unfinished.
She provides concise descriptions of representations of the saint in the calendar manuscripts and fresco cycles. The arrangement is, firstly, manuscripts in alphabetical order by library, shelf-mark and folio number, and then frescoes in alphabetical order by location. It is noted if the feast day associated with the representation of the saint differs from that in the Synaxarion of Constantinople. References are provided to published illustrations of each figure or scene.
Sample Record for January 1st with explanations from ancillary files explained –
The additional files support the above calendar but also extend its value.
Abbreviations- This file presents the short forms and full bibliographic entries.
Apart from the calendar she also provides access to the data under a series of additional Indices
Saints File-Here the researcher is given an alphabetical listing of all the saints together with live links to their feast days. It is possible to navigate from this list to the respective entry in the calendar itself where a complete entry is to be found.
Narrative Scenes File
Here the researcher is given an alphabetic list of the most salient iconographic narrative elements for individual saints. For example an angel appearing to a figure is associated with 10 entries in the calendar. Lois chose to separate torture from martyrdom but in most cases they are synonomous and we have chosen to preserve her categories. These are listed along with their feast days.
Motifs including vestments and other costumes, poses, attributes, objects and other accessory details are detailed in this file. Even though the file is a useful listing it is also clear than many other motifs could have been included and that she had intended to add them.
Stretching from Angels to Wreaths-the attributes, associated motifs and poses linked to the saints can be searched for in this file which also gives their feast days. A dropdown box allows the researcher to go through all of these search terms.
For example it is possible to see that the basket is associated with John the Evangelist:
Or that the representation of grief is linked to Sophia of Rome:
This work has truly been a collaborative effort undertaken out of respect and admiration by many of Lois’s friends and colleagues in the Index. First and foremost is Jon Niola who edited all of the material, converted it from hardcopy to a digital format and repeatedly proof read it even though he is the first to claim that he is not an art historian. The design of the database is Jon’s creation and he deserves all of our thanks for this Trojan work. Other editing and preparation was undertaken by Fiona Barrett, Adelaide Bennett, Judith Golden, Beatrice Radden Keefe, Jessica Savage, and Henry Schilb and my thanks go to all of them. I am also grateful to Nancy Ševčenko one of the foremost experts on Byzantine saints for sage advice regarding this resource.
Lois dedicated much of her life and energy into working for the Index and we like to feel that she would have approved of our posthumous work in getting this undertaking published. She was a scholar who got considerable pleasure in serving her fellow art historians and our hope is that this does just what she set out to do. Like most works, we are sure that there are errors in this database-she did not have the benefit of correcting or copyediting all of this text and we would be grateful to you the researcher for any help or suggestions which you may offer.