medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

What is known about the visionary and thaumaturge Gregory the Decapolite (d. ca. 841) comes chiefly from his closely posthumous Bios (BHG 711) by Ignatius the Deacon.  A native of Irenopolis in the Isaurian Decapolis (in today's southwestern Turkey), he spent fourteen years in a monastery headed by a maternal uncle.  Leaving that community, he began a period of wandering that took him to Ephesus, to Proconnesus, through Thrace and Macedonia to Thessaloniki, thence to Corinth, thence by ship to Reggio di Calabria, and thence to Rome where he is said to have stayed for three months and to have sought pope Leo III's aid against the iconoclast emperor Leo V.  On his return trip he lived for a while as an hermit at Syracuse and then traveled to Thessaloniki by way of Otranto where he ran afoul of an iconoclast bishop.

In his second stay at Thessaloniki Gregory acquired as a disciple the young St. Joseph the Hymnographer (3. April), with whom he visited Constantinople and whom he sent on his disastrous mission to pope Gregory IV.  As both the Bios and a kanon by Joseph attest, his cult was immediate.  After Gregory's death Joseph is said to have built in Constantinople a church dedicated to St. Nicholas of Myra into which he translated Gregory's remains.  Relics believed to be Gregory's (in some accounts, his incorrupt body) are kept in the originally late fifteenth-century and since rebuilt Bistriţa (Vâlcea) monastery near Râmnicu Vâlcea in Romania, whither they are said to have been brought by one of the founders, Barbu Craiovescu, a ban of Wallachia, who had purchased them from a Turkish official.  Herewith some views of Gregory's reliquary chest in that monastery:

Two period-pertinent images of St. Gregory the Decapolite:

a) as depicted in the late tenth- or very early eleventh-century so-called Menologion of Basil II (Città del Vaticano, BAV, Vat. gr. 1613, p. 197):

b) as depicted in a twelfth-century menologion in the Docheiariou monastery on Mt. Athos (cod. 5, fol. 333v):

John Dillon

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