III: On the Pilgrim’s Road

From: 428 AD

colophon
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

On the Pilgrim’s Road T   required to escort Nestorius to Constantinople was organized in February and March. It was not prudent to travel by sea at this time of year, and Flavius Dionysius would have had no choice but to travel overland along a set route with post houses at regular intervals. This imperial service, which relied on carts and horses requisitioned from local communities, was only granted to senior officers and officials , but the privilege was often extended to the members of the clergy who were in the public eye.1 The expedition would spend the night in a mansio (a halting place or “post house”), whose caretaker would provide fresh horses and would see to any repairs to the baggage wagons.2 Generally the “Pilgrim’s Road”was used by travelers from Antioch to Constantinople, and this road connected the West to the Holy Places.3 The route is described in an anonymous account by a pilgrim (possibly a woman) from Bordeaux, who completed the journey in . The Itinerarium Burdigalense specifies the stages and distances, and every now and then adds some brief comment on the more important localities. To get to Constantinople from Antioch, you had to travel through Cilicia, Cappadocia, Galatia, and Bithynia, with stops at many small settlements and the occasional large city (Itin. Burd., pp. , –,  Wesseling).4 Nestorius undoubtedly took this route, partly because this meant that he would have met the bishops of Tyana, Ancyra, and Nicomedia , who were his allies: the hagiographer Callinicus records that “during that journey, he visited everyone everywhere” (Life of Saint Hypatius, ). Thus the religious leader was able to consolidate his own network of friends and prepare for the imminent doctrinal clashes.  C H A P T E R I I I If you add up the figures provided in the Itinerarium, you arrive at a total of  Roman miles, almost , kilometers, which the pilgrim from Bordeaux had to cover while taking numerous breaks in the journey to make the experience more pleasant and comfortable. Flavius Dionysius, who had to meet his deadline, would have used a more expeditious system (cursus velox), which was implemented for more rapid movement, and used better horses and lighter carts pulled by mules. It was a veritable trial of endurance, but Nestorius was used to the trials of asceticism, and the final destination was well worth the hardship.5 On leaving Syria, the caravan entered Cilicia. According to his hagiographers , Nestorius stayed for two days in Mopsuestia, so that he could visit his old teacher Theodore. The two clergymen visited the nearby shrine of Saint Thekla on the hill to the south of Seleucia (now Ayatekla in Turkey), where the elderly bishop is supposed to have urged his disciple to moderate his zeal (Barhadbeshabba Arbaia, Ecclesiastical History, pp. ff.; Legend of Nestorius, pp. ff.).6 The shrine was dedicated to a saint of the second century, who came from the region, but was also associated with the memory of the apostle Paul of Tarsus, the greatest glory of Christian Cilicia. It was one of the sites most visited by pilgrims, particularly at the time of the annual festivals of Saint Paul and Saint Thekla. Surrounded by an imposing wall to protect the saint’s treasure from any raids, the complex constituted a veritable monastic citadel. A sacred wood and a spring, which provided water for the miraculous thermal baths, were close to the church that constituted the core of the shrine. The living quarters of the nuns were within the external wall, whereas the clergymen who led the religious services lived outside.7 The first important stop on the journey was Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia famous for its marble products and linen manufacture, and the glorious memory of Saint Paul (and also the theologian Diodore, who had been an inspiration to Nestorius and died at the end of the fourth century).8 A few years later, the discovery was announced of the casket containing the apostle’s sandals, and the manuscript of the Apocalypse of Paul, an apocryphal text in which the saint, escorted by the angels to the next world, tells of the treatment of the just and the sinners by a heavenly tribunal very similar to the judicial courts of the time.9 O N T H E P I L G R I M ’ S R O A D  Antioch ignored Tarsus when it came to culture and religion. The rivalry between the dioceses was fueled...


pdf