After the end of the Persecutions, it was the Christian ascetics who proved their faith through a daily martyrdom of the body. In contrast to the martyrs, these men and women attracted admirers, disciples and miracle-seekers already during their lifetime. The hallmarks of a holy man or woman were an exceptional life of devotion and asceticism and the ability of intercessory prayer on behalf of others that could sometimes result in miracles. After his or her death, a holy person became a saint through the establishment of a cult at the tomb or other relevant site, laudatory documentation in hagiographical writing, and the annual commemoration in the liturgy. The origins of the cult of the saints must be sought at the intersection between the Christian cult of martyrs, on the one hand, and the veneration of living holy men, on the other.

There were many paths to gain recognition as a holy man in the third to sixth centuries: ascetics who either lived in solitude, like Anthony of Egypt, the pioneer of eremitic monasticism, or in communal monasteries, like Pachomius, the founder of coenobiticism, were the first and provided the baseline, as it were, for others to aspire to and imitate. These men had severed their ties to the world, seeking a position of liminality that allowed them eventually to re-enter society in an altered, elevated status, no longer subject to its hierarchies and conventions.10 The miraculous powers that could result from such exertions marked the ascetic as a holy man. He had also achieved the ability to act as a mediator in conflict and patron to those in need.11 Holy men embodied the monastic ideals of detachment from the world, concentration on heavenly things, and physical and emotional apatheia. But not all monks were considered holy men or, after their death, saints. The recognition of that status depended on their interaction with others and the acknowledgement of its beneficial, even miraculous effect on visitors, distant followers and disciples.

In addition to the holy man from the monastic milieu, a new type of sanctity emerged in the last decades of the fourth century, the holy bishop. Martin of Tours, Ambrose of Milan, Augustine of Hippo, Epiphanius of Cyprus and Porphyry of Gaza represent the first generation of this phenomenon. Rather than in the seclusion ofthe desert, holy bishops lived in cities in close interaction with their population as they fulfilled their liturgical function as priests and their administrative duties.12

10 A. Goddart Elliott, Roads to paradise.

11 P. Brown, 'The rise and function of the holy man in late antiquity'; see also the reflections on the Brown thesis in the special issue of JECS 6 (1998; guest editors S. Elm and N. Janowitz), and in J. Howard-Johnston and P. A. Hayward, eds., The cult of saints in late antiquity and the early middle ages.

12 C. Rapp, Holy bishops in late antiquity.

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