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discipleship: Barsanuphius of Gaza offered spiritual reassurance to an unnamed 'brother' by wearing the latter's monastic cloak for two days and then sending it back with his prayers.36 After a holy man's death, clothing that he had worn was often passed on to a favoured disciple. Of the two cloaks of Anthony of Egypt, one was passed on to his disciple Serapion, the other to Athanasius, the patriarch of Alexandria, who reports this proudly in his Life of Anthony in order to prove his credentials as a member of Anthony's inner circle.37

The centrality of a saint's tomb for his cult has already been highlighted. It also became a sought-after location for the burial of the faithful, who wished by this physical proximity to benefit from the saint's intercession on the day of the last judgment, as Paulinus had intended for his own burial next to Felix (burial ad sanctos).38 But just as the gift of textiles signalled a confirmation and strengthening of discipleship, the promise of a joint burial is equally found in the context of a shared ascetic or monastic life. Holy men would arrange to be buried either with their close associates, or with their disciples. Barsanuphius made this promise to his disciple: 'I expect that we will be placed in the same tomb, as I have told you before, the two of us together; God has brought us together so that we may receive assistance from one another.'39 The Sayings of the desert fathers relates the case of a young man who wished to form a lifelong attachment to his spiritual guide 'and to die with him'.40 As these examples show, the physical connection to relics sought by the faithful as part of the cult of dead saints had its parallel in the interaction between living holy men and their followers.

The cult of the saints and its expression in literature

There is no clear correlation between the immediate existence of a cult and the popularity of a saint in literature. The Life of Anthony, for example, became an instant literary success, although his burial place remained unknown to his contemporaries, in accordance with his wishes.41 Other holy men and their activities are mentioned in texts that are not primarily intended to advertise their popularity. The fifth-century church historian Sozomen, for example,

36 Barsanuphius, Letter 210.

37 Athanasius, Life of Anthony 91.8-9.

38 B. Kotting, DerfruhchristlicheReliquienkult.

39 Barsanuphius, Letter 69; see also Letter 60, with the promise ofjoint resurrection.

40 Sayings of the desert fathers. Systematic collection 10.174.

41 Athanasius, Life of Anthony 91.6-7. Anthony wanted to avoid the ancient Egyptian practice of embalming dead bodies.

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