past the ruins of the pagan shrines and hurry to the martyrs' tombs.' In terms of civic topography Christian cities were often inverted images of classical cities.27

Accompanying this new ecclesiastical topography was a new reconfiguration of ritual time. Christian festivals and processions now replaced municipal ceremonies and pagan celebrations. As the bishops of Tours built new churches and shrines, they also revamped the schedule of liturgical festivals and annual processions to include the universal Christian festivals such as Easter and Christmas, the festivals of local Gallic saints, and the festivals of foreign saints. All around the Roman world Christian communities venerated new saints, including their legendary apostolic founders, local martyrs and former bishops. Eventually there were so many festivals that they seemed to disrupt ordinary life. A man at Evaux in central Gaul decided to skip the festival of an eccentric hermit. 'Do you think that a man who slipped from a tree while satisfying his appetite has been included in the company of angels, so that he ought to be venerated as a saint?' This man stayed home to brew some beer - and paid the price for his disrespect when his house burned down. Since bishops of course presided in these churches during these festivals, the construction of a new sacred topography and the imposition of a new sacred time were powerful reinforcements of episcopal authority in cities.28

During late antiquity bishops gradually came to dominate more and more activities of the old classical cities and of Roman society in general. Their direct involvement slowly transformed the application of justice, the extension of charity, the funding of construction projects and the celebration of municipal ceremonies into manifestations of Christian spirituality and devotion. All aspects of ordinary life, from the courts of emperors and kings to the sufferings of paupers, were now measured against the expectations of Christian teachings. The dominance of Christianity even defined the essence of non-belief, since pagans (or polytheists) can be properly defined, simply, as 'non-Christians'. The increasing prominence of bishops led to an effective desecularisation of everyday affairs in Roman and, after the fifth century, postRoman society. Now rulers and intellectuals would have to struggle to re-invent the notion of a profane, secular society that was independent of a Christian worldview.

27 Capitol at Rome: Jerome, Epistulae 107.1.

28 Festival: Gregory ofTours, In gloria confessorum 80.

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