credited with enablingthe sterile wife ofthe oikonomos Magoulas to conceive.30 For such entreaties, laypeople would have entered the church for assistance, praying to saints whose images graced the walls or whose portraits were found on icons. It was also widely believed that, in the absence of medical assistance, saints could intervene to facilitate the healthy delivery of children or to assist in difficult gynaecological cases.
Ailing pilgrims resorted to various rituals in their search for a miraculous cure: kissingthe coffin containing the holy man's remains; prayer or incubation next to the saint's tomb; anointing themselves with perfumed oil that exuded from the saintly relics or with oil from the lamp hanging over the tomb or icon of the saint; or drinking water sanctified through contact with the holy relics. The fourteenth-century account of the posthumous miracles of Athanasios I, patriarch of Constantinople, relates an unusual rite, which verges on sorcery. A certain Maria Phrangopoulina was healed of a long-term uterine disease 'by secretly stealing a tiny piece of the holy ragged garment of the great man; she placed it in a censer over hot coals and inhaled the fumes, and then (praised be the judgments of God) she was delivered from her suffering'.31 The faithful might also take home with them flasks of holy oil and water or lead and clay tokens imprinted with the image of a saint for their own later use or for distribution to friends and relatives. Preserved examples of such artefacts include the small lead flasks (koutrouvia) of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries bearing the images of Sts Theodora, George, Demetrios and Nestor, all presumably from Thessalonike, and in the eleventh century lead medallions of St Symeon the Stylite the Younger were still being brought from Syria. In gratitude for a miraculous cure, pilgrims would bring to the shrine gifts, ranging from wax and oil to specially commissioned silver-gilt icon frames or liturgical vessels.
Pilgrims might also seek out living holy men, sometimes for healing, but more often to make confession, or to receive a blessing or spiritual advice. A few laymen even made their way to isolated hermitages on Mount Athos to seek counsel, as can be seen in the Vita of St Maximos Kausokalybites. The monk Cyril Phileotes, who lived relatively close to Constantinople, received lay visitors from the capital in need of spiritual instruction.32 Other holy men, such as Gregory Palamas in Thessalonike and the Constantinopolitan patriarch
31 A.-M. Talbot, Faith healinginlate Byzantium: the posthumous miracles ofthe patriarch Athanasios I of Constantinople by Theoktistos the Stoudite (Brookline, MA: Hellenic College Press,
32 Sargologos, Cyrille le Philéote, §§ 34, 35, 46, 47, 50 and 51.
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