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priest and went to Perm near the Urals where he learnt the type of Finnish spoken by the local Zyrian population. He proceeded to create an alphabet and literary language for them. He translated parts of the scriptures and liturgical texts, harnessing the written word to his missionary work. Stefan understood that elevating the Zyrians' tongue to the rank of scriptural language was an effective means ofbringingthe people around Perm within the wider Christian sphere. But his missionary drive owed much of its urgency to expectations of the end of the world.97 However loosely understood, he was striving to bring them within a Byzantine commonwealth before it was too late. This sense of belonging to an overarching community emerges, when Epifanii places Stefan's death in 1396: 'During the reign of the Orthodox Greek tsar Manuel, reigning in Tsargrad, under Patriarch Anthony, archbishop of Constantinople, under Patriarchs Dorotheos of Jerusalem, Mark of Alexandria, Neilos of Antioch, under the Orthodox Grand Prince Vasilii Dmitrievich of all Rus.'98

This was not merely an empire of the mind, a metaphor akin to the city extolled as a model for well-ordered communities in the works of Sergii of Radonezh and other monastic writers, for membership ofthe commonwealth had always been quintessentially voluntary and was inevitably so after 1204. Acceptance of the Constantinopolitan patriarch's profession of faith and the Byzantine-authorised forms of worship - virtually the only stable denominators of adherence to the Byzantine order - did not rule out a variety of other cultural identities or political allegiances. The weaker the empire was in material terms, the easier it became for individuals living far beyond its territorial remains, often under uncongenial regimes, to conceive of the emperor's mission as a last best hope for mankind, which might against all rational expectations be fulfilled. Such an attitude among monks and clergy was certainly fostered by the ecumenical patriarchate for the sake of coherence and, ultimately, ecclesiastical and civil discipline among eastern Christians. But the desire for overarching order also arose spontaneously among outsiders in novel situations, whether churchmen objecting to the measures of their local princes or Rus holy men, who found themselves providing social as well as spiritual leadership amidst changing settlement patterns in the fourteenth century. Their prime concern was with regulations for communities of like-minded souls - monasteries - and with correct forms of worship. But in this sphere,

97 R. M. Price, 'The holy man and Christianisation from the apocryphal apostles to St Stephen of Perm', in The cult of saints in late antiquity and the early middle ages: essays on the contribution of Peter Brown, ed. P. Hayward and J. Howard-Johnston (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 232-5.

98 Epifanii Premudryi, Zhitie sviatogo Stefana episkopa Permskogo, ed. V G. Druzhinin (St Petersburg: Arkheograficheskaia Kommissiia, 1897), 85; see also ibid., 74.

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