The search for salvation

In Byzantium, anxiety about salvation was an important factor in developing close links between the laity and monastic institutions. One consequence of this concern was a tendency among the laity to take vows towards the end of their lives in the belief that those consecrated to the monastic life had greater hopes of salvation. They might take this step once their children were grown, or after the death of a spouse, or even on their deathbed. Not only were these elderly monks and nuns assured of housing, food and medical care for the rest of their lives, but, even more important, after death they were guaranteed burial within the monastic complex and commemorative services by the monastic community, whose intercessory prayers were viewed as particularly effective.

Through financial contributions to churches, the faithful were able to build tombs and guarantee commemorative services for the deceased. In order to secure ongoing prayers for their souls, very wealthy laypeople might construct funerary chapels as architectural appendages to important monasteries or guarantee, through donations, their burial within the walls of important ecclesiastical foundations. City dwellers could also seek salvation and commemoration through more modest financial contributions. In Kastoria and Berroia, for example, churches of the middle and late Byzantine period still preserve the colourful portraits of male and female worshippers who were buried in tombs positioned along the buildings' exterior. Elongated funeral icons from Cyprus and monumental portraits on Crete and Rhodes equally record the names and portraits ofdeceased Christians who were buried within and around Orthodox churches. Burial patterns in villages mirror those from urban contexts, though on a more modest scale. The church of the Holy Anargyroi, in Kepoula, Mani, dated 1265, contains a lengthy inscription enumerating the names of donors and their financial contributions towards the construction and decoration of a small church. The presence of medieval potsherds and human bones in the field surrounding the chapel demonstrates that the building was originally surrounded by a graveyard, most likely housing

58 PG 155, 688D-691A; 692B.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment