Saint Donatus


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Some thoughts of the life of a saint who lived in Lefkas/Greece during 3rd century

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Saint Donatus

  1. 1. SAINT DONATUS Bishop of Lefkas 283-303 A.D
  2. 2. The little church of saint Donatus in Lefkas island
  3. 3. The church of the saint in the plateau of Egklouvi/ Lefkas island <ul><li>is built in a region that has been habituated by the antiquity. </li></ul><ul><li>is an old manufacture that has been rebuilt in 1980. </li></ul><ul><li>before the renovation was dedicated in the memory of Saint Dometius from Persia. </li></ul><ul><li>celebrates on 7/8 </li></ul>
  4. 4. Modern (1995) icon of the Saint from the homonym temple
  5. 5. Other places named S. Donatus in the area <ul><li>Little church in Kalamos island, at S. Constantinos beach, on the way to village of Episkopi. </li></ul><ul><li>The second (alt. 1131m) peak of mountain Aenos in Cephalonia island (known better as Agia Dynati) </li></ul>
  6. 6. What we know today about this saint <ul><li>He is not represented in modern books of any Christian Church. </li></ul><ul><li>The residents of the region demonstrate the ruins of an old tower, in a neighbouring area, where according a local tradition, saint Donatus was killed , by falling in the void. </li></ul><ul><li>Mr D. Petritsopoulos (1824), reports that this saint was referring in a manuscript of Soumela's monastery in Pontos area, which has been discovered in 1550 A.D . </li></ul>
  7. 7. Description of his life <ul><li>He was the third bishop of the bishopric of Lefkas, depended -on these times-of the church of Rome. </li></ul><ul><li>He undertook his rank in 283 A.D. </li></ul><ul><li>He testified in 303 A.D. during the persecutions of Emperor Diocletian (284-305 A.D.). </li></ul><ul><li>His memory is honoured (only by the residents of Egklouvi/Lefkas) on 7/8 </li></ul>
  8. 8. Why isn't he reported in the church books? <ul><li>He was a local Saint, in a small bishopric which, initially, was belonging to the Western Church and later ( after 732 A.D.) to Eastern Church. </li></ul><ul><li>In the Western Church, the adoration of Saint Donatus, bishop of Arezzo (whose memory is celebrated on 7/8) has been prevailed. </li></ul><ul><li>In the Eastern Church, the adoration of Saint Donatus, bishop of Euroia ( whose memory is celebrated on 30/4) has been prevailed. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Saint Donatus bishop of Arretium (=Arezzo) <ul><li>was born in N ic om e d i a , a city in As i a Minor . </li></ul><ul><li>was elected second bishop of the city of Arretium ( : todays Arezzo of Toscana/ Italy ) in 346 A . D . </li></ul><ul><li>died in about 362 A . D . </li></ul><ul><li>is patron saint of the city of Arezzo (popul. 96000) </li></ul>
  10. 10. Saint Donatus bishop of Euroia <ul><li>became b ishop of E u ro i a, ( an ancient city in Epirus/ Greece which was a bishopric belonging to the church of Rome ) in 360 A . D . </li></ul><ul><li>p articipated in the Oecumenical Session of 381 A.D., during the reign of Theodosius the Great. </li></ul><ul><li>d ied in 388 A.D. </li></ul><ul><li>is patron saint of the city of Paramythia/Greece (popul.10000) </li></ul>
  11. 11. Why only Donat u s of E u ro i a is reported in the “Synaxaria” books of Eastern Church? <ul><li>“ Synaxaria” are the official books of the Eastern Christian Church, representing the lives of main saints of this Church. </li></ul><ul><li>Initially the lives of the three Saints of 4th century A.D. were written in Latin language, the official language of Western Church. </li></ul><ul><li>The “Synaxaria” of the Eastern Church were written later, (about in the 10th century) in the Greek language, supported exclusively in Greek sources. </li></ul><ul><li>The life of bishop of Euroia was included in these books, because it had been translated in Greek by Greek-speaking refugees of his bishopric, who had resorted in the current city Umbriatico of Calabria/ Italy </li></ul>
  12. 12. Information coming from texts of the Christian Church <ul><li>The texts of the church referring to saints’ lives are not distinguished for their historical precision. </li></ul><ul><li>They are nothing more than oral traditions that in a certain time were recorded by a certain faithful. </li></ul><ul><li>The available texts of saint Donatus have been written a long time after his death, and that’s why they don’t describe the life of a certain person but they are rather a fusion of biographical elements of some different homonym Saints. </li></ul>
  13. 13. For example : Saint Donatus’ fight against Dragon <ul><li>According the life of S. Donatus of Euroia ( written by the monk Nikodemus from the Holly Mountain ) the saint killed a dragon that was poisoning a source of water. </li></ul><ul><li>Donat u s of Arezzo in the Western iconography is always portrayed as young or m i d dle age d bishop who has a sword and fights a dra gon. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Who killed the dragon? <ul><li>It is obvious that , initially , the fight against the dragon was attributed to one of the two Saints . </li></ul><ul><li>The long-lasting coexistence of the two synonyms saints in the spiritual events of Western Church created oral traditions where, a mixture of their biographical profile was born. </li></ul><ul><li>The writers of their lives who came latter, simply recorded these traditions and, that way, they transported this confusion diachronically. </li></ul>
  15. 15. From “ Passio Donati”, a text of 6 th century A.D. <ul><li>“ The Bishop (:S.Donatus) was celebrating Mass with his two deacons – Antimus and Asterius – during an ordination rite. Some pagans entered the church while Antimus was giving the communion from a glass chalice, and with violence they threw it on the ground, shattering it to pieces. After having put together all the pieces, Saint Donatus found that one piece was still missing at the bottom of the chalice, but unconcerned about the matter, continued to serve the wine, without even a drop falling out of the chalice. This fact so astonished the pagans, that it caused their conversion. A month later, Saint Donatus was arrested and put to death with other Christians .” </li></ul>
  16. 16. Two o bservations and one question <ul><li>The tradition of the Western Church attributes this miracle to saint Donatus, bishop of Arezzo. </li></ul><ul><li>But, in our days, the prevailing opinion is that this saint did not testify, and died in peace in Arezzo. According the specialists, the reports about his violent death, are reports of an other unknown saint Donatus, and there is a confusion here. </li></ul><ul><li>Who was martyr Donatus of Western Church? Was he the bishop of Lefkas? </li></ul>
  17. 17. The remains of saint Donatus <ul><li>The visitors of the church of Santa Maria of bishopric of Torcello in Venice /Italy will find there the remains of a Saint Donatus. </li></ul><ul><li>The Holly relics were transported there in 1126 A.D. during the 2 nd crusade, coming from Cephalonia / Greece </li></ul>
  18. 18. The transportation of the relics <ul><li>A report written by Doge Domenico Micheli to the Venetian Senate refers that he found these relics, initially, in Lefkas island. </li></ul><ul><li>According this report, Doge Micheli moved the relics from the island, as they were in danger because of the frequent raids of barbarians. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Are they the remains of bishop of Euroia? <ul><li>This is the official opinion of Eastern Church. </li></ul><ul><li>According a letter of Pope Gregory the Great ( 590-604 A.D.) to Alcyson, Bishop of Corcyra, the relics of this saint had been transferred to Corfu island by refugees of Euroia in the beginning of 7 th century A.D. </li></ul><ul><li>Maybe, latter, the relics had been transferred by someone to Lefkas and then by Domenico Micheli to Cephalonia and Venice on 12 th century A.D. </li></ul><ul><li>That’s why the Venetians celebrate the memory of saint Donatus on 30/4 instead of 7/8. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Are they the remains of bishop of Lefkas? <ul><li>This possibility fixes with the oral tradition of people of Lefkas. </li></ul><ul><li>The refugees from Euroia (and normally the remains of their bishop) had left the area before the 2 nd crusade and the occupation of Lefkas by Domenico Micheli . We know that they had resorted in South Italy on 10 th century A.D. as they wrote their saint’s life for the synaxars. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Map of the area Lefkas Cephalonia Corfu Euroia Umbriatico to Venice
  22. 22. The bones of dragon killed by saint Donatus as are represented in the church of S. Maria in Venice/Italy
  23. 23. THE END Thank you for your attention <ul><li>Statue of saint Donatus with a dragon in France </li></ul>ANTONIOS G. PERDIKARIS