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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 2.djvu/66

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ATHENS


44


ATHENS


lepoi olk-oi, and probably were not much larger than the ordinarj' dwelling-houses of the inhabitants. The first magnificent churches in Atliens were, there- fore, the Greek temples which, after the disappear- ance of paganism, were transferred to the use of the Christian rites. It must have been about Justinian's time when the most of the ancient temples were converted into churches. Churches or ruins of churches have been frequently found on the sites "wliere pagan shrines or temples originally stood. This is in part due to the fact that the sites were first sanctified for Christian tradition by these pagan temples or sanctuaries being made into churches. It is also to some extent true that sometimes the saint whose aid was to be invoked at the Christian shrine bore some outward analogy to the deity pre- viously hallowed in that place. Thus in Athens the shrine of the healer Asklepios, situated between the two theatres on the south side of the Akropolis, when it became a church, was made sacred to the two saints whom the Christian Athenians invoked as miraculous healers, Kosmas and Damian. Amongst the temples converted into churches were the Par- thenon and the Erechtheion on the AkropoUs, and the yet well-preserved Heph^steion (or " temple of Theseus", as it is incorrectly called) near the ancient agora. The Hephsesteion was, in later times, sacretl to St. George. Pittakis, a noted epigraphist of Athens in the early half of the last centurj', pub- lished an inscription which purports to state that in the year 630 the Parthenon was consecrated under the title of " the church of Divine Wisdom " {ttjs 'Aylas 2o0£as). But Pittakis was very careless or cred- ulous at times in the copying of inscriptions. So we do not know with certainty what was the original title of this church. Possibly, from its first conver- sion the Parthenon had been dedicated to the Pana- gia. At least we learn fl-oni Michael Akominatos that in the twelfth century it was sacred to the Mother of God. On the columns of this church, and on its marble walls, especially around the doors, are numerous graffiti inscriptions which record various events, many of them important for sacred and pro- fane history, such as the names and deaths of bishops, and public calamities. In these graffiti inscriptions, this church is called " the great church", " the church of Athens", and the cathedral church, or /taSoXui) iKKXijiria. All these appellations show that it was the metropolitan church of the city. In Greek usage, the name Ka8o\iK6v or koSoXikt) iKKXricrta, was a title ap- plied to churches which were the sees of bishops or archbishops.

That the Parthenon was a church as far back as the sixth century is proven by the cemetery which lay along its soutli side. This region was filled with Chris- tian graves, in some of which were found coins of a date as early as the reign of Justinian. In order to fit the Parthenon for a church, changes liad to he made in it; an apse was built at the east end, and a great entrance door was placed in the west end. The interior walls were covered with fresco paintings of saints. After the conversion of these Greek temples into churches, perhaps two or three centuries elapsed before the Athenians found it necessary to lavishly add to the number of large church edifices by erecting many new ones. Then they followed the styles of eccle- siastical architecture which had been developed else- where, and had become prevalent throughout .so much of the empire. From about the end of the eighth century they erected new churches more fre- quently. Perhaps the Empress Eirene, who was an Athenian, gave some impulse to this tendency. As years went on, Athens and the surrounding villages of Attika, and the fields were filled with churches, many of them veritable gems of Byzantine comeli- ness. The churches which were built in Athens and vicinity during the Middle Ages numbered himdreds.


Likewise many monasteries were founded, both in Athens itself and in the countn," of Attika, especially on the slopes of the surrounding mountains of Hy- mettos, and Pentelikos, and Parnes. A complete list of the Bishops of .\thens could not be made. But as time goes on, and seals and manuscripts and in- scriptions are decipliered, the hst of names will grow. Pistos, Bishop of Athens, was present at the Council of Niktea in 32.5. Bishop Modestus wa.s at the Coun- cil of Ephesos in 431. Jolm, Bishop of Athens, was amongst the Fathers who signed the Acts of the Sixth fficumenical Council. He was present as " Leg- gate of the Apostolic See of ancient Rome". From the graffiti on the Parthenon a number of other names and dates are already known. In these graf- fiti we read names of bishops prior to the exaltation of Athens to the rank of an archbishopric, then the names of archbishops, and finally those of metropoli- tans. The time of the elevation of this see to an archbishopric cannot yet be fixed. Gregorj' II, who was pastor of the Athenians during the first patriarch- ate of Photios, bore the title of archbishop. But it is not known whether or not he was the first who had that title. This was about 8,57-867. Shortly after- wards the archbishops received the higher title of metropolitan. Niketas who took part in the Eighth CEcumenical Coimcil under Basil the Makedonian, which closed 28 February, 870, and who signed the acts of that council as " Niketas by the grace of God, Metropolitan of Athens", on his seals, or leaden bulls, simply places the inscription " Niketas, Bishop of Athens". Amongst the signatures to the acts of this council, that of Niketas stands twenty-second in order. But in a full a.sseiubly of metropolitans he would not rank so high. According to the list made by Emperor Leon the Wise (886-911), a list intended to show the relative rank of each ecclesi- astical dignitary under the Patriarch of Constanti- nople, the Metropolitan of Atliens is relegated to the twenty-eighth place. Just what sees were under the Archbishop of Athens prior to Photios is not easy to discover. After the changes brought about by Photios and his successors, the sees that were suffragan to Athens varied in number from time to time. But in general it may be stated that all of Attika belonged directly to the Archbishop of Athens, after the abolisliing of the See of Marathon, about the middle of the ninth century. And under Athens were, besides other bishoprics, the Sees of E\ripos, Oreos, Karystos, and Porthmos in Evboea; Avion; Diavleia in Phokis, and Koroneiain Boeotia; Andros, Skyros, Syros, and Seriphos of the islands; and, later, Keos and JEgina.

From Photios down to the Franks the Metropoli- tans of .A.thens were all of the Greek rite, naturally. Likewise their sympathies were rather with Constan- tinople than with older Rome. Their metropolitan church continued to be the ancient Parthenon. It seems that the residence of the bishops was on the Akropolis, in the great Portals, or Propyla-a, and that in these Propylaea they had a private episcopal chapel. In these days education was not held in very general esteem in Atliens. No special erudition characterized the clergj'. Even the inscriptions which decorated the seals and bulls of bishops and ab- bots were often most childishly misspelled. From the time of Photios to the Franks the most noted ecclesiastic was probably the last bishop, Michael .A.koniinatos. He, however, was Athenian neither by birth nor by education. He came to Athens expecting great things in the city of ancient wis- dom, but was disappointed. Still it is wrong to say that Athens of the Middle Ages produced no scholars and noted personages. Athenais. who be- came queen to Theodosios in 421, and Eirene, who became empress in 780, were Athenians. From the sixth to the thirteenth century Athens was out and