In Hot Pursuit of a Fugitive Bishop: History, Textual Strategies, and Monastic Ideology in Canaparius' Vita of St. Adalbert of Prague [BHL 37]
Wednesday, November 14, 2012, at 17:20 p.m.
CEU- Faculty tower #409
The first Latin vita dedicated to St. Adalbert of Prague (ca. 956-997), written probably by Iohannes Canaparius in Rome (ca. 999) following Adalbert's martyr's death in Prussia, is a hagiographic tour de force. This text attempts to deal with its hero's repeated desertion of his episcopal see and of his flock (in 989 and 994), by putting a very clever spin on this highly problematic aspect of Adalbert's life. My presentation will look at the rhetorical ways and means which allowed the author of this hagiographic text to convert an episcopal failure into an unobjectionable quest for personal salvation by shifting the emphasis from Adalbert's twice failed career as a bishop of Prague to the few years he spent as a monk in Rome. I will argue that Canaparius' text was meant not only as an apology for Adalbert's flight from the field of duty into the safe haven of the monastery, but also as a means of self-promotion for Canaparius and his Roman monastic community, which had harbored the fugitive bishop. Finally, I will attempt to reconstruct the historical circumstances which inspired and made necessary such a self-advertising piece of hagiography, which I believe should be read in the context of monastic rivalry in Central Italy at the end of the tenth century and of fierce competition in claiming (and monopolizing) the patronage of the newly emerged saint.
Cristian-Nicolae Gaşpar graduated from Classical Philology, Universitatea de Vest, Timişoara, Romania (1997). MA (1998) and PhD (2006) in Medieval Studies at the Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest with a dissertation on the Philotheos historia of Theodoret of Cyrrhus. Currently teaching Classical and Medieval Latin at the Central European University, Department of Medieval Studies, and at the Source Language Teaching Group. Author of various studies and articles on topics such as patristics, late antique, medieval, and Byzantine hagiography, late antique intellectual history, monastic sexualities, same-sex relationships in Late Antiquity, Indo-European comparative mythology. Translator (into Romanian) of Porphyry’s Vita Plotini (1997) and of the Minor Prophets for the New Romanian Septuagint (2009). Author of the first annotated English translation of Canaparius' Vita of St. Adalbert of Prague [BHL 37] for the volume Saints of the Christianization Age of Central Europe (Tenth-Eleventh Centuries), ed. G. Klaniczay (2012).