Feast of St Nilus the Ascetic of Sinai
Landscape with Two Saints: How Genovefa of Paris and Brigit of Kildare Built Christianity in Barbarian Europe by Lisa M. Bitel
LISA BITEL calls Genovefa of Paris (ca. 420-502) and Brigit of Kildare (ca. 450-524) builder saints. Because they could not preach, teach, or otherwise conduct the rituals of Christianity, they “revised their landscapes . . . using purposeful travel and strategic building to articulate religious change and ecclesiastical leadership” (Bitel). Unlike their male counterparts, Patrick and Germanus, who dared sea journeys in their quest for converts, Brigit and Genovefa were content to build micro-Christendoms within terrain well known to them. Genovefa raised an apostolic church in the imperial city that would become Paris. Brigit scavenged fragments of a dwindling Roman empire for the foundations of a grand basilica deep in barbarian territory. A professor of history, religion, and gender studies at the University of California, Bitel integrates penetrating research and compelling story-telling as she illustrates the ways in which ancient people lived through religious change, actively participating in the history of their own conversion. While the churches Genevefa and Brigit built have crumbled, their relics lost or else scattered across Europe, these holy women continue to settle deeper into the Christian landscape they helped create.
299 pp. cloth $38.95
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