This study addresses the cult of Peter the Hermit in today’s Kosovo area during the medieval period. His life is relayed in hagiographic sources, especially in the announcements of Theodosius, the monk from Holy Mount of Athos who lived in the 13th century. The12th-13th centuries are a period of major political events and changes such as crusades, confrontations between the two churches, and Serbian wars with the Byzantine Empire in the Balkans. However, monasticism did not stop but was developed more by many devout monks who chose the mystical life being described by sources of extraordinary miraculous works.
Hagiographic narratives, a genre built upon familiar patterns, provide ideal blueprints for considering how one aspect of a saint’s cult adapted to suit the needs and expectations of later writers and audiences. This paper offers comparative readings of the representations of saints in hagiographic narratives produced in late Anglo-Saxon England and their later representation in the 13th century. In doing so, this paper considers how the written afterlives of certain saints’ cults adapted to reflect the political and social concerns of the late 13th century: including implicit commentary upon the Anglo-Norman hierarchy, as well as a gendered-critique of the emerging romance genre. Attention is paid particularly to the Passion of St Eustace and the Legend of St. Mary of Egypt.
The historiography of the cults of Anglo-Saxon saints has focused mainly on single saints or typologies (for example, royal saints). However, it has seldom considered the phenomenon of cults or how some continued until the English Reformation. Adopting a grounded theory approach, this research used quantitative data collection from litanies, kalendars, and church dedications to develop a normative model of the factors that aided the prolonging of some cults for up to nine centuries. The model proposes four stages for the promotion and sustaining of cults and helps explain how the cults of some native saints endured through political upheaval and intense competition from universal saints and later English saints.