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Not Another Constantine. Rethinking Imperial Sainthood through the Case of John III Vatatzes (2015-2016)

Field of study: Byzantine literature, Greek palaeography

It has been generally assumed that the Byzantine emperor John III Doukas Vatatzes – today venerated as a saint by the Orthodox Church – was formally canonized soon after his death in the second half of the thirteenth century. This paper aims to challenge this widely accepted notion by exploring the phenomenon of Byzantine imperial sainthood through the extraordinary case of Constantine I and the presence of emperors in the Synaxarium of Constantinople. By looking into accounts that offer literary representations of John III, the paper then moves towards a contextualization of the canonization of this Byzantine sovereign, with
a particular focus on his ‘reappearances’ during important historical moments for the Greek communities.

Keywords: John III Vatatzes, Constantine the Great, Byzantine Imperial Sainthood, Constantinopolitan Synaxarium, Modern Greek Identity

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