The mission of Abbot Martin in Dalmatia and Istria 641 or 642: a new interpretation

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This chapter revisits the mission of Abbot Martin, who was sent by the pope John IV (640-642) in Dalmatia and Istria to collect the relicts of local saints. This event, likely occurring in 641, is recorded in the Popeʼs life from Liber Pontificalis. The mission is additionally confirmed with the frescoes showing images of the Dalmatian and Istrian saints in the Lateran chapel, built during the time of John IV and his successor Theodore. The scholars generally agree that the Pope, who was of Dalmatian origins, sent Abbot Martin to his patria to bring the relics into safety from the province recently devastated by the Slav invaders. Taking into consideration changing picture of this period, which eliminates the Slavic invasion and settlement in 7th century Dalmatia, this paper will explore other reasons why this Pope was so keen to send Abbot Martin across the Adriatic. Scarce sources on short papacy of John IV agree that his main policy was stout opposition to the Monothelistic doctrine enforced by the emperor Heraclius' decree Ecthesis from December 638. The analysis of contemporary sources and establishment of chronology of events provides good grounds to re-assess the mission of Abbot Martin and see it as papal dissidence against Constantinople and a part of political offensive against the Monothelitism in the West, rather than a mission to save the relics from non-existing danger.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDissidence and persecution in Byzantium
Subtitle of host publicationfrom Constantine to Michael Psellos
EditorsDanijel Džino, Ryan W. Strickler
Place of PublicationLeiden ; Boston
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9789004472952
ISBN (Print)9789004472921
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameByzantina Australiensia
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
ISSN (Print)0725-3079


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