VII, 2011, 1

Stephen the Great and the Cult of Local Saints. Working Hypotheses and Documentary Limits | p. 351–368

local saints, official cults, princely devotion, Stephen the Great, veneration of relics


The current study explores to what extent and in what forms the veneration of local saints is reflected in the personal or public devotion of Stephen the Great. Within the framework of this endeavor, the words “local saints” refer to both autochthonous saintly figures and to saints with cults initiated or consecrated by the Moldavian Church in connection with the presence of their relics in the country. Inventorying and examining the rather poor information recorded in textual or visual sources, as well as the secondary literature on the subject, the study identifies the saintly figures proved to have been venerated in fifteenth century Moldavia, confines them to a specific type of sanctity and, finally, analyses the devotional patterns of the princely worship towards them in the epoch. While the autochthonous saints – hermits and/or founders of local monastic centers – seem to have been worshiped exclusively in relation to the veneration of their relics, the evidence suggests that Saint John the New enjoyed an official cult, invested with dynastic significance, reflected as such in the ruler’s devotion, even though of lesser importance than the cult of the traditional saints. Aware of the severe documentary limitations upon such a research, the article merely advances hypotheses instead of proper conclusions, wondering whether the inclusion of Saint John the New among the Moldavian local saints is legitimate for the epoch of Stephen the Great.