Cristian Gaşpar




Dr. Cristian-Nicolae Gaşpar graduated from Classical Philology, Universitatea de Vest, Timişoara, Romania (1997). MA (1998) and PhD (2006) in Medieval Studies at the Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest with a dissertation on the Philotheos historia of Theodoret of Cyrrhus. Currently teaching Classical and Medieval Latin at the Central European University, Department of Medieval Studies. Senior Fellow at the Center of Eastern Mediterranean Studies, Central European University, Budapest. Between May and July 2010, Junior Fellow at the Collegium Budapest, Institute of Advanced Studies, Budapest. Between January and July 2009 Early Stage Research Fellow at the Istituto di Studi Avanzati (University of Bologna). In 2002/2003 Research Fellow at the New Europe College (Bucharest). Author of various studies and articles on topics such as patristics, late antique and Byzantine hagiography, late antique intellectual history, monastic sexualities, same-sex relationships in Late Antiquity, Indo-European comparative mythology. Translator (into Romanian) of Porphyry’s Vita Plotini (1997) and of the Minor Prophets for the New Romanian Septuagint (2009).


Project: Saint Adalbert of Prague and His Hagiographers: Contextualizing Hagiographies

The rich hagiographic material associated with St. Adalbert, the bishop of Prague, produced and circulated within the decades following his death offers an excellent research opportunity because of the multiple (and sometimes irreconcilable) rival claims his physical remains as well his spiritual patronage in Central-Eastern Europe both in medieval and in modern times. My research will focus on the way in which these symbolic claims were formulated and disseminated by means of hagiographic texts (vitae, passiones, and collections of miracles) in Medieval Poland, the Kingdom of Hungary, and the Czech lands following Adalbert’s death in 997.

The research is two-pronged; on one hand it investigates the ideological agenda and the rhetorical means that shaped one of the Latin Vitae that played an important part in establishing Adalbert’s credentials as a saint, namely the Life composed in Rome by Johannes Canaparius. This was authored by an individual extraneous to the region where the saint’s cult was to flourish and voices political and spiritual concerns that bore little relevance to or proved difficult to reconcile with the later image(s) of Adalbert, the spiritual patron of medieval Czech/Polish/Hungarian Christianity. A careful investigation of the additions and the successive re-writings of this vita in manuscripts produced and circulated in Central-Eastern Europe will reveal the extent to which Adalbert’s hagiography could be updated, completed with local information (both accurate and legendary), ‘corrected,’ and made to serve the needs of the three emerging Central-Eastern European Christian communities, often in the context of open competition and shifting alliances.

On the other hand, my research looks into the local hagiographic products that were composed (at least in part) as a reaction to an ‘imported’ hagiographic profile. Texts such as the passio of Tegernsee or the hagiographic depiction on the bronze doors of the Gniezno cathedral addressed more local concerns and played a different role in creating and asserting claims associated with the medieval Polish State and its ecclesiastic establishment. In doing so, these texts helped transform an ‘imported’ saint into a ‘local’ intercessor closely associated with the needs of various Christian communities in Central-Eastern Europe and a more appropriate symbolic source of political, ethnic, and religious cohesion. Moreover, this ‘local’ hagiography did not remain confined to the region, but, through a process of creative interaction, migrated outside the area and contributed to further re-elaborations of Adalbert’s figure and shaped his cult elsewhere in Europe (such as, for instance, in Monte Cassino and Central Italy).

My research will result in a first annotated English translation of the relevant texts, which should provide wider scholarly audiences with a full insight into the various aspects underlined above and thus contribute to de-provincializing the study of St. Adalbert’s cult. In addition to this, several more specialized studies will explore issues such as the sources of Canaparius’ vita and the hitherto undetected wealth of quotations that went into the makeup of that text and the way in which information stemming from Central-Eastern was used in producing an updated vita of Adalbert in twelfth-century.


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