The First Witnesses. Martha, Longinus and Veronica in the Slavic Manuscript Tradition (Initial Observations)


The epithet ‘first witnesses’, conferred on the three saints in the title, is but a conventional designation; it seems fitting as common for the figures of saints, who gave proof of their devotion to Christ. Otherwise, although they make no simultaneous appearance in any of the canonical texts, there are – interestingly – far more interconnections between the three characters in pseudo-canonical and legendary literature than could be surmised from the lack thereof in the Bible. The aim of the paper is to present a literary picture of three New Testament heroes, as commemorated in different literary texts representing diverse cultural registers, even from the Ancient Christian Times until the close of the Middle Ages. Among them there are short and extended lives and passions of saints, liturgical poetry, as well as specific, more popular texts, such as ‘tales’ and legends. The material under discussion largely includes texts that form a part of the Slavic Orthodox tradition, depicting them on the background of fairly wellknown works belonging to the Western Christian tradition. It turns out that the legends are inspired by the canonical text on the one hand, while on the other hand they themselves infiltrate official texts – they become officially sanctioned as soon as their popularity is taken over and adopted by liturgical practice. It should be borne in mind that those legends – part of which is known both in the Eastern and in the Western Christianity – confirm one further crucial characteristic of texts constituting the canonical and pseudo-canonical tradition: the commonness of themes and motifs which can without exaggeration be called ‘wandering’. They determine the fact that there is hardly any originality in the formation of the characters of patron saints; moreover, on the level of creating the notion of sainthood and its reception, there seem to be far more common points than differences between both of the Early Christian traditions – the East and the West. The paper is an attempt to point out how the Christian tradition exemplifies various manifestations of holiness, what means it has for annotating, elucidating and embellishing the Biblical hypertext, and how it adapts pseudo-canonical legends for the purposes of liturgical use.


The Apocryphal New Testament: Being the Apocryphal Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Apocalypses, with Other Narratives and Fragments, ed. M.R. James, Oxford 1924.

Апокрифи i леґенди з українських рукописiв, sel. I. Франко, vol. II, Апокрифи новозавiтнi, А, Апокрифiчнi євангелiя, Львiв 1889.

Apokryfy Nowego Testamentu, ed. M. Starowieyski, vol. I–III, Kraków 2001–2007.

The Armenian Gospel of the Infancy, with Three Early Versions of the Protevangelium of James, ed. A. Terian, Oxford 2008.

The Avenging of the Saviour, [in:] Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. VIII, The Twelve Patriarchs, Excerpts and Epistles, The Clementina, Apocrypha, Decretals, Memoirs of Edessa and Syriac Documents, Remains of the First Ages, ed. A. Roberts, J. Donaldson, A.C. Coxe, New York 1886.

Baker A., Invisible Eagle. The History of Nazi Occultism, London 2000.

Corson Carter N., Martha, Mary and Jesus: Weaving Action and Contemplation in Daily Life, Collegeville 1992.

Daas M.M., From Holy Hostess to Dragon Tamer: the Anomaly of Saint Martha, Literature and Theology 22,1, 2008, p. 1–15.

Девицы Марфа и Мария и Ликарион, [in:] Архиепископ Сергий (Спасский), Полный месяцесвов Востока, vol. III, Святой Восток, Москва 1997.

von Dobschütz E., Christusbilder. Untersuchungen zur christlichen Legende, Leipzig 1899.

The Doctrine of Addai, the Apostle, trans. G. Phillips, London 1876.

Doner J.R., The Knight, the Centurion, and the Lance, „Neophilologus” 77, 1993, p. 19–29.

Epistula Apostolorum (‘Epistle of the Apostles’), [in:] The Apocryphal New Testament: A Collection of Apocryphal Christian Literature in an English Translation Based on M.R. James, ed. J.K. Elliott, Oxford 1993.

Ernst A.M., Martha from the Margins: The Authority of Martha in Early Christian Tradition, Leiden–Boston 2009.

Esler P.F., Piper R., Lazarus, Mary and Martha: Social-Scientific Approaches to the Gospel of John, Minneapolis 2006.

Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History, trans. K. Lake, vol. II, London–New York 1926.

Gregory of Nyssa, The Letters, trans. A.M. Silvas, Leiden–Boston 2007.

Hesemann M., Die stummen Zeugen von Golgatha: die faszinierende Geschichte der Passionsreliquien Christi, München 2000.

Ioannis Malalae Chronographia, 11–12, rec. J. Thurn, Berolini et Novi Eboraci 2000.

Новый Завет на греческом и русском языках, ed. А.А. Алексеев, Москва 2002.

Jagla J., Oko i serce. Apokryficzna postać Longinusa w sztuce średniowiecznej, [in:] Biblia Slavorum Apocryphorum. Novum Testamentum. Materiały z Międzynarodowej Konferencji Naukowej, Łódź, 15–17 maja 2009, ed. G. Minczew, M. Skowronek, I. Petrov, Łódź 2009, p. 221–230.

Janicka-Krzywda U., Patron – atrybut – symbol, Poznań 1993.

Kröner C., Die Longinuslegende, ihre Entstehung und Ausbreitung in der französischen Literatur, Münster 1899.

Kuran M., Postać św. Marii Magdaleny w staropolskim kaznodziejstwie wobec tradycji apokryficznych, [in:] Biblia Slavorum Apocryphorum. Novum Testamentum. Materiały z Międzynarodowej Konferencji Naukowej, Łódź, 15–17 maja 2009, ed. G. Minczew, M. Skowronek, I. Petrov, Łódź 2009, p. 77–91.

Kuryluk E., Weronika i jej chusta. Historia, symbolizm i struktura „prawdziwego” obrazu, Kraków 1998.

Lanzi G., Lanzi F., Saints and Their Symbols: Recognizing Saints in Art and in Popular Images, Collegeville 2004.

Легенда о кровоточивой жене, Веронике, поставившей образ Спасителя в Панеаде, [in:] И.Я. Порфирьев, Апокрифическия сказания о новозаветных лицах и событиях по рукописям Соловецкой библиотеки, Санкт-Петербург 1890, p. 279–281.

The Letter of Pilate to Herod, [in:] Apocrypha Anecdota. Second Series, ed. M.R. James, Cambridge 1897.

Moltmann-Wendel E., The Women Around Jesus, London 1982.

The Medieval Gospel of Nicodemus. Texts, Intertexts, and Contexts in Western Europe, ed. Z. Izydorczyk, Tempe 1997.

Naumowicz J., Posąg Jezusa z Paneas w źródłach patrystycznych i bizantyńskich, [in:] Słowo i ikona. Źródła literackie w badaniach sztuki bizantyńskiej i postbizantyńskiej, ed. W. Deluga, Warszawa 2004, p. 43–54.

Novaković St., Bugarski zbornik, pisan prošloga vieka narodnim jezikom, „Starine” 6, 1874.

Opowieść o Drzewie Krzyżowym. Słowo i pochwała Mojżesza o splocie drzewa sosny, cedru i cyprysu, trans. M. Skowronek, [in:] Apokryfy i legendy starotestamentowe Słowian południowych, ed. G. Minczew, M. Skowronek, Kraków 2006.

Orsola G., San Longino nella tradizione greca e latina di età tardoantica. Analisi, commento delle fonti e contesto agiografico, Perugia 2008.

Ответ Тиверия кесаря Пилату Понтийскому и в ответ воеводе Рахааву и с ним воинам числом две тысячи, [in:] Апокрифы Древней Руси, ed. М.В. Рождественская, Санкт-Петербург 2006.

Peebles R., The Legend of Longinus in Ecclesiastical Tradition and in English Literature and its Connection with the Grail, Baltimore 1911.

Peradze G., Apokryfy Nowego Testamentu, vol. I, Ewangelie apokryficzne, pars 1, ed. M. Starowieyski, Kraków 2003, p. 204–229.

Петков Г., Стишният пролог в старата българска, сръбска и руска литература. Археография, текстология и издание на проложни стихове, Пловдив 2000.

Polívka Gj., Opisi i izvodi iz nekoliko jugoslavenskih rukopisa u Pragu, „Starine” 24, 1891.

Polívka J., Drobne příspěvky literárnĕ-historickĕ, Praha 1891.

Rabanus Maurus, De Vita Beatae Mariae Magdalenae et Sororis Ejus Sanctae Marthae, [in:] Patrologia Latina, vol. CXII, col. 1441–1507.

Religia. Encyklopedia PWN, vol. VI, ed. T. Gadacz, B. Milerski, Warszawa 2006.

The Report Of Pilate The Governor, [in:] The Apocryphal Books of the New Testament: Being All the Gospels and Epistles Attributed to Jesus Christ, His Apostles and Their Companions, ed. W. Hone, Philadelphia 1901.

Saint Martha, [in:] Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints, trans. W. Granger Ryan, vol. II, Princeton 1993.

Saint Mary Magdalene, [in:] Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints, trans. W. Granger Ryan, vol. I, Princeton 1993.

Сказание о приходе в Рим сестер Лазаря, Марфы и Марии, [in:] И.Я. Порфирьев, Апокрифическия сказания о новозаветных лицах и событиях по рукописям Соловецкой библиотеки, Санкт-Петербург 1890, p. 197–204.

Станиславов (Лесновски) пролог от 1330 година, ed. Р. Павлова, В. Желязкова, Велико Търново 1999.

Święte niewiasty. Mały leksykon hagiograficzny, coll. et ed. J. Charkiewicz, Hajnówka 2001.

Thomson F.J., Apocrypha Slavica: II, „The Slavonic and East European Review” 63, 1985.

Traynor-Morawska S., Longino soldato Romano di Lanciano, Lanciano 1999.

Walter P., Christianity: The Origins of a Pagan Religion, trans. J.E. Graham, Rochester Vt. 2006.

Żywot Świętej Marty, dziewicy, [in:] P. Skarga, Żywoty Świętych Pańskich na wszystkie dni roku, Katowice–Mikołów 1937.

First Page


Last Page