I hope to get a complete draft of my review of Bullarium Cyprium up by the beginning of next week so that I can move on to other projects. I blogged some of my initial perspectives on this two volume collection of Papal letters concerning Cyprus last week. Today, I’ll offer a handful of additional observations on this impressive collection of papal letters referring to Cyprus. Most of my comments here have little to do with C. Schabel’s editorial work and more to do with the nature of the letters themselves.
1. Because the Papacy recognized the church of Cyprus as autocephalous (an ancient privilege accorded the church at the Council of Chalcedon), the church in Cyprus was, in effect, a directly dependent on the Pope. As a result, the Pope was involved in almost all aspects of the ecclesiastical politics on the island. The letters, then, reveal the complexities of “day to day” ecclesiastical politics on the island. Many of the letters involve disputes between members of the ecclesiastical administration and bishops that would have presumably been resolved at levels below the papacy under ordinary circumstances.
2. The main bishops mentioned in the letters sat at Paphos, Limassol, Nicosia, and Famagusta. There are almost no references (or only two: a-2, b-16) to the bishop at Kition (Le Quit) indicating that during the Medieval period the Bishop of this significant ancient city was fairly minor despite the ancient links of the See to the person of Lazarus. There are a few references to the monastery at Stavrovouni (which became a Benedictine priory dedicated the the Cross): e-95, f-4, f-28, n-29. Interestingly the conversion of the church of St. Lazarus in Kition/Larnaka to Latin rite use must have been exclusively a local affair and not required external involvement whereas the conversion of the monastery of Stavrovouni to Benedictine order did appear in Papal correspondence.
3. There are few indicators of the geography in the letters. While this is unsurprising on some level – as the Pope never travelled to the island – it is striking that the places in the letters seem largely to float without any clear landmarks or spatial relations to one another. The only possible exception to this was the occasional reference to churches being too far from the place of residence of the clergy, the requirement to travel to services being too great, or the occasional reference to some village or another. Otherwise, ubiquity of the universal church subsumed the island’s particular landscape. Monasteries could as easily be dependencies on Peter and Paul (i.e. Rome) as the church of the Holy Sepulcher (Jersusalem) or the Bishop of Sinai. So as I began to write in my review about the absence of maps from these volumes, I also began to realize that maps would reveal little about the relationships in these texts. (At times I felt that the lack of particular concern for the islands landscape felt a bit archaeological… our methods document the very particular well, but tend to blur the supra-local on account of the perceived universality of the discourse.)