Welcome to MARTRAE


Welcome to MARTRAE, an international network dedicated to research on martyrologies and ecclesiastical calendars, martyrdom and the cult of saints in the medieval period. The genesis of this network lies in the conference Celebrating the Saints: A Focus on Martyrologies and Saints’ Calendars, which was held in Trinity College Dublin in October of 2016. The aim of this conference was to encourage interdisciplinary discussion and collaboration between scholars working on similar sources, in particular martyrologies and ecclesiastical calendars, who otherwise rarely cross paths. In the aftermath of the event, which was a great success, I felt that it would be of benefit to scholars everywhere to create a platform through which we can continue to collaborate, share research updates, event announcements, and CFPs, and which may serve as a resource by providing basic research tools, such as an on-going bibliography.

The scope of the network is broader than that of the conference and covers any type of research relating to martyrologies or ecclesiastical calendars, the concepts of martyrdom and sainthood, and the cult of saints (and their relics). The name for the network was chosen to reflect the full scope of these related fields. The Old Irish the word for martyrdom, martrae, has a broader meaning than merely ‘giving one’s life for Christ’. It can also refer to relics and even occasionally to violent death. More importantly, the concept of ‘martyrdom’ in Medieval Ireland itself covered a broader spectrum. Wholly in line with the development of martyrologies from lists of martyrs to lists of martyrs and saints, the concept of martyrdom includes not only ‘a martyr’s death’, but also giving one’s life to Christ in a more figurative sense, somewhat more akin to ‘devoting one’s life to Christ’. The most famous, and most commonly cited, interpretation of this is the three-fold categorization of martyrdom into red, white and blue (or green) martyrdom ‘dercmartrae ocus glasmartrae ocus b√°nmartrae‘. The standard reference work for this interpretation is the (fragmentary) Cambrai Homily, which is now preserved in a manuscript dating to ca. 850-900. According to this text – which itself appears to have offered multiple interpretations of what may be called ‘martyrdom’ – red martyrdom is a martyr’s death, white martyrdom is ‘abandoning everything one loves’ (meaning the ascetic or monastic life), and blue martyrdom is the suffering of penitential practice. In short, the term may be used to invoke many facets of the religious life and religious practice. It is hoped that this network may likewise serve as an access point for scholars from multiple disciplines and provide a forum for the exploration of a variety of sources and approaches to the religious life.

The network is open to academic researchers specializing in any time period, discipline, or geographical area.  We invite researchers (at any stage of their career, including PhD students) working on relevant subjects to join and participate.