This article describes The Gateway to the Syriac Saints, a database project developed by the Syriac Reference Portal (www.syriaca.org). It is a research tool for the study of Syriac saints and hagiographic texts. The Gateway to the Syriac Saints is a two-volume database: 1) Qadishe and 2) Bibliotheca Hagiographica Syriaca Electronica (BHSE).
Hagiography, the lives of the saints, is a multiform genre. It contains elements of myth, history, biblical exegesis, romance, and theology. The production of saints’ lives blossomed in late antiquity alongside the growth of the cult of the saints. Scholars have attended to hagiographic traditions in Greek and Latin, but many scholars have yet to discover the richness of Syriac hagiographic literature: the stories, homilies, and hymns on the saints that Christians of the Middle East told and preserved. It is our hope that our database will give scholars and students increased access to these traditions to generate new scholarship.
The first volume, Qadishe or “saints” in Syriac, is a digital catalogue of saints or holy persons venerated in the Syriac tradition. Some saints are native to the Syriac-speaking milieu, whereas others come from other linguistic or cultural traditions. Through the translation of their hagiographies and the diffusion of saints’ cults in the late antique world, saints were adopted, “imported,” and appropriated into Syriac religious memory.
The second volume, the BHSE, focuses on Syriac hagiographic texts. The BHSE contains the titles of over 1000 Syriac stories, hymns, and homilies on saints. It also includes authors’ or hagiographers’ names, the first and last lines of the texts (in Syriac, English, and French), bibliographic information, and the names of the manuscripts containing these hagiographic works. We have also listed modern and ancient translations of these works.
All of the data in the Gateway to the Syriac Saints has been encoded in TEI, and it is fully searchable, linkable, and open.