Medieval Slavic menologies

Maintained by: Cynthia M. Vakareliyska ( and David J. Birnbaum ( [Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 Unported License] Last modified: 2012-01-15T18:09:38+0000 About this site:


Medieval Eastern Orthodox calendars of saints are extremely diverse in their commemorations for most calendar days of the year because the Eastern Orthodox Church had no canonization or beatification process. Thus local monasteries and priests were free to assign saints, including locally venerated saints, to whichever calendar date they deemed appropriate. The lack of consistency among calendars, the sheer number of calendars, and the fact that most medieval Slavic calendars of saints are unpublished have made it notoriously difficult to access and organize the data from such a large corpus, and to identify many of the saints who appear in calendars on more minor feast days. It is for this reason that a typology of medieval Slavic calendar traditions has not yet been developed.

The free-use database and search program at this site are intended to ameliorate this situation by providing a large corpus of medieval Slavic and Greek calendars of saints that can be searched according to specific attributes of the manuscripts themselves and the commemorations they contain. The goal is to provide scholars with a large but manageable corpus of data for comparative study of calendar traditions, determination of the relationships between and among calendars, and analysis of any individual calendar.

The files in the corpus consist of the saints entries, or commemorations, from medieval calendars; that is, they do not contain the entire calendar text, pericope listings, services, or other liturgical instructions. Where the original text of a calendars saints entries is available, it has been included in the file. The Church Slavonic and Greek texts are transcribed in Unicode Old Cyrillic and polyphonic Greek fonts so that they are readable on the Internet.

The electronic calendar collation is a long-term project, and the corpus of calendars and search program are only in their beginning stage. At present the on-line corpus contains only a small number of the over 700 medieval Slavic and Greek calendars that I hope to include in it eventually. Among the calendars still to be added are over 120 manuscripts that I copied saints’ entries from by hand in archives in Bulgaria, Russia, and England; manuscripts from microfilm collections at the Hilandar Research Library at The Ohio State University, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences Central Library, and the manuscript division of the Cyril and Methodius National Library in Sofia; and medieval Roman martyrologies. A long-term goal is the inclusion of calendars of saints from the Coptic, Syrian, Georgian, Armenian, and other traditions.

All users are invited to contribute to the on-line corpus other medieval Eastern Orthodox calendars, from any tradition. If you would like to participate in this project, please contact Professor Cynthia Vakareliyska at the Department of Linguistics, University of Oregon ( to receive instructions on how to text-encode the calendars.

If you find any typographical errors or errors in the identification of saints in the files, or if you can identify any saints in the files that I have not yet been able to identify, please contact me at

Search program and text-encoding

The schema for the calendar files and the search program were created by Professor David J. Birnbaum, chair of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh. The calendars have been text-encoded using the <oXygen/> XML editing and development program.

Instructions for Searches

Searches of the on-line corpus of calendars can be conducted according to the following attributes of the manuscripts containing the calendars and the individual saints entries in them:

Any two or more calendars in the corpus can be searched together for shared entries. The search program will bring up all matching entries and will indicate the percentage of entries in the calendars that correspond.

Searches by manuscript genre

The corpus can be searched according to the following genres of manuscripts in which the calendars are found: tetraevangelia, long lectionary gospels, short lectionary gospels, lectionary apostoli (Acts and Epistles), narrative apostoli, lectionary gospel/apostoli, menaia, festal menaia, prologues, verse prologues, typika, martyrologies, and manuscripts of unknown genre.

Searches by manuscript provenance

The manuscript country of provenance is determined primarily by orthographic features, if the manuscript does not contain a colophon stating the location where it was written. The term “Bulgarian” for country of provenance includes manuscripts with Macedonian orthographic features, because there was no separate Macedonian state at during the period when the manuscripts in the corpus were written. In cases where a given manuscript can clearly be identified as Macedonian from its orthographic features, a note is included in the manuscript description indicating that the manuscript has Macedonian features.

Saints’ entry search features

Saints’ entries can be searched according to the following features:

Note that the general term saints’ entry, or entry, as used in this manual, includes entries for events, since most events celebrated in calendars in the corpus are associated with specific saints.

Searches by sex

Any given manuscript or manuscripts in the corpus can be searched for female or male saints. There are four search features for biological sex: male, female, mixed, and unknown. The feature mixed applies to groups of two or more saints who are frequently celebrated together, or saint sets, that include both male and female members. The other three attributes apply both to individual saints and saint sets.

Searches by nationality

The search attribute nationality means not the nationality of the given saint, but the particular national tradition that the saint’s entry is associated with. The default nationality, general, covers saints’ entries that are part of the general Eastern Orthodox tradition or the Greek tradition in particular. Included in this category are the early saints of any nationality that were celebrated in Byzantine Greek calendars. The attribute Latin refers to saints from the Western tradition who are not traditionally found in Eastern Orthodox calendars and are not found in the earliest Jerusalem or Constantinople traditions.

The other nationality attributes are Slavic, Serbian, Russian, and Bulgarian. The Slavic attribute is used at this point primarily for SS. Cyril and Methodius, who appear frequently in early extant Slavic Eastern Orthodox calendars of all national provenances. The attribute “Serbian” is self-explanatory. The terms “Russian” and “Bulgarian” are abbreviated generic terms. “Russian” covers any East Slavic tradition. “Bulgarian” refers to Bulgarian and/or Macedonian traditions. The term “Bulgarian" rather than “Macedonian” is used are the generic term for both traditions because during the historical period when the medieval Slavic calendars were written there was no separate Macedonian state or territory outside the Bulgarian Empire. No attempt has been made in the search program or corpus to determine which saints in this category are Macedonian and which are Bulgarian.

Searches by calendar date

A search by a given calendar date will provide all the entries found in the corpus for that date, together with the codes for the calendars. A search by date can be narrowed to a specific calendar or calendars in the corpus.

Each calendar entry is listed by entryDate and realDate. The entry date is the day of the year to which a saint’s entry is assigned in the given calendar. In some instances, a scribe has inadvertently skipped a day or repeated a day, so that the entry date does not correspond to the intended calendar date. In these instances, the entry date will differ from the real date, which is the intended date. Discrepancies between an entry date and the real date are tagged in the files only when it is clear from the manuscript that the numbering error is recent and unintentional. Otherwise, if it is not obvious from the manuscript that the misnumbering occurred first in the manuscript itself, I have not assigned to a different real date any entries in a given calendar that are listed for a different day from the majority date, even when the date of the entry differs from the usual date by a single day. The reason for this is that there are many instances in which an inadvertent date-assignment error has been transmitted through generations of apographs, becoming in the process a legitimate calendar tradition.

Searches by value archaic

The value archaic: yes indicates that the entry from a given manuscript is a rare and archaic entry that is found for the same day in the menology to the first edition of the Constantinople Typikon (file CT in the corpus), from the late ninth or early tenth century, but not in the tenth-century second revised edition (the Menologium of Emperor Basil, file Bas). Entries from the first edition of the Constantinople Typikon that are also found in the second edition for the same date are not marked archaic: yes, but instead fall under the default value archaic: no. Note that the feature archaic is limited to the Constantinople Typikon tradition and does not include archaic entries from other traditions. It also does not necessarily refer to the earliest saints from a historical perspective.

Searches by name

Two types of searches of saints’ entries by name can be conducted: searches by generic name and by fully qualified name (FQN). Each saint’s entry is tagged for both a generic name (for example, Mary or John), and for a FQN, which includes the full name or descriptive features by which the saint or event is known: for example, “Mary, sister of Lazarus” or “John the Baptist”.

Linked to this page is the Tag Name List, which gives in alphabetical order the official generic names that are used in this corpus and search program, together with the FQN variants of each generic name. The FQNs for each generic name occur in rough calendar date order (the church year beginning on September 1).

If you wish to search the corpus by a specific calendar date and name together, it usually will be easier to search by generic name. It is particularly important to look beyond FQNs to generic names for a given date, because some calendars in the corpus may misidentify the saint you are looking for, giving a different FQN. If you search by calendar date and FQN, these misidentified saints will not be brought up.

Alternatively, the corpus can be searched by a string from an FQN. Some of the FQNs are by necessity quite long, in order to differentiate one saint from another with the same generic name. However, the entire FQN need not be typed out in order to conduct a search of a calendar or calendars, or of the entire corpus, by FQN. Searches by FQN can be made on the basis of a string from an FQN: the first few words of the FQN that contain the more precise name of the saint, or a sequence of words from elsewhere in the FQN. If you are looking for a particular individual, group of individuals, or event, it generally is best to type in a string from the beginning of the FQN. It is also possible, however, to search on the basis of a phrase from the FQN such as “Nicomedia”, since the search program will pick up any part of the FQN. However, if you do search the corpus or individual calendars by toponym such as Nicomedia, the search program will produce only those martyrs at Nicomedia who are identified as such in their FQNs in the Tag Name List. It will not bring up any other martyrs in the corpus who were martyred at Nicomedia. Note also that although a string search will bring up all those FQNs that include Nicomedia, this does not mean that the calendars text necessarily includes the word Nicomedia in that entry.

The search program is not case-sensitive, but otherwise generic names and strings from FQNs must be typed exactly as they appear in the Tag List. Typographical errors can be avoided by copying a FQN or a string from a FQN from the Tag List into the box for your search query. The FQN itself appears in the Tag Name List in italics. Any unitalicized text following an FQN is supplemental distinguishing information and not part of the FQN. The conventions used in creating the FQNs in the Tag Name List are explained below.

Searches by saint set

If you are searching for a saint set, i.e., two or more saints that are celebrated together, the quickest way to find these is by generic name of the saint set as listed in the Tag Name List. In some cases, the decision whether to include individual saints together as a saintSet in the corpus has been somewhat subjective, based both on the frequency of joint or multiple saints’ entries in the corpus and on descriptions of the saints in Holwecks Biographical Dictionary of Saints. Some individual saints that are members of a saintSet may not be listed in the Tag Name list under the saintSet name. In such cases, search instead for that saint individually by FQN.

Other searches

We plan to expand the search program in the future to include the following types of searches of the actual text of the calendars in the corpus: by specific lexical variant, by Graecisms on the lexical and orthographic levels, by significant orthographic variants, and by morphological or morphosyntactic variant. For now, Graecisms and interesting lexical and orthographic variants in the texts of the entries in individual Slavic calendars are marked in footnotes. We also plan eventually for the program to allow searches on the basis of whether a saints entry in a given calendar includes a service and/or a pericope.

Conventions used in the collation


The orthographic features of the Old Cyrillic texts of saints’ entries, including the original diacritical marks and graphemes, generally have been preserved, so as to allow the user to distinguish between individual calendars more easily, with the following simplifications:

In cases where both the original manuscript and the manuscript edition have been consulted, the original manuscript is relied on where there are known discrepancies with the edition. The transcription of original or photographed/microfilmed manuscript text is conservative, in the sense that any graphemes that were not legible to me are not reproduced. This is the case even where a manuscript edition transcribes graphemes that were not legible to me in my examination of the original manuscript.


In a note following a saint’s entry, “probably” or “likely” refers to the degree of likelihood, in my opinion, that the FQN given is the correct identity of the saint. Notes to the Church Slavonic text of a saint’s entry in any given Slavic manuscript point out orthographic, lexical, and other peculiarities of the text and any relevant textual, lexical, or orthographic comparisons to the text of the same entry in other calendars. We intend eventually to make these features searchable.

English variants of Fully Qualified Names (FQN)

The FQNs (Fully Qualified Names) for individual commemorations are based on the English name variants and descriptions in Holweck’s Biographical Dictionary of the Saints. I have used Holweck’s source even though his descriptions and honorifics for individual saints reflect the Roman Catholic, not Eastern Orthodox, tradition, because the name variants and descriptions in the Biographical Dictionary are more familiar to native English speakers: e.g., Mary, the mother of Jesus, is listed in the collation as the Virgin Mary, not the Mother of God or Theotokos, and, as is characteristic of the Western Christian tradition, followers of the Apostles are referred to as disciples rather than apostles. The use of Holweck’s name and description variants is not, however, an endorsement of the Roman Catholic tradition over the Eastern Orthodox tradition. Holweck oscillates in his use of the English vs. Latin, and sometimes Greek, name variants: e.g., Leo vs. Leontius, Mark vs. Marcus. For the most part I have not attempted to normalize or standardize Holweck’s variants, but instead I have usually preserved the variants he gives. For some saints, Holweck gives two or more alternate name variants (e.g., Marcus/Mark or Agnes/Mary). In such instances, the collation lists all the variants that Holweck lists for a given individual’s name.