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Author: Daria B. Tereshkina
Information about the author:

Daria B. Tereshkina, DSc in Philology, Professor of the Department of Philology, Yaroslav-the-Wise Novgorod State University, Bolshaya St. Petersburg 41, 173003 Veliky Novgorod, Russia; Professor, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) (Branch in Veliky Novgorod), Germana 31, 173003 Veliky Novgorod, Russia.

ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2079-1116

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For citation:

Tereshkina, D.B. “Miracles in the Lives of Novgorod Saints: Typology and Artistic Originality.” Germenevtika drevnerusskoi literatury [Hermeneutics of Old Russian Literature]. Issue 22. Ed.-in-chief O.A. Tufanova. Moscow, IWL RAS Publ., 2023, pp. 218–243. (In Russian) https://doi.org/10.22455/HORL.1607-6192-2023-22-218-243 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.22455/HORL.1607-6192-2023-22-218-243
UDC: 821.161.1.0
Keywords: life (vita), miracle, Novgorod, hagiographic cycle, tradition, genre transformation.
Date of publication: 20.09.2023


The article offers an overview of miracles in the lives of Novgorod tradition, mainly of the late Middle Ages and early Modern times. Miracles, which are often the main dating feature of the life (vita) edition, are often considered as a kind of “auxiliary” part of a hagiographic work, sometimes breaking out of the general context by stylistic or compositional features. However, along with the development of hagiographic genre, the assessment of miracles by the scribes themselves also changes. Miracles not only become central episodes of hagiographic texts or cycles (as in the case of Nikola Kochanov or the Alfanov brothers, as well as the more ancient life of John of Novgorod); the mode of depicting miraculous events itself changes: it shifts from the figure of saint to those with whom miracles are performed. The number of miracles increases many times, the actual information about the miraculous events that took place is detailed (where they occurred, when (up to the month and day of specified year), with whom (exact names, occupation, social status, family ties, origin of the person with whom the miracle occurred), accurate information about where lives healed or saved. A kind of “replication” of the same type of miracles does not cause scribes questions, because the obvious fact is help of a certain saint in healing specific ailments, and the more such evidence, the stronger the glory of the saint. Texts about miracles either come as close as possible to business writing (as in the life of Theoktist of Novgorod or some miracles of Evfimy Vyazhishchsky), or, on the contrary, preserve and even develop an artistic and fictional (sometimes with elements of psychologism) style of hagiographic rhetorical narration (as in the miracles of Anthony the Roman or Nikola Kochanov), or make a complex combination of list enumeration miracles that have happened and praise for the saint, which loses its independent meaning (as in the Kosin version of lives of the Novgorod saints). The analysis of the types and artistic originality of miracles in the lives of Novgorod saints allows us to draw conclusions about the complex literary situation in the field of hagiographic tradition in the late Middle Ages and early Modern times: most likely, the trends common to democratizing writing in each case had their own characteristics associated with many factors (tradition of veneration of the saint, textual history of vita, tastes of the compilers specific editions, etc.). It is also impossible to exclude a change in a person’s worldview, shifting it in a sense to a pragmatic understanding of holiness — as a mission of direct assistance to the living — which could no longer be ignored by the literature addressed to a person.


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