Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Holy Season, part 1

The church of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom), once the most important church in the Christian Orient.

Perhaps only theologians or word phreaks will care, but a number of words are based on Greek roots that mean holy. Today, let’s focus on hagio-, from the Greek hagios, holy or saintly.

• hagiocracy: A government or sovereignty of persons esteemed holy.
• hagiographer: A sacred writer, especially one of the writers of the Hagiographa [Psalms, Proverbs, Job; Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther; Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles]
• hagiography: The writing of the lives of saints; saints' lives as a branch of literature or legend.
• hagiolatry: The worship of saints.
• hagiologist: A writer of hagiology; one versed in the legends of saints.
• hagiology: The literature that treats of the lives and legends of saints; also, by extension, of great men or heroes; a work on the lives and legends of the saints.
• hagiomania: Saintly madness; a mania for sainthood;
• hagioscope: A small opening, cut through a chancel arch or wall, to enable worshippers in an aisle or side chapel to obtain a view of the elevation of the host.
• hagiosidere: [1730] A plate of iron. . .which the Greeks under the dominion of the Turks (being prohibited the use of bells) strike on, with a hammer, to call the people to church.
• hagiotypic: pertaining to types of saints.

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