Research

October conference brings internationally-renowned scholars of the cult of the Virgin Mary to the SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies at SFU

November 20, 2018
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Last month, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies welcomed a group of internationally-renowned scholars of the Virgin Mary to Simon Fraser University for a conference on the emergence of the cult in Byzantium, Egypt, and Syria.

The conference opened on the evening of October 18th with a keynote lecture by Dr. Niki Tsironis from the Institute of Historical Research at the National Hellenic Research Foundation in Athens, Greece. Dr. Tsironis is a Byzantinist and specialist on the cult of the Virgin Mary whose talk, entitled “Female Deities of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Emergence of the Cult of the Virgin Mary” drew a capacity crowd to the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue in downtown Vancouver. Dr. Tsironis’ lecture traced the development of the early cult against other female deities of the Eastern Mediterranean, before ending with the Kefalonian Snake Festival.

I'm so excited that the SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies at SFU can serve as a forum for academic gatherings like these; a place where international experts can come together to collaborate on innovative research

-Dr. Sabrina Higgins, Classical Archaeologist and SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies member

The following day, scholars met together on Burnaby mountain at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies for a day of academic panels on Marian manuscript transmission, materiality in Marian veneration, and a final panel titled “Books on Mary and Mary in Books.” Presenters came from a variety of international institutions, including the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, the National Hellenic Research Foundation, UMR 8167 in Paris, the University of Amsterdam, and Sapienze University of Rome.

The final day of the conference was taken up with workshops, where conference participants had the opportunity to engage further on some of the research presented the day before. The first workshop was organized by two graduate students working at the Centre, Aleksandar Jovanović and Aurora Camaño, who presented on a digital humanities collaboration between the SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies and the National Hellenic Research Foundation, called The Digital Mary Project. Participants were also fortunate to be joined by Rebecca Dowson, the Digital Scholarship Librarian from the Digital Humanities Innovation Lab at SFU.

The conference wrapped up later that Sunday afternoon, following a final workshop on collaborative research co-chaired by Drs. Sabrina Higgins and Niki Tsironis.

For a detailed schedule of the conference and participants, please visit the conference webpage.

For more information about the SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies, please visit our Media page.

Photography by Dale Northey (keynote) and Véronique Magnes (conference and workshops)