Bebaia Elpis
Community ID
 
4987
 
Alternate Names
 
Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis
 
Town
 
Constantinople
 
Medieval Location
 
Heptaskalon Quarter, in the south central part of the city.
 
Dedication
 
Mother of God Bebaia Elpis "Sure Hope"
 
Date Founded
 
1327-35
 
Foundation Information
 

Theodora Synadene and her husband John Synadenos founded the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in thanksgiving for the blessings which Mary bestowed on herself and her family and with the purpose that the nuns would commemorate the souls of Theodora, her parents, John, their children, and their descendants (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 5-8, ch. 113-119; Introduction, Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, p. 1514).

Theodora specifically declared the independence of the convent. She stated that it was not to be united with any other convent, church, hospice, or old age home (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 15).

Theodora designated her oldest son as the protector of the convent. Once he died, her next oldest son and the descendants of her sons would take over the role of the protector. The protector was responsible for keeping the convent safe, defending the typikon, and providing for the nuns (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 18-20).

 
Other Ecclesiastical Relations
 

The typikon relies on the typikon of the St. Sabas Monastery in Jerusalem for regulations regarding liturgical duties and diet (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 78-82).

 
Patrons/Benefactors
 

Theodora Synadene and her husband John Synadenos were the founders of the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis. Theodora was niece of Michael VIII Palaiologos. After a military career, John became a monk under the name Joachim, and likely died shortly thereafter. Theodora entered the monastic life under the name Theodoule along with her daughter Euphrosyne (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 5-9; Introduction, Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, p. 1512).

Theodora established the monastery with the purpose that they would preform memorial services for herself, her parents, her husband, her children, and her grandchildren. The nuns commemorated these individuals on specific dates throughout the year. Other members of Theodora's family also received commemorative services, but only with the donation of icons, lamps, valuables, property, and large sums of money. One of Theodora's nephews was also to be buried in the convent (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 134-143; Introduction, Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, p. 1518).

The bishops of Ephesos and Mytilene also made substantial gifts to the foundation and were given commemorative services (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 155; Introduction, Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, p. 1520).

In 1392, Xene Philanthropene, the granddaughter of Theodora, restored the convent in order to prevent its collapse. Her daughter, Eugenia Kantakouzene Philanthropene (d. 1402), also acted as a patron to the convent (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 158-159; Introduction, Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, p. 1512).

The nobleman John and his wife Maria Asanina also made a large gift of money to be used for the purpose of property. They too were given commemorative services (Introduction, Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, p. 1520).

 
Social Characteristics
 

The leadership positions included a superior, an ecclesiarchissa, and a steward. The superior was selected by the community of nuns, although the typikon is not explicit as to how this process of selection occured (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 26; Introduction, Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, p. 1517). The ecclesiarchissa supervised the household management of the community and was required to be able to sing and chant in tune and to be familiar with ecclesiastical office and ritual. She was chosen by the superior and other sisters (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 49-50). Beneath her, the choir sisters were devoted to the performance of church services. The steward served as the head of the choir sisters. She also managed the convent's properties and revenues (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 51, 54-56).

There was also a disciplinary official, a storeroom supervisor, a cellarer, and a gatekeeper. The superior disciplined disobedient nuns with genuflections, fasting, and standing vigils. She punished nuns for laziness, idle and unprofitable conversation, leaving without permission, and engaging in untimely conversation with other nuns. A disciplinary office aided in the enforcement of order (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 65-67). The storeroom supervisor oversaw the intake and distribution of fruit, clothing, and other necessities (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 68). The cellarer regulated the distribution of meals, all other food, and wine (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 69-70). The gatekeeper guarded the gates and managed the keys (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 72). The nuns appointed women to each of these positions through general election and voting (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 73).

 
Assets/Property
 

Theodora donated half of her ancestral estate, called Pyrgos, to the convent. She and one of her sons also donated the village of Ainos and the village of Morokoumoulou. She also bequeathed a number of vineyards to the monastery. These included vineyards near St. Nicholas Mesomphalos, near the land of Kosmidion, in the village of Kanikleion, and in the village of Pegai (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 121-123).

Theodora also retained a set of properties. After her death, they were to be passed on to her daughter, and after her daugther's death, then the monastery would inherit the properties. These included the other half of Pyrgos, the village of Kanikleion, the garden Gymnou, and the vineyard near the Kyriotissa (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 124).

 
Charitable/Work
 

The convent distributed bread and wine to the poor on the days of the commemorative service for the author's parents and for the convent's nuns. The nuns also distributed leftovers from all meals to the poor. Euphrosyne banned the education of lay children except those who wished to become nuns (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 144 7 148; Introduction, Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, p. 1521).

 
Other Economic Activities
 

The convent's chief financial officer was the steward, an office designated for a nun (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 54-55). The storeroom supervisor also kept accounts for household goods such as clothing and bedding (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 69-70).

 
Architecture & Archaeology
 

No archaeological remains have been identified (Introduction, Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, p. 1513). The typika does describe the boundaries of the convent and the surrounding neighborhood. The monastery was surrounded by the homes of Theodora's family. The monastery was located off a public road, where other monasteries were also located, including the monasteries of Mosele, Gorgoepekoos, Kyriotissa, and Glabaina, the last being another female monastery. Two churches were nearby: St. Onouphrios and St. Akakios (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 145).

 
Manuscript Sources
 

Lincoln College Typikon, Ms. Graecus 35. The text of the Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis is preserved as an illuminated manuscript and housed at Lincoln College, Oxford. It is also referred to as the "Lincoln College Typikon." The manuscript contains miniatures of Theodora Synadene, her husband, and her family. Theodora's daughter Euphrosyne who also joined the monastery authored a supplementary typikon that is attached to the end of the manuscript (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 146-154; Introduction, Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, p. 1512). After this addition, later appendices describe other liturgical commemorations into the fifteenth century (Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, ch. 155-159; Introduction, Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, p. 1513).

 
Miscellaneous Information
 

Due to the generosity of Theodora's offspring, the convent was continually repaired. Theodora's daughter-in-law paid for the repair of the convent's cells. Xene Philanthropene paid for the restoration of the convent in 1392. Eugenia Kantakouzene Philanthropene paid for the restoration and repair of the church and its bell tower (Introduction, Bebaia Elpis: Typikon of Theodora Synadene for the Convent of the Mother of God Bebaia Elpis in Constantinople, p. 1520).