Egeria
ID:
 
1562
 
Birth Date:
 
4th Century
 
Death Date:
 
Unknown
 
Country:
 
Unknown
 
Location of Work:
 
Egypt, Palestinian Territories, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey
 
Family:
 

Nothing is known regarding Egeria's family or descent, and even her homeland is a subject of dispute. Valerius, a Spanish monk who lived at the end of the seventh century, wrote a letter in which he described Egeria's untiring devotion to God. Scholars assume that Valerius had access to Egeria's complete travel diary and postulate that Egeria must have been from Valerius' home in Galatia, Spain.

In what remains of Egeria's diary, Egeria does not explicitly state her place of origin or information regarding descent. She gives only one hint: she compares the River Euphrates to the Rhone (18.2). This single piece of evidence suggests that Egeria, and potentially her family, was from Gaul. Hagith Sivan proposes that, since Egeria seems to lack familiarity with paganism, she was likely from an area with a large population of Christians and few pagans, such as Arles.

 
Spouse:
 
Egeria was unmarried when she wrote her travel diary.
 
Education:
 

Egeria did not display the level of education which aristocratic women displayed. Her prose is clumsy and repetitive, and her writing disregards the rules of classical Latin grammar. She frequently references the bible and apocryphal writings, but she is unfamiliar with important theologians of her time, such as Origen, Gregory, and Basil. Unlike NULL, NULL, and NULL, Egeria did not circulate among the great (and at times controversial) church leaders of her day.

 
Social Status:
 

As suggested above, Egeria was not a member of the aristocratic elite. Nevertheless, she was wealthy enough to travel through the Near East for three years. Egeria possessed a large amount of disposable income and an extensive network of social contacts who could aid her through her travels. This suggests that her family were successful traders, and perhaps Egeria benefited from their trade contacts during her travels.

 
Communities:
 

In her travel diary, Egeria addresses a circle of female readers, calling them "sisters." Because of this, some scholars think that Egeria was a member of a female monastic community in her homeland. Others note that, if she were a nun, it is unlikely that she would be able to leave her convent to travel freely for 3 years throughout the Near East. Following this line of thinking, she was a wealthy woman.

 
Ecclesiastical Relationships:
 

Egeria met a number of bishops, monks, and holy men during her travels. She visited Alexandria, Nitria, Memphis, Thebes and the Sinai in Egypt; Jerusalem, Nebo, Carneas, and Galilee in Jordan, the Palestinian Territories, Israel, and Lebanon; Antioch and Edessa in Syria; and Seleucia, Hagia Thekla, and Constantinople in Turkey. Egeria spent most of her three years in Jerusalem. She narrates with excitement the Lenten and Easter celebrations which she witnessed at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Since Egeria was certainly from the west, the liturgies she witnessed in Alexandria, Jerusalem and Antioch were spoken in Greek or Syriac, languages not spoken fluently by Egeria, and represented eastern liturgical traditions most likely unfamiliar to her before her visit.

 
Literary Works:
 

Egeria produced a travel diary during her travels in the Near East between 381 and 384. The beginning and the end of the text have been lost to the sands of time. Overall, the text falls within the genre of ancient itineraries. Egeria enthusiastically describes monks, nuns, and bishops whom she meets along the way, making her text more narrative than most itineraries.

 
Secondary sources:
 

Who Was Egeria? Piety and Pilgrimage in the Age of Gratian, Egeria, Atti del Convegno internazionale sulla Peregrinatio Egeriae : nel centenario della pubblicazione del Codex aretinus 405 (già Aretinus VI, 3), Arezzo, 23-25 ottobre 1987, Egeria ed il monachesimo femminile, The Peregrinatio Egeriae and the Ascension, Wandering monks, virgins, and pilgrims : ascetic travel in the Mediterranean world, A.D. 300-800, La Date du voyage d'Egérie, Travel wandering and pilgrimage in late antiquity and the early middle ages, Une nouvelle Égérie, Observations sur le vocabulaire liturgique dans l’Itinéraire d’Égerie, Das Alter der Peregrinatio Aetheriae, The pilgrimage to Jerusalem: a typological metaphor for women in early medieval religious orders, Le pèlerinage d'Euchérie, Nouveaux fragments de l'Itinerarium Eucheriae, Les églises de Jérusalem : la discipline et la liturgie au IVe siècle, Egérie à Bethléem. Le 40e jour après Pâques à Jérusalem en 383, Egérie n'a pas connu d'église de l'Ascension, Egeriana (II). Etudes linguistiques et autres, Egeriana. Nouvelle édition catalane et commentaires divers, Eulogia : mélanges offerts à Antoon A.R. Bastiaensen à l’occasion de son soixante-cinquième anniversaire, Egeriana III, Perceptions of Jerusalem pilgrimage as reflected in two early sources on female pilgrimage (3rd and 4th centuries AD), Les mots grecs dans la Peregrinatio Aetheriae, Le véritable auteur de la 'Perigrinatio Silvae', la vierge espagnole Éthérie, La lettre de Valérius aux moines du Vierzo sur la bienheureuse Aetheria, Holy Land pilgrimage in the later Roman Empire, AD 312-460, Egeria, soeur de Galla, Egeria: mots critiques sur la tradition de son nom et celle de l'itinerarium Egeriae, L'itinerarium Egeriae, vers 414-16, La pèlerine Egérie. Une grande dame de l'antiquité chrétienne, Une tradition judéo-chrétienne mentionée par Egérie, Le temps du pèlerin (IVe-VIIe siècles), Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient : histoire et géographie des origines à la conquête arabe, Liturgie et pèlerinage durant les premiers siècles du christianisme, Saint Jérôme et le pèlerinage aux lieux saints de Palestine,
Égérie et le monachisme, Un passage énigmatique de S. Jerôme contre la pèlerine espagnole Euchéria?, Pattern and process in early Christian pilgrimage, Holy Land Pilgrimage and Western Audiences: Some Reflections on Egeria and Her Circle, A comparative study of the wandering people of Hebrews and the pilgrimage of Egeria, The Epic Style of the Pilgrim Aetheria, ‘The Most Beautiful Jewesses in the Land’: Imperial Travel in the Early Christian Holy Land,
Bibliografia Egeriana, Pilgrimage : an image of mediaeval religion, A Formal Analysis of Egeria's (Silvia's) Vocabulary, Egeria e il S. Sepulcro di Gerusalemme, Le journal-épître d'Egérie (Itinerarium Egeriae). Etude linguistique, Observations sur le vocabulaire du pelerinage chez Egerie et chez Antonin de Plaisance, Jewish Holy Places and the Origins of Christian Pilgrimage,
Die Peregrinatio Aetheriae und die HI. Schrift.