From March 16 to 19, 2022, the Academic Dean of the Byzantine Catholic Seminary, Fr. Christiaan Kappes, presented his original research on the important Byzantine Christian figure of St. Gregory Palamas at the University of Oxford, England, having been invited by their Centre for Byzantine Research. Fr. Christiaan, as a researcher in Byzantine theology at B.C.S., was honored to accept the invitation and present on St. Gregory’s Mariology. His presence at Oxford was made possible through the auspices of their Centre for Byzantine Studies and of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and the Maison Française d’Oxford.
The conference focused on the historical and sociological context in which Palamas and Palamism began and flourished, including but not limited to biography and writings of Palamas, along with attention given to his contemporary allies and figures of opposition. The conference treated the topic of Palamism from the fourteenth until the nineteenth centuries. The veteran scholars who have long been established as contributors on the subject were in attendance, including Dr. Norman Russell (English), Dr. Vass Kontouma (Greek), Dr. Marie-Hélène Blanchet (French), and many others.
Fr. Kappes was able to present to and discuss with peers the possible interaction between Latin and Greek writers and historical figures on the topic of the Theotokos’s all-holiness from the first moment of her creation. This general theme became formally known as “The Immaculate Conception” in late Scholastic thought. Fr. Christiaan argued that a number of themes that are considered staples in St. Gregory’s homiletic material – in addition to citing St. Augustine’s On the Trinity – also showed signs of awareness of ongoing Latin Mariology and its concerns about exempting the Theotokos from any and all impurity from the moment of Anna’s physical conception until her dormition. His contribution underlined the possible Latin context and influences on St. Gregory’s Marian homilies that perhaps brought St. Gregory to form a sort of bridge in Marian thought that built upon Byzantine ancient foundation but addressed more recent Latin theological concerns about Mary in a way that was essentially acceptable for both cultures and Churches. In this, St. Gregory stands as a uniting figure on the topic of Mary’s all-holiness.
It is hoped that the acts (talks) from the conference will be expanded in order to produce a volume of scholarly studies that will include Fr. Christiaan’s original research on St. Gregory.
Congratulations, Fr. Christiaan, and welcome home!