Dionysius the Areopagite, Saint


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Dionysius the Areopagite, Saint

(dīənĭsh`ēəs, ârēŏp`əjīt), fl. 1st cent. A.D., Athenian Christian, converted by St. Paul. Acts 17.34. Tradition has made him a martyr and the first bishop of Athens. He has been confused with St. DenisDenis, Saint
, fl. 3d cent.?, patron of France. He is said to have been first bishop of Paris and to have died a martyr on Montmartre. His shrine was Saint-Denis. The Latin of the name is Dionysius; he was long identified with Dionysius the Areopagite. Feast: Oct. 9.
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. During the Middle Ages he was revered as the author of certain philosophical writings erroneously attributed to him since the 6th cent. These are ten letters and four treatises (The Celestial Hierarchy, The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, The Divine Names, Mystical Theology) written in Greek, possibly in Palestine, in the late 5th or early 6th cent. It is now customary to refer to their author as Pseudo-Dionysius. Their obscure style was no barrier to their study and repeated translation into Latin, notably by Erigena and Robert Grosseteste. They exerted a lasting influence on the development of scholasticismscholasticism
, philosophy and theology of Western Christendom in the Middle Ages. Virtually all medieval philosophers of any significance were theologians, and their philosophy is generally embodied in their theological writings.
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, particularly through St. Thomas Aquinas. The treatises provided a medium for transmission to Western culture of the concepts of Neoplatonism and of the theology of angels. Feast: Oct. 9.

Bibliography

See studies by D. Rutledge (1965) and R. F. Hathaway (1970).