ATHLETA CHRISTI. The comparison of the Christian with the athlete and the Christian life with a battle occurs frequently in Scripture 1 Cor 4:9; 9:24- 26; 2 Tim 2:5; 4:6-8, an influence of philosophical ethics. The martyrs are the athletes of Christ par excellence, also because authentic martyrs, esp. those who were killed in the amphitheater or the circus, were considered as such Passio ss. Perpet. et Felic.. The Byzantine church especially, in its homilies John Chrysostom, the Cappadocians, Severus of Antioch, John of Damascus, in the Passiones read during the liturgy and in the synaxaries, evokes the metaphor of the martyr-athlete and sees in the feasts of the martyrs the new Christian spectacles. Augustine follows the same line in his preaching in honor of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, replacing the pagan spectacles with the spectacula christiana see Spectacles. The circular Roman basilicas may reflect the metaphor of the athleta Christi, which is why the Fathers very often described the church of a martyr as a stadium. From the peace of Constantine on, the agonistic metaphor was extended also to ascetics, virgins and bishops. DACL 1, 3105-3111; TWNT 1, 134-140; 166-167; F. R¼tten, Die Victorverehrung im christlichen Altertum. Eine kulturgeschichtliche und hagiographische Studie, Paderborn 1936, 16-36; F. di Capua, La concezione agonistica del martirio nei primi secoli del cristianesimo e l’introito della messa di S. Agata: EphLit 61 1947 229- 240; G. Lomiento, VAqlhth,j thj euvsebei,aj: VetChr 1 1964 113- 128; R. Merkelbach, Der griechische Wortschatz und die Christen: ZPE 18 1975 101-148; A. Bandura, Athleta Christi nella patristica latina dei primi quattro secoli, Diss. Pontificia Universitas Lateranensis – Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum, Rome 1994; E. La Rocca, Le basiliche cristiane a deambulatorio e la sopravvivenza del culto eroico: S. Ensoli – E. La Rocca eds., Aurea Roma. Dalla citt  pagana alla citt  cristiana, Florence 2000, 204-220.Athleta Christi holidaymapq


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