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Gudrun Engberg

revised by Alexander Lingas

(b Emesa [now Homs], Syria, late 5th century; d Constantinople, after 555). Byzantine hymnographer and composer. Perhaps of Jewish descent, he was a deacon in the Church of the Resurrection in Beirut and towards the end of the 5th century went to Constantinople, where he served at the Church of the Virgin in the city’s Kyros quarter. A hymn in Romanos’s honour mentions his acquaintance with the imperial court. He may have become famous during his lifetime, since an almost contemporary papyrus fragment containing part of a well-known hymn by him has been found in Egypt. It is, however, uncertain whether he was the ‘presbyteros’ and ‘ekklēsiekdikos’ mentioned in the acts of the Synod of 536. He was canonized and is commemorated by the Eastern Orthodox Church on 1 October as the patron saint of music.

Romanos’s vita is lost, but summaries are transmitted in Byzantine synaxaria and menologia, according to which Romanos was inspired by the Virgin to write ...