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September 7th, 2010

kassia: (Default)
Tuesday, September 7th, 2010 06:09 am
St. Kassia is known for two things: being a smart ass, and writing amazing hymns.

When evaluating bridal candidates, Emperor Theophilus baited her with the words "from woman come evils". Her comeback? "but from woman come blessings" (presumably refering to Eve and Mary, respectively). He chose another (Theodora the Armenian, who turned out to be a particularly capable ruler), and Kassia went on to lead a convent, writing hymns so astounding that her name has stayed attached to them: the earliest works of any composer whose name we have.
You can hear some here.

In the words of Theodore of Studium:

"You have again favoured us, most honoured Madam, with writings so able and so learned as to fill us with admiration and with thankfulness to the Lord. Especially as all this wisdom is found in a quite youthful maiden! I cannot say that you have attained to the standard of the ancients, for we of the present time, both men and women, fall far short of our predecessors in knowledge and in skill. But among those of to-day, you shine pre-eminent. Your speech is beautiful beyond all temporal beauty, and what is yet more excellent, your life accords with your speech, and in neither is there any uncertainty of foot."

Icon by the hand of Elena Kisterovoy