chapter  6
46 Pages

Embedded prayers

BySean V. Leatherbury

Considering inscriptions that functioned as prayers in churches, synagogues, and mosques, this chapter wrestles with the function of prayers made material and permanent within sacred interiors. After surveying debates about how people prayed in late antiquity, the chapter examines prayers that encouraged readers to move and, in the process, re-perform prayers for donors. Next, we turn to the motives for prayer, as well as the personal or communal modes of praying endorsed by the inscriptions. Inscribed prayers utilized the language of place and placing (often in the form of deictic markers) to root prayers in space, and also employed biblical or Qur?anic quotations to designate particular parts of the building as sacred, occasionally even referencing the act of writing itself. By looking at the character of prayers embedded into their buildings, the chapter constructs a new understanding of the experience of popular prayer in late antique spaces of worship.