For this year’s annual Quadrivium Lecture with Fifth and Sixth Form pupils and guests from partner schools, Professor Bryan Ward-Perkins, Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford, focused on his latest research: a European-funded project on the emergence and early development of the cult of Christian saints.

Christians have always venerated some very special people, the ‘saints’, but only in around AD 300 did they come to believe that these men and women could help them from their graves: preventing natural disasters, curing sickness and disability, punishing wrong-doing, restoring lost property. This belief spread rapidly across the whole Christian world, bringing with it a host of new practices: pilgrimage, the building of churches to saints, the enhancement of their tombs and the collection of their relics. Professor Ward-Perkins highlighted the importance of late antiquity for our understanding of the modern world.

The annual Quadrivium Lecture aims to promote intellectual curiosity about a range of subjects and provides an opportunity for pupils to learn about and discuss research with renowned scholars.