Meletios was exiled for 13 of his 20 years as bishop of Antioch, and at times as many as three other bishops claimed the Antiochene episcopacy during his tenure. Still, in an encomium for Meletios delivered in 386, his protegé John Chrysostom claimed that Meletios managed to enchant the whole city: “Blessed is that man, because he was strong enough to cast such a love charm (ϕίλτρον) on all of you.” John delivered this encomium in a large cruciform church that Meletios campaigned to build. In the church were burials: probably Babylas, a martyr bishop who had died in the Decian persecution about 150 years before, and Meletios himself, interred either in the same grave or a neighboring one. The next year, Dorys the presbyter would fund the pavement of the church’s floors, carpeting them in rich geometric designs and clean black-and-white dedicatory inscriptions.
Using Sara Ahmed’s work on “the cultural politics of emotion,” this article analyzes the cruciform church through three different modes: its architecture, an encomium delivered there, and its mosaic program. The Meletian faction forged alliances with material and space to produce and manage affects of security, love, and pleasure in their communities. These spatial, discursive, and material enchantments encouraged the more decisive affiliation of fourth-century Antiochene Christians with Meletios’s community instead of with his competitors’ communities.