Churches in Sudan shed light on saints and pilgrims

A series of well-preserved medieval churches in central Sudan are giving researchers new information into the world of medieval pilgrimages and veneration. Inscriptions at one site show that pilgrims came from as far away as Catalonia.

The churches were built between the 6th and 11th centuries, and some stood for hundreds of years. They were part of the Christian Kingdom of Makuria. Many of the churches are dedicated, with the saints varying from the common, such as St. Raphael, to obscure early Egyptian monks. Many of the saints were medical, and the sick left inscriptions at the churches asking for their help.

Elaborate frescoes show the saints along with unidentified kings and in one instance, a female demon. [photos]