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E00748: Basil of Caesarea in his Letters 155, 164, 165, of c. 375, to unnamed Cappadocian officials based in Scythia, mentions the transfer of relics of an unnamed recent martyr (almost certainly *Sabas the Goth, ob. 372, S00489) from Scythia (lower Danube) to Kaisareia/Caesarea in Cappadocia (central Asia Minor), accompanied by a letter recounting his martyrdom (see E00753). Written in Greek in Caesarea.

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posted on 28.09.2015, 00:00 by erizos
Basil of Caesarea, Letters 155, 164, 165 (CPG 2900)


Letter 155

ΑΝΕΠΙΓΡΑΦΟΣ ΕΠΙ ΑΛΕΙΠΤῌ

(……………) Αὐτὸς δὲ ὅσα ποιεῖς ἀγαθά, σεαυτῷ θησαυρίζεις, καὶ ἣν παρέχῃ ἀνάπαυσιν τοῖς διὰ τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ Κυρίου διωκομένοις, ταύτην σεαυτῷ ἐν ἡμέρᾳ τῆς μισθαποδοσίας προετοιμάζεις. Καλῶς δὲ ποιήσεις, ἐὰν καὶ λείψανα μαρτύρων τῇ πατρίδι ἐκπέμψῃ, εἴπερ, ὡς ἐπέστειλας ἡμῖν, ὁ ἐκεῖ διωγμὸς ποιεῖ καὶ νῦν μάρτυρας τῷ Κυρίῳ.


‘Without Address, on the Case of a Martyr's Trainer

(……………) As for yourself, whatever good deeds you perform, you are laying them up as a treasure for yourself; and whatever alleviation you render to those who are being persecuted for the sake of the name of the Lord, this you are preparing for yourself on the day of reward. And you will do well, if you send the relics of martyrs to your native land, since, as you have written us, the persecution which is taking place there is even now making martyrs to the Lord.’


Letter 164

ΑΣΧΟΛΙῼ ΕΠΙΣΚΟΠῼ ΘΕΣΣΑΛΟΝΙΚΗΣ

(1.) Ὅσης ἡμᾶς εὐφροσύνης ἐνέπλησε τὰ γράμματα τῆς ὁσιότητός σου ἡμεῖς μὲν οὐκ ἂν ῥᾳδίως ἐνδείξασθαι δυνηθείημεν ἀσθενοῦντος τοῦ λόγου πρὸς τὴν ἐνέργειαν, αὐτὸς δὲ καὶ παρὰ σεαυτῷ εἰκάζειν ὀφείλεις τεκμαιρόμενος τῷ κάλλει τῶν ἐπεσταλμένων. Τί γὰρ οὐκ εἶχε τὰ γράμματα; Οὐ τὴν πρὸς τὸν Κύριον ἀγάπην; Οὐ τὸ περὶ τοὺς μάρτυρας θαῦμα, οὕτως ἐναργῶς τὸν τρόπον τῆς φύσεως ὑπογράφοντα ὥστε ὑπ’ ὄψιν ἡμῶν ἀγαγεῖν τὰ πράγματα; Οὐ τὴν καθ’ ἡμᾶς αὐτοὺς τιμὴν καὶ διάθεσιν; Οὐχ ὅτι ἂν εἴποι τις τῶν καλλίστων; Ὥστε, ὅτε εἰς χεῖρας τὴν ἐπιστολὴν ἐδεξάμεθα καὶ ἀνέγνωμεν αὐτὴν πολλάκις καὶ τὴν βρύουσαν ἐν αὐτῇ χάριν τοῦ Πνεύματος κατεμάθομεν, νομίσαι ἡμᾶς ἐπὶ τῶν ἀρχαίων καιρῶν γεγενῆσθαι, ἡνίκα ἤνθουν αἱ Ἐκκλησίαι τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐρριζωμέναι τῇ πίστει, ἡνωμέναι τῇ ἀγάπῃ ὥσπερ ἐν ἑνὶ σώματι μιᾶς συμπνοίας διαφόρων μελῶν ὑπαρχούσης· ὅτε φανεροὶ μὲν οἱ διώκοντες, πολεμούμενοι δὲ οἱ λαοὶ πλείους ἐγίνοντο καὶ τὸ αἷμα τῶν μαρτύρων ἄρδον τὰς Ἐκκλησίας πολυπλασίονας τοὺς ἀγωνιστὰς τῆς εὐσεβείας ἐξέτρεφε, τῷ ζήλῳ τῶν προλαβόντων ἐπαποδυομένων τῶν ἐφεξῆς. Τότε Χριστιανοὶ μὲν πρὸς ἀλλήλους εἰρήνην ἤγομεν, εἰρήνην ἐκείνην ἣν ὁ Κύριος ἡμῖν κατέλειπεν, ἧς νῦν οὐδ’ ἴχνος ἡμῖν ὑπολέλειπται, οὕτως αὐτὴν ἀπηνῶς ἀπ’ ἀλλήλων ἀπεδιώξαμεν. Πλὴν ἀλλ’ ὅτι αἱ ψυχαὶ ἡμῶν πρὸς τὴν παλαιὰν ἐκείνην μακαριότητα ἐπανῆλθον, ἐπειδὴ γράμματα μὲν ἦλθεν ἐκ γῆς μακρόθεν ἀνθοῦντα τῷ τῆς ἀγάπης κάλλει, μάρτυς δὲ ἡμῖν ἐπεδήμησεν ἐκ τῶν ἐπέκεινα Ἴστρου βαρβάρων δι’ ἑαυτοῦ κηρύσσων τῆς ἐκεῖ πολιτευομένης πίστεως τὴν ἀκρίβειαν. Τίς ἂν τὴν ἐπὶ τούτοις εὐφροσύνην τῶν ψυχῶν ἡμῶν διηγήσαιτο; Τίς ἂν ἐπινοηθείη δύναμις λόγου ἐναργῶς ἐξαγγεῖλαι τὴν ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ τῆς καρδίας ἡμῶν διάθεσιν δυναμένη; Ὅτε μέντοι εἴδομεν τὸν ἀθλητήν, ἐμακαρίσαμεν αὐτοῦ τὸν ἀλείπτην, ὃς παρὰ τῷ δικαίῳ Κριτῇ τὸν τῆς δικαιοσύνης στέφανον καὶ αὐτὸς ἀπολήψεται, πολλοὺς εἰς τὸν ὑπὲρ τῆς εὐσεβείας ἐπιρρώσας ἀγῶνα.

(2.) Ἐπεὶ δὲ καὶ τοῦ μακαρίου ἀνδρὸς Εὐτυχοῦς εἰς μνήμην ἡμᾶς ἤγαγες καὶ ἐσέμνυνας ἡμῶν τὴν πατρίδα ὡς αὐτὴν παρεχομένην τῆς εὐσεβείας τὰ σπέρματα, ηὔφρανας μὲν ἡμᾶς τῇ ὑπομνήσει τῶν παλαιῶν, ἐλύπησας δὲ τῷ ἐλέγχῳ τῶν ὁρωμένων. Οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἡμῶν Εὐτυχεῖ τὴν ἀρετὴν παραπλήσιος, οἵ γε τοσοῦτον ἀπέχομεν βαρβάρους ἐξημερῶσαι τῇ δυνάμει τοῦ Πνεύματος καὶ τῇ ἐνεργείᾳ τῶν παρ’ αὐτοῦ χαρισμάτων, ὥστε καὶ τοὺς ἡμέρως ἔχοντας τῇ ὑπερβολῇ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν ἐξηγριῶσθαι. Ἑαυτοῖς γὰρ λογιζόμεθα καὶ ταῖς ἡμετέραις ἁμαρτίαις τὴν αἰτίαν τοῦ ἐπὶ τοσοῦτον χυθῆναι τῶν αἱρετικῶν τὴν δυναστείαν. Σχεδὸν γὰρ οὐδὲν μέρος ἔτι τῆς οἰκουμένης διαπέφευγε τὸν ἐκ τῆς αἱρέσεως ἐμπρησμόν. Τὰ δὲ σὰ διηγήματα ἔνστασις ἀθλητική, σώματα ὑπὲρ τῆς εὐσεβείας καταξαινόμενα, θυμὸς βαρβαρικὸς ὑπὸ τῶν ἀκαταπλήκτων τὴν καρδίαν καταφρονούμενος, αἱ ποικίλαι βάσανοι τῶν διωκόντων, αἱ διὰ πάντων ἐνστάσεις τῶν ἀγωνιζομένων, τὸ ξύλον, τὸ ὕδωρ, τὰ τελειωτικὰ τῶν μαρτύρων. Τὰ δὲ ἡμέτερα οἷα; Ἀπέψυκται ἡ ἀγάπη. Πορθεῖται ἡ τῶν Πατέρων διδασκαλία, ναυάγια περὶ τὴν πίστιν πυκνά, σιγᾷ τῶν εὐσεβούντων τὰ στόματα, λαοὶ τῶν εὐκτηρίων οἴκων ἐξελαθέντες ἐν τῷ ὑπαίθρῳ πρὸς τὸν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς Δεσπότην τὰς χεῖρας αἴρουσι. Καὶ αἱ μὲν θλίψεις βαρεῖαι, μαρτύριον δὲ οὐδαμοῦ διὰ τὸ τοὺς κακοῦντας ἡμᾶς τὴν αὐτὴν ἡμῖν ἔχειν προσηγορίαν. Ὑπὲρ τούτων αὐτός τε δεήθητι τοῦ Κυρίου καὶ πάντας τοὺς γενναίους ἀθλητὰς τοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς τὴν ὑπὲρ τῆς Ἐκκλησίας προσευχὴν συμπαράλαβε, ἵνα, εἴπερ ἔτι χρόνοι τινὲς ὑπολείπονται τῇ συστάσει τοῦ κόσμου καὶ μὴ πρὸς τὴν ἐναντίαν φορὰν συνελαύνεται πάντα, διαλλαγεὶς ὁ Θεὸς ταῖς ἑαυτοῦ Ἐκκλησίαις ἐπαναγάγῃ αὐτὰς πρὸς τὴν ἀρχαίαν εἰρήνην.


‘To Ascholius, Bishop of Thessalonica

How great was the joy with which the letter of your Holiness filled us we cannot easily describe, words being too weak to set it clearly forth, but you ought to be able to guess it by yourself, deducing it from the beauty of what you wrote. For what did the letter not contain? Did it not contain love for the Lord? And admiration for the martyrs, describing so clearly the manner of their struggle that you brought the incidents before our eyes? And respect and love for ourselves? Did it not contain whatever one might mention of the most noble attributes? Consequently, when we took the letter in our hands, and read it again and again, and perceived the grace of the Spirit that abounded therein, we thought that we were back in the olden times, when the churches of God flourished, taking root in the faith, united by charity, there being, as in a single body, a single harmony of the various members; when the persecutors indeed were in the open, but in the open were also the persecuted; when the laity, though harassed, became more numerous, and the blood of the martyrs watering the churches nurtured many times as many champions of religion, later generations stripping themselves for combat in emulation of their predecessors. Then we Christians had peace among ourselves, that peace which the Lord left to us, of which now not even a trace any longer remains to us, so ruthlessly have we driven it away from one another. But the fact is that our souls had already returned to that old-time happiness when a letter came from far away, blossoming with the beauty of charity, and a witness had arrived among us from the barbarians beyond the Danube, proclaiming in person the strictness of the faith which is practised in that region. Who could describe the joy our souls felt at this? What power of speech could be devised that would be capable of announcing in clear terms the emotion hidden in our hearts? When, however, we saw the athlete, we blessed his trainer, who will likewise receive at the hands of the just Judge the crown of righteousness, since he has strengthened many for the struggle in defence of our religion.

But since you have recalled to our minds the blessed man Eutyches, and have exalted our fatherland for having by itself furnished the seeds of our religion, you cheered us indeed by calling up the past, but distressed us by exposing the conditions which we see today. For no one of us is comparable to Eutyches in virtue, since we are so far from having tamed the barbarians by the power of the Spirit and by the operation of His graces, that we have even by the enormity of our sins made savage those who were gentle. For we must impute to ourselves and to our sins the blame that the domination of the heretics has become so widespread. For almost no part of the world has escaped the conflagration of heresy. But your story — contestants confronting each other, bodies torn to pieces for religion’s sake, barbarian rage treated with contempt by men undaunted of heart, the various tortures applied by the persecutors, the firm resistance of the contestants throughout, the beam, the water, — these are the instruments for the perfecting of martyrs! But of what sort are ours? Charity has grown cold. The teaching of the Fathers is being destroyed; shipwrecks in the faith are frequent; the mouths of the pious are silent; the laity driven from the houses of prayer raise in the open their hands to the Master in heaven. And though grievous are our afflictions, yet nowhere is martyrdom, because those who harm us have the same appellation as ourselves. On behalf of these do you yourself beseech our Lord, and unite all the noble athletes of Christ in prayer on behalf of the churches, in order that, if there is still some time left for the existence of the world, and the universe is not being driven in the opposite direction, God may become reconciled with His churches and lead them back to their ancient peace.’


Letter 165

ΑΣΧΟΛΙῼ ΕΠΙΣΚΟΠῼ ΘΕΣΣΑΛΟΝΙΚΗΣ

(1.) Παλαιὰν ἡμῖν εὐχὴν ὁ ἅγιος Θεὸς ἐξεπλήρωσε καταξιώσας ἡμᾶς γράμμασι τῆς ἀληθινῆς σου θεοσεβείας ἐντυχεῖν. Τὸ μὲν γὰρ μέγιστον καὶ τῆς μεγίστης σπουδῆς ἄξιον αὐτόν σε ἰδεῖν καὶ ὀφθῆναί σοι καὶ τῶν ἐν σοὶ τοῦ Πνεύματος χαρισμάτων δι’ ἑαυτῶν ἀπολαῦσαι. Ἐπειδὴ δὲ τοῦτο ἥ τε τοῦ τόπου διάστασις ἀφαιρεῖται καὶ αἱ ἰδίᾳ
ἑκάτερον ἡμῶν κατέχουσαι περιστάσεις, δευτέρας εὐχῆς ἄξιον γράμμασι συνεχέσι τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ ἀγάπης τρέφεσθαι τὴν ψυχήν. Ὃ καὶ νῦν ἡμῖν ὑπῆρξεν, ὅτε ἐλάβομεν εἰς χεῖρας τὴν ἐπιστολὴν τῆς συνέσεώς σου. Πλέον γὰρ ἢ διπλασίους ἐγενόμεθα τῇ ἀπολαύσει τῶν ἐπεσταλμένων. Καὶ γὰρ ἦν τῷ ὄντι καὶ αὐτήν σου καθορᾶν τὴν ψυχὴν
οἷον δι’ ἐσόπτρου τινὸς τῶν λόγων διαφαινομένην. Πολυπλασίονα δὲ ἡμῖν τὴν εὐφροσύνην ἐποίει οὐ μόνον τὸ τοιοῦτον εἶναί σε ὁποῖον ἡ πάντων μαρτυρία παρίστησιν, ἀλλ’ ὅτι τὰ ἐν σοὶ καλὰ τῆς πατρίδος ἡμῶν ἐστι σεμνολογήματα. Οἷον γὰρ εὐθαλής τις κλάδος ῥίζης γενναίας ἀφορμηθεὶς τῶν πνευματικῶν καρπῶν τὴν ὑπερορίαν ἐνέπλησας. Ὥστε εἰκότως ἡ πατρὶς ἡμῶν τοῖς οἰκείοις βλαστήμασιν ἐπαγάλλεται. Καὶ ἡνίκα τοὺς ὑπὲρ τῆς πίστεως ἀγῶνας διήθλεις, ἐδόξαζε τὸν Θεὸν ἀκούουσα τὴν τῶν Πατέρων ἀγαθὴν κληρονομίαν διαφυλαττομένην ἐν σοί. Οἷα δέ σου καὶ τὰ παρόντα; Μάρτυρι νέον ἀνθήσαντι ἐπὶ τῆς γείτονος ὑμῖν βαρβάρου τὴν ἐνεγκοῦσαν ἐτίμησας, οἷόν τις εὐγνώμων γεωργὸς τοῖς παρασχομένοις τὰ σπέρματα τὰς ἀπαρχὰς τῶν καρπῶν ἀποπέμπων. Ὄντως πρέποντα ἀθλητῇ Χριστοῦ τὰ δῶρα· μάρτυς τῆ

History

Evidence ID

E00748

Saint Name

Sabas the Goth, martyr, ob. 372 : S00489

Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

372

Evidence not after

375

Activity not before

372

Activity not after

375

Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Kaisareia/Caesarea in Cappadocia

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Kaisareia/Caesarea in Cappadocia Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Basil of Caesarea

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Transmission, copying and reading saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Soldiers

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - unspecified Transfer/presence of relics from distant countries Transfer, translation and deposition of relics

Source

Born around 330 to an aristocratic Christian family of Neokaisareia/Neocaesarea of Pontus Polemoniacus (Anatolia), Basil was educated in Kaisareia/Caesarea, Antioch, and Athens. After his studies, he spent time in the monasteries in Egypt, before returning to Pontus, where he organised an ascetic community on his family estate. In the 360s, Basil was ordained in Kaisareia/Caesarea, and, on 14 June 370, he was consecrated bishop there. He died on 1 January 379. Basil was a prolific writer, composing homilies, theological, ascetic, and liturgical works. His 369 letters form a major corpus on ecclesiastical politics and the broader history of Anatolia and the Christian East. For the manuscript tradition, editions, and translations of the three letters used here, see: Fedwick, P.J., Bibliotheca Basiliana Universalis. 5 vols. Vol. I (Corpus Christianorum; Turnhout 1993), p. 346 (ep. 155), 369 (ep. 165), 370-1 (ep. 164). http://pinakes.irht.cnrs.fr/notices/oeuvre/5913/

Discussion

These three letters are almost certainly associated with the translation of the relics of Sabas, a Gothic Christian who was executed in 372, during an outbreak of anti-Christian violence in the Gothic territories north of the Black Sea. The first letter (155) was apparently written by Basil before the receipt of the relics. It is addressed to a man from Kaisareia/Caesarea, personally known to Basil, living far from his native city at that time. Basil’s letter is an answer to a letter from his correspondent, by which the latter promises to send relics of a recent martyr. This man has been assumed to be the Cappadocian dux of Scythia Minor Ounios Soranos (Junius Soranus) who, according to the Martyrdom of Sabas the Goth (E00753), was the dignitary responsible for the translation of the relics of the martyr to Caesarea. The other two letters were evidently written after the relics and a letter containing the full story of the martyr had reached Kaisareia/Caesarea. It seems that Letter 164 was written as a response to a letter recounting the story known from the Martyrdom of Sabas the Goth. The addressee of both letters seems to be a different person from that of letter 155. Although Basil implies in 165 that his correspondent is also of Cappadocian origins, the two men evidently do not know each other personally. Yet the recipient of these letters is a famous figure admired by Basil. This man’s reputation was very probably due to the fact he had suffered for the faith in the past. In the manuscripts this letter is labelled as one addressed to Ascholios/Acholios, bishop of Thessalonike. This, however, is unlikely, since Basil states that his correspondent is based near the barbarian lands. The addressee can be more plausibly identified as a cleric based in Scythia. Heather and Matthews have proposed that this was the bishop of Tomis Bretaniōn (or Vetranio) who became famous for publicly opposing the Arian emperor Valens during the latter’s visit to Tomis in 368. He was arrested and temporarily exiled for his act, but was soon restored to his see, for fear of a rebellion in Scythia, due to his great popularity (Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History, 6.21.3-7). It is possible that he was still incumbent at Tomis, when the relics of Sabas were dispatched to Cappadocia. As the local bishop, it is plausible that he would give his consent for the translation, and address Basil, as the bishop who would receive the relics. It is interesting, however, that the Martyrdom of Sabas the Goth does not attribute any role to the two bishops at all. One phrase in letter 164 is particularly noteworthy: ‘When, however, we saw the athlete, we blessed his trainer, who will likewise receive at the hands of the just Judge the crown of righteousness, since he has strengthened many for the struggle in defence of our religion.’ Employing the athlete metaphor commonly used for martyrs, Basil talks of his 'trainer’ (ἀλείπτης / aleiptēs), i.e. the person who prepared and encouraged the martyr. If one were to ascribe this title to a figure from the Martyrdom of Sabas the Goth, this would be the presbyter Sansalas, Sabas’ companion in captivity, though not in martyrdom. Curiously, the word aleiptēs reappears in the title of letter 155 which, as we said above, is thought to have been addressed to Junius Soranus. He, however, is not ascribed with any role in preparing the martyr, according to the Martyrdom of Sabas. This is one of the earliest recorded cases of the translation of relics to a distant place, but its character, motives and reasons are obscure. Although the text does not clarify this explicitly, it seems that the whole body of the martyr was sent from Scythia. In letter 155, Basil makes a passing request for relics, without specifying their nature. The passage is important, since it shows that the practice of sending relics to remote places was normal by that time.

Bibliography

Text edition and French Translation: Courtonne, Y., Saint Basile. Lettres, vol. 2 (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1961), 80-81, 97-101. Text and English Translations: Deferrari, R.J., Saint Basil, the Letters. 4 vols. Vol. 2 (Loeb Classical Library; Cambridge, MA/London: Harvard University Press, 1928), 420-431. Way, A.C., Saint Basil. Letters, Volume 1 (1‒185) (Fathers of the Church 13; Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1951), 307-308, 323-327. Translation, commentary and further bibliography on these letters: Heather, P., and Matthews, J., The Goths in the Fourth Century (Translated Texts for Historians 11; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1991), 110-117. Further Reading on Basil: Courtonne, Y., Un témoin du IVe siècle oriental: saint Basile et son temps d'après sa correspondance (Collection d'études anciennes; Paris: Les Belles lettres, 1973), esp. 356-359. Radde-Gallwitz, A., "The Letter Collection of Basil of Caesarea," in: C. Sogno, B.K. Storin, and E. Watts (eds.), Late Antique Letter Collections: A Critical Introduction and Reference Guide (Oakland: University of California Press, 2017), 69-80. Rousseau, P., Basil of Caesarea (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994).

Continued Description

ς ἀληθείας ἄρτι τὸν τῆς δικαιοσύνης ἀναδησάμενος στέφανον, ὃν καὶ ὑπεδεξάμεθα χαίροντες καὶ ἐδοξάσαμεν τὸν Θεὸν τὸν ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς ἔθνεσι πληρώσαντα λοιπὸν τὸ Εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ. Παρακέκλησο δὲ καὶ ἡμῶν τῶν ἀγαπώντων σε μεμνῆσθαι ἐν ταῖς προσευχαῖς καὶ σπουδαίως ὑπὲρ τῶν ψυχῶν ἡμῶν προσεύχεσθαι τῷ Κυρίῳ, ἵνα καταξιωθῶμέν ποτε ἄρξασθαι καὶ αὐτοὶ δουλεύειν τῷ Θεῷ, κατὰ τὴν ὁδὸν τῶν ἐντολῶν αὐτοῦ ἃς ἔδωκεν ἡμῖν εἰς σωτηρίαν.‘To Ascholius, Bishop of ThessalonicaThe holy God has fulfilled for us a prayer of long standing, having deemed us worthy to receive a letter from your true Holiness. For although the most important thing and worthy of our greatest zeal is to see you yourself and to be seen by you, and to enjoy at first hand the graces of the Spirit that are in you; yet since both distance in space and the preoccupations which detain each of us severally deprive us of this, it is worthy of a secondary prayer that our spirits may be nourished by frequent letters of your charity in Christ. And this is what has happened to us now, when we have taken into our hands the letter of your Sagacity; for our spirits have increased to more than double through the enjoyment of your communication. For it was possible actually to observe even your very soul reflected by your words as by a mirror. And our joy was increased many fold, not only by the fact that you are such a man as the testimony of all asserts, but also because the noble qualities in you are a source of pride to our own country. For like a vigourous branch sprung from a noble root you have filled with spiritual fruits the country beyond our own borders. Rightly, therefore, does our country glory in her own offshoot. And when you were struggling in the contests for the faith, she glorified God, having heard that the goodly heritage of the Fathers was being preserved in you. But of what nature also are your present deeds! With a martyr, who but lately finished his struggle in the barbarian land neighbouring your own, you have honoured the land which bore you, sending, like a grateful husbandman, the first fruits back to those who supplied the seed. Truly worthy of Christ’s athlete are the gifts; a martyr of the truth who has just been wreathed with the crown of righteousness; and we not only received him with joy, but also glorified the God who among all the Gentiles has already fulfilled the gospel of His Christ. But let me beg you to remember in your prayers us who love you, and for our souls’ sake earnestly to pray to the Lord that we also may be thought worthy one day to begin to serve God according to the way of the commandments which He has given us unto salvation.’Text: Courtonne 1961, 80-81, 97-101. Translation: Heather and Matthews 1991.

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