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E02260: John Chrysostom delivers a homily On *Loukianos (martyr of Nicomedia, S00151) during a service held on the saint’s feast day of 7 January. Written in Greek at Antioch (Syria), in the later 380s (probably in 387).

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posted on 18.01.2017, 00:00 by erizos
John Chrysostom, On Loukianos (CPG 4346, BHG 998)

Summary:

1. The audience is much smaller than it was on the previous day, which was a major feast (Epiphany). Chrysostom had anticipated the situation, and reproaches those who attend church only rarely, on major feasts, despite the fact that the church offers protection against the constant tests of this life. Material wealth and worldly fame are perishable and dangerously volatile goods, while charity is a possession which stays forever. One, therefore, should not neglect to attend church frequently. The benefits obtained in church can easily be lost, if attendance is infrequent. Above all, frequent worship brings peace and joy to the soul. The attendants of this gathering are to gain exceptional rewards from honouring a martyr.

2. Yesterday, the church celebrated the Baptism of Christ (Epiphany), and today a martyr, baptised in blood. Realising that the martyr disdains all sorts of torment, the Devil seeks a type of martyrdom which is at the same time as long and painful as possible: hunger. Although it may sound simple, hunger is a terrible suffering, which has even led mothers to eat their own children. Yet it was unable to defeat the determination of the martyr. The persecutor offered a table of sacrificial meat, in order to tempt him, but the martyr was strengthened even more.

3. Seeing that the martyr did not apostatise, the persecutor brought him to trial and interrogated him. Asked about his origins, profession, and family, the martyr repeatedly gave the same answer: ‘I am a Christian.’ Although a learned man, he knew that, in such a situation, there was no need for rhetoric, but rather for determination not to abandon the faith. By one phrase, he indeed revealed his true home, family, and profession in life. The martyr finished his life like this. Chrysostom invites his audience to prepare themselves, following the example of the martyr, and confess the faith openly and by their way of life.

History

Evidence ID

E02260

Saint Name

Loukianos, Antiochene priest martyred in Nicomedia, ob. 310/312 : S00151

Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

386

Evidence not after

397

Activity not before

386

Activity not after

397

Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Antioch on the Orontes

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

Antioch on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora

Major author/Major anonymous work

John Chrysostom

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Crowds

Source

John of Antioch, bishop of Constantinople, who came to be known as Chrysostom (the Golden Mouth), was born in 344/354 in Antioch on the Orontes where he studied under Libanius. He joined the Nicene Christian community of Antioch, led by bishop Meletios of Antioch, and was ordained priest by Meletios’ successor, Flavianos in 386. Acquiring a great reputation as a preacher, John was appointed as bishop of Constantinople in 397. Clashing with the bishop of Alexandria Theophilos and the empress Eudoxia in 403/404, Chrysostom was deposed and banished to Cucusus in Cappadocia and died in Comana of Pontus in 407. On the manuscript tradition of this homily (19 manuscripts), see: http://pinakes.irht.cnrs.fr/notices/oeuvre/8556/

Discussion

This homily is the earliest surviving text concerning the martyrdom and cult of Loukianos (Lucian), one of the most prominent Christian theologians of the pre-Constantinian period in Antioch, who was martyred at Nicomedia, during the persecution of Maximinus Daia in 312. The resting place of Loukianos was in the vicinity of Nicomedia, on the site where the emperor Constantine founded the city of Helenopolis in 327. Chrysostom’s sermon attests to the regular celebration of his memory at Antioch, despite the absence of his relics. His feast was held on 7 January. Indeed, it seems that his cult gained remarkable prominence in the early church, as his feast is recorded by both the Syriac and Hieronymian martyrologies. The story of his martyrdom recounted by Chrysostom seems to have been based on a pre-existing martyrdom account, which was also used by the ecclesiastical historian Philostorgius (E04193; cf. E06124). The cult of Loukianos was probably affected by the ecclesiastical divisions of the fourth century. It seems indeed that, as a Christian intellectual, Loukianos advocated a subordinationist theology, anticipating Arius and Eusebius of Nicomedia. As such, he was revered as a major father of the Church by the dominant Homoean party in the fourth century, and he is presented as such by the Arian historian Philostorgius. Yet, despite his doctrinal position, Loukianos technically died a martyr, while in full communion with the Catholic Church, before the rise of Arius, and before the division sanctioned by the Council of Nicaea in 325. Based on that, his memory was apparently kept by the Nicene party no less than the Arian one. Chrysostom’s sermon, with its focus on the saint’s martyrdom, glosses over the embarrassment of his theology. The author’s assertion that martyrdom is a second baptism by blood, and his emphasis on the saint’s repeated confession (“I am a Christian”), may be intended to stress that the martyr deserves veneration for his heroic death, regardless of the theological views he represented in his lifetime. Of particular interest is also Chrysostom’s introduction referring to the small congregation the feast has attracted, as opposed to the crowd that had attended the service for the great festival of Epiphany, one day earlier. Although Chrysostom encouraged his flock to attend church daily, it seems that the majority preferred to attend the services of great feasts only. This concern is also voiced in the opening of the same author’s sermon On the Baptism of Christ (CPG 4355; Migne PG 49, 363), which was preached in Antioch on 6 January 387. Indeed, our text may have been preached in that very year.

Bibliography

Text: Migne, J.-P., Patrologia Graeca 50 (Paris: Imprimerie Catholique, 1862), 519-526. Translation: Mayer, W., St John Chrysostom, The Cult of the Saints: Select Homilies and Letters Introduced, Translated, and Annotated (Popular Patristics Series; New York: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2006), 63-73. Further reading: Drobner, H.R. The Fathers of the Church: A Comprehensive Introduction (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), 327-337. Kelly, J.N.D., Golden Mouth: The Story of John Chrysostom. Ascetic, Preacher, Bishop (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1995). Noret, J., "S. Lucien disciple de s. Lucien d’Antioche. A propos d’une inscription de Kirsehir (Turquie)," Analecta Bollandiana 91 (1973), 376.

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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