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E02343: John Chrysostom delivers a homily On *Drosis (martyr of Antioch, S01189) during a service held at the Christian cemetery of Antioch (Syria), where her remains are kept. Written in Greek at Antioch, 386/397.

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posted on 07.02.2017, 00:00 by erizos
John Chrysostom, On Drosis (CPG 4362, BHG 0566)

ΕΓΚΩΜΙΟΝ

Εἰς τὴν ἁγίαν μεγαλομάρτυρα Δροσίδα, καὶ εἰς τὸ μεμνῆσθαι θανάτου.
‘Encomium on the holy great martyr Drosis and on remembering death’

1. Good shepherds take advantage of mild winter days, in order to take their flocks out of their pen, and let them graze in the pastures, which pleases and refreshes the sheep. Imitating them, the bishop of Antioch has taken the Christians to the shrines of the martyrs. The visit is both ejoyable and spiritually refreshing, since it reminds them of the stories of the martyrs and of the prospect of death.

Ἕκαστον μὲν οὖν τῶν μαρτυρίων παρέχει τοῖς συλλεγομένοις κέρδος οὐ μικρὸν, μάλιστα δὲ ἁπάντων τοῦτο· ὁμοῦ τε γὰρ ἐπέβη τις τῶν προθύρων, καὶ πλῆθος εὐθέως τάφων πανταχόθεν προσπίπτει τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς, καὶ ὅπου περ ἂν ἴδῃ, λάρνακας καὶ μνήματα καὶ θήκας ὁρᾷ τῶν κατοιχομένων. Οὐ μικρὸν δὴ ἡμῖν εἰς φιλοσοφίας μέρος αὕτη συντελεῖ τῶν τάφων ἡ θεωρία.

‘Indeed, each one of the martyria earns no mean profit to those gathering at it, but this one does so more than all of them. For, as soon as one crosses its threshold, a multitude of graves immediately strikes the eyes from all directions, and, wherever one looks, one sees tombs and memorials and coffins of the departed. And this sight of the graves makes no mean contribution to the growth of philosophy within us.’

Moral and spiritual benefits derive from visiting tombs and cemeteries.

Ὁδὸς γὰρ ὁ παρὼν βίος ἐστὶ, καὶ οὐδὲν στάσιμον ἔχει, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰ λυπηρὰ αὐτοῦ καὶ τὰ χρηστὰ παροδεύομεν. Διὰ δὴ τοῦτο μάλιστα πάντων τουτὶ φιλῶ τὸ χωρίον, ὅτι οὐκ ἐν συνάξει μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ συνάξεως χωρὶς πολλάκις ἐνταῦθα ἀφικνούμενος, τούτων συνεχῶς ἐμνήσθην τῶν λόγων, τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν μου τοὺς τάφους ἐν ἐρημίᾳ πολλῇ μεθ’ ἡσυχίας περισκοπούντων, καὶ τὴν ψυχὴν πρὸς τοὺς κατοιχομένους καὶ τὴν ἐκεῖ παραπεμπόντων κατάστασιν.

β. Διὰ δὴ ταῦτα καὶ τὸν γενναῖον τοῦτον θαυμάζω πατέρα, ὅτι γαληνῆς ἡμέρας ἐπιλαβόμενος ἐνταῦθα ἡμᾶς ἐξήγαγε, προηγουμένης δὲ καὶ ὁδηγούσης τῆς μακαρίας Δροσίδος, ἧς τὴν μνήμην ἐπιτελοῦμεν. Καὶ γὰρ πρὸς τοῖς εἰρημένοις ἕτερόν τι μεῖζον ἀπὸ τοῦ τόπου κέρδος ἐστὶ καρπώσασθαι. Ὅταν γὰρ τὰς ἄλλας παραδραμόντες λάρνακας ἐπὶ τὰς τῶν μαρτύρων θήκας ἔλθωμεν, ὑψηλότερον ἡμῖν τὸ φρόνημα γίνεται, εὐτονωτέρα ἡ ψυχὴ, μείζων ἡ προθυμία, θερμοτέρα ἡ πίστις.

‘For the present life is a journey and it contains nothing that is stationary, but we travel past both its painful and easy parts alike. For this reason, I love this place more than all the rest, for when I arrive here, not only during an assembly, but several times also without an assembly taking place, I am constantly reminded of these words, while my eyes quietly look around at the tombs in utter solitude, and send off my soul to the departed and their condition there.’

2. For these reasons, then, I admire also this noble father, for, taking advantage of this mild day, he has brought us out here, led and guided by the blessed Drosis whose memory we are celebrating. Indeed, one may gain from this place yet another profit beside the ones I have already mentioned. For when, having passed by the other coffins, we reach the tombs of the martyrs, our spirit gets higher, our soul stronger, our fervour greater, our faith warmer.’

2. The memory of the martyrs is the cause of great moral and spiritual benefits for the Christians. The stories of the martyrs provide arguments for Christians confronting pagans or heretics. The immense bravery of the martyrs is a proof of the truth of Christ’s resurrection. A proof of the grace of the martyrs is the fact that the demons are afraid of their remains and resting places, which never happens at the tombs of the common dead.

3. The martyrs’ disdain for the world and the present life provides a very high exemplar of virtue. Especially important are the female martyrs, for the contrast between the weakness of their nature and the greatness of their courage. Various examples of holiness and bravery by biblical figures. Men have no excuse, if women display such bravery. The martyr was weak and young, but her soul was determined and bold.

4. The tyrant prepared a great pyre in order to scare Drosis, but she was strengthened even more at the sight. The fire is compared to a spring, a bath of dye, and a smelting furnace.

5. Explanation on the Biblical references to the transfer of the remains of Joseph from Egypt by the Israelites (Exod. 13-19).

6. A truly unhappy death is a death in sin, not what most people think.

Text: Migne, PG 50, 683-694.
Summary and translation: E. Rizos.

History

Evidence ID

E02343

Saint Name

Drosis, daughter of Hadrian, martyred with female companion Junia : S01189

Saint Name in Source

Δροσὶς

Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies

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

  • Sermon/homily

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - unspecified

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Other miracles with demons and demonic creatures

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Pagans Heretics

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - unspecified

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. Manuscripts: http://pinakes.irht.cnrs.fr/notices/oeuvre/3809/

Discussion

This sermon was given during a service held in the memory of the female martyr Drosis, whose remains were most probably kept in the Koimeterion, the ancient Christian cemetery of Antioch. The information of our text about the martyr is poor: Drosis was a young woman who died by fire and was buried at Antioch. Drosis, belonging to the minority of female martyrs in Antioch, is presented as an exemplar of female bravery and virtue, in a way recalling the homily of Basil of Caesarea on *Ioulitta (E00670). The author tells us that the feast fell on a winter's day, which agrees with an entry of the Martyrologium Hieronymianum on 15 December, recording the Antiochene festival of the virgin Drusina and her companions Zosimus and Theodorus. The feast of Drosis is recorded on the same day in the 7th/8th-century Papyrus Vindob. G 14043, from Hermopolis in Egypt (see E02212). The 10th-century Synaxarion of the Church of Constantinople records the feast of Drosis on 22 March, and cites an extensive account of her story, which may reflect a late and highly elaborate version of the account known to Chrysostom. That text, which does not mention Antioch, presents Drosis as the daughter of the emperor Trajan and fiancée of Hadrian, who is arrested after joining five Christian women in their effort to collect relics of martyrs. The five women are killed in copper smelting furnaces, while Drosis escapes, baptises herself in a stream, and dies eight days later. It seems probable that the motif of the smelting furnaces in this account was borrowed from the original story known to Chrysostom, or from this Chrysostom's homily, since the author refers to the smelting furnace as a metaphor in our text. An interesting aspect of the theology concerning the cult of the martyrs is found in section 5, where the author quotes the Old Testament reference to the transfer of the remains of Joseph from Egypt by the Israelites (Exodus 13-19). This is one of the scriptural passages used by Asterius of Amasea in his Homily X, On the Holy Martyrs, in support of the veneration of the remains of the righteous dead (par. 126; see E02140). In several homilies, Chrysostom uses the same Old Testament references as Asterius does, providing theological justification for the cult of the martyrs.

Bibliography

Text: Migne, J.-P., Patrologia Graeca 50 (Paris: Imprimerie Catholique, 1862), 683-694. 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), 191-207. Further reading: Downey, G., Ancient Antioch (Princeton, 1961). 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 University Press, 1995).

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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