Saint NameProsdokās, Beronikē and Rōmanos, martyrs at Antioch : S01008
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Sermons/Homilies
Evidence not before386
Evidence not after397
Activity not before386
Activity not after397
Place of Evidence - RegionSyria with Phoenicia
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcAntioch on the Orontes
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Antioch on the Orontes
Major author/Major anonymous workJohn Chrysostom
Cult activities - Liturgical Activity
Cult activities - Festivals
Cult activities - PlacesBurial site of a saint - cemetery/catacomb
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsComposing and translating saint-related texts
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - lesser clergy
SourceJohn 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 text (8 manuscripts), see:
DiscussionThis sermon was given at Antioch, on the festival of three female martyrs known in the hagiographic tradition as Bernike, Prosdoke, and Domnina – their names are not mentioned by the author. Their feast is recorded by the Syriac Martyrology on 29 April (E01479), and by the Martyrologium Hieronymianum on 13 April. Both in this text and in another sermon on the same saints (E02568), Chrysostom reports that this feast fell in Spring, after Easter.
The subject of this feast is a group of three women who commit suicide, while being taken to court by soldiers. Their story is apparently based on an episode of the tetrarchic persecutions, which is mentioned by Eusebius of Caesarea (Ecclesiastical History 8.12; see E00317), without giving the names of the three women. Chrysostom recounts the story in more detail in his other sermon on the same feast (E02568). Ambrose (in De virginibus 3.7.33–7) associates them with the story of *Pelagia, another virgin who committed suicide in Antioch (E02528). A central element in both legends is the acceptance of suicide as a valid form of martyrdom for women.
Migne, J.-P., Patrologia Graeca 50 (Paris: Imprimerie Catholique, 1862), 641-644.
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).