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E02758: John Chrysostom in 405/406 writes to the priest Rouphinos, a missionary among pagans in Phoenicia,promising to send him relics of martyrs from the collection of Bishop Otreios of Arabissos (central Asia Minor), probably for the purpose of consecrating new churches. Written in Greek at Cucusus/Koukousos of Cappadocia (central Asia Minor).

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posted on 01.05.2017, 00:00 by CSLA Admin
John Chrysostom, Letters (CPG 4405), Letter 126, to the presbyter Rouphinos

(...)
Καὶ τῶν λειψάνων δὲ ἕνεκεν τῶν ἁγίων μαρτύρων ἀμέριμνος ἔσο· καὶ γὰρ εὐθέως ἀπέστειλα τὸν κύριόν μου τὸν εὐλαβέστατον πρεσβύτερον τὸν Τερέντιον πρὸς τὸν κύριόν μου τὸν εὐλαβέστατον ἐπίσκοπον Ὀτρήϊον τὸν Ἀραβισσοῦ. Αὐτὸς γὰρ ἔχει καὶ ἀναμφισβήτητα, καὶ πολλὰ, καὶ εἴσω ὀλίγων ἡμερῶν ἀποστελοῦμέν σοι ταῦτα εἰς τὴν Φοινίκην. Μηδὲν τοίνυν ἐλλιμπανέσθω τῶν παρὰ τῆς σῆς τιμιότητος. Τὰ γὰρ παρ’ ἡμῶν ὁρᾷς μεθ’ ὅσης πεπλήρωται τῆς προθυμίας. Σπεῦσον, ἵνα πρὸ τοῦ χειμῶνος δυνηθῇς τὰς ἀστέγους ἐκκλησίας ἀπαρτίσαι.

‘And do not worry about the relics (leipsana) of the holy martyrs. For I straightway sent my lord the most reverent presbyter Terentios to my lord the most reverent bishop Otreios of Arabissos. For he has relics which are both indisputable and numerous, and within a few days we shall dispatch them to you in Phoenicia. Let therefore none of the efforts required of your honourableness be lacking, for you can see how full of eagerness our contribution has been. Hurry, so that you may be able to finish the roofless churches before winter.’

Text: Migne, PG 52, 687. Translation: Efthymios Rizos (using Mayer 2006).

History

Evidence ID

E02758

Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

405

Evidence not after

407

Activity not before

405

Activity not after

407

Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Koukousos

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

Koukousos Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Major author/Major anonymous work

John Chrysostom

Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Scepticism/rejection of specific relics

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Pagans

Cult Activities - Relics

Unspecified relic Transfer, translation and deposition of relics Transfer/presence of relics from distant countries Collections of multiple relics Construction of cult building to contain relics

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. The extant corpus of John’s letters consists of two collections, the first comprising seventeen letters to his friend, Olympias, and the second comprising 221 letters to various addressees. All these epistolary texts postdate John’s deposition from the throne of Constantinople and constitute the main (perhaps the only) part of his written work stemming from his exile. They allow insights into the contacts and activity of the bishop during his exile in central Anatolia. The collection as it stands is likely to have been edited and published by one of John’s followers, partly for apologetic purposes. None of the probably numerous letters of his episcopal archive was ever published. There is currently no critical edition of the corpus, which survives in various states of completeness, in 101 manuscripts: http://pinakes.irht.cnrs.fr/notices/oeuvre/6089/ (accessed 01/05/2017)

Discussion

Letter 126 belongs to John’s correspondence with monks conducting mission in the pagan areas of Phoenicia, with whom John had regular and friendly contacts during his exile in Cucusus. This particular letter encourages John’s correspondent, the missionary priest Rouphinos who is apparently faced with major difficulties in his task, since the mission is dwindling in the face of the hostility of the locals. John promises to send material support, helpers, and relics. Rouphinos probably had enquired about relics in a previous letter to John and John reportedly procured them without difficulty. John’s reference to the relics available at Arabissos of Cappadocia is of special interest, both due to the apparent readiness of the local bishop to share them, and the emphasis of Chrysostom on their veracity and quantity. We have no other information about the cult of martyrs there, but it is probable that, like many towns and villages in Cappadocia, Arabissos had a shrine of local martyrs. The precise purpose of Rouphinos’ request for relics is unknown. It may be related to the construction and consecration of new churches, to which John refers in the conclusion of his letter.

Bibliography

Text: Migne, J.-P., Patrologiae Cursus Completus: Series Graeca 52 (Paris: Imprimerie Catholique, 1862), 685-687. Translation and commentary: 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), 259-263. Further reading: Washburn, D., "The Letter Collection of John Chrysostom," 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), 190-204.

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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