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E04058: Sozomen in his Ecclesiastical History recounts the discovery of relics of the *Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (S00103) under the church of *Thyrsos (martyr of Bithynia, S00612) in Constantinople, after dream visions experienced by the empress Pulcheria in 434/447. The relics had been buried in the private tomb of a noble woman of the Macedonianist sect in the late 4th century. Written in Greek at Constantinople, 439/450.

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posted on 20.09.2017, 00:00 by erizos
Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History, 9.2.

(1) Γυνή τις Εὐσεβία τοὔνομα, διάκονος τῆς Μακεδονίου αἱρέσεως, οἴκημα καὶ κῆπον εἶχε πρὸ τοῦ τείχους Κωνσταντινουπόλεως· καὶ ἱερὰ λείψανα ἐνθάδε ἐφύλαττε τῶν ἐν Σεβαστείᾳ τῆς Ἀρμενίας κατὰ τοὺς Λικινίου χρόνους μαρτυρησάντων τεσσαράκοντα στρατιωτῶν. (2) μέλλουσα δὲ τελευτᾶν κατέλιπε τὸν προειρημένον τόπον μοναχοῖς ὁμοδόξοις, καὶ μεθ’ ὅρκων αὐτῶν ἐδεήθη ἐκεῖσε ταφῆναι, ὑπὲρ δὲ κεφαλῆς ἐπὶ τῷ ἄκρῳ τὴν αὐτῆς σορὸν ἰδίᾳ ξέσαι καὶ συγκαταθέσθαι αὐτῇ τῶν μαρτύρων τὰ λείψανα, καὶ μηδενὶ καταμηνῦσαι. (3) καὶ οἱ μὲν ὧδε ἐποίουν. ὥστε δὲ τῆς προσηκούσης θεραπείας μεταλαγχάνειν τοὺς μάρτυρας καὶ τοὺς ἔξωθεν ἀγνοεῖν κατὰ τὰ συντεθειμένα πρὸς Εὐσεβίαν, εὐκτήριον οἶκον ὑπὸ γῆν ἐτεκτήναντο περὶ τὴν αὐτῆς θήκην, εἰς δὲ τὸ προφανὲς οἴκημα ὑπεράνω πλίνθοις ὀπταῖς τὸ ἔδαφος ἠμφιεσμένον καὶ καταβάσιον ἐκ τούτου λανθάνον ἐπὶ τοὺς μάρτυρας. (4) μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα Καισάριος ἀνὴρ τῶν τότε ἐν δυνάμει, ὃς καὶ ὑπάτου καὶ ὑπάρχου εἰς ἀξίαν προῆλθεν, θανοῦσαν αὐτοῦ τὴν γαμετὴν παρὰ τὴν Εὐσεβίας σορὸν ἔθαψε· τοῦτο γὰρ ἔτι περιούσαις αὐταῖς συνέδοξεν ὑπερφυῶς κεχαρισμέναις ἀλλήλαις καὶ περὶ τὸ δόγμα καὶ τὴν θρησκείαν ὁμοφρονούσαις. (5) ἐντεῦθεν πρόφασις ἐγένετο Καισαρίῳ κτήσασθαι τοῦτον τὸν τόπον, ὡς ἂν καὶ αὐτὸς πλησίον τῆς γαμετῆς ταφείη. οἱ δὲ προειρημένοι μοναχοὶ ἀλλαχῇ μετῳκίσθησαν μηδὲν περὶ τῶν μαρτύρων ὁμολογήσαντες.

(6) καταπεσόντος δὲ τοῦ οἴκου μετὰ ταῦτα γῆς τε καὶ φορυτοῦ ἐπιβληθέντος πᾶς ὁ τῇδε τόπος ἐξωμαλίσθη, καθότι αὐτὸς Καισάριος εἰς τιμὴν Θύρσου τοῦ μάρτυρος μεγαλοπρεπῆ ναὸν τῷ θεῷ ἐνθάδε ἀνέστησεν. ὡς ἔοικε δέ, ὧδε ἐπιμελῶς ἀφανισθῆναι τὸν προειρημένον χῶρον καὶ τοσοῦτον προελθεῖν χρόνον ὁ θεὸς ἐβούλετο, παραδοξοτέραν καὶ ἐπιφανεστέραν κατασκευάζων τῶν μαρτύρων τὴν εὕρεσιν καὶ τῆς εὑρούσης τὴν θεοφίλειαν. ἦν δὲ τοῦ κρατοῦντος ἡ ἀδελφὴ Πουλχερία ἡ βασιλίς. (7) ἐπιφανεὶς γὰρ αὐτῇ τρίτον ὁ θεσπέσιος Θύρσος τοὺς ὑπὸ γῆν κρυπτομένους ἐμήνυσεν καὶ μετατίθεσθαι πρὸς ἑαυτὸν ἐκέλευσεν, ὥστε τῆς ὁμοίας θέσεως καὶ τιμῆς μετέχειν. ἅμα δὲ καὶ αὐτοὶ οἱ τεσσαράκοντα χλανίδας ἠμφιεσμένοι λαμπρὰς καταδήλους αὐτῇ σφᾶς ἐποίησαν. ἐδόκει δὲ πίστεως κρεῖττον εἶναι τὸ πρᾶγμα καὶ παντελῶς ἄπορον. (8) οὔτε γὰρ οἱ παλαιότεροι τῶν ἐνθάδε κληρικῶν πολλάκις ἐρωτηθέντες οὔτε ἄλλος οὐδεὶς καταμηνύειν εἶχε τοὺς μάρτυρας. τὸ δὴ τελευταῖον πάντων ἀμηχανούντων Πολυχρονίῳ τινὶ πρεσβυτέρῳ, πάλαι γενομένῳ τῶν Καισαρίου οἰκείων, ἄγει τὸ θεῖον εἰς νοῦν τούς ποτε τὸν τόπον οἰκήσαντας μοναχούς. (9) καὶ παρὰ τοὺς Μακεδονιανῶν κληρικοὺς ἐλθὼν ἐπυνθάνετο περὶ αὐτῶν. ἤδη δὲ πάντων τετελευτηκότων ἕνα μόνον περιόντα εὑρών, ὡς ἐπὶ μηνύσει τῶν ἐπιζητουμένων μαρτύρων ἔτι πεφυλαγμένον ἐν ζῶσιν, ἐδεῖτο φράζειν, εἴ γε ἱερὰ λείψανα οἶδεν ὑπὸ τὸν δηλωθέντα χῶρον κρυπτόμενα. (10) ἐπεὶ δὲ διὰ τὰς πρὸς Εὐσεβίαν συνθήκας ἰδὼν αὐτὸν Πολυχρόνιος ὑποπαραιτούμενον καὶ τὴν θείαν ἐπιφάνειαν ἐδήλωσε καὶ τῆς βασιλίδος τὰς ὀχλήσεις καὶ αὐτῶν τὴν ἀμηχανίαν, συνωμολόγησεν ἀληθῆ τὸν θεὸν ἐπιδεῖξαι τῇ κρατούσῃ· βούπαιδα γὰρ τότε ὄντα καὶ ὑπὸ γέροντας ἡγουμένους τὴν μοναχικὴν ἐκδιδασκόμενον ἀκριβῶς ἐπίστασθαι μάρτυρας κεῖσθαι παρὰ τὴν τῆς Εὐσεβίας σορόν· μὴ εἰδέναι μέντοι, πότερον ὑπὸ τέμενος ἢ ἑτέρωθι κατορωρυγμένοι εἰσί, τῷ πολὺν παρελθεῖν χρόνον καὶ τὴν προτέραν ὄψιν τοῦ τόπου εἰς τὸ νῦν φαινόμενον ἀμειφθῆναι. (11) «καὶ μήν», ἔφη Πολυχρόνιος, «οὐ τὸ αὐτὸ πέπονθα· μέμνημαι γὰρ παρατυχὼν τῇ ταφῇ τῆς Καισαρίου γαμετῆς, καὶ ἀναλογιζόμενος ἐκ τῆς πέλας παρακειμένης λεωφόρου εἰκάζω αὐτὴν κεῖσθαι παρὰ τὸν ἄμβωνα» (βῆμα δὲ τοῦτο τῶν ἀναγνωστῶν). «οὐκοῦν», ὑπολαβὼν ὁ μοναχὸς εἶπε, «καὶ τὴν Εὐσεβίας σορὸν παρὰ τὴν Καισαρίου γαμετὴν ζητητέον, καθότι καὶ περιοῦσαι τὰ πολλὰ συνῆσαν ἀλλήλαις καὶ θανοῦσαι συνέθεντο ἅμα τὰς θήκας ἔχειν.»

(12) ἐπεὶ δὲ κατὰ τὰ εἰρημένα ὀρύσσειν ἔδει καὶ τὰ ἱερὰ λείψανα ἀνιχνεύειν, μαθοῦσα ταῦτα ἡ βασιλὶς προσέταξεν ἔχεσθαι τοῦ ἔργου. (13) ἀνορυγέντος τε τοῦ περὶ τὸν ἄμβωνα χώρου ηὑρέθη ἡ τῆς Καισαρίου γαμετῆς θήκη, καθὼς συνέβαλε Πολυχρόνιος, ὀλίγον δὲ διεστὼς ἐκ πλαγίου κατάστρωμα πλίνθων ὀπτῶν, ἰσόμετρός τε τῇ τούτων περιβολῇ πλὰξ μαρμαρίνη· ὑφ’ ἣν αὐτῆς Εὐσεβίας ἡ σορὸς ἀπεδείχθη καὶ τὸ περὶ αὐτὴν εὐκτήριον ἐπιεικῶς μάλα λευκοπορφύροις μαρμάροις ἠμφιεσμένον· τὸ δὲ ἐπίθεμα τῆς θήκης ὥσπερ εἰς ἱερὰν ἐξήσκητο τράπεζαν. ἐπ’ ἄκρου δέ, καθ’ ὃ οἱ μάρτυρες ἔκειντο, τρύπημα μικρὸν ἀνεφάνη. (14) παρεστὼς δέ τις τοῦ βασιλέως οἴκου ῥάβδον λεπτὴν ἣν ἔτυχε κατέχων διὰ τοῦ τρυπήματος καθῆκε· καὶ ἀνιμήσας τῇ ῥινὶ προσήγαγε, καὶ μύρων εὐωδίας ὠσφράνθη. ἐκ τούτου δὲ ἀγαθαὶ ἐλπίδες τοῖς ἐργαζομένοις καὶ τοῖς ἐφεστῶσιν ἐγένοντο, καὶ σπουδῇ τὴν σορὸν ἀποκαλύψαντες εὑρίσκουσι τὴν Εὐσεβίαν. (15) τὸ δὲ πρὸς κεφαλὴν αὐτῆς ἐξέχον τῆς θήκης, εἰς κιβωτοῦ σχῆμα περιεξεσμένον, ἰδίῳ ἔνδοθεν ἐκαλύπτετο ἐπιθέματι· καὶ ἑκατέρωθεν αὐτῷ πρὸς τὰ χείλη σίδηρος ἐπικείμενος συνεῖχε μολύβδῳ συμπεπηγώς. ἐπὶ δὲ τοῦ μέσου τὸ αὐτὸ τρύπημα πάλιν ἀναφανὲν ἔτι σαφέστερον ἐδείκνυ ἔνδοθεν ἔχειν τοὺς μάρτυρας. (16) ὡς δὲ ταῦτα ἠγγέλθη, συνέδραμον εἰς τὸ μαρτύριον ἥ τε βασιλὶς καὶ ὁ ἐπίσκοπος· αὐτίκα τε διὰ τῶν ἐπιστημόνων περιαιρεθέντων τῶν σιδηρίων δεσμῶν εὐπετῶς ἐξειλκύσθη τὸ ἐπίθεμα· ὑπὸ δὲ τοῦτο μύρα πολλὰ καὶ ἐν τοῖς μύροις ἀλαβαστροθῆκαι ἀργυραῖ δύο ηὑρέθησαν, ἐν αἷς τὰ ἱερὰ λείψανα ἔκειτο. (17) τότε μὲν οὖν ἡ βασιλὶς εὐχαριστήρια ηὔξατο τῷ θεῷ, τοσαύτης ἐπιφανείας ἀξιωθεῖσα καὶ τῆς εὑρέσεως ἐπιτυχοῦσα τῶν ἱερῶν λειψάνων· μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα πολυτελεστάτῃ θήκῃ τιμῶσα τοὺς μάρτυρας παρὰ τὸν θεσπέσιον Θύρσον κατέθετο, δημοτελοῦς ἑορτῆς ὡς εἰκὸς καὶ τῆς προσηκούσης πομπῆς σὺν ψαλμῳδίαις ἐπιτελεσθείσης, ᾗ καὶ ἐγὼ αὐτὸς παρεγενόμην. (18) καὶ τὰ μὲν ὧδε γενέσθαι οἱ παρατυχόντες τῇ ἑορτῇ μαρτυρήσουσι· σχεδὸν γὰρ πάντες ἔτι περίεισιν, καθότι πολλῷ ὕστερον συνέβη Πρόκλου ἐπιτροπεύοντος τὴν Κωνσταντινουπόλεως ἐκκλησίαν.


‘1. A woman called Eusebia, who was a deaconess of the Macedonianist sect, had a house and garden outside the walls of Constantinople, where she kept holy relics of the forty soldiers who had suffered martyrdom under Licinius at Sebaste in Armenia. 2. When she was about to die, she bequeathed the said property to monks of her creed, and bound them by oath to bury her there, hew out a separate place above her head at the top of her coffin, and bury the relics of the martyrs with her, without telling anyone. 3. The monks did so. Yet in order that the martyrs might receive due veneration without others knowing, according to the agreement with Eusebia, they created a subterranean oratory surrounding her tomb, a building visible on the surface above, with its floor paved with baked bricks, and a secret descent leading thence to the martyrs. 4. At some point later, a powerful man of that time called Kaisarios, who had been appointed to the dignities of consul and prefect, lost his wife and buried her next to the tomb of Eusebia. This had been agreed by the two women, while they were still alive, for they had been particularly fond of each other and shared the same faith and religious community. 5. That provided a reason for Kaisarios to purchase this place, in order that he might be entombed by his wife. As for the aforesaid monks, they were settled elsewhere, without disclosing anything about the martyrs.

6. At some later point, the building collapsed and the site was levelled and filled up with earth and rubble, because the same Kaisarios erected there a magnificent temple of God in honour of Thyrsos the martyr. It seems that God willed that the aforesaid site should be so perfectly obliterated, and that such a long period of time should elapse, because He wished to render more extraordinary and spectacular the finding of the martyrs and His favour for the finder. And the latter was the sister of our reigning sovereign, the empress Pulcheria. 7. The divine Thyrsos appeared to her three times, and disclosed to her who were buried in the ground, commanding that they be moved by his side, in order that they share the same position and veneration. But also the Forty themselves appeared to her, wearing splendid chlamyses. Yet the whole thing was regarded as incredible and altogether impossible. 8. For neither the earlier clerics of the shrine, who were persistently asked about this, nor indeed anyone else had any information about the martyrs. Finally, while everyone was at a loss, God reminded a certain presbyter called Polychronios, who had once been a friend of Kaisarios, about the monks that had once inhabited that place. 9. He then went to the clerics of the Macedonianists to inquire about them. All of them had already died, and he found only one living, as if preserved in life just in order to disclose the whereabouts of the holy martyrs they were looking for. He asked him if he was aware of any holy relics being buried at the said site. 10. As he saw him reluctant, on account of their agreement with Eusebia, Polychronios told him about the divine revelation, the enquiries of the empress, and their inability to find a solution. The monk then admitted that God had revealed the truth to the empress. Back then he had been a cowherd, trained in the monastic life under the instruction of elders, and he knew with certainty that relics of martyrs rested by the coffin of Eusebia. Yet he did not know whether they were buried under the shrine or elsewhere, because so much time had elapsed, transforming the site to its current appearance. 11. “Well, then,” said Polychronios, “that is not the case with me. For I remember attending the funeral of Kaisarios’ wife and, judging from the location of the neighbouring road, I assume that she should be resting near the ambo” (that is the readers’ tribune). “In that case,” added the monk, “you should look for Eusebia’s tomb as well next to the wife of Kaisarios, because they had spent most of their lives together and had agreed to share the same tomb.”

12. Τhese words, then, suggested that it was necessary to dig, in order to locate the holy relics. Hearing about it, the empress commanded them to start with the work. 13. Thus the site around the ambo was excavated and the coffin of Kaisarios’ wife was unc

History

Evidence ID

E04058

Saint Name

Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, ob. early 4th c. : S00103 Thyrsos, martyr of Nikomedia (Asia Minor), ob. 3rd c.? : S00612

Saint Name in Source

Τεσσαράκοντα μάρτυρες Θύρσος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

439

Evidence not after

450

Activity not before

360

Activity not after

447

Place of Evidence - Region

Constantinople and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Constantinople

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

Constantinople Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul

Major author/Major anonymous work

Sozomen

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Procession

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Saint aiding or preventing the translation of relics Miraculous sound, smell, light

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Heretics Monarchs and their family Officials

Cult Activities - Relics

Unspecified relic Privately owned relics Reliquary – privately owned Transfer/presence of relics from distant countries Construction of cult building to contain relics Reliquary – institutionally owned Myrrh and other miraculous effluents of relics

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Precious material objects

Source

Salamenios Hermeias Sozomenos (known in English as Sozomen) was born in the early 5th c. to a wealthy Christian family, perhaps of Arab origins, in the village of Bethelea near Gaza. He was educated at a local monastic school, studied law probably at Beirut, and settled in Constantinople where he pursued a career as a lawyer. Sozomen published his Ecclesiastical History between 439 and 450, perhaps around 445. It consists of nine books, the last of which is incomplete. In his dedication of the work, Sozomen states that he intended to cover the period from the conversion of Constantine to the seventeenth consulate of Theodosius II, that is, 312 to 439, but the narrative of the extant text breaks in about 425. The basis of Sozomen’s work is the Ecclesiastical History of Socrates, published a few years earlier, which our author revises and expands. Like Socrates, Sozomen was devoted to Nicene Orthodoxy and the Theodosian dynasty, but his work is marked by stronger hagiographical interests, a richer base of sources, and different sympathies/loyalties. Sozomen probably lacked the classical education of Socrates, but had a broader knowledge of hagiographical and monastic literature and traditions, which makes him a fuller source for the cult of saints. Besides Greek and Latin, Sozomen knew Aramaic, which allowed him to include information about ascetic communities, monastic founders, and martyrs from his native Palestine, Arabia, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Persia, to which Socrates had had no access. Much like the other ecclesiastical historians of the fourth and fifth centuries, Sozomen focuses on the East Roman Empire, only seldom referring to the West and Persia.

Discussion

This account recounts the foundation of the shrine of the martyr Thyrsos, mentioned in the Synaxarium of Constantinople as that of Saint Thryrsos near the Helenianae. The Chronicon Paschale (AM 5966) reports that the shrine stood just outside the Golden Gate of the Constantinian walls, near the Troadesioi Emboloi (a section of the main street of Constantinople, the Mese). The location must be sought west of the location of İsakapı (Janin 1969, 247). Our text ascribes the foundation of the church of Thyrsos to Caesarius, Praetorian Prefect of the East in 395/7 and consul in 397 (PLRE I, 171, 'Caesarius 6'); PLRE II, 249, 'Caesarius 1'), and the discovery of the relics of the Forty Martyrs to the episcopate of Proclus (434-447). The Chronicon Paschale, perhaps inaccurately, places the latter event in 451 (AM 5966). The accuracy of the account concerning Eusebia, of course, cannot be confirmed, but the description of the reliquary and chapel of her mausoleum are remarkably detailed. If accurate, the story would mean that Eusebia’s tomb shrine was created between the 360s and 390s (the sect of Macedonius was formed in the 360s), and superseded by Caesarius’ basilica in c. 400 or later. The account is an important attestation of relics being buried in a private burial.

Bibliography

Text: Bidez, J., and Hansen, G. C., Sozomenus. Kirchengeschichte. 2nd rev. ed. (Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten Jahrhunderte, Neue Folge 4; Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1995). Translations: Grillet, B., Sabbah, G., Festugière A.-J. Sozomène, Histoire ecclésiastique. 4 vols. (Sources chrétiennes 306, 418, 495, 516; Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1983-2008): text, French translation, and introduction. Hansen, G.C. Sozomen, Historia ecclesiastica, Kirchengeschichte, 4 vols. (Fontes Christiani 73; Turnhout: Brepols, 2004): text, German translation, and introduction. Hartranft, C.D. “The Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen, Comprising a History of the Church from AD 323 to AD 425." In A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: Second Series, edited by P. Schaff and H. Wace (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1890), 179-427. Further reading: Chesnut, G. F. The First Christian Histories: Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius (Atlanta: Mercer University, 1986). Cronnier, E. Les inventions de reliques dans l’Empire romain d’Orient (IVe-VIe s.) (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016). Duval, Y. Auprès des saints corps et âme. L’inhumation « ad sanctos » dans la chrétienté d’Orient et d’Occident du IIIe au VIIe siècle (Paris : Etudes Augistiniennes, 1988), 112-118. Janin, R. La géographie ecclésiastique de l'empire Byzantin. I 3: Les eglises et les monastères de la ville de Constantinople (Paris, 1969). Leppin, H. Von Constantin dem Grossen zu Theodosius II. Das christliche Kaisertum bei den Kirchenhistorikern Socrates, Sozomenus und Theodoret (Hypomnemata 110; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1996). Van Nuffelen, P., Un héritage de paix et de piété : Étude sur les histoires ecclésiastiques de Socrate et de Sozomène (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 142; Leuven: Peeters, 2004).

Continued Description

overed, as Polychronios had estimated. At a short distance on the side, they found a pavement of baked bricks and a marble slab of the same size as their perimeter, under which the coffin of Eusebia came to light and the oratory containing it, wonderfully clad with purple-white marble. The lid of the sarcophagus was shaped like a sacred table and, on the side where the martyrs rested, there appeared a small hole. 14. A man from the imperial household, who was present, inserted through that hole a fine rod which he happened to be holding. Drawing it out, he held it to his nose and smelled a sweet fragrance. This encouraged both the workmen and their supervisors, who hastened to uncover the coffin and found the remains of Eusebia. 15. The projecting part of the sarcophagus on the side of her head was carved in the form of a chest, and was closed with a separate lid from inside. It was fastened with an iron fixing cast with lead, which was applied on its edges. In its middle, the same hole appeared again, indicating in an even clearer way that it contained the martyrs. 16. As soon as these things were announced, both the empress and the bishop hastened to the shrine (martyrion). The iron bonds were removed by experts, and the lid was easily lifted. Underneath it, plenty of fragrant matter (myra) was found and, within it, two silver containers, in which lay the holy relics. 17. Then the empress gave thanks to God for having been granted such a great revelation, and for having accomplished the discovery of the holy relics. After this, she honoured the martyrs with a most costly casket, and had them deposited next to the divine Thyrsos, having duly celebrated a public festival and procession of fitting grandeur, accompanied by psalmody, which I attended myself. 18. The fact that these things happened in this manner can be confirmed with all those who attended that celebration. Almost all of them are indeed still alive, in as much as the affair took place very recently, in the times when Proklos administered the Church of Constantinople.’Text: Bidez and Hansen 1995. Translation: E. Rizos.

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