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E04152: Theodoret of Cyrrhus in his Ecclesiastical History mentions the popular acts of devotion taking place at the sarcophagus and column of the emperor *Constantine (ob. 337, S00186) in Constantinople as a proof of the Constantine’s favour with God. Written in Greek at Cyrrhus (northern Syria), 444/450.

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posted on 13.10.2017, 00:00 by erizos
Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Ecclesiastical History, 1.34

Ὁ μὲν οὖν βασιλεὺς εἰς τὴν ἀμείνω βασιλείαν μετέστη. οἱ δὲ ὕπαρχοι καὶ οἱ στρατηγοὶ καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ ἅπαντες ἐν λάρνακι τοῦτον καταθέντες χρυσῇ εἰς τὴν Κωνσταντινούπολιν μετεκόμισαν, τῆς στρατιᾶς ἁπάσης ἡγουμένης καὶ ἑπομένης καὶ πικρῶς ὀλοφυρομένης τὴν στέρησιν· πατρὸς γὰρ ἠπίου πεῖραν εἰλήφεσαν ἅπαντες. ὁπόσης δὲ τιμῆς τὸ σῶμα ἐκεῖνο τετύχηκε καὶ ὁπόσον ἐν τοῖς βασιλείοις διέμεινε χρόνον, τῶν ἀρχόντων τὴν τοῦ παιδὸς περιμενόντων ἐπάνοδον, περιττὸν ἡγοῦμαι γράφειν, ἄλλων ταῦτα συγγεγραφότων· οἷς ῥᾴδιον ἐντυχεῖν καὶ μαθεῖν ὅπως τῶν ὅλων ὁ πρύτανις γεραίρει τοὺς εὔνους θεράποντας. εἰ δέ τις ἐκείνοις διαπιστεῖ, τὰ νῦν περὶ τὴν ἐκείνου θήκην καὶ τὸν ἀνδριάντα γινόμενα βλέπων πιστευσάτω τοῖς γεγραμμένοις καὶ τῷ φήσαντι δεσπότῃ· «τοὺς δοξάζοντάς με δοξάσω καὶ οἱ ἐξουθενοῦντές με ἐξουθενωθήσονται.»

‘So the emperor departed for the better realm. The prefects and generals and all the rest placed him in a golden coffin and carried him to Constantinople, with the entire army marching before and after it and bitterly bewailing his loss. For all of them had known him as an affectionate father. How great honours that body received and how long it remained in the palace, while the officials were waiting for the return of his son, I deem it unnecessary to write, since others have already written about these matters. It is easy to find these works and learn how the Ruler of All honours His faithful servants. Should anyone have doubts, let them look at what occurs now at his tomb and the statue, and believe what is written and in the words of Him who said: Those who honour me I will honour, and those who despise me will be disdained. [1 Sam. 2:30]'

Text: Hansen 1997.
Translation: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Constantine the Great, emperor, ob. 337 : S00186

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Kyrrhos/Cyrrhus/Hagioupolis Thabbora Thabbora

Major author/Major anonymous work

Theodoret of Cyrrhus

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - sarcophagus/coffin

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs



Theodoret was born in Antioch in c. 393, where he received a formidable education before joining the monastery of Nikerte near Apamea in 416. In 423, he was consecrated as bishop of Kyrrhos/Cyrrhus. During the theological debates of the time, he emerged as one of the chief exponents of Antiochene Christology. The Second Council of Ephesus (449) deposed him as a supporter of Nestorius, of whom he was indeed a friend. He was restored to his bishopric by the Council of Chalcedon in 451. He is thought to have died in c. 460. His Ecclesiastical History was probably written between 444 and 450. It is uncertain whether the author consulted the slightly earlier ecclesiastical histories of Philostorgius, Socrates and Sozomen. He covers roughly the same period as they do, namely the history of the church from 324 to 429.


Theodoret’s reference to the acts of popular devotion offered at the column and sarcophagus of Constantine is an important attestation of the early stage of veneration of the first Christian emperor in Constantinople. The author clearly regards this devotion as an indicator of Constantine’s holiness. The quotation of 1 Samuel 2:30 has a parallel in a letter of Theodoret, where the author refers to martyrs (see E03495). There is an interesting contrast between Theodoret’s positive assessment of the popular veneration of Constatnine and the slightly earlier statements of Philostorgius about the same matter. The Arian church historian denounces these devotions as superstitious (E04194).


Text: Hansen, G.C., Theodoret Kirchengeschichte (Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten Jahrhunderte NF 5; Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1997). Translations: Blomfield, J., "The Ecclesiastical History of Theodoret," in: A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church 3 (Oxford and New York, 1892), 33-159. Gallico, A., Teodoreto di Cirro, Storia ecclesiastica. Introduzione, traduzione e note (Roma: Città nuova, 2000). Martin, A., et al., Theodoret de Cyr. Histoire Ecclesiastique (Sources Chretiennes 501, 530; Pars: Editions du Cerf, 2006, 2009). Walford, E., "A History of the Church in Five Books, from A.D. 322 to the Death of Theodore of Mopsuestia A.D. 427, by Theodoretus, Bishop of Cyrus," in: The Greek Ecclesiastical Historians of the First Six Centuries of the Christian Era (London: Samuel Bagster and Sons, 1843). Further reading: Chesnut, G.F., The First Christian Histories: Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius (Atlanta: Mercer University, 1986). 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). Treadgold, W.T., The Early Byzantine Historians (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 155-164.

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