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E04492: Evagrius Scholasticus in his Ecclesiastical History mentions the transfer of the relics of *Ignatios (bishop and martyr of Antioch, S00649) to the former pagan shrine of Tyche in Antioch, under Theodosius II (r. 408-450); a yearly festival is held on the anniversary of this transfer. Such transfers as an honour for the martyrs is said to have originated from Julian’s unwitting translation of *Babylas (bishop and martyr of Antioch, S00061) from Daphne to Antioch in 362. Written in Greek at Antioch (Syria), 593/594

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posted on 19.12.2017, 00:00 by erizos
Evagrius Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History, 1.16.

16. Τότε καὶ Ἰγνάτιος ὁ θεσπέσιος, ὡς Ἰωάννῃ τῷ ῥήτορι σὺν ἑτέροις ἱστόρηται, ἐπειδή γε ὡς ἐβούλετο τάφον τὰς τῶν θηρίων ἐσχηκὼς γαστέρας ἐν τῷ τῆς Ῥώμης ἀμφιθεάτρῳ, καὶ διὰ τῶν ὑπολειφθέντων ἁδροτέρων ὀστῶν, ἃ πρὸς τὴν Ἀντιόχου ἀπεκομίσθη, ἐν τῷ καλουμένῳ κοιμητηρίῳ, μετατίθεται πολλοῖς ὕστερον χρόνοις, ὑποθεμένου τοῦ παναγάθου θεοῦ Θεοδοσίῳ τὸν Θεοφόρον μείζοσι τιμῆσαι τιμαῖς, ἱερόν τε πάλαι τοῖς δαίμοσιν ἀνειμένον—Τυχαῖον τοῖς ἐπιχωρίοις ὠνόμαστο—τῷ ἀθλοφόρῳ μάρτυρι ἀναθεῖναι· καὶ σηκὸς εὐαγὴς καὶ τέμενος ἅγιον τῷ Ἰγνατίῳ τὸ πάλαι Τυχαῖον γέγονε, τῶν ἱερῶν αὐτοῦ λειψάνων μετὰ πομπῆς ἱερᾶς ἀνὰ τὴν πόλιν ἐπ’ ὀχήματος ἐνεχθέντων καὶ κατὰ τὸ τέμενος τεθέντων. Ὅθεν καὶ δημοτελὴς ἑορτὴ καὶ πάνδημος εὐφροσύνη μέχρις ἡμῶν τελεῖται, πρὸς τὸ μεγαλοπρεπέστερον τοῦ ἱεράρχου Γρηγορίου ταύτην ἐξάραντος. Γέγονε δὲ ταὐτὰ ἐκεῖθεν ἔνθεν, τοῦ θεοῦ τὰς ὁσίας τῶν ἁγίων αὐτοῦ τιμῶντος μνήμας. Ἰουλιανὸς μὲν γὰρ ὁ ἀλιτήριος, ἡ θεοστυγὴς τυραννίς, ἄκων καὶ μαστιζόμενος, ἐπειδὴ μὴ ὁ Δαφναῖος Ἀπόλλων, ὁ φωνὴν καὶ προφητείαν τὴν Κασταλίαν ἔχων, ἀνελεῖν τι ἠδύνατο τῷ βασιλεῖ χρηστηριαζομένῳ, Βαβύλα τοῦ ἁγίου παντοίως ἐκ γειτόνων ἐπιστομίζοντος, τιμᾷ μεταθέσει τὸν ἅγιον, ὅτε καὶ νεὼς αὐτῷ πρὸ τῆς πόλεως παμμεγέθης ἀνίστατο, ὁ καὶ μέχρις ἡμῶν σωζόμενος, ἵνα λοιπὸν οἱ δαίμονες ἐπ’ ἀδείας τὰ οἰκεῖα δρῷεν, ὥς φασιν Ἰουλιανῷ φθῆναι τούτους ἐπαγγείλασθαι. Τοῦτο δ’ ἄρα ἦν τὸ οἰκονομούμενον παρὰ τοῦ σωτῆρος θεοῦ, ὡς ἂν καὶ τῶν μεμαρτυρηκότων ἡ δύναμις ἔκδηλος ᾖ, καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου μάρτυρος τὰ εὐαγῆ λείψανα ἐν εὐαγεῖ μετενεχθεῖεν χώρῳ, καλλίστῳ τεμένει τιμώμενα.

'16. At that time, also the divine Ignatios (as has been recounted by John the rhetor [Chrysostom] and others, he had obtained for a tomb the bellies of the beasts in the amphitheatre of Rome, precisely as he had wished) was after many years transferred by means of his remaining bulkier bones (these had been brought to Antioch to the so-called Cemetery [Koimeterion]). For the perfectly good God commanded Theodosios to honour the Theophoros [Ignatios] with greater honours and to dedicate to the victorious martyr a shrine formerly devoted to the demons – the locals called it Tychaion. Thus the old Tychaion became a pure shrine and sacred sanctuary consecrated to Ignatios whose holy remains were brought into the city on a carriage in sacred procession and placed at the shrine. Hence a public festival and popular feast is kept down to our times, which the hierarch Gregory [Patriarch of Antioch] raised to greater solemnity. All these things were the result of various causes, as God honoured the holy memories of His saints. Indeed, the godless Julian, that tyrant hated by God, unwittingly and under coercion honoured the holy Babylas with a translation (because Apollo of Daphne, who had the Castalian spring as his voice and prophecy, could not answer the emperor’s request for an oracle, since the saint was closing his mouth from nearby) and, at that time indeed, an enormous church was built for him outside the city, which is preserved down to our days (Julian’s purpose, it is said, was that the demons might be free to do their business, as they had managed to promise him). This, then, was the plan of the Saviour God, so that both the power of those who had been martyred might become manifest and the undefiled remains of the holy martyr might be transferred to an undefiled place, and be honoured with a splendid shrine.’

Text: Bidez, Parmentier 2011.
Translation: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Ignatios, bishop of Antioch and martyr of Rome : S00649 Babylas, bishop and martyr of Antioch, and companions : S00061

Saint Name in Source

Ἰγνάτιος Βαβύλας

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

Antioch on the Orontes

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

Antioch on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora

Major author/Major anonymous work

Evagrius Scholasticus

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Anniversary of church/altar dedication

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - bones and teeth


Evagrius was born in about 535 in the Syrian city of Epiphania. Educated at Antioch and Constantinople, he pursued a career as a lawyer at Antioch, serving as a legal advisor to Patriarch Gregory (570-592). He wrote the Ecclesiastical History in 593/4, with the express purpose of covering the period following the coverage of the mid 5th century ecclesiastical histories of Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret. His narrative starts with Nestorius and the Council of Ephesus (431) and stops with the death of Evagrius’ patron, Gregory of Antioch, in 592. The work offers a balanced mixture of ecclesiastical and secular events in the East Roman Empire, being best informed about Antioch and Syria. Evagrius also published a dossier of original documents from the archive of Patriarch Gregory of Antioch, which has not survived.


Evagrius is the only source to record the translation of the relics of Ignatios to the Tychaion under Theodosius II (408-450), without providing a more accurate date. The author ascribes the event to a decision of the emperor, after divine inspiration, making a pun with the name of the emperor and the epithet of the saint: Theodosios ('he that was given by God') was instructed to honour the Theophoros ('he that bore God'). Interestingly, the event is not recorded by the other church historians. It is possible, however, that it was recounted in the lost final chapters of the Church History of Sozomen who outlined the reign of Theodosius II as blessed by God and marked by miraculous revelations of relics (E04059). Evagrius is aware of several texts about Ignatios, but only names the homily of John Chrysostom (on which see E02261). It is possible that his reference to 'others' includes Severus of Antioch (512-538), who wrote a number of homilies on the subject. After his death in Rome, some of the relics of Ignatios were transferred to Antioch and kept at the ancient Christian cemetery of the city (the Koimeterion), where John Chrysostom gave a sermon during the saint's feast in the 380s or 390s (E02261). The date of the original transfer has not been recorded by any source. The saint's transfer to the former pagan temple of the Tyche was an act of high symbolism for the local community. The first known martyred bishop of Antioch was now to replace the cult of the genius of the city, perhaps the most important civic cult of pagan Antioch. It is unknown whether there was an expressed purpose to establish Ignatius as a Christian civic patron, but this appears to have been a clear message. An interesting aspect of this passage is that it defines the translation of relics as an event which is caused by God for the glorification of a saint. Evagrius understands the transfer of relics as a kind of triumph, marked by a grand procession through the city. The transfer of Ignatios was commemorated by a yearly festival – one of the first attested feasts celebrating the memory of a translation of relics. Evagrius identifies the origins of transfers as an expression of the cult of the saints in the transfer of Babylas' relics under Julian the Apostate in AD 361/2. The author seems to believe that the grand shrine of Babylas was built immediately after the removal of his relics from Daphne, even though it is known to have been built almost twenty years later, by bishop Meletios in 379/381 (see E00095).


Text and French translation: Bidez, J., and Parmentier, L., Evagre le Scholastique, Histoire ecclésiastique (Sources Chrétiennes 542, 566; Paris, 2011, 2014), with commentary by L. Angliviel de la Beaumelle, and G. Sabbah, and French translation by A.-J.Festugière, B. Grillet, and G. Sabbah). Other translations: Whitby, M., The Ecclesiastical History of Evagrius Scholasticus (Translated Texts for Historians 33; Liverpool, 2000). Hübner, A., Evagrius Scholasticus, Historia ecclesiastica = Kirchengeschichte (Fontes Christiani 57; Turnhout, 2007). Carcione, F., Evagrio di Epifania, Storia ecclesiastica (Roma, 1998). Further Reading: Allen, P., Evagrius Scholasticus, the Church Historian (Spicilegium Sacrum Lovaniense, Etudes et Documents 41; Leuven, 1981). Downey, G., Ancient Antioch (Princeton, 1961). Downey, G., "The shrines of St. Babylas at Antioch and Daphne," in: G.W. Elderkin and R. Stillwell (eds.), Antioch-on-the-Orontes II (Princeton, 1938), 45-48. Mayer, W., "The Late Antique Church at Qausīyeh Reconsidered: Memory and Martyr-Burial in Syrian Antioch," in: J. Leemans (ed.), Martyrdom and Persecution in Late Antique Christianity: Festschrift Boudewijn Dehandschutter (Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium 241; Leuven, 2010), 161-77. Mayer, W., and Allen, P., The Churches of Syrian Antioch (300‒638 CE) (Late Antique History and Religion 5; Leuven, 2012), 81-82. Treadgold, W., The Early Byzantine Historians (Basingstoke, 2006), 299-308.

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