Saint NameMary, Mother of Christ : S00033
Saint Name in SourceΘεοτόκος
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)
Evidence not before550
Evidence not after561
Activity not before518
Activity not after561
Place of Evidence - RegionConstantinople and region
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcConstantinople
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Constantinople
Major author/Major anonymous workProcopius
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsSaint as patron - of a community
Cult Activities - MiraclesMiracle after death
Miraculous protection - of church and church property
Material support (supply of food, water, drink, money)
Saint aiding or preventing the construction of a cult building
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesMonarchs and their family
SourceProcopius of Caesarea, (c. 500 – c. 560/561 AD) was a soldier and historian from the Roman province of Palaestina Prima. He accompanied the Roman general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian (527-565). He wrote the Wars (or Histories), On Buildings and the Secret History.
On Buildings is a panegyric in six books. It lists, and sometimes describes, the buildings erected or renovated by the emperor Justinian throughout the empire (only on Italy is there no information). The bulk of these are churches and shrines dedicated to various saints; the Buildings is therefore a very important text for the evidence it provides of the spread of saintly cults by the mid 6th c.
On Buildings dates from the early 550s to c. 560/561; a terminus post quem is 550/551 as the text mentions the capture of Topirus in Thrace by the Slavs in 550 and describes the city walls of Chalkis in Syria built in 550/551; a probable terminus ante quem is 558 when the dome of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople collapsed, which is not mentioned in the book; or before 560 when the bridge on the river Sangarius was completed, as Procopius reports on the start of works. On Buildings thus belongs to the later years of Justinian’s reign. The work is not finished and is probably Procopius’ last work. It glorifies Justinian, depicting him as a great builder and an emperor restlessly transforming the state, expanding and reforming it, destroying paganism, extirpating heresy, and re-establishing the firm foundations of the Christian faith (Elsner 2007: 35).
More on the text: Downey 1947; Elsner 2007; Greatrex 1994 and 2013.
Overview of the text:
Constantinople and its suburbs
Frontier provinces of Mesopotamia and Syria.
Armenia, Tzanica, and the shores of the Black Sea.
Illyricum and Thrace (the Balkans).
Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine.
North Africa, from Alexandria to central Algeria.
DiscussionThe church of Mary built by the emperor Justinian (r. 527-565) in Jerusalem, called the Nea Church, was consecrated in 543 and then destroyed during an earthquake in the 8th century (Avigad 1970, 138). The remains of the church were discovered in the southern part of the present-day Jewish Quarter, near the Temple platform and between the church of Zion and Tyropoion valley during archaeological excavations in 1970-1971. This location agrees with the position of a very large church, presumed to be the Nea, on the so-called Madaba Mosaic Map (Cameron 1985, 95; Avi-Jonah 1954, 57; E02524).
The excavations confirmed Procopius' description of a large building on impressive substructures, used to create a level platform on very uneven ground. Some of the stone blocks of the substructure were indeed massive: some discovered in the base of the south-east corner of the church measure 1.45 x 1.10 x 1.05m and weigh around 4 tonnes, while others measure even more (2.32 x 1.20 x 1.28m) and weigh up to 8.5 tonnes (Tsafrir 2000, 154-156, fig. 6). N. Avigad (1980, 221-229) and Y. Tsafrir (2000, 157-162) identify the stone used for the church as from a quarry located to the north of the city, outside the gate of Saint Stephen (today the Damascus Gate).
Haury, J., Procopii Caesariensis opera omnia, vol. 4: Περι κτισματων libri VI sive de aedificiis (Leipzig: Teubner, 1962-64).
Translations and Commentaries:
Compagnoni, G.R., Procopio di Cesarea, Degli Edifici. Traduzione dal greco di G. Compagnoni (Milan: Tipi di Francesco Sonzogno, 1828).
Dewing, H.B., Procopius, On Buildings. Translated into English by H.B. Dewing, vol. 7 (London: William Heinemann, New York: Macmillan, 1940).
Grotowski, P.Ł., Prokopiusz z Cezarei, O Budowlach. Przełożył, wstępem, objaśnieniami i komentarzem opatrzył P.Ł. Grotowski (Warsaw: Proszynski i S-ka, 2006).
Roques, D., Procope de Césarée. Constructions de Justinien Ier. Introduction, traduction, commentaire, cartes et index par D. Roques (Alessandria: Edizioni dell'Orso, 2011).
Veh, O., and Pülhorn, W. (eds.), Procopii opera. De Aedificiis. With a Commentary by W. Pülhorn (Munich: Heimeran, 1977).
Avigad, N., “Excavations in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, 1970 (Second Preliminary Report),” Israel Exploration Journal 20:3/4 (1970), 129-140.
Avi-Yonah, M., The Madaba Mosaic Map (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1954).
Cameron, A., Procopius and the Sixth Century (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1985).
Downey, G.A., “The Composition of Procopius’ ‘De Aedificiis,” Transactions of the American Philological Association 78 (1947), 171-183.
Elsner, J., “The Rhetoric of Buildings in De Aedificiis of Procopius,” in: L. James (ed.), Art and Text in Byzantine Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 33-57.
Feissel, D., “Les édifices de Justinien au témoignage de Procope et de l'épigraphie,” Antiquité Tardive 8 (2000), 81-104.
Greatrex, G., “The Dates of Procopius’ Works,” Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 18 (1994), 101-14.
Greatrex, G., “The Date of Procopius Buildings in the Light of Recent Scholarship,” Estudios bizantinos 1 (2013), 13-29.
Krautheimer, R., and Ćurčić, S., Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture. 4th ed. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1986).
Tsafrir, Y., "Procopius and the Nea Church in Jerusalem," Antiquité Tardive 8 (2008), 149-164.