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E04904: Evagrius Scholasticus in his Ecclesiastical History mentions *Barsanouphios the Egyptian (hermit near Gaza, S02037). He was believed to be still alive in his cell near Gaza (Palestine), although no one had seen him for fifty years. When the bishop of Jerusalem attempted to have the cell opened, fire prevented him. Written in Greek at Antioch (Syria), 593/594.

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posted on 05.02.2018, 00:00 by erizos
Evagrius Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History, 4.33

Γεγόνασι δὲ κατ’ ἐκεῖνο καιροῦ ἄνδρες θεοφόροι καὶ μεγάλων σημείων ἐργάται πολλαχοῦ μὲν γῆς, ὧν δὲ τὸ κλέος ἑκασταχοῦ διέλαμψεν. Βαρσανούφιος, Αἰγύπτιος γένος, οὕτως ἐν σαρκὶ τὸν ἄσαρκον διήθλησε βίον ἔν τινι φροντιστηρίῳ ἀγχοῦ Γάζης τοῦ πολίσματος, ὥστε πολλὰ μὲν καὶ μνήμης κρείττονα θαυματουργῆσαι, πιστεύεσθαι δὲ καὶ ζῆν αὐτὸν ἐν οἰκίσκῳ καθειργμένον, καίτοι γε ἀπὸ τούτων πεντήκοντα καὶ πρός γε χρόνων οὔτε ὀφθέντα τῳ, οὔτε τῶν ἐπὶ γῆς τινος μετειληφότα. Οἷς δυσαπιστῶν Εὐστόχιος ὁ τῶν Ἱεροσολύμων πρόεδρος ἐπειδὴ διορύττειν ἔγνω τὸν οἰκίσκον οὗ καθεῖρκτο ὁ ἄνθρωπος τοῦ θεοῦ, πῦρ ἐκθορὸν μικροῦ τοὺς αὐτόσε πάντας ἐνέπρησε.

'At that moment of time there were divinely inspired men and workers of great signs in many parts of the earth, though their fame has shone forth everywhere. Barsanouphios, who was an Egyptian by race, so pursued the fleshless life in the flesh at a certain monastery near the town of Gaza that he has worked miracles which surpass recollection. He is even believed still to be alive, confined in a little room, even though for 50 years and more he has neither been seen by anyone nor partaken of anything of this world. Eustochius, the prelate of Jerusalem, did not believe this, but when he decided to dig through into the little room where the man of God was confined, fire blazed forth and almost consumed all who were there.'

Text: Bidez, Parmentier 2014. Translation: Whitby 2010.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Barsanouphios, hermit near Gaza, ob. 6th c. : S02037

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

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 - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Transmission, copying and reading saint-related texts

Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Uncertainty/scepticism/rejection of a saint

Cult Activities - Miracles

Saint aiding or preventing the translation of relics

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


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.


Barsanouphios is one of the three holy men mentioned by Evagrius in the period of Justinian, alongside Symeones of Emesa and Thomas of Antioch. The story about Barsanouphios’ cell suggests that the site attracted the devotion of the locals. It seems that the holy man disappeared without anyone knowing how and when he died, but his cell continued to be venerated and to be associated with miracles. The belief that the saint was invisibly alive and active in his dwelling did not differ from the way many shrines of martyrs were perceived. The fire which prevented the bishop of Jerusalem from opening Barsanouphios’ cell is a miracle which features in the legends of several saints in this period.


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). Janin, R., "Barsanuphe," Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques 6 (1932), 945-946. Treadgold, W., The Early Byzantine Historians (Basingstoke, 2006), 299-308.

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