Saint NameStephen, the First Martyr : S00030
Saint Name in SourceΣτέφανος
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Hagiographical - Other saint-related texts
Literary - Sermons/Homilies
Evidence not before415
Evidence not after438
Activity not before415
Activity not after438
Place of Evidence - RegionPalestine with Sinai
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcJerusalem
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Jerusalem
Major author/Major anonymous workHesychius of Jerusalem
Cult activities - Liturgical Activity
Cult activities - Festivals
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - lesser clergy
SourceHesychius lived as a monk and priest in Palestine and Jerusalem in the first half of the 5th century. A member of the clergy of the Holy Sepulchre, he was a leading theologian and author, flourishing from the 410s to perhaps after 451. He was a close associate of Juvenal (bishop of Jerusalem 422-458), and participated in the theological debate against Nestorius, supporting Cyril of Alexandria. The date of his death is uncertain. Theophanes reports that he died in the same year as Melania the Younger (ed. de Boor 92, 20: AM 5926), but he is also reported to have been alive when the Council of Chalcedon took place in 451, and to have opposed it.
His surviving works include commentaries and homilies. He is known to have published an ecclesiastical history, which has not survived. The circulation of his works in the Middle Ages seems to have been geographically limited, since they tend to be found in manuscripts from Jerusalem and southern Italy, but hardly ever in Constantinopolitan ones. His homilies are important testimonies for the early stages of development of the liturgical traditions of the church of Jerusalem, and the appearance of a number of feasts with a strong Marian dimension like the 14 February feast of Hypapante (Candlemas) and 15 August.
Homily 9 is preserved in one manuscript of the 8th/9th c. (Sinait. Gr. 493):
DiscussionThe biblical references and other details in the text strongly suggest that the venue was the church of Sion, where the relics of Stephen were deposited in 415, and the occasion the saint’s feast on 27 December, as recorded in the Armenian Lectionary of Jerusalem (E05189).
BibliographyText, French translation, and commentary:
Aubineau, M., Les homélies festales d’Hésychius de Jérusalem I: les homélies I-XV (Subsidia Hagiographica 59: Brussels, 1978).
Leemans, J. (ed.), 'Let Us Die That We May Live' : Greek Homilies on Christian Martyrs from Asia Minor, Palestine and Syria (c. AD 350-AD 450) (London: Routledge, 2003), 195-204 (by P. Allen).