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E00029: Theophylact Simocatta in his History mentions that the emperor Maurice built a church of *Paul (the Apostle, S00008) at the saint's native city of Tarsus (Cilicia, southern Asia Minor). Written in Greek at Constantinople in the early 7th century.

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posted on 2014-09-01, 00:00 authored by CSLA Admin
Theophylact Simocatta, History 8.13.16

τοῦτον δείμασθαι καὶ τὸ ἐπὶ τῆς Ταρσοῦ ἱερὸν Παύλου τοῦ Κίλικος, τοῦ κατευαγγελισαμένου ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ οἰκουμένῃ σχεδὸν τὸ σωτήριόν τε καὶ παράδοξον κήρυγμα Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ μονογενοῦς υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ.

'He [the emperor Maurice] is also said to have built at Tarsus the sanctuary of Paul the Cilician, who preached in virtually all of the inhabited world the glad tidings of the wonderful gospel of salvation of Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God.'

Text: de Boor and Wirth 1972. Translation: Whitby and Whitby 1986.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Paul, the Apostle : S00008

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Constantinople and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Constantinople Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul

Major author/Major anonymous work

Theophylact Simocatta

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Ceremony of dedication

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Renovation and embellishment of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Monarchs and their family


Theophylact Simocatta wrote his History in Constantinople probably in the late 620s. The period covered by his work is the reign of Maurice (582-602), and the main subjects of the historical narrative are the wars of the East Roman Empire with Persia, and with the Avars and the Slavs in the Balkans. Several digressions of hagiographical, chronographical and geographical interest are inserted in the narrative. Using various earlier sources, Simocatta produces a positive account of Maurice, portraying him as a good emperor overthrown by a tyrant (Phocas). In fact, Maurice was very unpopular in his own times, but cleansing his memory was important to legitimise the rule of Heraclius (610-641), who presented his own coup against Phocas as avenging the murder of Maurice. A supporter and successful official of Heraclius’ regime, Simocatta apparently served this particular political agenda. Further reading: Whitby and Whitby 1986, xiii-xxx (introduction); Whitby 1988; Frendo 1988; Olajos 1988.


The passage comes from the chapters following Simocatta’s description of the arrest and execution of the emperor Maurice and his sons in late November 602. The construction of the church of *Paul at Tarsus is mentioned among the emperor’s notable acts of munificence, which included his generous patronage for letters and funding for the renovation of aqueducts in Constantinople. Tarsus, the birthplace of Paul, is likely to have become a centre of his cult early. The Bordeaux Pilgrim singles it out as the birthplace of the apostle, and perhaps as a place of particular interest for pilgrims (E###). Nevertheless, there is no information about a church dedicated to Paul at Tarsus before Maurice. It is possible that the work mentioned here was the repair or rebuilding of an earlier basilica.


Edition: de Boor, C., and Wirth, P., Theophylacti Simocattae Historiae (Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana; Leipzig: Teubner, 1972). Translation: Whitby, M., and Whitby, M., The History of Theophylact Simocatta: An English Translation with Introduction and Notes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986). Further reading: Frendo, J.D.C., “History and Panegyric in the Age of Heraclius: The Literary Background of the Composition of the Histories of Theophylact Simocatta,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 42 (1988), 143-156. Olajos, T., Les Sources de Théophylacte Simocatta Historien (Leiden: Brill, 1988). Whitby, M., The Emperor Maurice and his Historian: Theophylact Simocatta on Persian and Balkan Warfare (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988). On Tarsus: Hild, F., and Hellenkemper, H., Tabula Imperii Byzantini 5: Kilikien und Isaurien (Vienna: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1990), 428-439.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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