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E00069: John Chrysostom composes a sermon on *Ioventinos/Iuventinus and Maximinos (soldiers and martyrs under Julian, S00053), which he delivers during their feast in Antioch on the Orontes (Syria), celebrated shortly after that of *Babylas (bishop and martyr of Antioch, S00061). He recounts the saints’ martyrdom and the collection of their bodies, and encourages the veneration of their relics. Written in Greek in Antioch, 386/397.

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posted on 2014-10-03, 00:00 authored by erizos
John Chrysostom, On Iuventinus and Maximinus (CPG 4349, BHG 975)

§ 1. Shortly after a gathering for the feast of Babylas and his Companions, the community gathers to celebrate the memory of two recently martyred soldiers:

Ὁ μακάριος Βαβύλας πρώην ἡμᾶς ἐνταῦθα μετὰ παίδων τριῶν συνήγαγε· σήμερον στρατιωτῶν ξυνωρὶς ἁγίων τὸ τοῦ Χριστοῦ στρατόπεδον ἐπὶ τῆς παρατάξεως ἔστησε·

'The other day, the blessed Babylas together with three boys gathered us here; today, it is a pair of soldiers that has marshalled Christ's army in array.'

Although recent, their martyrdom is honoured as enthusiastically as that of the older martyrs. The relevant passage reads as follows:

ἀλλ’ ἀεὶ καὶ διαπαντὸς ἐν ἴσῃ μένουσιν ἀκμῇ καὶ νεότητι λάμποντες καὶ ἀποστίλβοντες τὴν τῆς οἰκείας λαμπρότητος δόξαν οἱ μάρτυρες. Ὃ δὴ καὶ ὑμεῖς εἰδότες, οὐχ ἑτέρως μὲν τοὺς παλαιοὺς, ἑτέρως δὲ τοὺς νέους τιμᾶτε· ἀλλὰ μετὰ τῆς αὐτῆς προθυμίας, μετὰ τοῦ αὐτοῦ φίλτρου, μετὰ τῆς αὐτῆς διαθέσεως, ἅπαντας τιμᾶτε καὶ ἀποδέχεσθε.

'Rather, the martyrs always and perpetually remain in equal vigour and youth, shining and glowing in the splendour of their own brilliance. And since you know this, you do not honour the old ones in one way, and the new ones in another; rather, you honour and welcome them with the same eagerness, with the same love, with the same disposition.'

§§ 2-3. Before relating the saints’ death, the author talks of the emperor Julian and of his policy of avoiding an open, violent persecution of Christians.

§§ 4-5. Iouventinos and Maximinos serve as soldiers in Julian’s army, while in Antioch during the war with Persia. During a drinking party they bemoan the prevalence of pagan customs, and their words are reported to Julian. The emperor has them arrested and imprisoned, and has their property confiscated.

§§ 6-8. Although it is forbidden to have contact with them, numerous people from the city visit the martyrs in gaol, in order to pray with them. In response, the emperor sends agents to wear down the martyrs and to convince them to apostatise. After a long time, they are led away and beheaded during the night.

§§ 9-10. Their bodies are collected by Christians and buried together in a single grave/coffin (‘larnax’). Their faces shine with a particular grace. The author encourages the audience to visit the saints’ tomb constantly in order to receive blessings from them.

Καὶ ἐν μέσῳ σκότει οἱ φωστῆρες ἐξήγοντο, καὶ ἀπετέμνοντο. Τότε καὶ φοβερώτεραι λοιπὸν ἦσαν αἱ κεφαλαὶ τῷ διαβόλῳ μᾶλλον ἢ ὅτε φωνὴν ἠφίεσαν … Μετὰ δὲ τὴν μακαρίαν ἐκείνην σφαγὴν, οἱ τὰ τοιαῦτα θηρεύοντες λείψανα, τὴν ἑαυτῶν ὑποθέντες σωτηρίαν, ἀνείλοντο τοὺς ἀριστέας τούτους· καὶ ἦσαν κἀκεῖνοι μάρτυρες ζῶντες. Καὶ γὰρ εἰ καὶ μὴ ἀπετμήθησαν, ἀλλ’ ἑλόμενοι πρότερον τοῦτο παθεῖν, οὕτως ἐπὶ τὴν ἄγραν τῶν σωμάτων ὥρμησαν. Λέγουσι τοίνυν οἱ τότε παραγενόμενοι καὶ ταῦτα τὰ σώματα νεοσφαγῆ καταξιωθέντες ἰδεῖν, ὅτι κειμένων αὐτῶν παρ’ ἀλλήλων πρὸ τῆς ταφῆς, τοσαύτη τις ἐπήνθησεν αὐτῶν ταῖς ὄψεσι χάρις, οἵαν ἐπὶ Στεφάνου φησὶν ὁ Λουκᾶς γεγενῆσθαι μέλλοντος ἀπολογεῖσθαι τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις, καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδεὶς ὃς χωρὶς φρίκης παρέστη τότε αὐτοῖς. Οὕτω καὶ αὕτη ἡ ὄψις πάντας τοὺς ὁρῶντας ἐξέπληττε, καὶ πάντες ἐπεβόων ἐκεῖνο τὸ παρὰ τοῦ Δαυῒδ εἰρημένον· Ἐν τῇ ζωῇ αὐτῶν οὐ κεχωρισμένοι, καὶ ἐν τῷ θανάτῳ αὐτῶν οὐ διεχωρίσθησαν. Κοινῇ γὰρ καὶ ὡμολόγησαν καὶ τὸ δεσμωτήριον ᾤκησαν, καὶ εἰς τὸ βάραθρον ἀπηνέχθησαν, καὶ τὰς κεφαλὰς ἀπέθεντο, καὶ μία λάρναξ ἀμφοτέρων ἔχει τὰ σώματα· ὥσπερ οὖν καὶ μία σκηνὴ δέξεται αὐτὰ πάλιν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, ὅταν αὐτὰ μετὰ πλείονος δόξης ἀνελέσθαι μέλλωσι.

Συνεχῶς τοίνυν αὐτοῖς ἐπιχωριάζωμεν, καὶ τῆς λάρνακος ἁπτώμεθα, καὶ μετὰ πίστεως τοῖς λειψάνοις αὐτῶν περιπλεκώμεθα, ἵνα εὐλογίαν τινὰ ἐπισπασώμεθα ἐκεῖθεν. Καθάπερ γὰρ οἱ στρατιῶται τραύματα ἐπιδείξαντες, ἅπερ ἐκ τῶν πολεμίων ἔλαβον, μετὰ παῤῥησίας τῷ βασιλεῖ διαλέγονται· οὕτω καὶ οὗτοι τὰς κεφαλὰς ἃς ἀπετμήθησαν ἐπὶ τῶν χειρῶν βαστάζοντες, καὶ εἰς μέσον παράγοντες, εὐκόλως ἅπαντα, ὅσα ἂν θέλωσι, παρὰ τῷ βασιλεῖ τῶν οὐρανῶν ἀνύειν δύνανται. Μετὰ πολλῆς τοίνυν τῆς πίστεως, μετὰ πολλῆς τῆς προθυμίας ἐκεῖ βαδίζωμεν, ἵνα καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς ὄψεως τῶν ἁγίων τούτων μνημάτων, καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς ἐννοίας τῶν ἄθλων, καὶ πανταχόθεν πολλοὺς καὶ μεγάλους λαβόντες θησαυροὺς, καὶ τὸν παρόντα βίον δυνηθῶμεν κατὰ τὸ τῷ Θεῷ δοκοῦν διανύσαι καὶ μετὰ πολλῆς τῆς ἐμπορίας εἰς ἐκεῖνον καταπλεῦσαι τὸν λιμένα, καὶ τῆς βασιλείας τῶν οὐρανῶν ἐπιτυχεῖν ...

'And in thick darkness, the luminaries were taken out and beheaded. From that time on, their heads were even more terrifying for the devil than when they emitted sound … And, after that blessed slaughter, the hunters of such relics (leipsana), risking their own safety, collected these champions; these were indeed martyrs themselves, although they were alive. For, although they were not beheaded, they would have rather preferred to suffer this, and thus rushed to gather the bodies. Now, those that were present at that point and had the fortune of seeing these bodies freshly slaughtered, say that, as they were lying next to each other before burial, so much grace bloomed on their faces, like the grace Luke says to have been on Stephen’s face, as he was about to defend himself to the Jews [Acts 6:15], and there was no one that stood by them at that time without awe. And this sight amazed all those beholding it so much, that everyone cried out those words of David: "In their life, they were not separated and in their death they were not divided." [2 Kings 1:23] For together they confessed, stayed in prison, were taken away to the pit, and lost their heads, and one coffin (larnax) contains the bodies of them both. Accordingly, one dwelling will be receiving them again in heaven, when they are to be taken up with greater glory.

So, let us constantly keep visiting them, and touching their sarcophagus (λάρναξ) and embracing their relics with faith, so that we might gain some blessing from them. For just as soldiers, showing off their wounds which they received in battle, boldly converse with their king, so too these men, brandishing in their hands the heads, which were cut off, and bringing them forth, are able easily to procure everything we wish from the King of Heaven. Let us then keep going there with plenty of faith, with plenty of zeal, so that, by seeing their holy memorials, and by thinking about their contests, and having received many and great treasures from all these, we may also be able to travel through the present life according to God’s will, and to sail with plenty of merchandise into that harbour, and to be granted the kingdom of heaven …'

Text: PG 50, 571-578. Summary and translation: Efthymios Rizos.

History

Evidence ID

E00069

Saint Name

Iouventinos and Maximinos, soldier martyrs in Antioch, ob. 361/363 : S00053 Babylas, bishop and martyr in Antioch, and his companions, ob. late 3rd c. : S00061

Saint Name in Source

Ἰουβεντῖνος, Μαξιμῖνος Βαβύλας

Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

386

Evidence not after

397

Activity not before

386

Activity not after

397

Place of Evidence - Region

Syria

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Antioch on the Orontes

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

Antioch on the Orontes

Major author/Major anonymous work

John Chrysostom

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Sermon/homily

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - sarcophagus/coffin

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Miraculous sound, smell, light

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Monarchs and their family Soldiers Pagans

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Touching and kissing relics Discovering, finding, invention and gathering of relics

Source

John of Antioch, bishop of Constantinople, who came to be known as Chrysostom (the Golden Mouth), was born in 344/354 in Antioch on the Orontes where he studied under Libanius. He joined the Nicene Christian community of Antioch, led by bishop Meletios of Antioch, and was ordained priest by Meletios’ successor, Flavianos in 386. Acquiring a great reputation as a preacher, John was appointed as bishop of Constantinople in 397. Clashing with the bishop of Alexandria Theophilos and the empress Eudoxia in 403/404, Chrysostom was deposed and banished to Cucusus in Cappadocia and died in Comana of Pontus in 407. This sermon was written and delivered while Chrysostom was still a priest in Antioch, but its precise date and venue are unknown. The occasion was most probably a service held on the feast of Juventinus and Maximinus, two soldiers martyred in Antioch under Julian the Apostate. The text is preserved in 20 manuscripts, on which see, Rambault 2018 and: http://pinakes.irht.cnrs.fr/notices/oeuvre/8131/ (accessed 11/04/2017)

Discussion

Although the saints are not named in the text itself, this sermon is associated with the martyrs Maximinos and Ioventinos in the manuscript tradition. Their story is known from the Ecclesiastical History of Theodoret of Cyrrhus (3.15; E04153) which also mentions the splendid sarcophagus where their relics were deposited. Whatever the source of Chrysostom’s information may have been, this sermon offers an excellent example for the liturgical usage of martyrdom accounts in this period: a presbyter (John Chrysostom) narrates the story of two local martyrs in a sermon given during a special service held on their feast. The occasion for the sermon was a service held for the feast of Iouventinos and Maximinos. The feast was celebrated shortly after that of Babylas at the same place. The Syriac calendar places the feast of Iouventinos and Maximinos on 29 January, five days after the feast of Babylas (24 January). The venue of text is unclear and it is uncertain if it was the shrine where the relics of the saints were kept. As in his sermon on Babylas, Chrysostom refers to the sarcophagus as if being somewhere else. It is possible that both feasts started with a festal gathering at one of the central churches of Antioch, being followed by a visit to the shrines outside the city. The bodies of Iouventinos and Maximinos were buried at one of the several shrines surrounding Antioch, probably the Koimeterion, near the south gate. The peculiarity of the cult and celebration of these martyrs was that they originated from a recent persecution, occurring during the lifetime of the speaker and many in his audience. Chrysostom praises the Antiochenes for honouring these recent martyrs with the same faith and zeal as the older ones – or, perhaps, he encourages them to do so. The closing lines of the sermon (576-578) are a clear expression of the faith in the saints’ power after death as intercessors and helpers both in matters of this life, and in eternal salvation. Here, Chrysostom is not championing the cult of these particular martyrs, but theorises about the posthumous condition and power of the saints in general. We should also notice his expressions concerning the veneration of the sarcophagus/grave as a source of special blessing: 'So, let us constantly keep visiting them, and touching their sarcophagus and embracing their relics with faith, so that we might gain some blessing from them’. Chrysostom extols the bravery and virtue of the ‘hunters of such relics’ who risked their lives in order to rescue the bodies of the martyrs. He does not name these people, but, with some rhetorical exaggeration, he declares them 'honorary martyrs,’ because of their determination to risk their own lives: 'these were indeed martyrs themselves, although they were alive. For, although they were not beheaded, they would have rather preferred to suffer this, and thus rushed to gather the bodies.'

Bibliography

Text: Migne, J.-P., Patrologiae Cursus Completus: Series Graeca (Paris: Imprimerie Catholique, 1857-1866), vol. 50, 571-578. Rambault, N. and Allen P. Jean Chrysostome. Panégyriques de Martyrs I. Sources Chrétiennes 595 (Paris : Editions du Cerf, 2018) (critical edition, French translation, introduction, notes). Translation: Mayer, W., with Neil, B., St John Chrysostom: The Cult of the Saints (Popular Patristics Series; Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2006), 88-99. Further reading: Downey, G., Ancient Antioch (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961). Drobner, H.R., The Fathers of the Church: A Comprehensive Introduction (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), 327-337. Kelly, J.N.D., Golden Mouth: The Story of John Chrysostom. Ascetic, Preacher, Bishop (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995). Scorza Barcellona, F. “Martiri e confessori dell’etaÌ di Giuliano l’Apostata: dalla storia alla leggenda,” in F. E. Consolino (ed.), Pagani e cristiani da Giuliano l'Apostata al sacco di Roma. Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi (Rende, 12/13 novembre 1993), Soveria Mannelli, 1995, 53-83. Teitler, H. C. “Ammianus, Libanius, Chrysostomus, and the Martyrs of Antioch,” Vigiliae Christianae 67 (2013): 263-88. H. C. Teitler, The Last Pagan Emperor. Julian the Apostate and the War against Christianity. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.

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