Saint NameBabylas, bishop and martyr in Antioch, and his companions, ob. 282-284 : S00061
Fabianus, martyred bishop of Rome, ob. 250 : S00147
Alexandros, martyred bishop of Jerusalem, ob. 250 : S00149
Saint Name in SourceΒαβύλας
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)
Evidence not before311
Evidence not after325
Activity not before250
Activity not after325
Place of Evidence - RegionPalestine with Sinai
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcCaesarea Maritima
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Caesarea Maritima
Major author/Major anonymous workEusebius of Caesarea
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsTransmission, copying and reading saint-related texts
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - bishops
SourceEusebius lived in Caesarea Maritima in Palestine between c. AD 260 and 340. He was a pupil and friend of the martyred Christian intellectual Pamphilus. Under Constantine, he emerged as one of the most influential Christian figures of the Roman Empire, and was ordained bishop of Caesarea.
Written between 311 and 325, Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History is the first literary work to employ the methodology and objectives of classical historiography – which, since Herodotus and Thucydides, had traditionally focused on military and political events – in a novel field, the history of the Christian community. The first paragraphs of the work outline its chronological framework and thematic range: it is a narrative of events in the life of the Christian community from the times of Christ and the Apostles to the times of Eusebius (c. AD 260-340); it records the leaders of the most important communities (i.e. successions of bishops in Alexandria, Antioch, Rome and Jerusalem); it records the most notable exponents of Christian doctrine and their works, and also the main heresies and their proponents; it finally records persecutions and people that suffered and were martyred during them.
The Ecclesiastical History is mostly a synthesis of quotations and summaries from other sources, for which Eusebius often gives concrete references. Thus his work preserves excerpts from early Christian texts which do not survive in their full form. Eusebius’ source material consists mostly of Greek texts, originating from Christian communities in Anatolia, Syria, Palestine, and Egypt. These areas constitute the main geographical range of his narrative, while his information about Christianity in the western provinces of the Roman Empire (except Rome) is very limited. The text survives in several Greek manuscripts, in a Latin translation by Rufinus, and in Syriac and Armenian translations.
DiscussionOne of the main themes discussed by Eusebius in the Ecclesiastical History is the successions of bishops at the main catholic communities of the Roman world, which he follows systematically for Jerusalem, Caesarea Maritima, Alexandria, Antioch, and Rome, and less systematically for Ephesus, Corinth and other cities. His focus on episcopal successions parallels his interest in martyrdoms, which Eusebius understood as the two axes of the existence and development of the Church through history. Eusebius recognises the working of God through the life and acts of bishops no less than through the feats of martyrs.
This is one of Eusebius' numerous lists of episcopal successions, here specially commemorating bishops who died as martyrs. All three figures mentioned here were remembered and honoured as saints in the later period.
In another passage, Eusebius also mentions the miraculous election of Fabianus as bishop of Rome (E00266). Fabianus’ tomb with the inscription 'bishop and martyr' has been found in the Crypt of the Popes in the Catacomb of Saint Callixtus (E###).
Of special interest here is also the fact that Eusebius dates the martyrdom of Babylas to the Decian persecution and describes it as death in prison. He thus contradicts the Greek Martyrdom of Babylas which ascribes the event to the reign of Carinus, and describes it as an execution by beheading ($02684).
Schwartz, E., Mommsen, T., and Winkelmann, F., Eusebius Werke II: Die Kirchengeschichte. 3 vols. (Die Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte NF 6/1-3; Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1999).
Lake, K., Oulton, J.E.L., and Lawlor, H.J., Eusebius of Caesarea: The Ecclesiastical History. 2 vols. (Loeb Classical Library; London and Cambridge, MA: Heinemann and Harvard University Press, 1926).
Williamson, G.A., and Louth, A., Eusebius: The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine (London: Penguin, 1989).
Chesnut, G. The First Christian Histories: Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius. Atlanta: Mercer University, 1986.