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E00277: Eusebius of Caesarea, in his Ecclesiastical History, quotes a letter in Greek by Dionysios, bishop of Alexandria (Egypt), who, in 250/1, informs Phabios, bishop of Antioch (Syria), about martyrdoms in Egypt during the recent Decian persecution; 27 martyrs are named. Quoted in Palestine, 311/325.

online resource
posted on 2015-02-05, 00:00 authored by erizos
Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History 6.41-42

The letter enumerates the cases and names of over 27 people, who died violently during outbreaks of violence in Alexandria and the rest of Egypt. The following names are mentioned: Metras, Kointa (Quinta), Paulos, Apollōnia, Serapiōn, Ioulianos, Kroniōn or Eunous, Ioulianos, Bēsas, Makar, Epimachos, Alexandros, Ammōnarion the virgin, Merkouria, Dionysia, Hērōn, Atēr, Isidōros, Dioskoros, Nemesiōn the Egyptian, an unnamed band of soldiers, Ammōn, Zēnōn, Ptolemaios, Ingenēs, Theophilos, Ischyriōn, and numerous unnamed martyrs. Several people perished in exile, fleeing to the wilderness or the mountains, such as the bishop of Neilopolis, Chairēmōn, and his wife, who fled into the mountains and never returned.

Text: Schwartz et al. 1999. Summary: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Mētras, martyr in Egypt, ob. 250/1 : S00045 Kointa, martyr in Egypt, ob. 250-251 : S00046 Paulos, martyr in Egypt, ob. 250/251 : S00113 Apollōnia, martyr in Egypt, ob. 250-251 : S00153 Serapiōn, martyr in Egypt, ob. 250/1 : S00154 Ioulianos, Dec

Saint Name in Source

Μητρᾶς Κοΐντα Παῦλος Ἀπολλωνία Σεραπίων Ἰουλιανὸς Κρονίων, Εὔνους Βησᾶς Μάκαρ Ἐπίμαχος Ἀλέξανδρος Ἀμμωνάριον Μερκουρία Διονυσία Ἥρων Ἀτὴρ Ἰσίδωρος Διόσκορος Νεμεσίων Ἄμμων Ζήνων Πτολεμαῖος Ἰγγένης Θεόφιλος Ἰσχυρίων

Related Saint Records

Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Caesarea Maritima Alexandria

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

Caesarea Maritima Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Alexandria Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Major author/Major anonymous work

Eusebius of Caesarea

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts


Eusebius 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.


Most of Book 6 of the Ecclesiastical History discusses events from Egypt, using Greek sources including an extensive dossier of letters by Dionysios, bishop of Alexandria. The letter of Dionysios to Phabios informing him about the woes of the Christian community in Egypt represents a standard practice among Christian communities of the early period, which kept in contact and informed each other of such incidents. In content, structure and themes, it is reminiscent of the Letter of the Churches of Lyon and Vienne (E00216). It opens with a short introduction revealing that hostility against Christians was kindled by an unnamed pagan priest even before the publication of the imperial decrees of Decius. The letter closes, much like the letter on the Martyrs of Lyon and Vienne, by stressing the lenient attitude of the martyrs towards those who lapsed into sacrificing during the persecution. The latter was a major point of disagreement between the catholic and various rigorist groupings from the late 2nd century onwards. It features prominently in both the Letter of the Churches of Lyon and Vienne (E00216) and the Martyrdom of Pionios (E00096). Despite the special attention given to this text by the church historian, the martyrs mentioned by the letter of Dionysios are not known from later sources.


Edition: 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). Translations: 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). Further reading: Chesnut, G. The First Christian Histories: Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius. Atlanta: Mercer University, 1986.