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E00298: Eusebius' Martyrs of Palestine includes the story of *Romanos from Caesarea (martyr of Antioch, S00120). Written in 311 in Caesarea (Palestine). Originally written in Greek, its most complete version survives in Syriac.

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posted on 2015-02-16, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Eusebius of Caesarea, Martyrs of Palestine, 2.1-5


A native of Palestine, who ministered as deacon and exorcist in the church of Caesarea, Romanos happened to come to the city of Antioch at the time when the Diocletianic persecution had just been launched there. When he saw the local Christians yielding to pressure and offering sacrifices to pagan gods, Romanos intervened and rebuked them in public. He was immediately arrested and sentenced to death by fire. However, as Romanos was led to the place of his execution, the Emperor Diocletian, who was present in the city at the time, intervened and ordered that, instead of burning, the martyr should be punished by having his tongue cut out. After a certain period of incarceration, the martyr was executed by strangulation on the same day as *Zakchaios from Gadara and *Alpheios from Caesarea (i.e. 17 November 303).

In the longer Syriac recension of this text, after Romanos has his tongue cut out, he miraculously retains his ability to speak and continues to preach and glorify God.

Summary: Sergey Minov


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Romanos from Caesarea, martyr in Antioch, ob. 303 : S00120

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Caesarea Maritima

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

Caesarea Maritima Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Major author/Major anonymous work

Eusebius of Caesarea

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle at martyrdom and death Miracles experienced by the saint Changing abilities and properties of the body (non-curative)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Monarchs and their family


In this work Eusebius presents an account of the suffering and death of Christian martyrs executed during the eight years of the Diocletianic (or Great) persecution, i.e. 303-311. Most of the martyrdoms described by Eusebius took place in Palestine, with the provincial capital city of Caesarea as the most prominent setting. Martyrdom of Romanos: ed. Cureton 1861, pp. 7*-9* (long recension); ed. Schwartz et al. 1999, vol. 2, p. 909 (short recension); English trans. Lawlor and Oulton 1927-1928, vol. 1, pp. 336-339. For a full discussion of Martyrs of Palestine, see E00294.


Like most entries in Eusebius' description of the martyrs of Palestine, this entry consists of a brief account of torture and death. It deviates, however, from the rest in that it contains the description of a miracle, when the martyr retains his ability to speak even after his tongue had been cut out, a motif which is not common for Eusebius. It has plausibly been suggested by some scholars that this detail might not be a part of Eusebius' original narrative, but added by the Syriac translator on the basis of later elaboration of the story (see below, and Barnes 2010, p. 390, n. 10). Although there is no explicit reference to the martyr's commemoration, the record of his death by Eusebius might suggest that in the author's time he was commemorated in Caesarea. During the fourth century, the story recounted by Eusebius gradually evolved into a more elaborate narrative, recounted by Prudentius (E00946) and in an anonymous Greek martyrdom account (E07083), with the fire intended to consume the martyr miraculously extinguished, a child martyr (with his mother) introduced, and the story of Romanos preaching without a tongue made central to the story.


Editions and translations: Cureton, W. (ed.), History of the Martyrs in Palestine, by Eusebius, Bishop in Caesarea, Discovered in a Very Ancient Syriac Manuscript (London / Edinburgh: Williams and Norgate / Paris: C. Borrani, 1861). Lawlor, H.J., and Oulton, J.E.L. (trans.), The Ecclesiastical History and the Martyrs of Palestine. 2 vols (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1927-1928). Schwartz, E., Mommsen, T., and Winkelmann, F. (eds.), Eusebius Werke, Band 2, Teil 2 (Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten Jahrhunderte NF 6/2; 2nd ed.; Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1999). Further reading: Barnes, T.D., Early Christian Hagiography and Roman History (Tria corda 5; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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