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E00358: Three versions of the Greek Martyrdom of *Ioustinos, Chariton, Charito, Euelpistos, Hierax, Paion, Liberianos and their companions (martyrs of Rome, S00930) recount the interrogation and martyrdom of seven Christians in Rome, under the leadership of Ioustinos, who may be identical with the apologist Justin (c. 100-165). The text probably originates from a pre-Constantinian account.

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posted on 2015-04-01, 00:00 authored by erizos
Martyrdom of Ioustinos, Charitōn, Charitō, Euelpistos, Hierax, Paiōn, Liberianos and their companions (BHG 972, 973, 974)

Version A (BHG 972)


§§ 1-2. The saints are interrogated by the urban prefect of Rome Roustikos (Rusticus). Ioustinos is interrogated first about the doctrines he follows. Ioustinos confesses following the Christian faith, which worships one God, creator of the world, and his son Jesus Christ, whose coming was foretold by the prophets.

§ 3. Roustikos asks him where the Christians gather, and Ioustinos replies that they do so wherever they can. He only knows the assembly of his neighbourhood near a private bath, where he has stayed for two years, since he settled in Rome. There he has been teaching anyone that wished to hear from him the Christian doctrine. Roustikos asks again if he is a Christian, and Ioustinos affirms.

§ 4. Roustikos asks Charitōn, Charitō, Euelpistos and Hierax if they are Christians, which they confirm. Roustikos asks if Ioustinos made them Christians. Hierax replies that he was a Christian of old, and Paiōn says that they were raised as Christians by their parents. Euelpistos also confirms having grown up as a Christian, though he gladly followed the teaching of Ioustinos. Roustikos asks about their parents. Euelpistos replies that his live in Cappadocia, while Hierax replies that he comes from Phrygia and his parents are dead. Liberianos also confesses being a Christian.

§ 5. Roustikos asks Ioustinos if he believes that he will go to heaven after being scourged and beheaded. Ioustinos confirms his faith in it, and Roustikos orders them to be executed, unless they offer sacrifice to the gods.

§ 6. The martyrs are taken to the place of executions and killed.

In version B (BHG 973), it is added in the end that that the Christians secretly collected the bodies of the saints and buried them in an appropriate place.

Version C (BHG 974) is more extensive, with more enhanced dialogues, and elaborate introduction and epilogue paragraphs. The epilogue gives 1 June as the date of their martyrdom, mentions the burial of the bodies, and asks of the martyrs to grant victory to the Christian emperor and peace to the empire.

Text: Musurillo 1972
Summary: Efthymios Rizos


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Ioustinos, Charitōn, Charitō, Euelpistos, Hierax, Paiōn, Liberianos and their companions, martyrs in Rome : S00930

Saint Name in Source

Ἰουστῖνος, Χαρίτων, Χαριτώ, Εὐέλπιστος, Ἱέραξ, Παίων, Λιβεριανὸς

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

Rome and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Rome Rome Rome Roma Ῥώμη Rhōmē

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Transmission, copying and reading saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Pagans Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Other lay individuals/ people Officials

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


The text survives in three versions, known from the following manuscripts: Version A (BHG 972z) Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, cod. graec. 1470, fol. 90v (AD 890) Version B (BHG 973) Cambridge, University Library, Add. Ms 4489 (Cantabrigiensis palimpsestus), fol. 8–9 (8th/9th c.) Jerusalem, Patriarchal library 6, fol. 305v-307r (9th/10th c.) Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, cod. graec. 1667, fol. 3–5 (Grottaferrata; 10th c.) Version C (BHG 974) Jerusalem, Patriarchal Library 17, fol. 1r-3r (12th c.) Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, cod. graec. 1991, fol. 1r-3v (13th c.)


This is very probably one of the earliest surviving martyrdom accounts, recounting the interrogation and condemnation of a group of Christians in Rome, under the leadership of the intellectual Ioustinos, perhaps the famous 2nd century martyr and apologist Justin. A native of Neapolis in Palestine (Apology 1.1), Justin espoused Christianity after a long search of various philosophical schools, especially Stoicism and Platonism. He moved to Rome shortly before AD 150, and published two apologies of Christianity, addressed to the Emperor Antoninus Pius and the Senate. Prefect Rusticus of our text may be Q. Iunius Rusticus, consul ordinarius in 162, and urban prefect before 168. The text emulates and/or incorporates the succinct dialogical form of trial transcripts. Whether genuine or not, most of the text can be read as a plausible example of interrogation. Its succinct dialogical structure, absence of dramaturgy and references to supernatural events and miracles allow categorising this text among pre-Constantinian acts of martyrs. It is interesting that it is preserved only in Greek, and never received a Latin translation. It may have emerged from the mostly Greek-speaking Christian community of Rome in the 2nd century, but it may have also circulated in the East, given the fact that its heroes report coming from Asia Minor (from Cappadocia and Phrygia). The role of Asia Minor as a land ‘exporting’ Christian migrants and missionaries to Rome and the West in the 2nd century is otherwise well attested (see the Letter of the Churches of Lyon and Vienne, E00212). The survival of three different recensions of the same text provide an invaluable example of the evolution of a martyrdom account through three stages of reworking. The earliest version seems to be reflected in recension A (according to Musurillo), which is the shortest of the three. Here the text consists of the interrogation dialogues only; the apologetic replies of Ioustinos are very limited, and the martyrdom proper is merely mentioned in a single line, without any extensive description. Recension B does not differ substantially, except for a certain enhancement of Ioustinos’ replies, and, most significantly, the addition of a phrase for the collection and burial of the saints’ bodies. This may suggest the existence of a shrine and veneration of the martyrs, which, however, are otherwise completely unattested in Rome. It is possible that this cult was forgotten in the process of transformation of the Christian community of Rome from a predominantly Eastern and Greek-speaking group to a mainly Roman and Latin speaking community (Seeliger et al. 2015, 124). Recension C has undergone the most extensive editing, with the addition of a prologue and epilogue, and the overall expansion of the martyrs’ replies, especially the apologies of Ioustinos, which now include a reference to the incarnation of Christ by the Virgin Mary. Particularly interesting is the final invocation of the saints as helpers of the emperor and the empire. Recension C is the latest version, perhaps dating from the Middle Byzantine period.


Text and translation: Musurillo, H. The Acts of the Christian Martyrs (Oxford Early Christian Texts; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972). Seeliger, H.R., and Wischmeyer, W. (eds.), Märtyrerliteratur. Herausgegeben, Übersetzt, Kommentiert (Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der Altchristlichen Literatur 172; Berlin/München/Boston: De Gruyter, 2015), 105-120. [With German translation and earlier bibliography] Further reading: Bisbee G.A., Pre-Decian Acts of Martyrs and Commentarii (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988), 95–118. Delehaye, H., Les Passions des Martyrs et les genres littéraires (2nd ed.; Brussels: Société des Bollandistes, 1966), 87-89.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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