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E00391: Eusebius' Martyrs of Palestine includes the story of the martyrdom of *Pamphilos (martyr of Caesarea, 00140) and his companions, including Paulos of Yamnia and Oualēs of Jerusalem. Written in 311 in Caesarea (Palestine); written in Greek, but parts of the text survive only in Syriac.

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posted on 2015-04-16, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Eusebius of Caesarea, Martyrs of Palestine, 11.1-28

A native of Berytus, Pamphilos resided in the city of Caesarea, where he ministered as a presbyter of the local Christian community. Well-educated in secular subjects, as well as in Scripture and Christian doctrine, he distributed the wealth he inherited from his parents to the poor and lived a life of poverty and asceticism.

According to Eusebius' earlier report (Martyrs of Palestine 7.4-6), Pamphilos was arrested in the year 307, on the order of the governor Urbanus. After unsuccessful attempts to force him by tortures to sacrifice to the pagan gods, Pamphilos was imprisoned together with other confessors. It is related that, after his arrest, Pamphilos spent around two years in the prison of Caesarea, in the company of two other Palestinian Christians, Paulos from Yamnia and Oualēs, a deacon from Jerusalem. At some point, they were joined by a group of five Christians from Egypt, who were arrested on their way back home from Cilicia, where they attended to the needs of the local confessors.

On 16 February 310, these eight prisoners were brought into the court of Firmilianus. The five Egyptian Christians were interrogated first and, after severe tortures, were beheaded by the sword. After that, the governor questioned Pamphilos and his two companions, and, seeing no use in torturing them again, he forthwith sentenced them to be decapitated. As his sentence was being carried out, a young disciple of Pamphilos named Porphyrios intervened, demanding that the bodies of the martyrs should be given over for burial and professing publicly to be a Christian. He was at once apprehended and, after severe tortures, burnt on a slow fire. At that moment, another Christian was apprehended and executed: a native of Cappadocia and an ex-soldier, named Seleukos, who was present in the crowd of spectators, announced publicly the death of Porphyrios and saluted one of the martyrs. He was immediately arrested and brought in front of Firmilianus, who ordered him to be beheaded by the sword. The example of Seleukos was followed by another Christian spectator, Theodoulos from Caesarea, an aged member of the governor's household, who also made a gesture of greeting towards one of the martyrs. Arrested at once, he was brought in front of Firmilianus, who, infuriated by his servant's behaviour, ordered him to be crucified. Finally, one more Christian was executed during that session. A certain Ioulianos from Cappadocia, who just arrived at Caesarea, heard about the ongoing trial and rushed to the court. As he saw the bodies of the martyrs lying on the ground, he started embracing them and saluting them with a kiss. Like the rest before him, he was at once arrested and brought to the governor, who sentenced him to death by slow fire.

Following the orders of Firmilianus, the martyrs' bodies were left lying on the ground, exposed to the wild beasts and birds. However, due to the miraculous 'dispensation of God', the bodies remained intact for four days, after which they were buried 'in the accustomed manner'. In both Syriac and (surviving) Greek versions of the long recension, the narrative concludes with a passage that bears evidence about the relics of these martyrs being venerated: 'Placed in splendid church buildings and in sacred places of prayer, they were given to the people of God that they might honour them in unceasing remembrance' (ναῶν οἴκοις περικαλλέσιν ἀποτεθέντα ἐν ἱεροῖς τε προσευκτηρίοις εἰς ἄληστον μνήμην τῷ τοῦ θεοῦ λαῷ τιμᾶσθαι παραδεδομένα).

Summary: Sergey Minov


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Pamphilos of Caesarea, martyr in Palestine, ob. 310 : S00140

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 - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle at martyrdom and death

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Officials

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Transfer, translation and deposition of relics


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 Pamphilos: ed. Cureton 1861, pp. 38*-48* (long recension); ed. Schwartz et al. 1999, vol. 2, pp. 931-945 (long and short recension); English trans. Lawlor and Oulton 1927-1928, vol. 1, pp. 379-393. For a full discussion of Martyrs of Palestine, see $E00294.


The story of the martyrdom of Pamphilos is exceptional in several aspects. In particular, the amount of narrative space allotted to it exceeds by far most of the stories in the Martyrs. This can be explained by the fact that Eusebius had a special relationship to Pamphilus, with whom he was not only personally acquainted, but whom he regarded very highly as his teacher and master, 'a man whose memory is thrice dear to me' (11.1, short recension). Furthermore, it deviates from the majority of other narratives in that it contains the description of a miracle: the miraculous preservation of the martyrs' bodies from being devoured by animals and birds, a unique feature in the Martyrs. In addition, this story provides us with the only explicit reference in this literary work to the veneration of martyrs' bodies in Palestine during the lifetime of Eusebius. However, there is no evidence (or at least no explicit mention) that Christians associated miraculous power with these remains.


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).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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