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E00912: Gregory of Nazianzus, in his Oration 44, On the New Lord's Day, refers to the festival of the martyr *Mamas (S00436) held in Kaisareia/Caesarea of Cappadocia (central Asia Minor) on the first Sunday after Easter. Composed and delivered in Greek in Cappadocia, in 370s or early 380s.

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posted on 2015-11-29, 00:00 authored by erizos
Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 44, On the New Lord's Day (CPG 3010.44; BHG 1021)

12. Τί τἄλλα; Νῦν μάρτυρες αἰθριάζουσι, καὶ πομπεύουσι, καὶ λαμπροῖς τοῖς βήμασι συγκαλοῦσι λαὸν φιλόχριστον. καὶ τοὺς ἄθλους δημοσιεύουσι. Τούτων εἷς ἐστι καὶ ὁ ἐμὸς στεφανίτης (ἐμὸς γὰρ, εἰ καὶ μὴ παρ’ ἐμοὶ, πιπτέτω φθόνος, εἰδόσι λέγω), Μάμας ὁ περιβόητος, καὶ ποιμὴν, καὶ μάρτυς· ὁ πρότερον μὲν τὰς ἐλάφους ἀμέλγων κατεπειγομένας ἀλλήλων, ἵνα ξένῳ γάλακτι τραφῇ δίκαιος· νῦν δὲ ποιμαίνων λαὸν μητροπόλεως, καὶ τὸ ἔαρ ἐγκαινίζων σήμερον ταῖς πολλαῖς χιλιάσι τῶν πανταχόθεν ἐπειγομένων, διάφορόν τε ἀρετῆς κάλλεσι, καὶ ποιμέσιν ἄξιον, καὶ λόγοις ἐπινικίοις. Ἔτι δὲ συντομώτερον εἰπεῖν, νῦν ἔαρ κοσμικὸν, ἔαρ πνευματικὸν, ἔαρ ψυχαῖς, ἔαρ σώμασιν, ἔαρ ὁρώμενον, ἔαρ ἀόρατον· οὗ κἀκεῖθεν μεταλάβοιμεν ἐνταῦθα καλῶς ἀμειφθέντες, καὶ καινοὶ πρὸς τὸν καινὸν βίον παραπεμφθείημεν, ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τῷ Κυρίῳ ἡμῶν, ᾧ πᾶσα δόξα, τιμὴ, καὶ κράτος σὺν ἁγίῳ Πνεύματι, εἰς δόξαν Θεοῦ Πατρός. Ἀμήν.

‘(……) 12. What else is there to say? Now the martyrs go outside and lead the procession, and, with their shrines splendid, they summon together Christ’s faithful people, and proclaim their victorious contests. One of them is also my own crowned champion (mine indeed, even though he does not dwell at my home; let grudging subside; those I am referring to know what I mean): the famous Mamas, both shepherd and martyr. Once he used to milk deer which jostled one another, in order to nourish the righteous man with unfamiliar milk. But now he tends the flock of a capital city, and today, with the many thousands thronging from all around, he inaugurates a springtime distinguished by the beauties of virtue, one worthy both of shepherds and victory orations. To put it more briefly, this is a Spring of the world, a Spring of the spirit, a Spring for the souls, a Spring for the bodies, a Spring visible, a Spring invisible. May we, who have been rewarded with the bounty of it in this life, also partake of it in the other as well, and be escorted new to the new life, in Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be all glory, honour, and power together with the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.'

Text: Migne, J.-P. (ed.), Patrologiae cursus completus: series graeca. 166 vols. Vol. 36 (Paris: Imprimerie Catholique, 1857-1866), col. 620-621.
Translation E. Rizos (using Vinson 2003, and Daley 2006).


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Mamas, martyr in Kaisareia/Caesarea of Cappadocia : S00436

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Nazianzos Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gregory of Nazianzus

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Sermon/homily

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - unspecified

Cult activities - Activities Accompanying Cult

  • Feasting (eating, drinking, dancing, singing, bathing)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of an individual

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Crowds


Gregory was born in c. 330 to a wealthy Christian family in Cappadocia. He was educated at Nazianzos, Kaisareia/Caesarea, Athens, and Alexandria, and in 361 he returned to Nazianzos where he was ordained priest by his father, Gregory the Elder, who was bishop of Nazianzos. He was ordained bishop of Sasima in Cappadocia by Basil of Caesarea in 372, but stayed in Nazianzos, administering the local community after the death of his father. After retreating as a monk in Isauria for some years, he moved to Constantinople in 379, in order to lead the struggle for the return of the city to Nicene Orthodoxy. Two years later, the Arians were ousted by the emperor Theodosius I, and Gregory became bishop of Constantinople. In 381, he convened the Council of Constantinople, at the end of which he resigned his throne and retired to Cappadocia where he died in 390. Sermon 44 is one of the most elegant orations of Gregory of Nazianzus. It is entitled ‘on the New Lord's Day’, i.e. it was given on the first Sunday after Easter, which signified the start of the liturgical year. The main theme of the talk is the notion of renewal and spring, both worldly and spiritual. The date of the sermon is unknown. It is often dated to the period after Gregory’s resignation from the throne of Constantinople (381), but the evidence for that is inconclusive. The text is preserved in 508 manuscripts, on which see:


The last paragraph of the sermon contains a brief reference to *Mamas, one of the local martyrs of the Cappadocian capital of Kaisareia/Caesarea, whose festival was either held on the New Lord’s Day or, more probably, it happened to fall on that Sunday in the year when Gregory gave this sermon. It should be noted that Homily 23 of Basil of Caesarea, On Mamas, was also most probably given on the New Lord’s Day, since its author also refers to the end of the liturgical cycle (see E00719). Since the feast of the martyr most probably had a stable date, while the New Lord’s Day was movable, chances are that Basil’s Homily 23, On Mamas, and Gregory’s Homily 44, On the New Lord’s Day, were delivered on the same day. Gregory’s cryptic allusion to his personal devotion to Mamas probably refers to the fact that the shrine of Mamas was not within his episcopal jurisdiction. The main medieval commentator of Gregory, Nicetas of Heraclea (PG 127.1434A) notes that the phrase ‘let all grudging subside; they know for whom I am saying this’ is a playful remark addressed to Basil of Caesarea, to whose church the shrine of Mamas belonged. All these corroborate the view that Gregory’s sermon was written before Basil’s death (379), most probably during Gregory’s ministry in Cappadocia in the early 370s (Daley 2006, 155). The homilies of Gregory and Basil are the earliest sources on the popular Cappadocian martyr Mamas, but both are very laconic in the way of hagiographic information. Gregory only says that the saint was a shepherd who used to milk female deer, and that his festival attracted thousands of pilgrims. The reference to the martyr milking the beasts is a motif known from Mamas’ hagiography (undated), showing that his popular legend was in circulation by the late 4th century. The author concludes the sermon by making of Mamas a leading example for the ideal of physical and spiritual renewal – the main subject of this sermon.


Text: Migne, J.-P., Patrologiae cursus completus: series graeca 36 (Paris: Imprimerie Catholique, 1857), 620-621. Translations: Vinson, M.P., St. Gregory of Nazianzus: Select Orations (Fathers of the Church 107; Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2003), 230-238. Daley, B.E., Gregory of Nazianzus (The Early Church Fathers; London: Routledge, 2006), 154-161. Further reading: Bernardi, J., La prédication des pères Cappadociens (Université de Paris, Sorbonne, 1968). Limberis, V., Architects of Piety: The Cappadocian Fathers and the Cult of the Martyrs (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2011). Marava-Chatzenikolaou, A., Ο Άγιος Μάμας (Athens: Institut français d'Athènes, 1953). Maraval, P., Lieux saints et pélerinages d’Orient. Histoire et géographie des origines à la conquête arabe (Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1985), 371.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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