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E01164: The Greek text known as the Conversion of *Kyprianos and Ioustina (martyrs of Antioch, S01704), of the late 4th or early 5th c., recounts the story of a pious girl who converted to Christianity, and of the magician who, failing to seduce her by magic, became a Christian himself.

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posted on 2016-03-01, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Conversion/Acts of Kyprianos and Ioustina (BHG 452)


(1-2.) Iousta/Ioustina is the daughter of Aidesios and Kledonia from Antioch in Syria. Having heard from her window the preaching of the Christian deacon Praulios, she decides to convert to Christianity. She reveals her intention to her mother who, dismayed by her daughter’s decision, discusses it with her husband. They fall asleep and have a dream vision of a heavenly host bearing torches, and Christ in a fortress promising to grant them the Kingdom of Heaven. They wake up, and together with their daughter go to the church and ask from Praulios and bishop Optatos to become Christians. Aidesios confesses his dream and cuts his own hair, denouncing his pagan priesthood. He becomes a presbyter and dies a year and a half later.

(3-9) Ioustina constantly goes to church, and one day a noble young student, Aglaidas, sees her and falls in love. He sends men and women to ask of her to marry him, but she dismisses them abusively, saying that she is a bride of Christ. Aglaidas with a group of companions attempts to abduct Ioustina, while she is going to church, but fails. He embraces her, but she repels him with the sign of the cross, she hits and kicks him and tears his clothes, following the example of Thekla. Enraged, Aglaidas requests the help of the sorcerer Kyprianos, who sends three demons against her, but she repels them by the power of prayer and the sign of the cross. The demons return to Kyprianos, admitting defeat. The third demon reveals to Kyprianos that he was defeated by the cross of Christ. Kyprianos declares that he wishes to become a Christian, and the demon flies away.

(10-12) Kyprianos takes his books of magic to the church, where he meets Anthimos, the bishop, and asks to be admitted to the faith. The bishop initially rejects him, but, as Kyprianos persists, Anthimos burns the books and encourages Kyprianos. The latter returns home, destroys all his idols, and prays. Next day, the Sabbath, Kyprianos goes to church where he listens to the Psalms, readings (from Isaiah and Galatians) and a homily. At the point when the catechumens are requested to leave the church, Kyprianos refuses to. The deacon Asterios reports it to the bishop Anthimos who discusses privately with Kyprianos, and decides to baptise him. Kyprianos reads the Scriptures for eight days. Twenty-five days later, he becomes a gate keeper of the church, and another twenty five later, he is ordained deacon. He excels in exorcising demons, and one year later he becomes priest. Sixteen years later, Anthimos on his deathbed appoints Kyprianos as his successor. The bishop Kyprianos ordains the pious girl as a deaconess, changing her name from Iousta to Ioustina the ‘blameless’, and appoints her as head of a house of monastic virgins.

Text: Zahn 1882.
Summary: Efthymios Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Kyprianos and Ioustina/Justina, martyrs of Antioch : S01704

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives of saint Literary - Hagiographical - Other saint-related texts


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor Constantinople and region Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Antioch on the Orontes

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

Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul Antioch on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts


The Conversion of Kyprianos, or Act of Saint Kyprianos and Saint Ioustina, was probably written in the late 4th or early 5th century, perhaps together with the Martyrdom (Passion) of Kyprianos and Ioustina (see E01165). These two documents were collated together with the earlier text of the Confession of Kyprianos (see E01163). In the mid 5th century, the empress Eudocia produced an adaptation of the three texts in the form of Homeric hexameters (see E01165). In later manuscripts, however, the hagiographic trilogy is rarely reproduced in full, since most manuscripts include only one or two of the three documents. The Conversion has the largest number of copies, since it is preserved in twenty manuscripts dating from the 11th to 13th centuries, on which see: There is no critical edition of the text. An edition based on two manuscripts can be found in: Zahn, T., Cyprian von Antiochien und die deutsche Faustsage (Erlangen: A. Deichert, 1882), 136-153.


The Conversion of Kyprianos and Ioustina or Act of Saint Ioustina was probably written at the same time, and perhaps by the same author as the text known as the Martyrdom (Passion) of Kyprianos and Ioustina (see E01165). Their composition predates the mid 5th century when they were rewritten in a poetic form by the empress Eudocia (see E01166). The two texts seem to have been unknown to Gregory of Nazianzus who gave a sermon summarising the legend in 379, but seems to have been unaware of its definitive form (see E00886). Thus the texts can be ascribed to the late 4th or early 5th centuries. The Conversion and the Martyrdom of Kyprianos and Ioustina represent the evolution of an apocryphal legend into a fully developed cult and hagiography. The earliest document of this legend is the so-called Confession of Kyprianos, a Greek text of the mid 4th century or earlier (see E01163). The Conversion recounts the same story as the Confession of Kyprianos, but with a number of differences. Instead of focusing on the figure of the magician, it starts with an account of the conversion of Ioustina and her family, which ends with the death of her father Aidesios. None of this is present in the Confession. Our text also contains a much more extensive description of Aglaidas’ attempts to pursue Ioustina, including several details which are absent in the other text. The last part of the Conversion, describing the penance and conversion of Kyprianos, tells a similar story as the Confession, but it omits the long monologues, and, instead of the presbyter Eusebios, it mentions the bishop Anthimos as the man who received Kyprianos into the Church. It is unknown if these differences are due to the creative intervention of the author of the Conversion, or if they rather reflect a source text different from the Confession. The name of the bishop Anthimos is remarkable: no such bishop is known from Antioch, where the text places the story, but a bishop of this name is known to have been martyred under Diocletian in Nikomedia. Of course, in our text, Anthimos does not die as a martyr, but appoints Kyprianos to the episcopate on his deathbed. The account here recalls the Life of *Polycarp of Smyrna, and the account of the appointment of Polycarp by Boukolos (see E00453). The reworking of an early apocryphal legend into a hagiographical reading is widely attested in the late 4th and 5th centuries, with the Life and Miracles of *Thekla, the *Martyrdom of Andrew the Apostle, etc. Similarly significant is the creation of a hagiographic corpus, which seems to have been a frequent practice. Another important corpus concerning a martyred bishop was that of *Polycarp.


Text, translation and comments: Zahn, T., Cyprian von Antiochien und die deutsche Faustsage (Erlangen: A. Deichert, 1882), 136-153. Bailey, R., "The Acts of Saint Cyprian of Antioch: Critical Editions, Translations, and Commentary," PhD diss., McGill University Montreal, 2017. Further reading: Bailey, R., "The Confession of Cyprian of Antioch: Introduction, Text, and Translation," MA Thesis, McGill University, Montreal, 2009. Delehaye, H., “Cyprien d'Antioche et Cyprien de Carthage,” Analecta Bollandiana 39 (1921), 314-332. Krestan, L., and Hermann, A., "Cyprianus II (Magier)," Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum 3 (Stuttgart: Anton Hiersemann, 1957), 467-477. Sabattini, T.A., "S. Cipriano nella tradizione agiografica," Rivista di Studi Classici, 21:2 (1973), 181-204.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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