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E01659: The Greek Martyrdom of *Floros and Lauros (martyrs of Ulpiana, S00871) recounts the martyrdom of two stonecutters and their companions in Ulpiana of Dardania (central Balkans). It also mentions the composition of their martyrdom account by a certain Alexios, and recounts the miraculous invention of their relics. Probably written in Constantinople, probably in the 5th - 7th c.

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posted on 2016-06-24, 00:00 authored by erizos
Martyrdom of *Floros and *Lauros (BHG 660-664)

The hagiographic dossier of Floros and Lauros includes five recensions of their passio (BHG 660-664), recounting the following story, here given in summary:

(1) Floros and Lauros are twin brothers from Byzantium, stonemasons by profession, and pupils of the martyrs *Proklos and *Maximos [who are otherwise unattested]. They move from Byzantium to Ulpiana in Dardania where they work at the local quarries, under the governor Lykon/Lykion. Likinnios, son of queen Elpidia, writes to Lykon asking for two good craftsmen to help him build a large temple at a place called Gracious Valley (εὔχαρις/ χαρίεις κοιλάς, Eucharis/Charieis Koilas), and Lykon sends Floros and Lauros. Likinnios receives them with joy, and grants them money and workers. (2) The saints distribute their wages to the poor, and spend their nights in prayer. Their work progresses in an amazingly faster and more accurate way than that of all the others, since they bless the stone with the sign of the cross before cutting it. While they work at the quarry, a chip of stone hits Anastasios/Athanasios, son of the pagan priest Merentinos, and removes his eye. Enraged, the priest reports to Likinnios. (3) The latter does not believe him, and refuses to condemn the saints. He intends to punish Merentinos, but the saints request his pardon. They miraculously heal Anastasios/Athanasios, (4) and finish the temple within two days, although it was due to be delivered in six years. Followed by the poor, they enter the building at night and consecrate it as a church, destroying all the idols. Encouraged by his son and by a menacing dream vision, Merentinos becomes a Christian. (5) Likinnios hears about the events, and orders that the poor be burned alive, and Floros and Lauros to be arrested. A great storm extinguishes the furnace of the martyrs and drowns many pagans. Likinnios flies to the mountain, and orders Merentinos and Anastasios/Athanasios to be fettered and dragged to the forest where they are buried under a mound of lumps of earth and thorns. Their tomb still exists in the form of a large mound of earth. (6) The palace collapses and kills the wife and children of Likinnios. He sends Floros and Lauros back to Lykon, in Ulpiana. On the way, they convert their guards, and, at Ulpiana, they report having accomplished the work they have been sent for, namely to build and consecrate the temple. Lykon puts them in gaol, and, instigated by the evil man Gerontios, he decides to have them thrown and buried in a deep well.

The final prayer of the saints in BHG 662z reads as follows:

6. (......) Ὡς δὲ τὸ ὄρυγμα γέγονεν καὶ ἀπήγοντο οἱ ἅγιοι μάρτυρες Φλῶρος καὶ Λαῦρος τοῦ βληθῆναι ἐν αὐτῷ, προσηύξαντο πρὸς κύριον λέγοντες οὕτως·
7. «Σῶτερ καὶ δημιουργὲ τῶν ἁπάντων, ὁ ὲξουσιαστὴς ζωῆς καὶ θανάτου, ἐπάκουσον ἡμῶν ἐν τῇ ὥρᾳ ταύτῃ· καὶ ὡς ἑπήκουσας τοῦ ἐκλεκτοῦ σου Ἰωάννου τοῦ εὐαγγελιστοῦ καὶ θεολόγου εὐξαμένου, δείξας αὐτῷ καὶ τὴν ἔξοδον ἵνα αὐτὸς ἑαυτῷ τὸν οἰκεῖον τάφον διατυπώσῃ, οὕτως καὶ τοῦτο τὸ φρέαρ ἡμῖν διαμένῃ κατὰ μίμησιν τοῦ τάφου ἐκείνου· καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ τὸ ἐν αὐτῷ γενηθήτω ἡμῖν εἰς λουτρὸν ἀναγεννήσεως παρέχον ἡμῖν καὶ τὴν χάριν τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος. Πρόσδεξαι δέ, κύριε Ἰησοῦ Χριστὲ καὶ τὰ πνεύματα ἡμῶν καὶ ἀπάγαγε εἰς τὴν ἀνάπαυσιν ἐκείνην τὴν τρισμακάριστον καὶ αἰωνίαν, ἐν ᾗ ἀναπαύονται οἱ ἄγιοί σου Πρόκλος καὶ Μάξιμος οἱ διδάσκαλοι ἡμῶν, ἵνα δοξασθῇς ὲν τοῖς ἔργοις τῶν χειρῶν σου. Φύλαξον δὲ καὶ τὰ σώματα ἡμῶν, κύριε, ἐν καιρῷ χριστιανισμοῦ · καὶ εἴ τις ἐὰν μνημονεύσῃ ἡμῶν ἐν τῇ προσευχῇ αὐτοῦ διὰ τὸ ὄνομά σου τὸ ἅγιον, τάχιον ἐπάκουσον αὐτοῦ. Πάντες δὲ οἱ ὑποκείμενοι ἐγκλήμασι καὶ φοβούμενοι ἀνθρώπους μᾶλλον ἢ σὲ τὸν ἁπάντων θεὸν καὶ ποιητήν, οὗτοι ἐὰν εἰσέλθωσιν ὀμόσαι ὅπου ἐὰν εὐδοκῇ τὸ θέλημά σου εἶναι τὰ σώματα ἡμῶν καὶ καταφρονοῦντες ἑπιορκὴσωσιν, ἐν μὲν τῷ νῦν αἰῶνι μὴ συγχωρήσῃς αὐτοῖς, ἀλλὰ παίδευσον ἐν κρίσει καὶ μὴ ἐν θυμῷ· ἐν δὲ τῷ μέλλοντι ὡς ἀγαθὸς καὶ φιλάνθρωπος, φεῖσαι αὐτῶν. Καὶ εἴ τις προσενέγκῃ τὰ πρωτότοκα αὐτοῦ καὶ τὰς ἀπαρχὰς ἐν τῷ ναῷ ἡμῶν, πολυπλασίασον αὐτά· καὶ πάντα ὅσα ὑπάρχει τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ ἐκείνῳ πλεονάσας φύλαξον, ὅτι ἐξ ἐπιθυμίας καὶ πίστεως ἦλθεν προσεύξασθαι, ἵνα δι’ ἡμῶν εἰσακούσῃς αὐτῷ, Ἔτι αἰτούμεθά σε, βασιλεῦ ἀθάνατε, ἵνα μετὰ τὸ προσδέξασθαι τὰ πνεύματα ἡμῶν ἐν εἰρήνῃ, ἐπιστρὲψῃς τὸν λαὸν τοῦτον καὶ τὴν πόλιν ταύτην εἰς τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν καὶ προσκύνησίν σου τοῦ μόνου ἀληθινοῦ καὶ αἰωνίου θεοῦ ἡμῶν, ὅπως σὲ μόνον προσκυνήσωσι ἐν ἀληθινῇ καρδίᾳ τὸν ζῶντα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, ἀμήν.» Καὶ εὐθέως ἦλθεν φωνὴ ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν πρὸς τοὺς ἁγίους ἐνισχύοντα αὐτοὺς καὶ ὑπισχνουμένη πληροῖν πάντα τὰ αἰτήματα αὐτῶν. Καὶ εὐξαμένων αὐτῶν, ἀπέδωκαν ἐν εἰρήνῃ τὰς μακαρίας αὐτῶν καὶ θεολόγους ψυχὰς τῷ Χριστῷ μηνὶ αὐγούστῳ ιη’. Καὶ οὕτως ἐρρίφησαν ἐν τῷ φρέατι. Παραχρῆμα δὲ ἄγγελος κυρίου κατελθὼν ἐν τῷ φρέατι ἐδέξατο τὰ σώματα τῶν ἁγίων καὶ κατῆλθον ὥσπερ ἄχυρον ἐλαφρόν. Τότε ἐπέρριψαν ἐπάνω αὐτῶν οἱ ἕλληνες ψάμμον πολλὴν καὶ κατέχωσαν αὐτά.

‘6. (……) And when the pit was made, and the holy martyrs Floros and Lauros were taken to be thrown into it, they prayed to the Lord, saying the following:

7. “Saviour and creator of all, the Lord of life and death, hear us at this time, as you heard your elect, John the Evangelist, when he prayed, showing him the way of his exit, in order that he might dig his own tomb: may this well remain for us an imitation of that tomb; and may the water in it be for us a bath of rebirth, granting us the grace of the Holy Spirit. And accept, oh Lord Jesu Christ our spirits and lead them to that blessed and eternal repose where your saints Maximos and Proklos, our masters, rest, that you may be glorified through the works of your hands. And keep our bodies, Lord, into the Christian era. And if someone commemorates us in his prayer for our holy name, hear him more speedily. Now regarding all those subject to crimes and fearing men more than you, the God and Creator of all: if such men come to take an oath wherever your will pleases our bodies to be, and they disdain and break their oath, do not forgive them in this present world, but chastise them in judgement and not in wrath; but do spare them in the world which is to come, for you are good and love mankind. And if one offers his first-born and first fruit of harvest at our temple, multiply them, and increase and keep all the possessions of that man; for he has come to pray with fervour and faith that you may hear him through us. And we also ask of you, immortal king, that, after you receive our spirits in peace, you return this people and this city to the knowledge and worship of you, our only true and eternal God, that they may worship, in true heart, you alone who live forever. Amen.” And immediately a voice came down from heaven to the saints, strengthening them and promising to fulfil their requests. And, after they prayed, they gave up their blessed and godly souls to Christ, on 18 of the month of August. And thus they were thrown into the well. And immediately, an angel of the Lord came down and received the bodies of the saints, which fell down like light hay. Then the Hellenes [pagans] threw lots of sand onto them and buried them.’

(8) The author of this martyrdom account is a companion and friend of the saints called Alexios. He writes the text after a vision of the saints, who promise that he will receive promotion from the Prefect of Thessalonike, and prophecy the triumph of Christianity and the opening of the orthodox churches under the emperor Theodosius I (379-395). Alexios entrusts his text to the home of a pious woman called Sophronia, living by one of the gates of Ulpiana. Many years later, while at Dassaretia (or in Amphipolis), he receives the news of the liberation of Christianity by Constantine. He goes to Ulpiana, where he meets Phocas, a Christian missionary who had been miraculously brought from Africa in order to Christianise the city. They find Zosimos, the man who had thrown the martyrs into the well, and who from that moment had been blind. With his help, they find the well and recover the fragrant relics of the saints. Zosimos is miraculously healed and becomes a Christian. The relics are brought to Constantinople under Constantine the Great [in BHG 661 only].

Quoted text: Halkin 1983. Translation and summary: E. Rizos


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Floros, Lauros and their companions, martyrs at Ulpiana : S00871 Proklos and Maximos, martyrs in Byzantium : S00931

Saint Name in Source

Φλῶρος, Λαῦρος, Μερεντῖνος, Ἀθανάσιος, Ἀναστάσιος Πρόκλος, Μάξιμος

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

Constantinople and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Constantinople Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - other

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle at martyrdom and death Miracle after death Specialised miracle-working Punishing miracle Miracles causing conversion Power over objects Healing diseases and disabilities Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Miraculous behaviour of relics/images

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Officials Women Pagans

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


This martyrdom account was written in Constantinople no earlier than the 5th/6th century. It survives in five recensions (BHG 660-664), two of which have been published: - BHG 664 in AASS Aug. III, d. 18 (1737), 522-524 - BHG 662z in Halkin 1983. Italian translations of the main recensions, without the Greek text, and a survey of the manuscript tradition can be found in: Bressi and Votto 1998.


This martyrdom account attests to the cult of a pair of martyrs from Dardania (northwest Balkans), which was transmitted to and flourished at Constantinople. There seems to be no attestation for these martyrs in the Latin tradition and the early martyrologies. Their martyrdom account, belonging to the so-called epic passiones, was very probably produced in Constantinople no earlier than the 5th/6th century. They had a martyrium/monastery in the west part of the city, where their memory was celebrated on 18 August. In Comnenian times, relics of their heads were kept in the monastery of the Pantokrator (Synaxarium Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae, Aug. 18, ed. de Smedt and Delehaye 1902, 908). Their cult gained great popularity in the Byzantine Church, and spread through the Balkans, Russia, and southern Italy. A particularly interesting part of the text is the final prayer of the saints, which ascribes to them specialised power as avengers of perjury, and describes them as granters of prosperity. Although probably written in the capital, this passio demonstrates clear cultural connections with northwest Illyricum. The specific geographical association of the cult with the city of Ulpiana (near today’s Gračanica, Kosovo) is particularly striking, given the poverty of our knowledge about early Christian saints and martyrs in Illyricum: we know very little about late antique Christian cults from the cities and regions between Sirmium and Thessalonike, with the curious exception of Ulpiana. The hagiography of Floros and Lauros recounts essentially the same story as the Latin legend of the Quattuor Coronati, namely the martyrdom of Christian stonemasons who were employed for the building of a temple (E00). Yet there is no reason to believe that the Latin legend of the Quattuor Coronati is more ancient or more historical than the story of Floros and Lauros. It is safer to regard them as derivatives of a common legendary source reflecting the cultural background of the Middle Danube and its hinterland. Apparently, the two cults were shaped by the transfer of the same north Balkan legend, from Dardania to Constantinople and from Pannonia to Rome. In Rome, the Pannonian legend was associated with the figures of the four Roman martyrs Claudius, Nicostratus, Simpronianus, and Castorius, whose veneration is documented since the mid 4th century. Something similar is likely to have happened also in the case of Floros and Lauros in Constantinople: their passio presents them as natives of Byzantium, who move to Ulpiana for business and are martyred there; their relics are later brought back to Byzantium (according to BHG 661). A detail of interest is that they are presented as pupils of the martyrs Proklos and Maximos, whose names are invoke together with that of John the Evangelist in the final prayer of Floros and Lauros. These two martyrs are otherwise unknown, but it seems that they were venerated as the presumed Byzantine seniors and masters of the two stonecutters. This seemingly obscure detail may suggest that the cult of Floros and Lauros was merged with other pre-existing cults and shrines in Constantinople. James Rendel Harris suggested that the cult of Floros and Lauros was a Christian avatar of the Dioscuri, but his arguments were criticised by several scholars (Rendel Harris 1903, 1-19; Delehaye 1903, 427-432; Zeiller 1918, 103; Bressi/Votto 1998, 85-88). Yet the association of the Dioscuri with Floros and Lauros cannot be dismissed as fully coincidental. The saints indeed share certain features with the twin gods, especially their description as twin brothers and their specialised power as avengers of perjury. The veneration of the saints as protectors of horses in Russia may also attest to the same pre-Christian component of the cult.


Text: Halkin, F,. "Une passion inédite des saints Florus et Laurus, BHG 662z," Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinistik 33 (1983), 37-44. (Greek text of BHG 662z) Bressi, A., and Votto, S., I Santi Floro e Lauro (Naples, 1998). Further reading: Delehaye, H., "Castor et Pollux dans les légendes hagiographiques," Analecta Bollandiana 23 (1904), 427-432. Rendel Harris, J., The Dioscuri in the Christian Legends (Cambridge, 1903). Rizos, E., "Martyrs from the Northwestern Balkans in the Byzantine Greek Ecclesiastical Tradition: Patterns and Mechanisms of Cult Transfer," in: I. Bugarski, O. Heinrich-Tamaska, D. Syrbe, and V. Ivanisević (eds.), GrenzÜbergänge – „Spätrömisch“, „frühchristlich“, „frühbyzantinisch“ als Kategorien der historisch-archäologischen Forschung an der mittleren Donau (4.-8. Jh. n. Chr.) (Forsu Spätantike und Frühmittelalter 4; Remshalden, 2017), 195-213. Zeiller, J., Les origines chrétiennes dans les provinces danubiennes de l’Empire Romain (Paris, 1918).

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