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E01811: The Martyrdom of the *Captives of Bet Zabdai (martyrs in Persia, ob. ca 362/363, S00917) relates that a martyr shrine was built in honour of these martyrs by a certain abbot, and that the relics of the bishops Dāwsā and Māryahb and of several presbyters were transferred into it from the cave where they were originally interred.

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posted on 2016-08-14, 00:00 authored by sminov
Martyrdom of the Captives of Bet Zabdai

For a full summary of this Martyrdom, see E01810

ܘܛܢ ܪܫ ܕܝܪܐ ܚܕ ܛܢܢܐ ܫܦܝܪܐ ܕܐܠܗܐ: ܘܒܢܐ ܬܡܢ ܒܐܬܪܐ ܗ̇ܘ ܒܝܬ ܣܗ̈ܕܐ. ܘܫܩܠ ܐܢܘܢ ܠܓܖ̈ܡܐ ܗܢܘܢ ܡܢ ܡܥܪܬܐ ܗ̇ܝ: ܘܣܡ ܐܢܘܢ ܒܗ ܒܒܝܬܐ ܕܒܢܐ. ܘܗܐ ܡܬܥܒܕ ܬܡܢ ܟܢܫܐ ܥܕܡܐ ܠܝܘܡܢܐ.

'A certain abbot was inspired with beautiful zeal for God. He built a martyr shrine there on that place, took those bones from the cave, and put them in the building he had built. And lo, unto this day gatherings are being held there.'

Text: Bedjan 1890-1897, vol. 2, 324. Translation: Smith 2016, 190; lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Captives of Bet Zabdai, martyrs in Persia, ob. ca 362/363 : S00917

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • Syriac

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region


Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Gpettā Susa Susa Շաւշ Šawš شوش Shush

Major author/Major anonymous work

Persian martyrdom accounts

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - abbots

Cult Activities - Relics

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


The Martyrdom of the Captives of Bet Zabdai is an account of the martyrdom of the bishop *Dāwsā, priest *Māryahb, deacon *‘Abdišō‘ and 275 other Christians, who were captured by the Persians after the Roman city of Beth Zabdai was conquered by the troops of Shapur II (r. 309-379) in the year 360. They were executed near the village of Gpettā in Sasanian Persia, the exact location of which is unknown. It is an original Syriac composition, produced apparently during the 5th century by a Christian author in Persia. The most likely place of the composition of the Martyrdom is the village of Gpettā, where the martyrs' relics were kept and where their annual commemoration was performed. There is not yet a critical edition of the Martyrdom. Its Syriac text was published for the first time by Assemani and then republished by Bedjan on the basis of ms. Vat. Syr. 160 (c. 10th century). Syriac text: Bedjan 1890-1870, vol. 2, pp. 316-324; Latin translation: Assemani 1748, vol. 1, pp. 134-140; English translation: Smith 2016, pp. 186-190. For general information, see Smith 2016, 135-139, 184-186.


The Martyrdom relates that at some point after the cult of the martyrs of Bet Zabdai was already established among the villagers of Gpettā who performed their annual commemoration, it received an additional boost due to the efforts of certain unnamed abbot, who built a 'martyr shrine' (Syr. bet sahde). According to the author of the Martyrdom, this shrine was functioning during his own lifetime.


Main editions and translations: Assemani, S.E., Acta Sanctorum Martyrum Orientalium et Occidentalium in duas partes distributa, adcedunt Acta S. Simeonis Stylitae. 2 vols (Roma: Typis Josephi Collini, 1748). Bedjan, P., Acta martyrum et sanctorum. 7 vols (Paris / Leipzig: Otto Harrassowitz, 1890-1897). Smith, K.R., Constantine and the Captive Christians of Persia: Martyrdom and Religious Identity in Late Antiquity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2016).

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