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E01904: Gregory of Nazianzus in his Oration 4 (Against Julian I), of 362/363, refers to the deaths of martyrs, naming the Apostles *John (S00042), *Peter (S00036), *Paul (S00008), and *James (S00108), *Stephen (the First Martyr, S00030), *Luke (the Evangelist, S00442), *Andrew (the Apostle, S00288), and *Thekla (follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092). He refers to the festivals held in their honour and the miracles performed by their bodily remains. Written in Greek at Nazianzus (central Asia Minor).

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posted on 2016-10-10, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 4, Against Julian I (CPG 3010.04), 69.

ΞΘ’. Οὐκ ᾐδέσθης τὰ ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ σφάγια; οὐδὲ ἐφοβήθης τοὺς μεγάλους ἀγωνιστὰς, τὸν Ἰωάννην ἐκεῖνον, τὸν Πέτρον, τὸν Παῦλον, τὸν Ἰάκωβον, τὸν Στέφανον, τὸν Λουκᾶν, τὸν Ἀνδρέαν, τὴν Θέκλαν, τοὺς ἐπ’ ἐκείνοις τε καὶ πρὸ ἐκείνων τῆς ἀληθείας προκινδυνεύσαντας; οἳ πυρὶ, καὶ σιδήρῳ, καὶ θηρσὶ, καὶ τυράννοις προθύμως ἀντηγωνίσαντο, καὶ παροῦσι κακοῖς καὶ ἀπειλουμένοις, ὥσπερ ἐν ἀλλοτρίοις σώμασιν ἢ ἀσώματοι; τίνος ἕνεκεν; ἵνα μὴ προδῶσι μηδὲ μέχρι ῥήματος τὴν εὐσέβειαν. Ὧν αἱ μεγάλαι τιμαὶ καὶ πανηγύρεις· παρ’ ὧν δαίμονες ἑλαύνονται, καὶ νόσοι θεραπεύονται· ὧν αἱ ἐπιφάνειαι, καὶ ὧν αἱ προῤῥήσεις· ὧν καὶ τὰ σώματα μόνον ἴσα δύνανται ταῖς ἁγίαις ψυχαῖς, ἢ ἐπαφώμενα, ἢ τιμώμενα· ὧν καὶ ῥανίδες αἵματος μόνον, καὶ μικρὰ σύμβολα πάθους ἴσα δρῶσι τοῖς σώμασι.

‘69. Did you have no respect for the victims slain for Christ's sake? Did you not fear those mighty champions, that John, Peter, Paul, James, Stephen, Luke, Andrew, and Thekla? And those who after them and before them faced danger in the cause of Truth, and who joyfully faced fire, sword, wild beasts, tyrants, and evils both real and threatening to come, as though they were in the bodies of others, or rather bodiless! And what for? In order that they might not betray the true faith, even by word. Theirs are the great honours and festivals. By them demons are cast out and diseases healed. Theirs are manifestations, and theirs are prophecies. Their mere bodies can do the same things as their holy souls, when touched or venerated. Even drops of their blood and little signs of their passion, produce equal effect with their bodies!’

Text: Migne, Patrologia Graeca 35 (1857), 589. Translation: Efthymios Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John, Apostle and Evangelist : S00042 Paul, the Apostle : S00008 James the Apostle, son of Zebedee, ob. 1st c. : S00108 Andrew, the Apostle : S00288 Luke, the Apostle : S00442 Stephen, the First Martyr : S00030 Thekla, follower of Apostle Paul

Saint Name in Source

Ἰωάννης Παῦλος Ἰάκωβος Ἀνδρέας Λουκᾶς Στέφανος Θέκλα Πέτρος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)


  • 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 - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Scepticism/rejection of the cult of saints

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities Exorcism Revelation of hidden knowledge (past, present and future) Apparition, vision, dream, revelation

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Pagans

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - unspecified Contact relic - dust/sand/earth Bodily relic - blood


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. Gregory published his two polemical treatises against the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) after the emperor had declared his adherence to the pagan religion. They belong to the author's earliest rhetorical works, written shortly after his ordination to the priesthood. On the manuscripts of this text, see:


Gregory denounces Julian’s decision to remove the Christian symbols from the standards of the army, which he describes as an insult against Christ and his martyrs, invoking the power of the latter as unbeatable champions. The author names the first martyrs of the apostolic era as the chief examples, but his words evidently refer to all the martyrs. For him, the proof of their extraordinary grace and glory is the cult they receive through festivals, and the various miracles they perform not only by the power of their spirit, but also by the smallest piece of their relics.


Text: Migne, J.-P., Patrologiae Cursus Completus: Series Graeca 35 (Paris: Imprimerie Catholique, 1857), 532-664 (esp. 589).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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