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E02111: The Canons of the Council of Laodicea, of the late 4th c., forbid heretics to enter churches and martyr-shrines, and orthodox Christians to visit and pray at shrines of heretical martyrs. Written in Greek at Laodikeia/Laodicea of Phrygia (west central Asia Minor).

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posted on 2016-12-12, 00:00 authored by erizos
Canons of the Council of Laodicea, 6, 9

ς’. Περὶ τοῦ μὴ εἰς ἐκκλησίαν ἢ εἰς μαρτύριον εἰσιέναι αἱρετικὸν
Περὶ τοῦ μὴ συγχωρεῖν τοῖς αἱρετικοῖς εἰσιέναι εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ θεοῦ ἐπιμένοντας ἐν τῇ αἱρέσει.

'Canon 6. A heretic must not enter a church or shrine of martyrs (martyrion).
Heretics are not allowed to enter the house of God, as long as they persist in their heresy.'

Θ΄. Περὶ τοῦ τοῖς αἱρετικῶν σπηλαίοις μὴ παραβάλλειν ἐπὶ εὐχῇ.
Περὶ τοῦ μὴ συγχωρεῖν εἰς τὰ κοιμητήρια ἢ εἰς τὰ λεγόμενα μαρτύρια πάντων τῶν αἱρετικῶν ἀπιέναι τοὺς τῆς ἐκκλησίας, εὐχῆς ἢ θεραπείας ἕνεκα, ἀλλὰ τοὺς τοιούτους, ἐὰν ὦσι πιστοί, ἀκοινωνήτους γίνεσθαι μέχρι τινός, μετανοοῦντας δὲ καὶ ἐξομολογουμένους ἐσφάλθαι, παραδέχεσθαι.

'Canon 9. Those visiting the caves of the heretics should not be admitted to services.
The members of the Church are not allowed to visit the cemeteries or the so-called martyria of all the heretics, be it for prayer or veneration. Those who do so, if they are baptised, should be excommunicated for a period of time, and, if they repent and confess that they have erred, they should be admitted.'

ΛΔ. Περὶ τοῦ μὴ ἀπέρχεσθαι πρὸς τοὺς τῶν αἱρετικῶν ψευδομάρτυρας
Ὅτι οὐ δεῖ πάντα Χριστιανὸν ἐγκαταλιπεῖν μάρτυρας Χριστοῦ καὶ ἀπιέναι πρὸς τοὺς ψευδομάρτυρας τοῦτ’ἔστιν αἱρετικῶν, ἢ αὐτοὺς τοὺς προειρημένους αἱρετικοὺς γενομένους ἐπισκόπους· οὗτοι γὰρ ἀλλότριοι τυγχάνουσι τοῦ θεοῦ. Ἔστωσαν οὖν ἀνάθεμα οἱ ἀπερχόμενοι πρὸς αὐτούς.

'Canon 34. It is not allowed to visit the false martyrs of the heretics.
No Christian may forsake the martyrs of Christ, and go to the false martyrs (pseudomartyres), that is, those of the heretics, or to the same aforementioned heretics who have been bishops. For these people are aliens from God. Let those, therefore, who visit them, be anathema.'

Text: Joannou 1962. Translation: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Anonymous martyrs : S00060


  • 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

Laodicea ad Lycum

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

Laodicea ad Lycum Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Acceptance/rejection of saints from other religious groupings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives



The Council of Laodicea, the decisions of which are only known through the summary of sixty canons (rulings), is thought to have been convoked in the late 4th century at Laodikeia/Laodicea on the Lycus, in Phrygia Pacatiana.


Given the fact that it took place in Phrygia, an area with a strong presence of sectarian groups, especially Montanists and Novatians, the council dedicated many of its canons to framing the relations of the orthodox with the heretical groups – that is to say, to banning every possible contact. Canon 6 forbids the entry of heretics to the orthodox houses of worship, distinguishing between congregational churches (ἐκκλησία-ekklēsia) and shrines of martyrs (μαρτύριον/martyrion). Canons 9 and 34 forbid members of the orthodox community to visit the shrines of heretical martyrs, which it refers to by the terms martyrion and koimētērion. Canon 34, in particular, makes a special reference to the tombs of both martyrs and bishops. It seems that the sectarian groups developed a similar devotion for the tombs of martyrs and bishops, as the one known from the catholic/orthodox milieu, and it is very probable that several heretical shrines were active around Anatolia, given that some of the non-catholic Christian sects (Montanists, Marcionites, etc.) produced several martyrs during the 3rd- and early 4th-century persecutions. The popularity of some of these martyrs led to their gradual integration into the orthodox canon of saints.


Text: Joannou, P.-P. Discipline Generale Antique (Ive - Ixe S.). Fonti IX. Vol. I.2, Grottaferrata: Pontificia Commissione per la Redazione del Codice di Diritto Canonico Orientale, 1962, 130-155. English Translation: Percival, H. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 14. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1900. Available online, revised by Kevin Knight: .

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