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E02259: John Chrysostom, in his homily On *Eustathios (bishop of Antioch, ob. 4th c., S01316), delivered during a service held at Antioch, stresses that, although buried in Thrace (eastern Balkans), the saint is revered in Antioch, and, although his death was peaceful, he can still be called a martyr. Written in Greek at Antioch (Syria) in the late 380s.

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posted on 2017-01-18, 00:00 authored by erizos
John Chrysostom, On Eustathios (CPG 4352, BHG 644)


1-2. We may call Eustathios blessed, for he has died in confession and unfeigned faith, passing beyond the mutability of this life.

3. Eustathios died and was buried in Thrace, but his memory and the progress of his church in Antioch constitute the best possible monument for him. Every person keeps the saint in their minds.

4. Although buried in Thrace, Eustathios’ fame shines through the whole world.

5. Although he died a natural death, Eustathios can be called a martyr, because of his proven intention to suffer.

6. Eustathios’ story is set in the aftermath of the persecutions, when the Arian heresy appeared.

7. The heresy reaches Antioch from Egypt, but Eustathios, then bishop, foresees the evil and prepares to repel the danger by his teaching. Unable to resist his wisdom, the heretics have him exiled.

8. His exile and the rise of heresy are a test which proves the feebleness of the enemies of the faith, and the strength of the true faith itself.

9. Before departing from the city, Eustathios instructs his disciples to resist and to protect the people from the heresy.

10. Following Eustathios’ orders, the current bishop of Antioch (Flavianos), gives up his secular office and helps in the administration and defense of the orthodox community, until Meletios becomes bishop.

Summary: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Eustathios, bishop of Antioch, ob. c. 337 : S01316

Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Antioch on the Orontes

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

Antioch on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora

Major author/Major anonymous work

John Chrysostom

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Service for the Saint

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy

Cult Activities - Relics

Noted absence of relics


John of Antioch, bishop of Constantinople, who came to be known as Chrysostom (the Golden Mouth), was born in 344/354 in Antioch on the Orontes where he studied under Libanius. He joined the Nicene Christian community of Antioch, led by bishop Meletios of Antioch, and was ordained priest by Meletios’ successor, Flavianos in 386. Acquiring a great reputation as a preacher, John was appointed as bishop of Constantinople in 397. Clashing with the bishop of Alexandria Theophilos and the empress Eudoxia in 403/404, Chrysostom was deposed and banished to Cucusus in Cappadocia and died in Comana of Pontus in 407. On the manuscript tradition of this homily (21 manuscripts), see: (accessed 06/05/2017)


Dating from Chrysostom’s Antiochene period, this homily was composed on the occasion of a festival held in memory of the city’s bishop Eustathios who had died in exile in Traianopolis of Thrace, in the 330s. It is an important testimony not only for the organization of the cult of a local saint whose burial place was far away from the city, but, most importantly, for the use of this cult for purposes related to the church politics of the time. It is probable that this festival, which, in a sense, was a celebration of the continuous succession of the orthodox bishops of Antioch, was held at the shrine of *Babylas, where the body of one of these bishops, Meletios, was resting. The absence of Eustathios’ relics, and the fact that he was not a martyr were perhaps seen as problematic by some in Chrysostom’s audience. The author, therefore, insists on the importance of the living memory of the saint, and on his proven intention to suffer as a martyr. The establishment of Eustathios’ cult was politically expedient for the shaping of collective memory, which the absence of his relics could not prevent. The cult of Eustathios must be understood in the context of the divisions of the Antiochene Nicene community during the fourth century. In 330, the Nicene bishop of Antioch, Eustathios, was deposed by the Arians and exiled to Thrace. Between 330 and 360, two dissident Nicene congregations were organized in the city, one of which was led by two lay scholars, Diodoros of Tarsus and Flavianos (later to become bishop). In 360, the see of Antioch fell vacant and the dominant Arian faction elected Meletios, hitherto bishop of Sebaste in Armenia. Despite relying on the vote of the heretics, Meletios expressed his Nicene sympathies almost immediately after his election. The community of Diodoros and Flavianos recognized him as their legitimate bishop, and he ordained the two scholars as priests. The other Nicene congregation, however, refused to accept Meletios and elected another bishop, Paulinos. Thus a state of schism emerged, with Paulinos being recognized as the canonical bishop of Antioch by Athanasius of Alexandria and Damasus of Rome, and Meletios being accepted by Basil of Caesarea and most of the Nicene bishops in the East. Meletios spent most of his episcopate in exile in Armenia, but was allowed to return and take up his see in 378. When he died in 381, he was succeeded by Flavianos. The schism, however, continued as Paulinos kept his position until his death in 383, and was succeeded by Euagrios who died in 393. The latter was not replaced, and thus the division was finally ended. It is probable that Chrysostom, a member of Flavianos' clergy, preached this sermon before the end of the schism. Eustathios was apparently revered as a founding father and hero of orthodoxy by both factions, and both rival bishops probably claimed for themselves the title of Eustathios’ legitimate successor. Chrysostom’s account reflects the version of the story promoted by Flavianos, glossing over the details of the thirty years intervening between the exile of Eustathios and the election of Meletios. The involvement of Flavianos in the leadership of the Nicene congregation of that time is also attested in the Ecclesiastical History of Theodoret of Cyrus (HE 2.24.8-11; 4.22, 24; 8.6-7), but the precise events are not sufficiently documented. Flavianos’ claim to be the legitimate orthodox bishop of Antioch was based on presenting himself as a close associate and successor of both Eustathios and Meletios (E02056), both of whom he promoted as saints.


Text: Migne, J.-P., Patrologia Graeca 50 (Paris: Imprimerie Catholique, 1862), 597-606. Translation: Mayer, W., St John Chrysostom, The Cult of the Saints: Select Homilies and Letters Introduced, Translated, and Annotated (Popular Patristics Series; New York: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2006), 49-62. Further reading: Drobner, H.R., The Fathers of the Church: A Comprehensive Introduction (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), 327-337. Cavallera, F., Le schisme d’Antioche (Paris, 1905). Downey, G., A History of Antioch in Syria from Seleucus to the Arab Conquest (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961), 350-353, 410-419. Kelly, J.N.D., Golden Mouth: The Story of John Chrysostom. Ascetic, Preacher, Bishop (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1995).

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