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E02540: John Chrysostom, in his homily Against Games and Theatres, of 399, tells how the city sought the help of the Apostles *Peter (S00036), *Andrew (S00288), *Paul (S00008), and *Timothy (S00466), at the shrine of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople, after damaging rainfall; he also mentions a feast of thanksgiving, when the rains abated, held at a shrine of the Apostles Peter and Paul across the sea, probably the shrine of Rufinianae. Written in Greek at Constantinople.

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posted on 2017-03-09, 00:00 authored by erizos
John Chrysostom, Against Games and Theatres (CPG 4441.7)

The author reproaches his congregation for attending games at the hippodrome on a Good Friday.

Section 1. Col. 264-265
Τί δὲ ἐροῦμεν; ἢ τί ἀπολογησόμεθα, εἰ ξένος τίς ποθεν ἐπιστὰς ἐγκαλοίη καὶ λέγοι· Ταῦτα ἡ πόλις τῶν ἀποστόλων; ταῦτα ἡ τοιοῦτον λαβοῦσα ὑποφήτην; ταῦτα ὁ δῆμος ὁ φιλόχριστος, τὸ θέατρον τὸ ἄπλαστον, τὸ πνευματικόν; [………] Πῶς δυνησόμεθα τὸν Θεὸν λοιπὸν ἵλεω ποιῆσαι; πῶς καταλλάξαι ὀργιζόμενον; Πρὸ τριῶν ἡμερῶν ἐπομβρία καὶ ὑετὸς κατεῤῥήγνυτο πάντα παρασύρων, ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ τοῦ στόματος, ὡς εἰπεῖν, τὴν τράπεζαν τῶν γηπόνων ἀφαρπάζων, στάχυας κομῶντας κατακλίνων, τὰ ἄλλα ἅπαντα τῇ πλεονεξίᾳ τῆς ὑγρᾶς κατασήπων οὐσίας· λιτανεῖαι καὶ ἱκετηρίαι, καὶ πᾶσα ἡμῶν ἡ πόλις ὥσπερ χείμαῤῥος ἐπὶ τοὺς τόπους τῶν ἀποστόλων ἔτρεχε, καὶ συνηγόρους ἐλαμβάνομεν τὸν ἅγιον Πέτρον καὶ τὸν μακάριον Ἀνδρέαν, τὴν ξυνωρίδα τῶν ἀποστόλων, Παῦλον καὶ Τιμόθεον. Μετ’ ἐκεῖνα, τῆς ὀργῆς λυθείσης, καὶ πέλαγος περάσαντες, καὶ κυμάτων κατατολμήσαντες, ἐπὶ τοὺς κορυφαίους ἐτρέχομεν, τὸν Πέτρον τὴν κρηπῖδα τῆς πίστεως, τὸν Παῦλον τὸ σκεῦος τῆς ἐκλογῆς, πανήγυριν ἐπιτελοῦντες πνευματικὴν, καὶ τοὺς ἄθλους αὐτῶν ἀνακηρύττοντες, τὰ τρόπαια καὶ τὰς νίκας τὰς κατὰ τῶν δαιμόνων. [………]

‘What shall we say? Or how shall we justify ourselves, if some stranger comes from somewhere and reproaches us saying: ‘Is this how the city of the Apostles behaves? The one that has received such a great teacher? The people who love Christ, the innocent congregation, the spiritual one?’ [………] How shall we be able to placate God in the future? How shall we propitiate Him in his wrath? Three days ago, rain and heavy showers broke, sweeping away everything, snatching the table of food from the mouth, as it were, of the farmers, flattening the ripe corn, and making everything else rot by the excess of humidity. There were litanies and services of supplication, and our entire city hastened like a torrent to the places of the apostles, and we invoked as advocates the holy Peter, and the blessed Andrew, this pair of Apostles, and Paul and Timothy. After that, when divine anger was quenched, we crossed the sea, daring the waves, and hastened to the chief Apostles, Peter, the fundament of the faith, and Paul, the vessel of election (Acts 9.15), celebrating a spiritual festival, proclaiming their struggles, trophies, and victories over the demons.’

Text: Migne 1862. Translation: Efthymios Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Andrew, the Apostle : S00288 Peter the Apostle : S00036 Paul, the Apostle : S00008 Timothy, the disciple of Paul the Apostle, ob. c.97 : S00466

Saint Name in Source

Ἀνδρέας Πέτρος Παῦλος Τιμόθεος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies


  • 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

Major author/Major anonymous work

John Chrysostom

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting graves and shrines

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Peasants

Cult Activities - Relics

Unspecified relic


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. Chrysostom's sermon Against Games and Theatres is known from two manuscripts:


This sermon was delivered at Constantinople in 399. Its main purpose is to reprimand the people, John’s audience, for attending games and spectacles during Christian festivals. John refers to Constantinople as a city of the Apostles, and one that has received ‘such a great teacher’, which may refer to the presence of the relics of Andrew and Timothy at the shrine of the apostles. It seems that the presence of these relics established the Holy Apostles as the place where the city offered its extraordinary prayers in times of need, thus treating the apostles as its patrons. Thus, during the excessive rainfalls of 399, Chrysostom holds services of supplication at the Holy Apostles, invoking the intercession of Andrew with his brother, Peter, and Timothy with his master, Paul. When the calamity ended, a festival of thanksgiving is celebrated at another shrine of the apostles, focusing on Peter and Paul, which is across the sea. It is probable that this was the apostoleion of the Rufinianae. We are informed about this shrine by Kallinikos, the biographer of *Hypatios of Rufinianae, who reports that it was founded by the senator Flavius Rufinus on his estate near Chalcedon (probably at today’s Caddebostan) (E01133). Rufinus reportedly deposited there relics of Peter and Paul from Rome, and he was buried at the shrine. Adjacent to it, there was a monastery, initially manned by Egyptian monks who left it after Rufinus’ murder (in 395), and Rufinus' palace which became imperial property after his murder. In c. 400 – namely, roughly at the time when our text was written – the ascetic Hypatios and his companions settled at Rufinianae, reviving the monastery which flourished for centuries, known as Saint Hypatios (Janin 1975, 38-40). In 403, the shrine and monastery became the venue of the Council of the Oak which deposed John Chrysostom (see E02729). Both our text and the Life of Hypatios suggest that, around AD 400, the shrine of the Rufinianae was greatly revered as a centre of the cult of the Apostles in Constantinople, probably thanks to the presence of the relics. The nature of these relics (corporeal or contact relics?), however, is not defined anywhere. The shrine of the Apostles is also attested through funerary inscriptions of its clergy (E01132).


Text: Migne, J.-P., Patrologiae Cursus Completus: Series Graeca 56 (Paris: Imprimerie Catholique, 1862), 263-270. Translation: Mayer, W., and Allen, P., John Chrysostom (The Early Church Fathers; London: Routledge, 2000), 118-125. Further reading: Bartelink, G., Callinicos, Vie d'Hypatios (Sources Chretiennes 177; Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1971), 13-17. Drobner, H.R., The Fathers of the Church: A Comprehensive Introduction (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), 327-337. Janin, R. Les églises et les monastères des grands centres byzantins (Bithynie, Hellespont, Latros, Galèsios, Trébizonde, Athènes, Thessalonique) (Paris, 1975), 38-40. Kelly, J.N.D., Golden Mouth: The Story of John Chrysostom. Ascetic, Preacher, Bishop (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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