University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E02541: John Chrysostom, in his oration Against the Jews I, condemns the visits of Christians to the Jewish shrine of the cave of Matrona in the Antiochene suburb of Daphne, where they practice incubation. Written in Greek at Antioch (Syria), 386.

online resource
posted on 2017-03-09, 00:00 authored by erizos
John Chrysostom, Against the Jews I (CPG 4327), Section 6

Col. 852] Καὶ τοῦτο οὐ περὶ τῆς ἐνταῦθα λέγω συναγωγῆς μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ τῆς ἐν Δάφνῃ· πονηρότερον γὰρ ἐκεῖ τὸ βάραθρον, ὃ δὴ καλοῦσι Ματρώνης. Καὶ γὰρ πολλοὺς ἤκουσα τῶν πιστῶν ἀναβαίνειν ἐκεῖ, καὶ παρακαθεύδειν τῷ τόπῳ. Ἀλλὰ μὴ γένοιτό ποτε τούτους πιστοὺς προσειπεῖν. Ἐμοὶ καὶ τὸ Ματρώνης καὶ τὸ τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος ἱερὸν ὁμοίως ἐστὶ βέβηλον. Εἰ δέ τίς μου τόλμαν καταγινώσκει, πάλιν ἐγὼ τὴν ἐσχάτην αὐτοῦ καταγνώσομαι μανίαν. Εἰπὲ γάρ μοι, ὅπου δαίμονες οἰκοῦσιν, οὐχὶ ἀσεβείας χωρίον ἐστὶ, κἂν μὴ ξόανον εἱστήκῃ; Ὅπου Χριστοκτόνοι συνέρχονται, ὅπου σταυρὸς ἐλαύνεται, ὅπου βλασφημεῖται Θεὸς, ὅπου Πατὴρ ἀγνοεῖται, ὅπου Υἱὸς ὑβρίζεται, ὅπου Πνεύματος ἀθετεῖται χάρις, μᾶλλον δὲ καὶ αὐτῶν ὄντων δαιμόνων, οὐ μείζων ἐντεῦθεν ἡ βλάβη;

‘I am saying this not just about the synagogue here in town, but also the one at Daphne. For the place of perdition is even more wicked there – they call it the shrine of Matrona. I have heard indeed that many of the faithful go up there and sleep beside the place. But God forbid that we should ever call these people faithful! To me both the shrines of Matrona and Apollo are equally profane. And if anyone accuses me of rashness, I shall accuse him of utter madness. Tell me, isn’t the place where demons dwell a place of impiety, even if no statue stands there? A place where Christ’s murderers come together, where the cross is driven away, where God is blasphemed, where the Father is ignored, where the Son is offended, where the grace of the Spirit is overturned? Rather, since they are demons themselves, isn’t the harm coming from there greater?’

Text: Migne 1862, 852.
Translation: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Maccabean Brothers, 2nd-century BC Jewish martyrs in Antioch : S00303

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 - Places

Holy cave

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Condemnation/rejection of a specific cultic activity

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Other lay individuals/ people


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. This homily was delivered at Antioch, in the later months of 386. The date is derived from references to other sermons of the author belonging to that year. The subject of the text is the participation of Christians in festivals of the prominent Jewish community of Antioch. On the manuscript tradition of the text (118 manuscripts), see: (accessed 09/03/2017)


Among the Jewish practices attended by some Christians was the cult of the cave of Matrona, a Jewish shrine and synagogue at the suburb of Daphne, probably associated with the cult of the Maccabean Brothers. The veneration included visits to the shrine and incubation, which John condemns. The prominence of this cult and other Jewish practices in Antioch may have played a role in the rise of the Christian cult of the *Maccabean Martyrs (Vinson 1994, 183-184).


Text: Migne, J.-P., Patrologia Graeca, 48 (Paris: Imprimerie Catholique, 1862), 843-856. Translation: Mayer, W., and Allen, P., John Chrysostom (London: Routledge, 2000), 148-161. Further reading: Berger, A. "The Cult of the Maccabees in the Eastern Orthodox Church," in: G. Signori (ed.), Dying for the Faith, Killing for the Faith: Old-Testament Faith-Warriors (1 and 2 Maccabees) in Historical Perspective (Leiden: Brill, 2012) 105-23. Downey, G., Ancient Antioch (Princeton 1961). Drobner, H.R., The Fathers of the Church: A Comprehensive Introduction (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), 327-337, esp. 334-335. Hahn, J., "The Veneration of the Maccabean Brothers in Fourth Century Antioch: Religious Competition, Martyrdom, and Innovation," in: G. Signori (ed.), Dying for the Faith, Killing for the Faith : Old-Testament Faith-Warriors (1 and 2 Maccabees) in Historical Perspective (Leiden: Brill, 2012), 79-104. Joslyn-Siemiatkoski, D., Christian Memories of the Maccabean Martyrs (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). Schneider, A.B., "Makkabäische Märtyrer," in: Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum 23 (Stuttgart: Hiersemann, 2010), 1234-51. Van Henten, J. W., "The Christianisation of the Maccabean Martyrs. The Case of Origen," in: J. Leemans (ed.), Martyrdom and Persecution in Late Antique Christianity: Festschrift Boudewijn Dehandschutter (Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium; Leuven: Peeters, 2010), 333-351. Vinson, M., "Gregory Nazianzen's Homily 15 and the Genesis of the Christian Cult of Maccabean Martyrs," Byzantion 64 (1994), 165-192. Ziadé, R., Les Martyrs Maccabées: De l’histoire juive au culte chrétien. Les homélies de Grégoire de Nazianze et de Jean Chrysostome (Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 80; Leiden: Brill, 2007).

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager