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E02621: A follower of Chrysostom writes, in 407/408, a Funerary Oration for *John Chrysostom (bishop of Constantinople, ob. 407, S00779) for a memorial ceremony held for the recently deceased bishop, presenting him as a martyr, and requesting his prayers. Written in Greek in Asia Minor or Constantinople.

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posted on 2017-03-28, 00:00 authored by erizos
pseudo-Martyrios, Funerary Speech for John Chrysostom (CPG 6517, BHG 871)

The author is as yet uncertain whether the news of John's death in exile is accurate, or whether he will in time return to reoccupy the patriarchal throne:

136. […….] εἰ μὲν οὖν ἔτι περίεστιν, ὀψόμεθά ποτε αὐτόν, ἀδελφοί, κατὰ τὸν Ἰωσὴφ ἐπὶ τοῦ θρόνου καθήμενον καὶ σιτοδοτοῦντα πᾶσι τὴν πνευματικὴν τροφήν· εἰ δὲ ὄντως ἐπὶ τὴν ἀληθινὴν μετέστη ζωὴν καὶ πρὸς τὸν ποθούμενον ἐπανέδραμε Χριστόν, ἔχομεν πρεσβεύοντα ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν μάρτυρα.

‘(......) If then he [John Chrysostom] still survives, my brothers, we shall see him at some time sitting on the throne like Joseph and distributing with spiritual sustenance to all [Genesis. 41.56, 42–45]; but if he has really migrated to the true life and has returned to the longed-for Christ, we have a martyr to serve as an intercessor for us.’

The final paragraph of the text reads as follows:

(144.) Ἀλλ’ ὦ θαυμάσιε πάτερ, ἔντεινον καὶ κατευοδοῦ καὶ βασίλευε, καὶ τῶν βασιλικῶν αὐλῶν ἐπίβαινε τοῦ Χριστοῦ, τὴν ὀρφανίαν ἡμῖν ἐπικουφίζων τῇ μνήμῃ, εὔχου τε διηνεκῶς καὶ παρακάλει τὸν σὸν καὶ ἡμέτερον δεσπότην Χριστόν, τόν σοι τὸν ποθούμενον τοῦ μαρτυρίου περιθέντα στέφανον, βῆναί τε ἡμᾶς κατ’ ἴχνος τῆς σῆς ἀρετῆς καὶ τῆς αὐτῆς σοὶ καταξιωθῆναι λήξεως ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τῷ κυρίῳ ἡμῶν, ᾧ ἡ δόξα καὶ τὸ κράτος νῦν καὶ ἀεὶ καὶ εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. ἀμήν.

‘144. But, wondrous father, press on, have a good journey and rule [Psalm 44.5]: set foot in the royal halls of Christ, lightening our bereavement with your memory, pray constantly and entreat your and our lord Christ, who has invested you with the desired crown of martyrdom, that we may walk in the footsteps of your virtue and be deemed worthy of the same portion as you in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and power now and forever to all eternity. Amen.’

Text: Wallraff and Ricci 2007.
Translation: Barnes and Bevan 2013.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople, ob. 407 : S00779

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies 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 Constantinople and region

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

Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Ecclesiastics - bishops


The text of the Funerary Speech is preserved in 7 manuscrpts: The manuscript tradition is analysed by Walraff 2007. Also see: Barnes and Bevan 2013, 12-14.


The Funerary Oration for John Chrysostom is the revised version of a speech delivered during a memorial celebration held by members of John’s ecclesiastical faction, weeks or months after his death (September 407). Most of the manuscripts ascribe the work to Martyrios, who was bishop of Antioch between 458 and 470, but this is very probably inaccurate. In paragraph 1, the author presents himself as a pupil of Chrysostom, by whom he was educated, baptised, and ordained. He says relatively little about Chrysostom’s years in Antioch, but has detailed information about his Constantinopolitan period. For information and models of style he depends heavily on Chrysostom’s homilies, demonstrating such a familiarity with these texts that we could imagine him as being one of the clergy responsible for recording and editing the bishop’s works. It seems then quite likely that the author belonged to the entourage John built up during his ministry at Constantinople, the members of which were exiled after his deposition. Our author appears to be addressing a gathering of supporters of John, the venue of which is not clear. The fact that the community has received the news about its master’s death from the returning guards of John may suggest that they lived in Constantinople or its vicinity. If this is true, our author may have been a member of the lower clergy, who fell out of grace, but did not have to suffer the penalty of a remote banishment, as the bishops of Chrysostom’s party did. The latter included the author of the other major biography of Chrysostom, Palladios of Helenopolis, who was banished to the Thebaid in Egypt. The author probably prepared the text for publication during the winter of 407/408, as he makes no allusion to any event later than the arrival of the soldiers who reported John’s death, and still expresses doubts about the accuracy of the announcement. Thus our text appears to be slightly earlier than Palladios’ Dialogue on the Life of John Chrysostom, which is thought to have been produced in 408 or soon thereafter (E02400). Both texts echo the mobilisation of John’s exiled supporters at the news of his death, and serve more or less the same partisan agenda: to clear the memory of Chrysostom and to call upon his followers to continue their resistance to his enemies (which is stated in par. 132 and 142/143 of our text). The Funerary Oration and Palladius’ Dialogue are our main sources of biographical information about Chrysostom, and, although they draw a highly idealised portrait of Chrysostom, they are essentially historical and apologetic in their outlook, summing up the most important events of John’s life, in the style of a funerary oration. Both texts demonstrate that John’s veneration started immediately after his death among his followers. The restoration of these people to the ranks of the imperial Church in the 410s contributed to the cementing of John’s official cult. Ten years after John’s death, in 416/418, the Churches of Antioch, Constantinople, and Alexandria restored his commemoration in the liturgy. In 428, his memory started to be celebrated, and in 438 his remains were brought to Constantinople and buried at the shrine of the Holy Apostles. The references in our text to John’s death are particularly interesting, above all, due to the doubts of the author as to whether his hero is indeed dead. The author leaves a possibility that all this is just false rumours and that John will soon appear to be restored in triumph. He is clearly unaware of the florid version of John’s death recounted by Palladios in the Dialogue, suggesting that this crucial piece of John’s hagiographic profile had not yet circulated (E02400). Yet our author is convinced that, if John has indeed died in the hands of his foes, he is already a martyr and can be invoked as such (par. 133). In paragraph 3, he asserts that John will be received into heaven by Abel, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Job, David, Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist, Peter, and Paul. For our author, all these saints share aspects of character with John. The oration closes with an invocation of John's intercessory prayers – in case he is already in heaven.


Text: Wallraff, M. Oratio Funebris in Laudem Sancti Iohannis Chrysostomi: Epitaffio attribuito a Martirio di Antiochia (BHG 871, CPG 6517) (Spoleto: Centro Fondazione Italiano di Studi sull’ Alto Medioevo, 2007). Translation and commentary: Barnes, T.D., and Bevan, G.A., The Funerary Speech for John Chrysostom (Translated Texts for Historians 60; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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