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E02729: Sozomen, in his Ecclesiastical History, mentions the shrine and monastery of the Apostles *Peter and *Paul (S00036 and S00008), founded by the patrician Rufinus (ob. 395), on his estate near Chalcedon (north-west Asia Minor, near Constantinople). In 403, it became the venue of the Council of the Oak, and resting place of the Egyptian ascetic *Ammonios (ascetic of Kellia, ob. 403, S01263), companion of the ascetic and bishop *Dioskoros (S01264), who was buried at the shrine of *Mokios (martyr of Byzantion, S01265) in Constantinople. Written in Greek at Constantinople, 439/450.

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posted on 2017-04-20, 00:00 authored by erizos
Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History, 8.17. 2-6

The events described concern the preparations of the so-called Council of the Oak, a gathering of bishops convoked in 403 under the bishop of Alexandria Theophilos, in order to depose John Chrysostom from the bishopric of Constantinople. Theophilos has arrived at Constantinople and meets enemies of John, in preparation for the council.

... ἐπεὶ δὲ πολλοὺς ἔγνω Ἰωάννῃ ἀπεχθάνεσθαι καὶ κατηγορεῖν ἑτοίμους, προδιαθεὶς τἆλλα, ᾗπερ αὐτῷ καλῶς ἔχειν ἐδόκει, ἧκεν εἰς Δρῦν. Χαλκηδόνος δὲ τοῦτο προάστειον, Ῥουφίνου τοῦ ὑπατικοῦ νῦν ἐπώνυμον, ἐν ᾧ βασίλειά ἐστι καὶ μεγίστη ἐκκλησία, ἣν αὐτὸς Ῥουφῖνος ἐπὶ τιμῇ Πέτρου καὶ Παύλου τῶν ἀποστόλων ἐδείματο καὶ ἀποστολεῖον ἐξ αὐτῶν ὠνόμασε· πλησίον δὲ μοναχοὺς συνῴκισεν οἳ τῆς ἐκκλησίας τὸν κλῆρον ἐπλήρουν. ἐνταῦθα δὲ συνελθὼν Θεόφιλος ἅμα τοῖς ἄλλοις ἐπισκόποις ἐνταῦθα δὲ συνελθὼν Θεόφιλος ἅμα τοῖς ἄλλοις ἐπισκόποις περὶ μὲν τῶν Ὠριγένους βιβλίων οὐδὲν ἐπεμνημόνευσε, τοὺς δὲ ἀπὸ Σκήτεως μοναχοὺς εἰς μετάνοιαν ἐκάλει, μήτε μνησικακεῖν μήτε κακῶς ποιεῖν ὑποσχόμενος. ἐπιβοώντων δὲ αὐτοῖς συγγνώμην αἰτεῖν τῶν Θεοφίλου σπουδαστῶν καὶ προσποιουμένων τὴν σύνοδον ἱκετεύειν ὑπὲρ αὐτῶν, ταραχθέντες οἱ μοναχοὶ καὶ τοῦτο χρῆναι ποιεῖν νομίσαντες πολλῶν ἐπισκόπων προκαθημένων—τοῦτο δὴ τὸ σύνηθες αὐτοῖς λέγειν κἂν ἀδικῶνται—«συγχώρησον» ἔφασαν. Θεοφίλου δὲ ἑτοίμως σπεισαμένου καὶ τὴν κοινωνίαν αὐτοῖς ἀποδόντος διελύθη τῶν περὶ Σκῆτιν ἀδικημάτων ἡ ἐξέτασις. ὅπερ οἶμαι οὐκ ἂν συνέβη, εἰ συμπαρῆσαν τοῖς ἄλλοις μοναχοῖς Διόσκορός τε καὶ Ἀμμώνιος. ὁ μὲν γὰρ ἤδη πρότερον τελευτήσας ἐτάφη ἐν τῇ Μωκίου τοῦ μάρτυρος ἐπωνύμῳ ἐκκλησίᾳ. Ἀμμώνιος δὲ ἔναγχος τῆς συνόδου παρασκευαζομένης ἐμαλακίσθη τὸ σῶμα· περαιωθεὶς δὲ εἰς Δρῦν χαλεπώτερον ὑπὸ τῆς νόσου διετέθη καὶ μετ’ οὐ πολὺ τελευτᾷ τὸν βίον· καὶ πρὸς τῶν πλησίον μοναχῶν, ἔνθα δὴ κεῖται, λαμπρᾶς ἠξιώθη ταφῆς.

‘... Once he [Theophilus of Alexandria] found out that many detested John and were ready to bring accusations against him, he arranged the rest as best as he judged, and went to Drys (‘the Oak’). This is a suburb of Chalcedon, nowadays called after the senator Rufinus, where there is a palace and a very large church which Rufinus himself built in honour of the apostles Peter and Paul, and styled it after them Apostoleion [= Shrine of the Apostles]. Next to it, he settled monks who served as the clergy of the church. Theophilus with the other bishops convened there, and talked no more about the books of Origen, but called the monks of Sketis to repentance, promising to hold no grudge against them, and do them no harm. The partisans of Theophilus joined in pressing them to seek pardon, pretending that the whole council was imploring for them. Thus the monks were dismayed and, regarding it as their duty to yield to such a large body of bishops convened together, they said “forgive us”, which is what they say habitually, even when they are wronged. Thus Theophilus readily reconciled himself with them and granted them communion, and the case concerning the grievances of the monks of Sketis was dropped. I believe, though, that this would not have happened, had Dioskoros and Ammonios been together with the other monks. The former had died some time earlier, and was interred at the church dedicated to Mokios the martyr. As for Ammonios, he had fallen ill a short while before, while preparations were being made for the council. When he crossed the sea to the Oak, he was severely afflicted by his malady and, not long after, he reached the end of his life. He was honoured with a splendid burial by the monks of the place, and there he still rests.’

Text: Bidez and Hansen 1995. Translation: Efthymios Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Peter the Apostle : S00036 Paul, the Apostle : S00008 Ammonios of Kellia, ascetic, ob. 403 : S01263 Dioskoros, monk and bishop of Hermopolis Parva, ob. 402/3 : S01264 Mokios, martyr in Byzantion : S01265

Saint Name in Source

Πέτρος Παῦλος Ἀμμώνιος Διόσκορος Μώκιος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)


  • 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


Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Activities Accompanying Cult

  • Meetings and gatherings of the clergy

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Construction of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Ecclesiastics - bishops Officials Aristocrats

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


Salamenios Hermeias Sozomenos (known in English as Sozomen) was born in the early 5th c. to a wealthy Christian family, perhaps of Arab origins, in the village of Bethelea near Gaza. He was educated at a local monastic school, studied law probably at Beirut, and settled in Constantinople where he pursued a career as a lawyer. Sozomen published his Ecclesiastical History between 439 and 450, perhaps around 445. It consists of nine books, the last of which is incomplete. In his dedication of the work, Sozomen states that he intended to cover the period from the conversion of Constantine to the seventeenth consulate of Theodosius II, that is, 312 to 439, but the narrative of the extant text breaks in about 425. The basis of Sozomen’s work is the Ecclesiastical History of Socrates, published a few years earlier, which our author revises and expands. Like Socrates, Sozomen was devoted to Nicene Orthodoxy and the Theodosian dynasty, but his work is marked by stronger hagiographical interests, a richer base of sources, and different sympathies/loyalties. Sozomen probably lacked the classical education of Socrates, but had a broader knowledge of hagiographical and monastic literature and traditions, which makes him a fuller source for the cult of saints. Besides Greek and Latin, Sozomen knew Aramaic, which allowed him to include information about ascetic communities, monastic founders, and martyrs from his native Palestine, Arabia, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Persia, to which Socrates had had no access. Much like the other ecclesiastical historians of the fourth and fifth centuries, Sozomen focuses on the East Roman Empire, only seldom referring to the West and Persia.


Sozomen alongside the slightly later Life of *Hypatios of Rufinianae by Kallinikos of Rufinianae are our main sources of information about the Apostoleion of Rufinianae (E01133), the second most important shrine of the Apostles in broader Constantinople. The tombs of both Dioskoros and Ammonios are important attestations of the practice of burying ecclesiastics and other notable people at the extramural shrines of Constantinople. Kallinikos and Sozomen report that it was founded by the senator Flavius Rufinus on his estate near Chalcedon (probably at today’s Caddebostan) (Janin 1975, 38-40). The complex consisted of a church and monastery, and of Rufinus’ palace and mausoleum/tomb. Rufinus reportedly had relics of Peter and Paul brought from Rome and deposited at the shrine. The monastery was initially manned by Egyptian monks who left it after Rufinus’ death (in 395). The monastery was probably abandoned for several years, whereas the palace was confiscated by the imperial house. The shrine, however, remained a greatly revered centre of the cult of the Apostles, probably thanks to the presence of the relics. The nature of these relics (corporeal or contact relics?), however, is not defined anywhere. In 399, John Chrysostom held a service of thanksgiving at that shrine after a disastrous storm. It was very probably with Chrysostom’s encouragement that, in c. 400, the ascetic Hypatios and his companions settled at Rufinianae, reviving the monastery which flourished for centuries. It seems that this was a mixed community, led by the Phrygian-born Hypatios, but including Syrians, one of whom wrote the first version of Hypatios’ Life (Life of Hypatios, Dedication 6). These were apparently the monks who received the Tall Brothers and their dying leader, Ammonius of Scetis, in 403, when the latter were summoned to the council convoked there by Theophilus of Alexandria against Chrysostom. Ammonius died before being able to appear at the council, which very probably sat at Rufinus’ palace, and he was buried by the local monks. His figure appears to have been revered as a saint, especially by Chrysostom’s schismatic followers. Palladius of Helenopolis mentions miracles happening at his burial site, whereas the ecclesiastical historian Socrates reports about a pilgrimage he made to the shrines of Peter and Paul in Rome (E04012). The latter may be a pious legend resulting from his burial at these saints’ shrine in Chalcedon.


Text: Bidez, J., and Hansen, G. C., Sozomenus. Kirchengeschichte. 2nd rev. ed. (Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten Jahrhunderte, Neue Folge 4; Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1995). Translations: Grillet, B., Sabbah, G., Festugière A.-J. Sozomène, Histoire ecclésiastique. 4 vols. (Sources chrétiennes 306, 418, 495, 516; Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1983-2008): text, French translation, and introduction. Hansen, G.C. Sozomen, Historia ecclesiastica, Kirchengeschichte, 4 vols. (Fontes Christiani 73; Turnhout: Brepols, 2004): text, German translation, and introduction. Hartranft, C.D. “The Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen, Comprising a History of the Church from AD 323 to AD 425." In A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: Second Series, edited by P. Schaff and H. Wace (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1890), 179-427. Further reading: Bartelink, G. Callinicos, Vie d' Hypatios (Sources Chretiennes 177; Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1971), 13-17. Chesnut, G. F. The First Christian Histories: Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius (Atlanta: Mercer University, 1986). Janin, R. Les églises et les monastères des grands centres Byzantins (Bithynie, Hellespont, Latros, Galèsios, Trébizonde, Athènes, Thessalonique) (Paris, 1975). Leppin, H. Von Constantin dem Grossen zu Theodosius II. Das christliche Kaisertum bei den Kirchenhistorikern Socrates, Sozomenus und Theodoret (Hypomnemata 110; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1996). Van Nuffelen, P., Un héritage de paix et de piété : Étude sur les histoires ecclésiastiques de Socrate et de Sozomène (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 142; Leuven: Peeters, 2004).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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