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E03176: Palladius of Helenopolis writes in Greek the Lausiac History, a collection of short narratives and teachings of male and female ascetics in Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Asia Minor, and Italy, commissioned by the patrician Lausos. Written in Greek at Aspuna or Ankyra (both Galatia, central Asia Minor), 419/420. Overview entry

online resource
posted on 2017-07-05, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Palladius of Helenopolis, Lausiac History (BHG 1435-1438v; CPG 6036)



1. Isidoros of Alexandria.

2. Dorotheos the Theban, Palladios’ first monastic master in Alexandria.

3. The martyrdom of *Potamiaina, recounted by Isidoros (see $E03312).

4. Didymos the Blind and his vision concerning the death of Julian the Apostate.

5. Alexandra the recluse virgin - story recounted by Didymos.

6. Makarios the Presbyter of Alexandria, and the rich virgin. Story recounted by Didymos.

7. The monastic community of Nitria. Palladios met Arsisios, Poutouvastes, Asion, Kronios, and Sarapion, from whom he heard several stories.

8. *Amoun of Nitria, as recounted by Arsisios of Nitria ($E03314).

9. Or of Nitria. Palladios heard about him from others and Melania the Elder.

10. *Pambo of Nitria, the teacher of the Tall Brothers ($E03315).

11. *Ammonios of Kellia. ($E03316)

12. Beniamin of Nitria.

13. Apollonios of Nitria. A former merchant who managed provisions for the monastic community from Alexandria. Palladios probably met him.

14. *Paesios and Esaias of Nitria. ($E03317)

15. Makarios the Younger. Palladios met him. He went into the desert after committing unintentionally a murder in his youth.

16. Nathanael. Palladios heard about him from the monks of his monastery.

17. *Makarios of Sketis. ($E03318)

18. *Makarios the Alexandrian. ($E03319)

19. Moyses the Ethiopian.

20. Paulos of Pherme.

21. Stories recounted by Kronios of Sketis: Eulogios and the cripple, and their visit to *Antony; Antony’s vision of the tall black giant ($E03320).

22. Paulos the Simple. A story associated with *Antony, recounted by Kronios, Hierax, and others. ($E03321)

23. Pachon. Palladios met him at a time when he had sexual temptations and considered leaving the monastic life.

24. Stephanos the Libyan. Palladios met him and heard stories about him from the monks around Ammonios and Euagrios.

25-28. Four negative examples of monks who failed in their asceticism due to pride, Ouales (Valens), Heron, Ptolemaios of Klimax, and an anonymous virgin in Jerusalem. Palladios met all of them, except perhaps Ouales.

29. Elias of Athriba. Founder of a female monastery.

30. Dorotheos of Athriba. Successor of Elias.

31. *Piamoun, the female ascetic ($E03322).

32. *Pachomios and the Tabennesiot monks ($E03323).

33. The Tabennesiot nuns. A story of slander and suicides among them.

34. Anonymous Tabennesiot nun, pretending madness (σαλή). ($E03324)

35. *John (Ioannes) of Lycopolis ($E03325).

36. Poseidonios the Theban. Palladios lived near him in Bethlehem and heard from him about miracles he had experienced during his time on Mount Porphryrites in Egypt.

37. Sarapion, also called Sindonios ($E03326).

38. *Euagrios of Pontus, Palladios’ spiritual father in Nitria ($E03327).

39. Pior of Nitria.

40. *Ephraim, deacon of Edessa in Syria ($E03328).

41. Holy women of exemplary virtue. Paula of Rome – excellent, but misled by Jerome. Her daughter Eustochion still lives as an abbess in Bethlehem. Veneria, wife of the comes Vallovicus. Theodora, the tribune’s wife. Hosia and her sister Adolia. Basianilla wife of Kandidianos the general (still alive). Photeina, daughter of Theoktistos the Presbyter in Laodikeia. Deaconess Sabiniana in Antioch, aunt of John Chrysostom. Asella, abbess in Rome. Avita with her husband, Apronianus, and daughter, Eunomia.

42. Ioulianos, an ascetic near Edessa who has a charisma of healing.

43. Adolios from Tarsus. He practiced extreme asceticism in Jerusalem where he died.

44. Innokentios of the Mount of Olives. ($E03329)

45. Philoromos of Galatia. ($E03330)

46. *Melania the Elder. ($E03331)

47. The teaching of Chronios and Paphnoutios about why terrible things happen to men living a holy life.

48. Elpidios. A hermit and founder of a monastic community in the desert near Jericho. Palladios met him.

49. Sisinnios. A disciple and successor of Elpidios. He has returned to his native Cappadocia and is still alive. He has a charisma over demons.

50. Gaddanas of the Jordan.

51. Elias of the Jordan.

52. Sabas. A layman, and great helper of monks, from Jericho.

53. The negative example of Abramios the Egyptian who claimed to have been ordained by Christ himself.

54. *Melania the Elder again ($E03331).

56. *Olympias of Constantinople ($E03332).

57. Kandida and Gelasia, noble women.

58. Dorotheos, Diokles, Kapiton, holy men in Antinoe of the Thebaid.

59. Amma Talis and Taor her disciple. Also in Antinoe.

60. Anonymous virgin, who died after visiting the shrine of *Kollouthos ($E03333).

61. *Melania the Younger ($E03334).

62. Pammachius and Constantius the officials. Still living at the time of writing.

63. Story of an anonymous virgin in Alexandria who hid Athanasius in her house for six years till the death of Constantius II.

64. Iouliane of Caesarea in Cappadocia. Virgin who hid Origen during a persecution.

65. Story of an anonymous martyr of Corinth from a book of Hippolytus of Rome. ($E03335)

66. Oueros (Verus) the ex-comes in Ankyra. He and his wife Bosporia still live a holy life spending their wealth on benefactions.

67. Magna of Ankyra, who lives a holy life and makes benefactions.

68. An anonymous charitable monk in Ankyra, who lives with the bishop and helps everyone.

69. An anonymous nun who sinned with a church singer in her youth, and has lived in extreme penance and asceticism ever since.

70. Anonymous story about a church reader falsely accused for causing the pregnancy of a virgin in Caesarea of Palestine.

71. The story about the brother accompanying Palladios since his youth (probably Palladios talking about himself). He has overcome avarice and vainglory, has experienced fights with demons, miraculous provision of food in the desert and other remarkable things. Epilogue addressing Lausos.

Text: Bartelink et al. 1974. Summary: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Amun, monk in Nitria : S00419 Ammonios of Kellia, ascetic, ob. 403 : S01263 Macarius of Alexandria, 4th-century monk in Egypt : S00101 Ephrem, poet and theologian in Edessa, ob. 373 : S01238 Melania the Elder, Roman aristocrat and monastic found

Saint Name in Source

Ἀμοῦν Ἀμμώνιος Μακάριος Ἐφραὶμ Μελάνιον Μελάνιον Παχώμιος Ὀλυμπιὰς Μακάριος Ἀντώνιος Ἰωάννης

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Monastic collections (apophthegmata, etc.)


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Aspuna Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Palladius of Helenopolis

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Ecclesiastics - abbots Women Aristocrats Officials Eunuchs Foreigners (including Barbarians) Merchants and artisans The socially marginal (beggars, prostitutes, thieves) Demons Children


Born in 364 in Galatia in central Asia Minor, Palladius became a monk in 386, spending some years in Palestine, before moving to Alexandria. In c. 390, he joined the monastic community of Nitria, where he spent nine years, under Makarios of Alexandria and Evagrios of Pontus. In c. 399, he returned briefly to Palestine and then left for Constantinople where he became closely associated with John Chrysostom. By 400, he was ordained bishop of Helenopolis in Bithynia (north-west Asia Minor), probably by Chrysostom. Palladius stood by his new protector throughout John’s conflict with Pope Theophilos of Alexandria over the affair of the Tall Brothers and the Council of the Oak. One year after John’s exile in 404, Palladius visited Rome in order to plead on John’s behalf with Pope Innocent I (401-411). Returning to Constantinople, he was arrested and one year later (406), he was exiled to Syene (Aswan) and Antinoe in Egypt. There he received the news of John’s death in Pontus (407) and wrote the Historical Dialogue on the Life of John Chrysostom (in 408 or shortly after, E02400). In the 410s, he was allowed to return to his native Galatia, and was restored as a bishop in the imperial church, being appointed to the see of Aspona. After his return from exile, in c. 419/420, Palladius published the Lausiakon (‘Book for Lausos’, widely known as the Lausiac History), a book commissioned by and dedicated to the patrician Lausos (imperial chamberlain in 420-422). Along with the History of the Monks of Egypt (E03558, composed in 395/397), Palladius’ work inaugurates the monastic genre of edifying stories and apophthegms. It immediately became a success: two decades after its publication, the ecclesiastical historian Socrates used the Lausiac History as a source (4.23.78), and it was translated into Latin and Syriac. There are also Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopic, and Arabic translations. Its copious manuscript tradition (242 manuscripts) and unstable transmission render a definitive critical edition of the text very difficult. On the manuscript tradition of the Greek text, see: Like all monastic collections, the Lausiac History was mainly written to provide exemplars of ascetic virtue and edifying stories for broader spiritual benefit, rather than to encourage the active cult of the men and women included within it – indeed some of them serve as negative examples to avoid. It was, therefore, difficult for us to decide how to treat this work in our database, focused as it is on the cult of saints. At one extreme, we could have entered every (positive) figure within it as a saint, while, at the other extreme, we might have ignored the text altogether. In the end we came to a compromise position, with one overview entry for the full text (E03176), where all the holy men and women are named, and individual entries for chapters that either reveal interesting incidental details of saintly cult or cover major figures who, in time, came to attract cult. The Lausiac History in its many manuscripts and its many translations was in fact one of the principal ways these figures came to be known, and often venerated, across the Christian world. Some of its chapters were, indeed, later detached from the collection, and circulated as independent pieces of hagiography.


Although, since its first printed edition in the seventeenth-century, it has been known under the title Lausiac History, our text is by no means systematically historical or biographical. If a life or martyrdom account is a synthesis of testimonies about one particular figure, the Lausiac History is a compilation of unconnected memoirs about several figures. Each chapter marks out the special virtues and life style of its hero or heroes and recounts edifying anecdotes and quotes from their teaching. Some of the figures receive an extensive treatment (e.g. Makarios, Evagrios, Melania the Elder), while others are just briefly mentioned. Most of the figures are identified by name, while others are left anonymous. The style of the text is lively and pretty much oral. Palladius records his memories of people he met and stories he heard during his career as a monk, almost like a travelogue, roughly following the chronological sequence of the author’s life. Chapters 1-35 and 38-39 focus on figures Palladius met or heard about during his time in Egypt, and it is probable that they stem from a work written by Palladius at an early stage of his career, before his episcopal ordination. The rest of the book concerns figures he met or heard of during his two stays in Palestine, his episcopate in Constantinople, his visit to Rome, his exile in Antinoe, and his return from exile to Galatia. This part was almost certainly written after the commission of the collection by Lausos. The connecting thread of the stories in the Lausiac History is its edifying purpose of providing exemplars of spiritual progress. Palladius' heroes come from various parts of the Roman world, and have diverse backgrounds, including people of senatorial rank, high officials, soldiers, merchants, slaves, bandits, scholars, clerics, monastics, lay people, men and women, married or celibate. Some of them practice their asceticism as hermits or recluses in the wilderness, others belong to more or less organised monastic communities, others live as monastic virgins in cities or members of urban monastic houses, and others are not monastic at all. Some of the exemplars in Palladius' gallery were very probably specifically chosen, in order to appeal to his aristocratic and female readership (including the empress Pulcheria and other women in the court of Theodosius II). The central message is that there are several possible ways leading to spiritual progress and virtue, even if one is a person of great wealth and high social standing. Some figures feature as negative examples (25-28, 33, 53) demonstrating how even the most accomplished ascetics can fail, if they fall into the sin of pride. Palladius has met some of his heroes in person, while others he has only heard of. Most of them are already dead at the time of writing, while others he knows or assumes to be still alive. Although the author thinks of them as living holy people or accomplished saints, his main purpose is not to promote their veneration. His focus is not the saints personally, hence he does not always call them by their names, but rather the model offered by their words and lives. With one exception (E00, very probably an interpolation by another hand), Palladius never talks about posthumous veneration or miracles of his heroes. Some of them are known to have received proper veneration (for instance, our text is one of the earliest testimonies about *Ephraim the Syrian, see E00), while others are not known to have ever been revered by anyone. Palladius and several of his heroes in the Lausiac History belonged to the Origenist theological tradition which was condemned at the Council of the Oak in 404, and whose followers, including Palladius himself, were severely persecuted after the deposition of John Chrysostom. It is therefore probable that the Lausiac History had a partly apologetic agenda, aiming to restore the memory of various prominent Origenist ascetics and theologians, who now risked being remembered as heretics – above all Palladius’ spiritual fathers, Isidoros of Alexandria, Makarios of Alexandria, and Euagrios of Pontus. Palladius demonstrates that these people were not only great ascetics, but also associates of great saints like Antony, Athanasius, and Basil of Caesarea (Katos 2011). The apologetic agenda of the work is closely tied into its autobiographical dimension which is very pronounced in the first and the last chapters of the book. Chapters 1-6 acknowledge Palladius' early spiritual guides in Alexandria, while chapters 58-70 reflect the turbulent last years of his life. In 61, the author acknowledges the hospitality he received from Melania the Younger and her husband, Pinianus, during his visit to Rome in 405, when he also met the aristocratic ascetics Pammachius and Constantius. There follow three stories concerning the bravery of individuals sheltering persecuted holy people (63-65), which may be an acknowledgement by Palladius of individuals who helped and protected him during his time as a persecuted Johannite in 404/405. Chapters 66-68 are dedicated to people whom Palladius met in Ankyra of Galatia, and who were still alive and probably associated with him at the time of writing. Palladius’ restoration may be related to the stories of the repentant sinful virgin, and the slandered reader whose innocence was proven after great tribulation (69-70). The book closes with a chapter (71) concerning an anonymous companion whom Palladius has presumably known since his youth. This is widely regarded as referring to the author himself, offering a brief review of Palladius’ own spiritual progress through his life, which includes several remarkable achievements and miracles. Because this text is very little concerned with cult, we have made individual entries from it only on a highly selective basis.


Text: Butler, Cuthbert. The Lausiac History of Palladius: Greek Text Edited with Introduction and Notes. Texts and Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1904. Bartelink, G. J. M., Barchiesi, M. and Mohrmann, C. Palladio, La Storia Lausiaca. Scrittori Greci E Latini. Milano: Fondazione Lorenzo Valla, Arnoldo Mondadori, 1974. (with Italian translation) English Translations: Wortley, J. Palladius, the Lausiac History, Collegeville, MN: Cistercian Publications, 2015. Meyer, R. T. Palladius, the Lausiac History, Westminster MD: Newman Press: 1965. Lowtber Clarke, W. K. The Lausiac History of Palladius, London: Macmillan, 1918. Further reading: Katos, D. Palladius of Helenopolis: the Origenist Advocate. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Rapp, C. ‘Palladius, Lausus and the Historia Lausiaca.’ In C. Sode, S. Takács (eds.), Novum Millennium. Studies on Byzantine History and Culture Dedicated to Paul Speck, 19 December 1999, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001, 279-289.

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