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E03337: Leontius of Constantinople composes a Homily on the Birth of *John the Baptist (S00020), which he delivers during the saint’s feast in Constantinople. Written in Greek, in the late 5th or the 6th c.

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posted on 2017-07-19, 00:00 authored by erizos
Leontius, Presbyter of Constantinople, Homily 1, On the Birth of Saint John, Prophet and Precursor (CPG 7887)


The sermon was given after a recent earthquake which is described as a divine warning for the people’s correction. The text reflects on the evangelical account of John’s birth, described in Luke (1: 57-80), which had apparently been used as a reading during the service of the day. The extant part of the text focuses on the annunciation of the birth of John to his father, Zachariah, and on his miraculous conception by the elderly and sterile Elisabeth. The author states that, by this, he wished to finish the subjects of a sermon given one day earlier. The second half and the end of the text do not survive, but it seems that they focused on the theme of John’s birth.

Summary: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John the Baptist : S00020

Saint Name in Source


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 name in other Language(s)

Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Sermon/homily

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy


Almost nothing is known about the author of this text, a presbyter of Constantinople called Leontius, who is believed to have been active after the mid-fifth century, very probably in the mid-sixth. Fourteen of his homilies have been identified and published. Homily 1 is known from two manuscripts, on which see: Datema and Allen 1987.


The content does not allow a secure identification of the date and venue of this sermon. Its title states that the occasion was the feast of John’s Nativity, which, by the sixth century, was established to be celebrated on 24/25 June. Given the fact that the author focuses on the theme of the annunciation of John’s birth, it is also possible that this was the feast of John’s conception – recorded on 23 September by the Synaxarium of Constantinople, and on 28 August by the Martyrologium Hieronymianum. It is also possible that the reading concerns a feast for John in December. The editors suggest the sermon was given in December 557 (see Datema and Allen 1987, 14-18; Datema and Allen 1991, 19-23).


Text: Datema, C., Allen, P. Leontii Presbyteri Constantinopolitani Homiliae, Corpus Christianorum Series Graeca 17, Turnhout: Brepols, 1987. Translation and commentary: Datema, C., Allen, P. Leontius, Presbyter of Constantinople. Fourteen Homilies, Byzantina Australiensia 9, Brisbane, 1991.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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