University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E04018: Sozomen in his Ecclesiastical History mentions veneration and miracles at the tombs of *Hilarion (anchorite in Palestine and Cyprus, ob. 371, S00099) in Cyprus and Palestine. Originally buried in Cyprus, his body was stolen and reburied in his monastery in Palestine. Sozomen describes the posthumous veneration of ascetics as common in Palestine, mentioning the 4th c. monks and missionaries *Aurelios (S01700), *Alexion (S01701), and *Alaphion (S01702). Written in Greek at Constantinople, 439/450.

online resource
posted on 2017-09-12, 00:00 authored by erizos
Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History, 3.14. 26-28.

(26) … ἐπὶ τοσοῦτον δὲ θεοφιλὴς ἐγένετο, ὡς ἔτι καὶ νῦν ἐπὶ τῷ ἑαυτοῦ τάφῳ πολλοὺς ἰᾶσθαι κάμνοντας καὶ δαιμονῶντας, καὶ—τό γε παραδοξότατον—παρά τε Κυπρίοις, οὗ πρότερον ἐτάφη, καὶ παρὰ Παλαιστίνοις, παρ’ οἷς ἐστι νῦν. (27) συμβὰν γὰρ αὐτὸν ἐν Κύπρῳ διατρίβοντα τελευτῆσαι, πρὸς τῶν ἐπιχωρίων ἐκηδεύθη καὶ ἐν πολλῇ τιμῇ καὶ θεραπείᾳ παρ’ αὐτοῖς ἦν. μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα Ἡσυχᾶς, ὃς εὐδοκιμώτατος ἐγένετο τῶν αὐτοῦ μαθητῶν, κλέψας τὸ λείψανον διεκόμισεν εἰς Παλαιστίνην καὶ ἐν τῷ ἰδίῳ μοναστηρίῳ ἔθαψε. καὶ τὸ ἐξ ἐκείνου δημοτελῆ καὶ μάλα λαμπρὰν ἐνθάδε ἐτήσιον ἑορτὴν ἄγουσιν οἱ ἐπιχώριοι. (28) ὧδε γὰρ Παλαιστίνοις ἔθος γεραίρειν τοὺς παρ’ αὐτοῖς ἄνδρας ἀγαθοὺς γενομένους, ὥσπερ ἀμέλει καὶ Αὐρήλιον τὸν Ἀνθηδόνιον καὶ Ἀλεξίωνα τὸν ἀπὸ Βηθαγάθωνος καὶ Ἀλαφίωνα τὸν ἀπὸ Ἀσαλέας, οἳ κατὰ τὸν αὐτὸν γενόμενοι χρόνον ἐπὶ τῆς παρούσης βασιλείας εὐσεβῶς καὶ ἀνδρείως ἐν φιλοσοφίᾳ ἐπολιτεύσαντο καὶ ταῖς οἰκείαις ἀρεταῖς ἐν ἑλληνιζούσαις ἄγαν ταῖς τῇδε πόλεσι καὶ κώμαις εἰς ἐπίδοσιν ἤγαγον τὴν θρησκείαν.

‘(26) ... He was so dear to God that even now many afflicted and possessed people get healed at his tomb and this happens, most remarkably, both in Cyprus where he was first buried, and in Palestine where he now rests. (27) As he happened to die while living in Cyprus, he was buried by the locals and was held in great respect and veneration by them. Later, Hesychas, the most prominent of his disciples, stole the body, brought it to Palestine, and buried it in his own monastery. Since then, the locals have been celebrating a public and brilliant yearly festival at that place. (28) For the Palestinians are indeed accustomed to honouring like this the great men who have lived in their land, such as Aurelios of Anthedon, Alexion from Bethagathon, and Alaphion from Asalea. These were contemporary, living during this emperor’s reign [Constantius II], and led pious and noble lives in the practice of asceticism. By their personal virtues they caused the considerable progress of our religion in the cities and villages of that area, then being overwhelmingly pagan.’

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


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Hilarion, anachorite in Palestine and Cyprus (ob. 371) : S00099 Aurelios of Anthedon, monk and missionary in Palestine, 4th c. : S01700 Alexion of Bethagathon, monk and missionary in Palestine, 4th c. : S01701 Alaphion of Asalea, monk and missiona

Saint Name in Source

Ἱλαρίων Αὐρήλιος Ἀλεξίων Ἀλαφίων

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

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting/veneration of living saint

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Ecclesiastics - abbots

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.


Based on Jerome’s Life of Hilarion (E00694), Sozomen provides an account of the holy man, adding some comments about the veneration of his burial sites in Cyprus and Palestine. The author adds interesting remarks about the veneration of his burial places both at Cyprus and Palestine, and the special popularity of the tombs of ascetics in his native Palestine. His reference to the holy men Aurelios, Alexion, and Alaphion probably reflects Sozomen's own background, and his memories from his native area. These ascetics are not known from other sources. They are likely to have been active during the fourth century. The locations of the villages of Bethagathon and Asalea are also unknown. They are very probably to be located in Sozomen's native area near Gaza. The coastal town of Anthedon was also there.


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: Argov, E.I. "A Church Historian in Search of an Identity: Aspects of Early Byzantine Palestine in Sozomen’s Historia Ecclesiastica," Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum / Journal of Ancient Christianity 9 (2006), 367-396. Chesnut, G. F. The First Christian Histories: Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius (Atlanta: Mercer University, 1986). 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). Wiśniewski, R. "Entre la popularité et le culte. Les histoires monastiques et la vénération des saints moines en Occident," forthcoming in Culte des saints et littérature hagiographique: accords et désaccords (Paris, 2018).

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager