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E04054: Sozomen in his Ecclesiastical History records traditions about miracle-working bishops who lived under Theodosius I (r. 379-395), namely *Ambrose (bishop of Milan, ob. 397, S00490), *Donatos (bishop of Euroia in Epirus Vetus, south Balkans, ob. late 4th c., S01274), *Theotimos (bishop of Tomis on the lower Danube, ob. late 4th c. S01721), *Epiphanios (bishop of Salamis of Cyprus, ob. 403, S00215), *Akakios (bishop of Beroia in Syria, ob. late 4th c., S01723), and the brothers *Zenon and Aias (bishops of Gaza in Palestine, ob. late 4th c., S01722). The author mentions miracles at the tomb shrines of Donatos and Epiphanios. Written in Greek at Constantinople, 439/450.

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posted on 2017-09-19, 00:00 authored by erizos
Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History, 7.25-28

7.25 Ambrose of Milan. Sozomen recounts the incident of the penance he imposed on the emperor Theodosius, and the abolition of the emperor’s right to sit among the clergy during the services.

7.26. 1-5 Donatos, bishop of Euroia in the province of Epirus Vetus, is reported to have performed several miracles, including the miraculous killing of a massive dragon which used to live near the place called Chamaigephyrai.

7.26. 4-5. Δονάτῳ δὲ τούτῳ τάφος ἐστὶν ἐπίσημος εὐκτήριος οἶκος ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ τὴν ἐπωνυμίαν ἔχων, παρὰ τοῦτον δὲ πηγὴ ὑδάτων πολλῶν, ἣν οὐ πρότερον οὖσαν εὐξαμένου αὐτοῦ τὸ θεῖον ἀνέδωκεν· ἦν μὲν γὰρ οὗτος ὁ χῶρος παντελῶς ἄνυδρος. ἐξ ὁδοιπορίας δέ ποτε ἐνθάδε παραγενόμενος λέγεται τῶν ἀμφ’ αὐτὸν ἀπορίᾳ ὕδατος ταλαιπωρουμένων τῇ χειρὶ τὴν γῆν λαχήνας εὔξασθαι· ἅμα δὲ τῇ εὐχῇ ἄφθονον ἀναβλύσαι ὕδωρ καὶ ἐξ ἐκείνου μὴ διαλιπεῖν. ἀλλὰ τῶνδε μὲν μάρτυρες οἱ τὴν Ἰσωρίαν οἰκοῦντες κώμην Εὐροίας καθ’ ἣν τάδε συνέβη.

‘The sepulchre of this Donatos is a famous house of prayer which bears his name. Next to it there is a copious spring of water which, previously inexistent, was caused to gush up by God after Donatos’ prayer. That site had indeed been completely arid previously. They say that he once arrived there from a journey and, as his companions were suffering from the lack of water, he dug the soil with his hands and prayed. As he was praying, plenty of water gushed forth and has not dried up ever since. Witnesses to these things are the inhabitants of Isoria, a village in the territory of Euroia, where these things took place.’

7.26. 6-9 Theotimos of Tomis in Scythia Minor. An ascetic and wonderworking bishop, who was revered also by the neighbouring barbarians, who called him ‘God of the Romans’.

7.27 Epiphanios of Cyprus

7.27. 1-2 Περὶ δὲ τοῦτον τὸν χρόνον καὶ Ἐπιφάνιος τὴν Κυπρίων ἐπεσκόπει μητρόπολιν. ὃν οὐ μόνον τὰ περὶ τὴν πολιτείαν ἐπίσημον ἐπ’ ἀρεταῖς ἀπέδειξεν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ὅσα παράδοξα ζῶντος αὐτοῦ καὶ μετὰ τελευτὴν τιμῶν τὸν ἄνδρα ὁ θεὸς ἐπετέλεσεν. ἀποθανόντι γάρ, ὃ μὴ περιόντι ὑπῆρξε, λόγος ἐπὶ τῷ τάφῳ αὐτοῦ εἰσέτι νῦν δαίμονας ἀπελαύνεσθαι καὶ ἰάσεις τινὰς γίνεσθαι· ἐν ᾧ δὲ ζῶν ἐτύγχανε, πολλὰ θαυμάσια αὐτῷ ἀνατιθέασι.

‘During this period, Epiphanios was bishop of the capital of Cyprus. It was not only aspects of his way of life that proved his excellence in virtue, but also the extraordinary prodigies God performed honouring the man, both while he was living and after death. With regard to the time after his death, namely things that have occurred while he was no more alive, they say that even nowadays demons are driven away and healings take place at his tomb. As for his lifetime, they ascribe to him several miracles.’

7.28 Akakios of Beroia of Syria; Zenon and Aias in Gaza

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


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Epiphanios, bishop of Salamis, ob. 403 : S00215 Ambrose, bishop of Milan, ob. 397 : S00490 Donatus, bishop of Euroia (Epirus), ob. 387 : S01274 Theotimos, bishop of Tomis, ob. c. 410 : S01721 Zenon and Aias, ascetics in Gaza, late 4th c. : S01722

Saint Name in Source

Ἐπιφάνιος Ἀμβρόσιος Δονᾶτος Θεότιμος Ζήνων, Αἴας Ἀκάκιος

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 - tomb/grave

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Miracle during lifetime Exorcism

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops

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.


In this section, Sozomen recounts the stories of bishops famous for their holiness and miracles, who flourished during the reign of Theodosius I. Epiphanios of Salamis and Theotimos are also mentioned by Socrates (6.12), but without reproducing their legends. Sozomen seems to have read the Lives of Epiphanios and Donatos (both extant), and possibly Theotimos (not extant) and Ambrose (see E00850). Akakios of Beroia is not known from other sources nor are the brothers Aias and Zenon of Gaza. The latter is yet another story from Sozomen's native area in Palestine. Interestingly, Sozomen notices that, by this time, the hagiographies of miracle-working bishops present clear signs of mutual influences and cross-fertilising. In 7.27.4, he notes that the raising of a dead man ascribed to Epiphanios recalls a story from the Life of Gregory the Miracle-Worker. We can add that the miracles of Donatos of Euroia (the dragon and the spring) recall elements of the Anatolian legend of Athenogenes of Pedachthoe. Donatos is a particularly notable case, since he appears to be the only cult of a miracle-working bishop flourishing in the west Balkans, and attracting broader interest in this period.


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).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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