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E04056: Sozomen in his Ecclesiastical History mentions that the Novatian bishop of Constantinople Sisinnios (c. 390-410) dedicated a church to *Stephen (the First Martyr, S00030). He had a vision (probably of Stephen) revealing to him the martyrdom of the young reader *Eutropios (S01176), a supporter of John Chrysostom, who died after severe torture in 405. Written in Greek at Constantinople, 439/450.

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posted on 2017-09-19, 00:00 authored by erizos
Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History, 8.24. 1-4

(1) Ἐν δὲ τῷ τότε καὶ Εὐτρόπιός τις ἀναγνώστης παραχθεὶς ἐπὶ καταμηνύσει τῶν ἐμβαλόντων τὸ πῦρ οὔτε βοείαις οὔτε ξύλοις οὔτε ὄνυξι ξαινόμενος πλευράς τε καὶ παρειάς, ἐπὶ τούτοις τε καὶ τὸν ὑφαπτόμενον τῷ σώματι πυρσὸν ὑπομείνας, καὶ ταῦτα νέος ὢν καὶ ἁπαλόχρως, οὐδὲν ὡμολόγησεν εἰδέναι. μετὰ δὲ τὰς βασάνους ἐγκλείεται εἰς τὸ δεσμωτήριον, ἔνθα δὴ οὐκ εἰς μακρὰν ἐτελεύτησεν. (2) ἄξιον δὲ τῇ γραφῇ παραδοῦναι καὶ τὸ συμβὰν ἐπ’ αὐτῷ ὄναρ. Σισιννίῳ γὰρ τῷ ἐπισκόπῳ τῆς τῶν Ναυατιανῶν αἱρέσεως ἤδη καθεύδοντι ἀνήρ τις κάλλει καὶ μεγέθει περιφανέστατος, παρεστὼς τῷ θυσιαστηρίῳ τῆς αὐτῶν ἐκκλησίας, ἣν εἰς τιμὴν Στεφάνου τοῦ πρωτομάρτυρος ᾠκοδόμησεν, ἔδοξεν ἀδημονεῖν ἐπὶ σπάνει ἀγαθῶν ἀνδρῶν, ὡς τούτου χάριν τὴν πᾶσαν πόλιν περιεληλυθὼς καὶ μηδένα εὑρὼν ἢ μόνον Εὐτρόπιον. (3) πρὸς δὲ τὴν ὄψιν καταπλαγεὶς ὁ Σισίννιος πρός τινα τῶν ὑπ’ αὐτὸν πιστοτάτων πρεσβυτέρων ὁμολογήσας τὸ ὄναρ ἐκέλευσεν ἀναζητεῖν τὸν ἄνδρα ὅστις εἴη. ὁ δὲ εὐστόχως συμβαλὼν ὡς ἐν τοῖς ἔναγχος ἐπὶ τοῦ ὑπάρχου βασανισθεῖσιν εἰκὸς εἶναι τοιοῦτον, περιιὼν τὰ δεσμωτήρια ἐπυνθάνετο εἴ τίς ἐστιν ἐν αὐτοῖς Εὐτρόπιος. καὶ εὑρὼν εἰς λόγους αὐτῷ ἦλθε καὶ διηγήσατο τοῦ ἐπισκόπου τὸ ὄναρ, καὶ δακρύων εὔχεσθαι ὑπὲρ αὐτοῦ ἐλιπάρει. (4) καὶ τὰ μὲν κατὰ Εὐτρόπιον ὧδε ἔσχεν·

'In that period, a reader called Eutropios was arrested in order to reveal who had set the fire, but despite being scourged on the sides and cheeks by whips, clubs and nails and, besides these torments, having also endured the kindling of a torch under his body, he did not confess to knowing anything―and that, although he was very young and delicate. After these tortures he was kept in prison where not long afterwards he died. It is worth including in our account also a dream vision related to him. Sisinnios, bishop of the Novatian sect, while asleep, saw an extremely handsome and tall man standing by the altar of their church which he had erected in honour of Stephen, the First Martyr. The man was deeply dismayed by the lack of valiant men, for he had searched the entire city for them, but had found none but Eutropios. Astonished at the vision, Sisinnios confided the dream to the most trusted of his presbyters, ordering him to seek out this man whoever he might be. The presbyter correctly conjectured that such a person was to be sought among those who had been recently tortured by the urban prefect, and he visited all the prisons asking if there was in them a certain Eutropios. When he found him, he spoke with him and told him about the dream of the bishop, beseeching him with tears to pray for him. This was the story of Eutropios.'

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


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Stephen, the First Martyr : S00030 Eutropios, reader in Constantinople, ob. 405 : S01776

Saint Name in Source

Στέφανος Εὐτρόπιος

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 - Miracles

Miracle at martyrdom and death Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Miracle after death

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Heretics


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.


This passage provides an important attestation of the cult of the saints in the Novatian community of Constantinople, and a testimony of the fact that, to some extent, Novatians and Catholics recognised in each other a genuine ecclesiastical community, despite their disagreements and separation. Sozomen's account of the vision of Sisinnios implies that what the bishop saw was Stephen, but the author is reluctant to say so explicitly. Eutropios of the story recounted here by Sozomen was one of the Johannite clerics who were arrested and tortured after the riots and torching of Saint Sophia, following the deposition of John Chrysostom. He is mentioned by Palladius of Helenopolis in the Historical Dialogue about the Life of John Chrysostom, 20.99-106. It seems somewhat surprising that Sozomen ascribes the miraculous revelation of a Johannite hero as a martyr to the sectarian community of the Novatians. John Chrysostom and his followers are not known to have been on cordial terms with the Novatians. John’s harshness towards them is, in fact, pointed out by the very pro-Novatian church historian Socrates (Sozomen’s main source) who does not mention this story at all. With regard to the various Christian divisions and sects, Sozomen is thought to be more strictly Orthodox than Socrates, but he is still very interested in the histories of the dissident communities and their leaders. He reproduces most of Socrates’ information about the Novatians and other sects, and adds new information and hagiographical anecdotes, especially about the Macedonianists.


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," in P. Schaff and H. Wace, A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: Second Series, vol. 2 (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1890), 179-427. Further reading: 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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