University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E04187: Theodoret of Cyrrhus in his Ecclesiastical History mentions the restoration of the memory of *John Chrysostom (bishop of Constantinople, S00779) and the transfer of his relics to Constantinople. The relics are welcomed by a sea-borne procession, and the emperor Theodosius II prays to the saint, requesting forgiveness for his parents. Written in Greek at Cyrrhus (northern Syria), 444/450.

online resource
posted on 2017-10-19, 00:00 authored by erizos
Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Ecclesiastical History, 5.38-39.2

Οὗτος τὴν Ἰωάννου τοῦ πάνυ προσηγορίαν πρῶτος τοῖς ἐκκλησιαστικοῖς διπτύχοις ἐνέταξε. Χρόνῳ μέντοι ὕστερον καὶ αὐτὰ τοῦ διδασκάλου τὰ λείψανα εἰς τὴν βασιλεύουσαν μετεκόμισαν πόλιν. καὶ πάλιν ὁ πιστὸς ὅμιλος, ὡς ἠπείρῳ τῷ πελάγει διὰ τῶν πορθμείων χρησάμενος, τοῦ Βοσπόρου τὸ πρὸς τῇ Προποντίδι στόμα ταῖς λαμπάσι κατέκρυψε. (39.) Τοῦτον δὲ ἐκείνῃ τῇ πόλει τὸν θησαυρὸν ὁ νῦν βασιλεύων προσήνεγκεν, ὁ τοῦ πάππου καὶ τὴν προσηγορίαν λαχὼν καὶ τὴν εὐσέβειαν φυλάξας ἀκήρατον. οὗτος ἐπιθεὶς τῇ λάρνακι καὶ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς καὶ τὸ μέτωπον ἱκετείαν ὑπὲρ τῶν γεγεννηκότων προσήνεγκε, συγγνῶναι τοῖς ἐξ ἀγνοίας ἠδικηκόσιν ἀντιβολήσας. Πάλαι μὲν γὰρ ἐτεθνήκεσαν οἱ τούτου γονεῖς, κομιδῇ νέον ἐν ὀρφανίᾳ καταλιπόντες.

'He [Alexander of Antioch] was the first to inscribe the name of John the great in the ecclesiastical diptychs. At a later time, the master’s remains (leipsana) themselves were conveyed to the imperial city. Once again the faithful crowd, turning the sea as it were into land by their boats, covered the mouth of the Bosphorus towards the Propontis with their torches. (39.) This treasure was brought to that city by the present emperor who has both inherited the name of his grandfather and preserved his piety in its entirety. He gazed upon the coffin and laid his head against it, offering a supplication on behalf of his parents and imploring him to pardon them for the injustice they had done him in their ignorance. His parents had died indeed very early, leaving him an orphan in extreme youth.’

Text: Hansen 1997.
Translation: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople, ob. 407 : S00779

Saint Name in Source


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

Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Kyrrhos/Cyrrhus/Hagioupolis Thabbora Thabbora

Major author/Major anonymous work

Theodoret of Cyrrhus

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Procession

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Monarchs and their family Crowds

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Transfer, translation and deposition of relics Transfer/presence of relics from distant countries


Theodoret was born in Antioch in c. 393, where he received a formidable education before joining the monastery of Nikerte near Apamea in 416. In 423, he was consecrated as bishop of Kyrrhos/Cyrrhus. During the theological debates of the time, he emerged as one of the chief exponents of Antiochene Christology. The Second Council of Ephesus (449) deposed him as a supporter of Nestorius, of whom he was indeed a friend. He was restored to his bishopric by the Council of Chalcedon in 451. He is thought to have died in c. 460. His Ecclesiastical History was probably written between 444 and 450. It is uncertain whether the author consulted the slightly earlier ecclesiastical histories of Philostorgius, Socrates and Sozomen. He covers roughly the same period as they do, namely the history of the church from 324 to 429.


It is worth comparing this passage with the account of the same event by the ecclesiastical historian Socrates who ascribes the return of the relics of Chrysostom to an initiative of the bishop of Constantinople Proclus (434-446), noting that it was Atticus of Constantinople (406-425) that had restored the liturgical commemoration of Chrysostom (E04017). Theodoret is likely to be responding to that reading of the events. He refrains even from mentioning Proclus who was an opponent and successor of his friend Nestorius as bishop of Constantinople. Similarly, he makes it clear that it was not John’s foe and successor, Atticus, but the archbishop of Antioch Alexander that was the first to restore the memory of the deposed bishop. All this culminates in an encomium of the piety of Theodosius II, whom our author presents as reconciled with the saint. Theodoret’s reference to the impressive sea-borne procession may suggest that he was present at Constantinople, when the relics arrived. Chrysostom is the first bishop of Constantinople known to have been buried at the Holy Apostles, where his sarcophagus remained and was venerated down to the 13th century. Theodoret gives no precise date for the event. Both Socrates and Marcellinus Comes agree that it took place in 438, the former placing it on 27 January, and the latter on the 28th (E04017; E03595).


Text: Hansen, G.C., Theodoret Kirchengeschichte (Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten Jahrhunderte NF 5; Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1997). Translations: Blomfield, J., "The Ecclesiastical History of Theodoret," in: A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Series II, vol. 3 (Oxford and New York, 1892), 33-159. Gallico, A., Teodoreto di Cirro, Storia ecclesiastica. Introduzione, traduzione e note (Roma: Città nuova, 2000). Martin, A., et al., Theodoret de Cyr. Histoire Ecclesiastique (Sources Chretiennes 501, 530; Pars: Éditions du Cerf, 2006, 2009). Walford, E., "A History of the Church in Five Books, from A.D. 322 to the Death of Theodore of Mopsuestia A.D. 427, by Theodoretus, Bishop of Cyrus," in: The Greek Ecclesiastical Historians of the First Six Centuries of the Christian Era (London: Samuel Bagster and Sons, 1843). 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). Treadgold, W.T., The Early Byzantine Historians (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 155-164.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager