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E04189: The Martyrdom of *Mihršāpur (martyr in Persia, S01582) is written in Syriac in Sasanian Persia during the 5th c. It describes the martyrdom in 421 of the former Zoroastrian Mihršāpur under Bahram V (r. 420-438).

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posted on 2017-10-20, 00:00 authored by sminov
Martyrdom of Mihršāpur


The narrative introduces Mihršāpur as an offspring of a noble and renowned family, who converted to Christianity. When the king was informed that Mihršāpur was a Christian, he ordered that he be arrested and imprisoned. This happened during the second year of Bahram's reign. (pp. 535-536 in Bedjan's edition)

After Mihršāpur spent three years in prison, a massive persecution of Christians begins. Mihršāpur is summoned for interrogation by the judge Hormezddāwar, who tries to bring him back to Zoroastrianism, while threatening him. The martyr rebuffs the judge's claim that he has authority over him. (pp. 536-538)

Enraged, the judge orders that Mihršāpur should be thrown into a dark underground pit, without food and water. That happened in the month of Ab (i.e. August). When the pit was opened after two months and ten days, on the tenth of the month of the former Teshri (i.e. October), the jailers saw a bright light coming from the martyr's dead body that preserved the posture of praying on his knees. (pp. 285-286)

Text: Bedjan 1890-1897. Summary: Sergey Minov.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Mihršāpur, martyr in Persia, ob. 421 : S01582

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • Syriac

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region


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

Susa Susa Շաւշ Šawš شوش Shush

Major author/Major anonymous work

Persian martyrdom accounts

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle at martyrdom and death

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Aristocrats Officials Zoroastrians


The Martyrdom of Mihršāpur is an account of the arrest and execution of Mihršāpur, a convert from a noble Zoroastrian family. He was arrested and spent three years in prison, until he was tried and put to death by being thrown into an underground pit without food and water. The martyr's death is said to have taken place on 10 October, during the second year of the shah Bahram V (r. 420-438), i.e. the year 421. While it is difficult to establish the work's date with certainty, the middle or the second half of the 5th century seem to be a likely time of the Martyrdom's composition. The Martyrdom is attested in at least three manuscripts, the oldest of which is Vatican Syr. 161, dated to the 9th century. There is not yet a critical edition of the text. Published for the first time in Assemani 1748 (on the basis of Vatican Syr. 161), it was reedited by Bedjan 1890-1897, who also used the 19th century manuscript Berlin, Königliche Bibliothek, or. oct. 1257 [= Assfalg 27] (see Assfalg 1963, 56-59). Syriac text: Assemani 1748, vol. 1, pp. 234-235, Bedjan 1890-1897, vol. 2, pp. 535-539; Latin translation: Assemani 1748, vol. 1, pp. 234-235; French translation: Lagrange 1852, pp. 186-188; modern Arabic translation: Scher 1900-1906, vol. 2, pp. 315-317. For general information, see Fiey 2004, 141.


The Martyrdom bears witness to the cult of the martyr Mihršāpur, which apparently developed soon after his death, during the second half of the 5th century.


Main editions and translations: Assemani, S.E., Acta Sanctorum Martyrum Orientalium et Occidentalium in duas partes distributa, adcedunt Acta S. Simeonis Stylitae. 2 vols (Roma: Typis Josephi Collini, 1748). Bedjan, P., Acta martyrum et sanctorum. 7 vols (Paris / Leipzig: Otto Harrassowitz, 1890-1897). Lagrange, F., Les Actes des martyrs d’Orient, traduits pour la première fois en francais sur la traduction latine des manuscrits syriaques de Étienne-Evode Assemani (Paris: Librairie Ecclésiastique et Classique d’Eugène Belin, 1852). Scher, A., Kitāb sīrat ’ašhar šuhadā’ al-Mašriq al-qiddisīn. 2 vols (Mossoul: Imprimerie des pères dominicains, 1900-1906). Further reading: Assfalg, J., Syrische Handschriften: syrische, karšunische, christlich-palästinensische, neusyrische und mandäische Handschriften (Verzeichnis der orientalischen Handschriften in Deutschland 5; Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1963). Fiey, J.-M., Saints syriaques (Studies in Late Antiquity and Early Islam 6; Princeton, NJ: Darwin Press, 2004).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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