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E04281: Procopius of Caesarea, in his On Buildings, reports that the emperor Justinian (r. 527-565) built churches dedicated to *Anna (S01614, mother of the Virgin Mary) and to *Zoe (martyr of Attaleia, S01600) in Constantinople in the district of Deuteron. Written in Greek at Constantinople, in the 550s.

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posted on 2017-11-06, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Procopius of Caesarea, On Buildings, 1.3.11; 1.3.13

11. Ἐν χωρίῳ δὲ τῆς πόλεως ὁ Δεύτερον ἐπικαλεῖται, ἱεροπρεπές τε καὶ ἀγαστὸν ὅλως ἀνέθηκεν ἕδος Ἄννῃ ἁγίᾳ, ἣν τῆς μὲν θεοτόκου γεγονέναι μητέρα τινὲς οἴονται, τοῦ δὲ Χριστοῦ τιτθήν.

13. τούτου δὲ δὴ τοῦ νεὼ οὐ πολλῷ ἄποθεν ἀμφὶ τῆς πόλεως ἀγυιὰν ἐσχάτην Ζωῇ μάρτυρι σεμνὸν ἐπιεικῶς ἕδος πεποίηται.

'In that section of the city which is called Deuteron he erected a most holy and revered church (hedos) to St. Anna, whom some consider to have been the mother of the Virgin and the grandmother of Christ.

Not far from this same church, near the last street within the city, he built a very imposing shrine (hedos) to the martyr Zoe.'

Text: Haury 1913. Translation: Dewing 1940, lightly adapted.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Hesperos and Zoe, martyrs of Attaleia : S01600 Anna, mother of Mary : S01614

Saint Name in Source

Ζωή Ἄννα

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 - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Construction of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Monarchs and their family


Procopius of Caesarea, (c. 500 – c. 560/561 AD) was a soldier and historian from the Roman province of Palaestina Prima. He accompanied the Roman general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian (527-565). He wrote the Wars (or Histories), On Buildings and the Secret History. On Buildings is a panegyric in six books. It lists, and sometimes describes, the buildings erected or renovated by the emperor Justinian throughout the empire (only on Italy is there no information). The bulk of these are churches and shrines dedicated to various saints; the Buildings is therefore a very important text for the evidence it provides of the spread of saintly cults by the mid 6th c. On Buildings dates from the early 550s to c. 560/561; a terminus post quem is 550/551 as the text mentions the capture of Topirus in Thrace by the Slavs in 550 and describes the city walls of Chalkis in Syria built in 550/551; a probable terminus ante quem is 558 when the dome of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople collapsed, which is not mentioned in the book; or before 560 when the bridge on the river Sangarius was completed, as Procopius reports on the start of works. On Buildings thus belongs to the later years of Justinian’s reign. The work is not finished and is probably Procopius’ last work. It glorifies Justinian, depicting him as a great builder and an emperor restlessly transforming the state, expanding and reforming it, destroying paganism, extirpating heresy, and re-establishing the firm foundations of the Christian faith (Elsner 2007: 35). More on the text: Downey 1947; Elsner 2007; Greatrex 1994 and 2013. Overview of the text: Book 1. Constantinople and its suburbs Book 2. Frontier provinces of Mesopotamia and Syria. Book 3. Armenia, Tzanica, and the shores of the Black Sea. Book 4. Illyricum and Thrace (the Balkans). Book 5. Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine. Book 6. North Africa, from Alexandria to central Algeria.


Deuteron was a district located in the north-west part of Constantinople, probably just beyond the Constantinian Walls, but within those of Theodosius. Its name, Deuteron, presumably means 'the Second', as being marked by the second milestone from the centre of the city, which was near the point of the peninsula. According to Christian and Islamic tradition, but not the canonical gospels, Anna was the mother of Mary; Procopius signals his distance from this fact. The church of Anna was probably erected by Justinian, since we have no evidence for it before Procopius; in 705 it was rebuilt by the emperor Justinian II (r. 685-695 and 705-711) presumably when he was erecting his suburban residence nearby. The church was destroyed during the earthquake of 16 May 865 and was shortly afterwards reconstructed by the emperor Basil I (r. 867-886). It was perhaps located on the main street leading to the Adrianople Gate, as suggested by the fact that the religious procession of Wednesday after All Saints’ week had one of its station there (Mango 1997, 9). Another Justinianic foundation in the Deuteron region was the shrine of the Pamphylian martyr Zoe and her husband Hesperos. The Synaxarion of Constantinople places the feast of Hesperos and Zoe on 2 May, and reports that it was celebrated at the saints' shrine at Deuteron. The same document also records a dedication feast for the same shrine on 9 August, which may be the date of dedication of Justinian's church, or perhaps its dedication after its rebuilding by Basil I the Macedonian. Further reading: Janin 1950, 314-317; Janin 1969, 35-37, 114.


Edition: Haury, J., Procopii Caesariensis opera omnia, vol. 4: Περι κτισματων libri VI sive de aedificiis (Leipzig: Teubner, 1962-64). Translations and Commentaries: Compagnoni, G.R., Procopio di Cesarea, Degli Edifici. Traduzione dal greco di G. Compagnoni (Milan: Tipi di Francesco Sonzogno, 1828). Dewing, H.B., Procopius, On Buildings. Translated into English by H.B. Dewing, vol. 7 (London: William Heinemann, New York: Macmillan, 1940). Grotowski, P.Ł., Prokopiusz z Cezarei, O Budowlach. Przełożył, wstępem, objaśnieniami i komentarzem opatrzył P.Ł. Grotowski (Warsaw: Proszynski i S-ka, 2006). Roques, D., Procope de Césarée. Constructions de Justinien Ier. Introduction, traduction, commentaire, cartes et index par D. Roques (Alessandria: Edizioni dell'Orso, 2011). Veh, O., and Pülhorn, W. (eds.), Procopii opera. De Aedificiis. With a Commentary by W. Pülhorn (Munich: Heimeran, 1977). Further Reading: Downey, G.A., “The Composition of Procopius’ ‘De Aedificiis’," Transactions of the American Philological Association 78 (1947), 171-183. Elsner, J., “The Rhetoric of Buildings in De Aedificiis of Procopius”, in: L. James (ed.), Art and Text in Byzantine Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 33-57. Greatrex, G., “The Dates of Procopius’ Works,” Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 18 (1994), 101-14. Greatrex, G., “The Date of Procopius Buildings in the Light of Recent Scholarship,” Estudios bizantinos 1 (2013), 13-29. Janin, R., Constantinople byzantine: développement urbain et répertoire topographique (Paris: Institut français d'études byzantines, 1950). Janin, R. La géographie ecclésiastique de l'empire Byzantin I 3: Les eglises et les monastères de la ville de Constantinople. 2nd ed. (Paris, 1969). Mango, C., Studies on Constantinople (Aldershot: Variorum, 1997 [repr. of 1993]). Van Millingen, A., Byzantine Churches in Constantinople: Their History and Architecture (London: Macmillan, 1912).

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