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E04391: A now lost Greek homily ascribed to John Chrysostom refers to the feast of the apostles *Peter (S00036), *James (the son of Zebedee, S00108), and *John (S00042), most probably delivered on their feast in late December. It is quoted by Eustratius of Constantinople, in his tract On the State of the Souls after Death, written at Constantinople, in 582/602.

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posted on 2017-11-20, 00:00 authored by erizos
Eustratius of Constantinople, On the State of the Souls after Death (CPG 7522), 1572-1580

Quoting John Chrysostom, On Peter, James, and John (dubious) (CPG 4495 [20])

Διδάσκει δὲ περὶ τῶν αὐτῶν πάλιν ὁ αὐτὸς φωστὴρ τοιαῦτα ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τῷ ἐπιγεγραμμένῳ «Εἰς τὴν μνήμην τῶν ἁγίων ἀποστόλων Πέτρου καὶ Ἰακώβου καὶ Ἰωάννου»—οὗ ἡ ἀρχή· Ἀποστολικὴ πέτρα σήμερον ἡμᾶς ἐσαγήνευσεν—· Τοιούτοις κατορθώμασιν οἱ μακάριοι κοσμηθέντες εἰς τὴν οὐράνιον λῆξιν μετέστησαν, συγχορευταὶ τῶν ἀγγέλων ἐσόμενοι. Τούτους καὶ ἡμεῖς πάσῃ δυνάμει τιμῶμεν, ὡς ἀθλητὰς στεφανίτας, ὡς πολεμάρχας τῆς ἀληθείας, ὡς κυβερνήτας τοῦ ναυαγίου τῆς ἁμαρτίας ἐκσώζοντας, ὡς κοινοὺς τοῦ γένους ἡμῶν ἰατρούς, ὡς εὐεργέτας τῆς οἰκουμένης, ὡς φέροντας ἐπὶ τοῦ σώματος τὰ στίγματα τοῦ Χριστοῦ.

‘The same luminary [Chrysostom] instructs us about the same matters in his sermon On the memory of the apostles Peter, James, and John — the starting phrase of which is “An apostolic rock has caught us today in its nets”. [The quotation seems to be derived from the middle or end of the homily] “The blessed men were honoured with such achievements and moved towards their heavenly end, in order to join the choruses of the angels. It is them that we honour with all our strength today, as victorious champions, leaders of the fight for truth, helmsmen saving us from the wreck of sin, common physicians of our race, and benefactors of the world, bearing the wounds of Christ on their bodies."’

Text: van Deun 2006. Translation: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Peter the Apostle : S00036 James, the Apostle, son of Zebedee : S00108 John, the Apostle and Evangelist : S00042

Saint Name in Source

Πέτρος Ἰάκωβος Ἰωάννης

Type of Evidence

Literary - Theological works Literary - Sermons/Homilies


  • 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

Eustratius of Constantinople

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Transmission, copying and reading saint-related texts


Eustratius (born in Melitene in the early to mid 6th century, ob. after 602) was a priest of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, and disciple of Eutychius, Patriarch of Constantinople in 552-565 and 577-582. In 565-577, he accompanied his master into exile in Amasea, and returned with him to Constantinople, staying in his service until Eutychius’ death in 582. He is the author of three works, the Life of *Eutychius of Constantinople (E03093), a Life of *Golinduch (E###), and the tract On the State of the Souls after Death. Dating from after 582, On the State of the Souls after Death is preserved in five manuscripts: This quotation is the only testimony for this lost homily, which is attributed by the author to Chrysostom.


For a discussion of Eustratius' tract On the State of the Souls, see E04192. Only attested through Eustratius’ quotation, this homily appears to be misattributed to its purported author, as it follows the Byzantine rhythmic style, which was unknown to Chrysostom. It refers to a festival of the apostles, celebrated in the East in late December. The feasts of the four apostles Peter, James, John, and Paul, following that of the Protomartyr Stephen, seem to have been an important part of Christmastide in the 4th century (for a discussion of the feast of Stephen and its connection with Christmas, see E01830). Their order seems to have been liable to local variations: the Syriac Martyrology records John and James on 27, and Peter and Paul on 28 December; the Hieronymian Martyrology records John and James on 27, but omits Peter and Paul, for whom it records their Roman feast six months later, on 29 June. Gregory of Nyssa in his Second Encomium on Stephen seems to suggest that his church celebrated Peter, James, and John together, perhaps on 27 December (E01831). The pseudo-Chrysostomic homily quoted by Eustratius apparently refers to the same festival. For a discussion of the apostolic feasts of late December, see E01808, E01831, E01960, and Voicu 2002.


Text: Deun, P. van, Eustratii Presbyteri Constantinopolitani De statu animarum post mortem (CPG 7522) (Corpus Christianorum Series Graeca 60; Turnhout: Brepols, 2006). Translation and commentary: Demos, L., "The Cult of the Saints and its Christological Foundations in Eustratios of Constantinople’s De statu animarum post mortem," Doctor of Theology Thesis, Harvard University, 2010. Further reading: Voicu, S.J., "Feste di apostoli a la fine di Dicembre," Studi sull’ Oriente Cristiano 8.2 (2002), 47-77.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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