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E04413: Procopius of Caesarea, in his On Buildings, reports that the emperor Justinian (r. 527-565) rebuilt a martyr shrine dedicated to *Panteleemon (martyr of Nicomedia, S00596) and a church dedicated to *Michael (the Archangel, S00181) on the shores of the Bosphorus near Constantinople. Written in Greek at Constantinople, in the 550s..

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posted on 2017-11-28, 00:00 authored by julia, dlambert
Procopius, On Buildings, 1.9.11, 13

11. Ἐς δὲ τὸν Εὔξεινον Πόντον ἐνθένδε ἰόντι ἄκρα τις ἀπορρὼξ παρὰ τὴν τοῦ πορθμοῦ προβέβληται ἠϊόνα, ἐφ’ ἧς μαρτύριον Παντελεήμονος ἁγίου εἱστήκει, ἀρχήν τε ἀπημελημένως πεποιημένον καὶ χρόνῳ μακρῷ πεπονηκὸς ἄγαν· ὅπερ ἐνθένδε περιελὼν Ἰουστινιανὸς βασιλεύς, τοῦτόν τε μεγαλοπρεπῶς τὰ μάλιστα οἰκοδομησάμενος τὸν ἐκείνῃ τανῦν ὄντα νεών, τῷ τε μάρτυρι διεσώσατο τὴν τιμὴν καὶ τῷ πορθμῷ κάλλος ἐντέθεικεν, ἑκατέρωθι τὰ ἱερὰ ταῦτα πηξάμενος. ... 13. ἀκτὴ δέ τίς ἐστι Μωχάδιον ὄνομα τοῦ χώρου ἐγγὺς ὃ καὶ νῦν Ἱερὸν ὀνομάζεται. 14 ἐνταῦθα νεὼν τῷ ἀρχαγγέλῳ ἄλλον ἐδείματο ἱεροπρεπῆ τε διαφερόντως, καὶ τῶν τοῦ ἀρχαγγέλου ἱερῶν ὧνπερ ἐπεμνήσθην ἀρτίως, οὐδενὸς ἀξιώματι ἀποδέοντα.

'11 As one goes on from there toward the Euxine Sea, a certain sheer promontory is thrust out along the shore-line of the strait, on which stands a martyr's shrine (martyrion) of Saint Panteleëmon, which had been carelessly built to begin with and had suffered greatly from the long passage of time; this the Emperor Justinian removed completely from the spot and in its place built in a very magnificent manner the church (neōs) which now stands on this site, and he thus preserved to the martyr his honour and at the same time added beauty to the strait by setting these shrines (hiera) on either side of it. ... 13. And there is a certain promontory named Mochadion near the place which is now called Hieron. 14 There he built another church (neōs) to the Archangel, one of peculiar sanctity and inferior in esteem to none of the shrines (hiera) of the Archangel which I have just mentioned.'

Text: Haury 1913. Translation: Dewing 1940.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Pantaleōn / Panteleēmōn, martyr of Nicomedia, during the Diocletian persecution of 305 : S00596 Michael, the Archangel : S00181

Saint Name in Source

Παντελεήμων ἀρχάγγελος

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

Saint as patron - of a community

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.


There is some confusion as to which church of Panteleëmon Procopius describes in this passage, since there were four churches and three monasteries dedicated to this saint in the area of Constantinople. Most probably, Procopius speaks of the church located on the Asian coast of the Bosphorus in the place now called Yuşa Tepesi (Joshua's Hill) in the Beykoz district of modern Istanbul (Ruggieri 1991, 204). The remains of the church still exist and a new church of Panteleëmon was built on this site in 1821. The Mokadion may be today's Fil Burnu, on the Asian coast of Bosphorus, whereas Hieron, which may be the same as Heraion mentioned several times in Procopius' works (On Buildings, 1.3.10; 1.11.16; Wars, 3.1.8; Secret History, 15.36), is identified either with Fenerbahçe near Kadıköy (Van Millingen 1912, 175) or, more likely, with Anadolu Kavağı (Janin 1934, 47; 1950, 442) in the Asian part of Istanbul, close to the ruins of the Yoros Castle. The name Hieron (Gr. 'temple') is derived from the famous temple of Zeus Urius (Gr. Zeus Ourios, granter of fair winds) which was in this place. No other source records the church of Michael built by Justinian in this area. Further reading: Moreno 2008.


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., "Les sanctuaires byzantins de saint Michel (Constantinople et banlieue)," Échos d'Orient 33 (1948), 28-52. 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 églises et les monastères de la ville de Constantinople. 2nd ed. (Pari,s 1969). Mango, C., Studies on Constantinople (Aldershot: Variorum, 1997 [repr. of 1993]). Moreno, A., "Hieron: The Ancient Sanctuary at the Mouth of the Black Sea," Hesperia 77 (2008), 655-709. Ruggieri, V., Byzantine Religious Architecture (582-867): Its History and Structural Elements (Rome: Pont. Institutum Studiorum Orientalium, 1991). Van Millingen, A., Byzantine Churches in Constantinople: Their History and Architecture (London: Macmillan, 1912).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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