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E04420: Procopius of Caesarea, in his On Buildings, reports that the emperor Justinian (r. 527-565) built or restored shrines in Constantinople to the following martyrs: *Tryphon (martyr of Nikaia/Nicaea, S00439), *Menas and Menaios (martyrs venerated at Constantinople, E01698) and *Ia (female martyr in Persia under Shapur II, S00885). Written in Greek at Constantinople, in the 550s.

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posted on 2017-11-30, 00:00 authored by julia
Procopius, On Buildings, 1.9.15-16

15 Καὶ Τρύφωνι δὲ ἀνέθηκεν ἱερὸν μάρτυρι, πόνῳ τε καὶ χρόνῳ πολλῷ ἐς κάλλος ἀποτετορνευμένον ἀμύθητον ὅλως, ἐν τῇ τῆς πόλεως ἀγυιᾷ ἣ τοῦ Πελαργοῦ ἐπώνυμός ἐστιν. 16 ἔτι δὲ Μηνᾷ καὶ Μηναίῳ μάρτυσιν ἕδος ἐν τῷ Ἑβδόμῳ ἀνέθηκεν. ἐν ἀριστερᾷ δὲ εἰσιόντι ἐς τὰς Χρυσᾶς καλουμένας Πύλας Ἴας ἁγίας μαρτύριον εὑρὼν καταπεπτωκός,πολυτελείᾳ τῇ πάσῃ ἀνενεώσατο.

'(15) He also dedicated a shrine (hieron) to the martyr Tryphon which was finely built at a great cost of labour and of time so that it became an object of altogether indescribable beauty, in a street of the city which is named Pelargos. (16) Furthermore he dedicated a shrine (hedos) to the martyrs Menas and Menaios in the Hebdomon. And on the left as one enters the gate which is known as the Golden Gate, this Emperor found a martyr's shrine (martyrion) of St. Ia, fallen in ruins, which he restored with all sumptuousness.'

Text: Haury 1913. Translation: Dewing 1940.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Tryphōn, martyr of Phrygia (ob. c. 250) : S00439 Ia, female martyr in Persia under Shapur II : S00885 Menas and Menaios, martyrs venerated in Constantinople : S01698 Menios, martyr of Laodicea : S01051 Menas, soldier and martyr buried at Abu Mena

Saint Name in Source

Τρύφων Ἴα Μηνᾶς, Μηναῖος Μηναῖος Μηναῖος

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.


Although there were several churches dedicated to Tryphon in Constantinople, we do not have any other information about this one mentioned by Procopius. The street named Pelargos (Gr. 'stork') was near the Strategion in the Fifth region of Constantinople and near the Sublime Porte (Ottoman Porte) of Istanbul. The church of Menas and Menaios was, according to Procopius, located in the district of Hebdomon outside the walls of Constantinople on the European coast of the Sea of Marmara, where today is the district of Bakırköy in Istanbul. We know nothing about this church and it has not left any traces. The Synaxarion of the Church of Constantinople (p. 178, 860) records two festivals held at the church on 1 August and 29 October. The identity of the two martyrs is uncertain. Menaios (the Synaxarion records him also as Minnaios) could be the martyr Menios of Laodicea whose feast is recorded on 23 June and 23 July by the early Martyrologies (S01045, S01051). The church of Ia rebuilt by Justinian was apparently located just outside the Golden Gate of Constantinople, on the right when leaving the city. It is not known when it was originally built, and no trace of it has survived.


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 églises et les monastères de la ville de Constantinople. 2nd ed. (Paris, 1969) 335. 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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