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E04544: In his Church History, Rufinus of Aquileia, writing in Latin c. 402 in Aquileia (North Italy), describes the Emperor Theodosius I's preparations for the war in the years 392-394, which included prayers at the tombs of the Apostles and martyrs.

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posted on 2017-12-30, 00:00 authored by robert
Rufinus of Aquileia, Church History 11.33

Rufinus describes the emeperor Theodosius I's preparations for the war against Eugenius (AD 392-394). Theodosius is at Constantinople.

Igitur praeparatur ad bellum non tam armorum telorum que quam ieiuniorum orationum que subsidiis, nec tam excubiarum vigiliis quam obsecrationum pernoctatione munitus, circumibat cum sacerdotibus et populo omnia orationum loca, ante martyrum et apostolorum thecas iacebat cilicio prostratus et auxilia sibi fida sanctorum intercessione poscebat.

'He made ready then for war by arming himself not so much with weapons as with fasts and prayers; guarded not so much by the night watch as by nightly vigils in prayer, he would go around all the places of prayer with the priests and people, lie prostrate in sackcloth before the tombs (thecae) of the martyrs and apostles, and implore assistance through the faithful intercession of the saints.'

Text: Mommsen 1909, 1037. Translation: Amidon 1997, 87.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Luke, the Evangelist : S00442 Andrew, the Apostle : S00288 Timothy, the disciple of Paul the Apostle : S00466 Martyrs, unnamed or name lost : S00060

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Aquileia Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Rufinus of Aquileia

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miraculous protection - of communities, towns, armies

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Crowds Monarchs and their family


In 402-403, some time after his return to Italy from Palestine, Tyrannius Rufinus, or Rufinus of Aquileia, translated the Church History of Eusebius into Latin. He added a few passages in books 1-9 and wrote two entirely new books (10-11), which continued Eusebius' narrative down to AD 395. He described mostly contemporary events and his sources are difficult to identify.


The Apostles, whose tombs Theodosius frequented, can be safely identified as Andrew, Luke and Timothy, whose bodies were deposited in the imperial complex of the Holy Apostles (see e.g. E04195, E04570, E05132).


Edition: Mommsen, Th., Eusebius Werke II/2. Historia ecclesiastica (Die Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller 9.2; Berlin, 1908), 957-1040. Translation: Amidon, P.R., The Church History of Rufinus of Aquileia: Books 10 and 11 (Oxford, 1997). Further reading: Thelamon, F., Païens et Chrétiens au IVe siècle. L'apport de l'«Histoire ecclésiastique» de Rufin d'Aquilée (Paris, 1981).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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