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E04903: Evagrius Scholasticus in his Ecclesiastical History mentions the rebuilding of the shrine of the *Apostles (S00084) at Constantinople by the emperor Justinian (r. 527-565), reporting that it hosted the burials of emperors and bishops. Written in Greek at Antioch (Syria), 593/594.

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posted on 2018-02-05, 00:00 authored by erizos
Evagrius Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History, 4.31, 41-45

... Εἴργασται δὲ αὐτῷ καὶ ὁ τῶν θεσπεσίων ἀποστόλων νηὸς οὐκ ἐθέλων ἑτέρῳ τὰ πρωτεῖα διδόναι· ἐν ᾧ οἵ τε βασιλεῖς οἵ τε ἱερωμένοι τῆς νενομισμένης ταφῆς τυγχάνουσι. Περὶ μὲν οὖν τούτων καὶ τῶν τοιούτων ἁμωσγέπως εἰπεῖν τοιαῦτα.

‘The shrine of the Holy Apostles, which does not willingly grant precedence to any other building, was also constructed by him: in it the emperors and the clergy receive due burial.’

Text: Bidez, Parmentier 2014. Translation: Whitby 2010.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Apostles, unnamed or name lost : S00084

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

Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Antioch on the Orontes

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

Antioch on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora

Major author/Major anonymous work

Evagrius Scholasticus

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Renovation and embellishment of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Monarchs and their family


Evagrius was born in about 535 in the Syrian city of Epiphania. Educated at Antioch and Constantinople, he pursued a career as a lawyer at Antioch, serving as a legal advisor to Patriarch Gregory (570-592). He wrote the Ecclesiastical History in 593/4, with the express purpose of covering the period following the coverage of the mid 5th century ecclesiastical histories of Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret. His narrative starts with Nestorius and the Council of Ephesus (431) and stops with the death of Evagrius’ patron, Gregory of Antioch, in 592. The work offers a balanced mixture of ecclesiastical and secular events in the East Roman Empire, being best informed about Antioch and Syria. Evagrius also published a dossier of original documents from the archive of Patriarch Gregory of Antioch, which has not survived.


Justinian’s rebuilding of the Holy Apostles is also mentioned by Procopius in the Buildings (E04332). Evagrius’ phrase οἵ τε βασιλεῖς οἵ τε ἱερωμένοι, most probably means that the shrine received the burials not only of emperors, but also of patriarchs of Constantinople. This is a rare explicit attestation of the use of this shrine for episcopal burials, a practice which may have started in the early 5th century, when the remains of John Chrysostom were brought and deposited in the church (E04017, E04187, E03595, E01312). The medieval descriptions of the Holy Apostles focus on the tombs of the emperors and the collection of relics, which were venerated at the shrine, without mentioning the patriarchal tombs.


Text and French translation: Bidez, J., and Parmentier, L., Evagre le Scholastique, Histoire ecclésiastique (Sources Chrétiennes 542, 566; Paris, 2011, 2014), with commentary by L. Angliviel de la Beaumelle, and G. Sabbah, and French translation by A.-J.Festugière, B. Grillet, and G. Sabbah. Other translations: Whitby, M., The Ecclesiastical History of Evagrius Scholasticus (Translated Texts for Historians 33; Liverpool, 2000). Hübner, A., Evagrius Scholasticus, Historia ecclesiastica = Kirchengeschichte (Fontes Christiani 57; Turnhout, 2007). Carcione, F., Evagrio di Epifania, Storia ecclesiastica (Roma, 1998). Further Reading: Allen, P., Evagrius Scholasticus, the Church Historian (Spicilegium Sacrum Lovaniense, Etudes et Documents 41; Leuven, 1981). Treadgold, W., The Early Byzantine Historians (Basingstoke, 2006), 299-308.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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