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E05076: Evagrius Scholasticus in his Ecclesiastical History recounts a miracle which occurred at Constantinople under Patriarch Menas (536-552). A Jewish boy is miraculously saved from burning in a furnace and reports a vision of a purple-clad woman, implying *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033), who protected him. Written in Greek at Antioch (Syria), 593/594.

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posted on 2018-02-13, 00:00 authored by erizos
Evagrius Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History, 4.36

Ἀνθίμου ὥς μοι λέλεκται τοῦ θρόνου τῆς βασιλίδος ἐκβεβλημένου, Ἐπιφάνιος τὴν ἐπισκοπὴν διαδέχεται. Μετὰ δὲ αὖ Ἐπιφάνιον Μηνᾶς, ἐφ’ οὗ καὶ θαῦμα γέγονε λόγου πολλοῦ ἄξιον. Ἔθος παλαιὸν βούλεται ἀνὰ τὴν βασιλεύουσαν, ὅταν πολύ τι χρῆμα τῶν ἁγίων μερίδων τοῦ ἀχράντου σώματος Χριστοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν ἐναπομείνῃ, παῖδας ἀφθόρους μεταπέμπτους γίνεσθαι παρὰ τῶν ἐς χαμαιδιδασκάλου φοιτώντων, καὶ ταῦτα κατεσθίειν. Ὅπερ ἐπειδὴ γέγονεν, ἡλίσθη μετὰ τῶν παίδων ὑαλουργοῦ παῖς, Ἑβραίου τὴν δόξαν· ὃς τοῖς γονεῦσι τὴν αἰτίαν τῆς βραδυτῆτος πυνθανομένοις ἀνεῖπε τὸ γεγονός, καὶ ὅπερ ἀποφαγὼν σὺν τοῖς ἄλλοις παισὶν εἴη. Ὁ δὲ φύσας θυμωθεὶς καὶ μηνίσας, ἐν τῷ πνιγεῖ τῶν ἀνθράκων ἔνθα τὴν ὕαλον ἐμόρφου τὸν παῖδα καθίησι ἀνάψας. Ὡς δὲ τὸν παῖδα ἡ μήτηρ ζητοῦσα εὑρεῖν οὐκ ἴσχυεν, πανταχῆ τῆς πόλεως ᾔει ποτνιωμένη καὶ λύγιον κωκύουσα· καὶ τριταία παρὰ τὴν θύραν τοῦ ἐργαστηρίου τἀνδρὸς ἑστῶσα ὀνομαστὶ ἀνεκάλει τὸν παῖδα, τοῖς θρήνοις σπαραττομένη. Ὁ δὲ τῆς φωνῆς τῆς μητρὸς συνιεὶς ἐκ τοῦ πνιγέως ἀνταπεκρίνετο. Ἡ δὲ τὰς θύρας διατεμοῦσα εἴσω τε γενομένη ὁρᾷ τὸν παῖδα τῶν ἀνθράκων μέσον ἑστῶτα, τοῦ πυρὸς αὐτοῦ μὴ προσψαύοντος. Ὃς ἀνερωτώμενος ὅπως ἀπαθὴς μεμενήκει, γυναῖκα ἔφη πορφυρᾶν ἀμπεχομένην ἐσθῆτα συχνὰ φοιτῶσαν παρ’ αὐτὸν ὕδωρ ὀρέγειν, καὶ τούτῳ τοὺς πλησιάζοντας τῶν ἀνθράκων κατευνάζειν, σιτίζειν τε αὐτὸν ὁσάκις πεινῴη. Ὅπερ ἐπειδὴ ἐς Ἰουστινιανὸν ἠνέχθη, τὸν μὲν παῖδα καὶ τὴν μητέρα τῷ λουτρῷ τῆς παλιγγενεσίας φωτισθέντας ἐκλήρωσε· τὸν δὲ φύσαντα οὐκ ἀνασχόμενον Χριστιανοῖς ἐναριθμηθῆναι ἐν Συκαῖς ὡς παιδοφόνον ἀνεσκολόπισε. Καὶ ταῦτα μὲν τῇδε γέγονε.

'After Anthimus had been expelled from the see of the queen of cities, as I have said, Epiphanius succeeded to the bishopric and in turn after Epiphanius, Menas, under whom there also occurred a miracle worthy of great account. Ancient custom in the imperial city has it that when a substantial quantity of the holy parts of the immaculate body of Christ our God remain over, uncorrupted boys are sent for from among those who attend an elementary teacher, and that they eat these. On one occasion the son of a glass-worker, a Jew by belief, was assembled with the boys. When his parents enquired the reason for his lateness, he declared what had happened, and what it was that he had eaten up, together with the other boys. And his father, in fury and wrath, placed the boy in the furnace of coals where he shaped the glass, and set light to it. While looking for the boy but unable to find him, the mother went all over the city, wailing and shrieking piercingly. And on the third day, when standing by the door of her husband’s workshop, she called to the boy by name, though convulsed with lamentations. And he, recognizing the voice of his mother, answered her back from the furnace. And she, on breaking through the doors and going inside, saw the boy standing in the midst of the coals, but the fire was not touching him. When he was asked how he had remained unharmed, he said that a woman wearing a purple robe had visited him frequently and proffered water, and with this he had quenched the adjacent coals; and that she fed him whenever he was hungry. When this was reported to Justinian, he enrolled the boy and his mother in the church, after they had been enlightened with the bath of rebirth; as for the father, who did not tolerate being numbered among Christians, he had him impaled in Sycae as murderer of his child. And these things happened in this way.'

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


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033

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 - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Verbal images of saints

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Children Jews


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.


This story was also known to Gregory of Tours who recounts it in the Glory of the Martyrs (E00380). Gregory explicitly identifies the woman who saved the boy with the Virgin Mary. In Evagrius' account, her identity is implied by the reference to her purple clothes. Almost all the known sixth-century images of Mary from the East depict her in purple robes. Unlike Gregory who does not provide a concrete location or time for the miracle, Evagrius places it in Constantinople under Patriarch Menas (536-552).


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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