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E05099: Procopius of Caesarea, in his On Buildings, reports that the emperor Justinian (r. 527-565) renovated a great number of monasteries in the region of Jerusalem (and elsewhere in the East), many of them dedicated to saints. Written in Greek at Constantinople, in the 550s.

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posted on 2018-02-20, 00:00 authored by dlambert
Procopius, On Buildings, 5.9

Procopius lists monasteries that the emperor Justinian renovated in Palestine and the rest of the East.

Μοναστήρια μὲν οὖν ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις ἀνενεώσατο τάδε.
1 τὸ τοῦ ἁγίου Θαλελαίου.
2 τὸ τοῦ ἁγίου Γρηγορίου.
3 τὸ τοῦ ἁγίου Παντελεήμονος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τοῦ Ἰορδάνου.
4 Ξένωνα ἐν Ἰεριχῷ.
5 ἐκκλησίαν τῆς θεοτόκου ἐν Ἰεριχῷ.
6 τὸ τῶν Ἰβήρων ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις.
7 τὸ τῶν Λαζῶν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ Ἱεροσολύμων.
8 τὸ τῆς ἁγίας Μαρίας ἐν τῷ ὄρει τῶν Ἐλαιῶν.
9 τὸ τῆς πηγῆς τοῦ ἁγίου Ἐλισσαίου ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις.
10 τὸ Σιλέθεως.
11 τὸ τοῦ ἀββᾶ Ῥωμανοῦ.
12 ἐν Βηθλεὲμ τὸ τεῖχος ἀνενέωσε.
13 τὸ τοῦ ἀββᾶ Ἰωάννου ἐν Βηθλεέμ.
14 Φρέατα δὲ ἢ δεξαμενὰς ᾠκοδομήσατο οὕτως·
15 εἰς τὸ τοῦ ἁγίου Σαμουὴλ φρέαρ καὶ τεῖχος.
16 εἰς τὸ τοῦ ἀββᾶ Ζαχαρίου φρέαρ.
17 εἰς τὸ Σωσάννης φρέαρ.
18 εἰς τὸ Ἀφελίου φρέαρ.
19 εἰς τὸ τοῦ ἁγίου Ἰωάννου ἐν τῷ Ἰορδάνῃ φρέαρ.
20 εἰς τὸ τοῦ ἁγίου Σεργίου ἐν ὄρει καλουμένῳ Κισσερῶν φρέαρ.
21 τὸ τεῖχος Τιβεριάδος.
22 τὸ ἐν Βόστρᾳ πτωχεῖον.

23 Φοινίκης·
τὸν οἶκον τῆς θεοτόκου ἐν Πορφυρεῶνι.
24 μοναστήριον τοῦ ἁγίου Φωκᾶ ἐν ὄρει.
25 τὸν οἶκον τοῦ ἁγίου Σεργίου ἐν Πτολεμαΐδι.
26 ἐν Δαμασκῷ οἶκον τοῦ ἁγίου Λεοντίου.
27 ἀπὸ Ἀπάμειαν πτωχεῖον τοῦ ἁγίου Ῥωμανοῦ ἀνενεώσατο.
28 τεῖχος τοῦ μακαρίου Μάρωνος.
29 ὑπὸ Θεούπολιν τὴν ἐκκλησίαν Δάφνης ἀνενέωσεν.
30 ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ τὸν ἁγίου Ἰωάννου ἀνενέωσε.

31 Μεσοποταμίας·
μοναστήριον τοῦ ἁγίου Ἰωάννου ἀνενέωσε.
32 μοναστήρια Δέλφραξις, Ζηβίνου, Θεοδότου, Ἰωάννου. Σαρμαθῆς, Κυρήνου, Βεγαδαίου.
33 μοναστήριον εἰς τὸ Ἀπάδνας ἐν Ἰσαυρίᾳ.
34 πόλεως Κουρίκου λουτρὸν καὶ πτωχεῖον ἀνενέωσε.
35 τὸ πτωχεῖον τοῦ ἁγίου Κόνωνος.
36 τὸν ἀγωγὸν αὐτοῦ ἀνενέωσεν ἐν Κύπρῳ.
37 οἶκον τοῦ ἁγίου Κοσμᾶ καὶ Δαμιανοῦ ἐν Παμφυλίᾳ.
38 πτωχεῖον τοῦ ἁγίου Μιχαὴλ ἐν Ἐμπορίῳ ἐπίκλην ἐπινείου πόλεως Πέργης τῆς Παμφυλίας.

'These, then, were the monasteries (monasteria) restored in Jerusalem:

that of Saint *Thalelaios; [presumably either the monk of Syria, S00375, or the martyr of Aigai in Cilicia, S01137]

that of Saint *Gregorios; [identity uncertain]

that of Saint *Panteleemon in the desert of Jordan; [presumably the martyr of Nicomedia, S00596]

a hospice (xenon) in Jericho;

a church (ekklesia) of the Theotokos in Jericho; [*Mary the mother of Christ, S00033]

the [monastery] of the Iberians in Jerusalem;

that of the Lazi in the desert of Jerusalem;

that of Saint *Mary on the Mount of Olives; [S00033]

that of the Spring of Saint *Elissaeos in Jerusalem; [presumably Elisha, the Old Testament prophet, S00239]

that of Siletheos;

that of abba Romanos;

at Bethlehem he restored the wall;

that of abba Johannes in Bethlehem.

He also built wells or cisterns as follows:

at the [monastery] of Saint *Samuel, a well and a wall; [presumably the Old Testament prophet, S01429]

at that of abba Zacharias, a well;

at that of Susanna, a well;

at that of Aphelios, a well;

at that of Saint *John on the Jordan, a well; [the Baptist, S00020]

at that of Saint *Sergios on the mountain called Kisseron, a well; [presumably the soldier and martyr of Rusafa, S00023]

the wall of Tiberias;

the poorhouse in Bostra.

In Phoenicia:

the house (oikos) of the Theotokos in Porphyreôn; [*Mary the mother of Christ, S00033]

the monastery of Saint *Phokas on the Mount; [presumably the martyr of Antioch, S00413]

the house (oikos) of Saint *Sergios in Ptolemaïs; [presumably the soldier and martyr of Rusafa, S00023]

in Damascus, the house of Saint *Leontios; [presumably the martyr of Tripolis, S00216]

near Apamea, he restored the poor-house (ptocheion) of Saint *Romanos; [presumably the martyr of Antioch, S00120]

the wall 'of the blessed *Maron (tou makariou Maronos); [perhaps the early 5th c. monk of Syria, S00365]

near Theopolis [= Antioch], he restored the church of Daphne;

in Laodicea, he restored the (monastery) of Saint *John. [presumably either the Baptist, S00020, or the Apostle and Evangelist, S00042 ]

In Mesopotamia he restored a monastery of Saint *John; [probably the Baptist, $00020]

the monasteries of Delphrachis, Zebinos, Theodotos, Johannes, Sarmathê, Kyrenos, Begadaios;

a monastery of Apadnas in Isauria;

at the city of Corycus, he restored a bath and a poorhouse, the poorhouse (ptocheion) of Saint *Konon; [probably the martyr of Isauria, S00430]

He renewed the aqueduct of the same [Saint *Konon] in Cyprus;

The house (oikos) of Saints *Kosmas and Damianos in Pamphylia; [brothers, physicians and martyrs of Syria, S00385]

The poorhouse (ptocheion) of Saint *Michael in the Emporium, as it is called, of the harbour-city of Perge in Pamphylia.' [the Archangel, S00181]

Text: Haury 1913. Translation: J. Doroszewska.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Thalelaios, martyr of Aigai (Cilicia, southeast Asia Minor) under the emperor Numerianus, ob. 284 : S01137 Thalelaios, monk of Syria, ob. mid-5th c. : S00375 Gregory 'the Theologian', bishop of Nazianzos (of Constantiople?), ob. 390 : S00837 Grego

Saint Name in Source

Θαλέλαιος Θαλέλαιος Γρηγόριος Γρηγόριος Γρηγόριος Παντελεήμων Μαρία, Θεοτόκος Σαμουήλ Ἰωάννης Σέργιος Φωκᾶς Λεόντιος Λεόντιος Μάρων Κόνων Κόνων Κόνων Κοσμᾶς, Δαμιανός Μιχαήλ Ἰωάννης Ἐλισσαίος

Related Saint Records

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 - monastic

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Monastery

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.


In lists like this it is often difficult to decide which of the names of individuals after whom monasteries were named were established saints, and which were abbots or monastic founders; and in reality, there was no hard and fast line between holy abbots and saints. Procopius, however, does seem to make a distinction by labelling some (but not all) of these people hagios. We have followed his usage and tagged as (probable) 'saints' the names he thus singles out. Very many of the places mentioned by Procopius are difficult or impossible to identify. The monastery 'of Saint Thalelaios': this is perhaps Thalelaios, monk of Syria (S00375), but could equally well be the martyr of Aigai; nothing is known about this place. Nor is it evident who the monastery 'of Saint Gregorios' was dedicated to. The monastery of Saint Panteleemon in the Jordan Desert: this is presumably Pantaleon/Panteleemon, martyr of Nicomedia, during the Diocletianic persecution of 305 (S00596); nothing is known about this place. The church of Mary Theotokos in Jericho: nothing is known about this place. The monastery of Saint Mary on the Mount of Olives: this may be the church of the Tomb of the Virgin Mary located at the foot of the Mount of Olives. The Monastery 'of the Spring of Saint Elissaios in Jerusalem: this is probably a dedication to the Prophet Elisha; nothing certain is known about this place, but just possibly it may be connected with the place mentioned on the Madaba Map (E02524, no. 3) as a '(Holy) place of Saint Elisha' which refers to a memorial of the Old Testament Prophet Elisha (S00239) situated near Archelais and Jericho, to the north of the Dead Sea, probably to be connected with E00455. This is, however, at some distance from Jerusalem. The monastery of Saint Samuel: the saint may well be Samuel, Old Testament prophet (S01429); nothing is known about this place, but perhaps it can be identified with The Tomb of Samuel (Hebr. Kever Shmuel ha-Nevi; Arabic: an-Nabi Samu'il or Nebi Samwil), the traditional burial site of the biblical Hebrew and Islamic prophet Samuel, which is situated in the Palestinian village of Nabi Samwil in the West Bank, 1.3 kilometres north of the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Ramot. The monastery of John on the Jordan: this is certainly the monastery of John the Baptist near the Jordan river, erected on the site of Christ's baptism (Patrich 1995, 8). The monastery of St. Sergios on the mountain called Kisseron: the saint is almost certainly Sergios, soldier and martyr of Rusafa (S00023), who attracted widespread cult in the Near East; the location is possibly the modern Arab town Kisra-Sumei in the western Galilee in the Northern District of Israel (Key Fowden 1999, 132). The house of Mary in Porphyreon in Phoenicia: Procopius uses the word oikos which literally means 'house'; but he is almost certainly referring to a church, perhaps only a small one. During excavations conducted from 2004 by a Polish-Lebanese team in Jiyeh (20 km south of Beirut) an ancient Roman city, with ruins of a basilica and a port, was discovered, that might have been the ancient settlement of Porphyreon (Alpi 2002; Waliszewski 2004). The monastery of St. Phokas on the Mount; the saint is presumably Phokas, martyr of Antioch (S00413); nothing is known about this place. The house of St. Sergios in Ptolemaïs; the saint is again very probably Sergios, soldier and martyr of Rusafa (S00023); nothing is known about this place. The house of Saint Leontios in Damascus: Leontios was presumably the martyr of Tripolis (S00216), and his oikos in Damascus probably a church, though this has not been identified (Ulbert 2000, 139). The poorhouse of Saint Romanos near Apamea: Romanos is almost certainly the martyr of nearby Antioch (S00120). Extensive excavations in Apamea have not so far identified this ptocheion: see Fouilles d'Apamée de Syrie. Miscellanea, ed. J.Ch. Balty. 13 vols. (Brussels: Centre belge de recherches archéologiques à Apamée de Syrie, 1961-1984); also Balty 1981, passim. The wall of the blessed Maron: nothing is known about this construction (was it a defensive wall?), but its location may possibly be connected with the monastery of Saint Maron, also called the Cave of the monks, an ancient cavern carved out of solid rock in the side of a cliff, which is situated around 200 metres from Ain ez Zarqa, the source of the Orontes river, south of Hermel in Baalbek-Hermel Governorate, in northern Lebanon. It has been suggested that the place was the residence of Maron, the founder of the Maronite Church, and his followers. The monasteries of Saint John in Laodicea and in Mesopotamia: in a monastic context, the dedications are more likely to have been to the ascetic 'proto-monk' John The Baptist (S00020) than to the Apostle and Evangelist (S00042). However, John the Apostle and Evangelist (S00042) is very possible in the case of Laodicea, since in the Book of Revelation, revealed to John on the island of Patmos, (Rev. 1:11), Laodicea is singled out as one of the seven churches of Asia (along with Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, and Philadelphia). The monastery of Saint John in Mesopotamia could be the monastery of John the Baptist near Martyropolis. The poorhouse of St. Konon; this ptocheion is also mentioned in three inscriptions engraved on sarcophagi found in the necropolis of the city of Corycus/Korykos (Feissel 2000, 96; E01065), in the Roman province of Cilicia Prima in south-east Asia Minor. The cult of Konon in the area of Corycus is further confirmed by the discovery of a basilica dedicated to Konon, George and Christophoros at Elaioussa-Sebaste (c. 12 km from Corycus; Hellenkamper and Hild 1986, 80-84; E01076; see also Pilhofer 2018, 243-250). There were several Saint Konons in Asia Minor, but given the proximity of Corycus to Isauria, the martyr of Isauria is here the most likely candidate. The house of Saints Kosmas/Cosmas and Damianos in Pamphylia: its exact location is unknown; it could have been a church, or possibly a hospital, perhaps in Perge on the river Side (Eyice 2001-2002, 153-162; Hellenkamper and Hild 2004, vol. 2, 750). The poorhouse of Saint Michael in the Emporium: Emporion/Emporium was the port of Perge (Hellenkamper and Hild 2004, vol. 2, 529) - nothing further is known about this charitable institution.


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: Alpi, F., “Le secteur de Chhîm-Jiyé aux époques classique et byzantine (3e s. av. J.-C./7e s. apr. J.-C.),” Bulletin d’archéologie et d’architecture libanaises 6 (2002), 7-9, 47-48. Adshead, K., “Procopius and the Samaritans,” in: P. Allen and E. Jeffreys (eds.), The Sixth Century, End or Beginning? (Byzantina Australiensia 10; Brisbane: Australian Association for Byzantine Studies, 1996), 35-41. Balty, J.Ch., Guide d'Apamée (Bruxelles: Centre Belge de Recherches Archéologiques à Apamée de Syrie, 1981). Cameron, A., “Procopius 7,” in: J.R. Martindale (ed.), The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, vol. 2: A.D. 395-527 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980). Cameron, A., Procopius and the Sixth Century (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1985). Caner, D.F., History and Hagiography from the Late Antique Sinai (Translated Texts for Historians 53; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010). Downey, G.A., “The Composition of Procopius’ 'De Aedificiis',” Transactions of the American Philological Association 78 (1947), 171-183. Eyice, S., "Side'de de Bir Bizans Hastahanesi mi?," Adalya 5 (2001-2002), 153-162. 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. Feissel, D., “Les édifices de Justinien au témoignage de Procope et de l'épigraphie,” Antiquité Tardive 8 (2000), 81-104. Forsyth, G.H., “The Monastery of St. Catherine at Mount Sinai: The Church and the Fortress of Justinian,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 22 (1968), 1-19. Galey, J., Forsyth, G.H., and Weitzmann, K., Sinai and the Monastery of St. Catherine (Garden City, NY: Chatto & Windus, 1980). Gerstel, S.E.J., and Nelson, R.S., Approaching the Holy Mountain: Art and Liturgy at St. Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai (Turnhout: Brepols, 2010). 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. Hellenkemper, H., and Hild, F., "Lykien und Pamphylien," in: Veröffentlichungen der Kommission für Tabula Imperii Byzantini, vol. 2 (Wien: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2004). Hellenkemper, H., and Hild, F., “Neue Forschungen in Kilikien,” in: Veröffentlichungen der Kommission für die Tabula Imperii Byzantini, vol. 4 (Wien: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1986). Key Fowden, E., The Barbarian Plain: Saint Sergius between Rome and Iran (Berkeley/Los Angeles/London: University of California Press, 1999). Pilhofer, Ph., Das frühe Christentum im kilikisch-isaurischen Bergland (Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2018), 243-250. Rubin, B., Procopius von Kaisareia (Stuttgart: Druckenmüller, 1954 = Paulys Realencyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft, Neue Bearbeitung, Stuttgart 1957, vol. 23.1, col. 273-599). Ulbert, T., "Procopius, De Ædificiis. Einige Überlegungen zu Buch II, Syrien," Antiquité Tardive 8 (2000), 137-147. Waliszewski, T., “Jiyeh (Porphyreon): Explorations 2003-2004,” Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 16 (2004), 419-422.

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