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E05363: The Greek Martyrdom of *Akakios the Cappadocian (soldier and martyr of Byzantium, S00468) recounts the martyrdom of a Cappadocian centurion, arrested at Perinthus (west of, and close to, Byzantium) and beheaded at the site of Staurion in Byzantium. It gives 8 May as the saint's festival. Written in Greek at Constantinople, possibly in the 6th c..

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posted on 2018-04-23, 00:00 authored by erizos
The Martyrdom of Akakios the Cappadocian (BHG 13)


1. Under Diocletian and Maximian a decree of persecution of Christians is issued to all provincial governors and military commanders.

2. Akakios is a Cappadocian, serving as a centurion in the military unit of the Martenses. He confesses his Christian faith before the commander Fermos who sends him fettered to the katholikos (general?) Vivianos.

3. A letter of Fermos with accusations against Akakios is read to Vivianos.

4. Akakios is interrogated and confesses to being a Christian. He is Achaean in origin, born in Cappadocia. Several of his fellow soldiers became martyrs.

5-10. Akakios defends and explains the Christian faith, and proclaims his readiness to suffer.

11-12. Akakios is cruelly flogged and tortured but refuses to sacrifice. He is kept in gaol fettered.

13. He spends seven days in the prison of Perinthus, until Vivianos receives letters from the Praetorian Prefect Likinios, instructing him to send the martyr to Byzantium. During the journey, Akakios prays for strength from Christ, and a voice is heard from heaven encouraging him. Many of his guards and torturers believe in Christ and ask of him to explain the faith to them.

14. Akakios expounds the faith to his guards. During the following nights they see him being visited by splendidly clad men in military attire, who cure his wounds.

15-18. They arrive at Byzantium, and lock Akakios in the inner prison cell. Seven days later, Vivianos arrives and the trial resumes. Despite torture and imprisonment, Akakios looks handsome like an angel and strong like an athlete. The general is enraged at Akakios’ guards. His keeper, Kassios, reports about the nocturnal apparitions. The general accuses him of having been bribed and has him tortured. Akakios laughs at Vivianos.

19. Vivianos has Akakios cruelly flogged, until the torturers are miraculously paralysed. He then decides to send the martyr to the proconsul of Europa, Flakkinos.

20. Vivianos sends a letter reporting Akakios to Flakkinos. The proconsul has the martyr imprisoned without fetters. His wife was a Christian and had asked him not to subject Christians to excessive torment.

21. Five days later, Flakkinos sits at the tribunal and has the trial acts of Akakios publicly read. He reproaches Vivianos for subjecting a soldier to excessive torturing and commands that Akakios be immediately beheaded by the sword.

22. Akakios is brought outside the city and offers up his final prayer of thanksgiving, requesting that Christ may grant every petition to those who will honour his martyrdom. He is beheaded and buried by pious men at a place called Staurion. His martyrdom took place on 8 May, under Maximian.

Text: Migne 1864.
Summary: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Akakios, martyr of Byzantion/Constantinople : S00468

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • 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

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle at martyrdom and death Apparition, vision, dream, revelation

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Soldiers Torturers/Executioners Officials Angels


For the manuscript tradition, see:


This text is the only extant version of the martyrdom account of the centurion of Akakios, one of the figures who were venerated as local martyrs of Constantinople. In its extant form, the text is probably no earlier than the 6th century, since it fails to record an earlier version of the legend of Akakios, which was known to the ecclesiastical historian Socrates, writing in 439/446. At that time, the death of Akakios was remembered as a hanging on a walnut tree, which was a site of veneration in central Constantinople (E04008). By the time our text was produced, it appears that the shrine of the walnut tree, and with it the cause of the martyr’s death, had been forgotten. Like many other martyrs, Akakios underwent a transformation of his original martyrdom type into a decapitation. Historical inaccuracies in our text, like the designation of the provincial governor of Europa as a proconsul, also indicate its relatively late date. The story is described as a journey from Perinthus to Byzantium (even though Perinthus is not named until § 13), and the final paragraph names Staurion as the saint's burial site. Located on the Golden Horn, perhaps in today's quarter of Unkapani (Berger 1988, 464-468), the martyr's church was one of the basilicas which Constantinopolitan tradition ascribed to the emperor Constantine I (Patria of Constantinople 3.1, 3.18, 4.1). It was undoubtedly an early shrine, certainly existing by the 350s, when bishop Macedonius temporarily moved the sarcophagus of Constantine there (E04004). The basilica of Akakios was also associated with the veneration of the two early 4th century bishops of Byzantium/Constantinople, Metrophanes (306-314) and Alexander I (314-326) (see Janin 1969, 14, 15; E00569), which suggests that the church stood on the site of an ancient Christian cemetery and received episcopal burials already under Constantine, if not earlier. The location of the shrine, midway between Byzantium and the suburb of Blachernae, could plausibly have been the site of a pre-Constantinian cemetery. The historicity of Akakios' association with Constantinople has been questioned by D. Woods (2001) who argued that the martyr's cult was in fact transferred to Constantinople from Nicomedia. This is mainly based on the fact that the feast of Akakios is associated with Nicomedia in the Syriac Martyrology (see E01491) which places it on 10 May. Yet it is possible that the entry of Akakios of Nicomedia (who is otherwise unattested) in the Syriac Martyrology is inaccurate or corrupt. This is indicated by the fact that Akakios is followed in the document by an entry for a certain martyr Maximos of Constantinople, who happens to be the only saint of Byzantium/Constantinople recorded in the whole Syriac Martyrology (E01492). Maximos' presence next to Akakios could suggest that the latter was inaccurately recorded as a saint of Nicomedia. The correct version of the entry seems to be recorded in the Martyrologium Hieronymianum which commemorates both Akakios and Maximos as martyrs of Constantinople on 8 May (E04807).


Text: Migne, J.-P., Patrologiae Cursus Completus: Series Graeca 115 (Paris, 1864), 217-240. Further Reading: Berger, A., Untersuchungen zu den Patria Konstantinupoleos (Poikila Byzantina 8; Bonn, 1988). Berger, A., "Mokios und Konstantin der Große. Zu den Anfängen des Märtyrerkults in Konstantinopel," in: P. Leontaritou, K. Bourdara, and E. Papagianni (eds.), Antecessor. Festschrift für Spyros N. Troianos (Athens, 2013), 165-185. 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). Woods, D., "The Church of “St.” Acacius at Constantinople," Vigiliae Christianae 55 (2001), 201-207. Viscido, L., “St. Acacius: martyr of Byzantium or Nicomedia?”, Studi sull’Oriente Cristiano 9 (2005), 111-117.

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