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E05735: John Malalas in his Chronographia, in his account of events in Antioch (Syria) in the early 6th century, mentions the local shrines of *Stephen (the First Martyr, S00030), *Michael (the Archangel, S00181), *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033), unnamed *Prophets (S00139), *Zachariah (probably the father of John the Baptist, S00597, or the Old Testament Prophet, S00283), and *Kosmas and Damianos (brothers and physician martyrs, S00385), as well as a Gate of *Ioulianos (probably the martyr of Cilicia, S00305). Written in Greek at Antioch or Constantinople, in the mid-6th c.

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posted on 2018-06-15, 00:00 authored by Bryan
John Malalas, Chronographia, 17.14; 17.16; 17.19

17.14 Τῷ δὲ αὐτῷ χρόνῳ, Ἀνατολίου τοῦ Καρίνου ὄντος κόμητος ἀνατολῆς, συνέβη ἐν Ἀντιοχείᾳ ἐμπρησμὸν μέγαν γενέσθαι ὑπὸ θεϊκῆς ὀργῆς· ὅστις ἐμπρησμὸς προεμήνυσε τὴν τοῦ θεοῦ μέλλουσαν ἔσεσθαι ἀγανάκτησιν. ἐκαύθη γὰρ ἀπὸ τοῦ μαρτυρίου τοῦ ἁγίου Στεφάνου ἕως τοῦ πραιτωρίου τοῦ στρατηλάτου.

‘In that year [AD 520], while Anatolius, son of Carinus, was comes Orientis, a great conflagration occurred in Antioch through divine wrath. This conflagration foretold the indignation of God, which was about to be manifested. The area between the shrine (martyrion) of Saint Stephen and the praetorium of the magister militum was burned down.’

17.16 In June of the seventh year of Justin I’s reign (526), a great earthquake destroys the city of Antioch.

[……] ἡ δὲ μεγάλη ἐκκλησία Ἀντιοχείας ἡ κτισθεῖσα ὑπὸ Κωνσταντίνου τοῦ μεγάλου βασιλέως, ᾗτινι οὐδεμία ἦν ὁμοία ἐν τῇ Ῥωμανίᾳ τῆς θεομηνίας γενομένης καὶ πάντων πεπτωκότων εἰς τὸ ἔδαφος ἔστη ἐπὶ ἡμέρας ζʹ μετὰ τὸ γενέσθαι τὴν τοῦ θεοῦ φοβερὰν ἀπειλήν, καίπερ ῥαγεῖσα· τότε καὶ αὐτὴ ὑπὸ πυρὸς ληφθεῖσα κατηνέχθη ἕως ἐδάφους. ὡσαύτως καὶ ἡ μεγάλη ἐκκλησία τοῦ ἀρχαγγέλου Μιχαὴλ καὶ ἡ ἐκκλησία τῆς ἁγίας παρθένου Μαρίας κατηνέχθησαν ἕως ἐδάφους (ἡ γὰρ ἐκκλησία Μιχαὴλ τοῦ ἀρχαγγέλου ἐκτίσθη ὑπὸ Λέοντος τοῦ βασιλέως)· ἀμφότεροι δὲ οἱ ναοὶ τῷ πάθει οὐδόλως βλαβέντες ἔστησαν, ἀλλὰ τῇ θεομηνίᾳ ἄφνω ἀνήφθησαν πυρὶ ἅμα τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τῶν ἁγίων προφητῶν καὶ τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ ἁγίου Ζαχαρίου, καὶ μετέπειτα ἔπεσαν ἕως ἐδάφους. καὶ ἕτεροι δὲ <θεῖοι> οἶκοι μὴ πεπτωκότες ὑπὸ τοῦ πάθους τοῦ θεϊκοῦ ὑπὸ τοῦ πυρὸς διελύθησαν ἕως θεμελίων. καὶ ἀπώλοντο, καθὰ εἶπαν οἱ εἰδότες, ἐν αὐτῷ τῷ φόβῳ ἄχρι χιλιάδων διακοσίων πεντήκοντα πολιτῶν καὶ ξένων, ἀνδρῶν τε καὶ γυναικῶν, παιδίων τε καὶ γερόντων· ἦν γὰρ ἡ μεγάλη ἑορτὴ Χριστοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν ἡ τῆς ἀναλήψεως· καὶ πολὺ πλῆθος ἦν τῶν ξένων ἐπιδημῆσαν· καὶ ἅμα ἐσήμαναν τὰ σήμαντρα τῆς λεγομένης Κερατείου ἐκκλησίας εἰς τὴν πόλιν διὰ τὴν κατὰ συνήθειαν γινομένην ἁγίαν λιτανείαν, καὶ ἤρξατο δὲ ὁ σεισμός. ἐπὶ δὲ τῆς αὐτῆς θεομηνίας ἐδείχθη καὶ τὸ τῶν πολιτῶν πλῆθος ὁπόσον ὑπῆρχεν.
ἐν οἷς ἦν ἐν αὐτῷ τῷ καιρῷ ἁρπαγῇ χρησάμενος Θωμᾶς τις σιλεντιάριος ὁ λεγόμενος Ἑβραῖος, ὅστις ἐξῆλθεν σῷος φεύγων ἐκ τῆς θεομηνίας, καὶ ἔξω τῆς πόλεως ὡς ἀπὸ μιλίων δύο ἢ τριῶν ἐπὶ τὴν πόρταν τὴν λεγομένην τοῦ ἁγίου Ἰουλιανοῦ οἴκει, καὶ ἀπέσπα πάντα ἐκ τῶν παριόντων ἢ φευγόντων διὰ τῶν οἰκετῶν αὐτοῦ (…)

‘[……] The great church of Antioch, which had been built by the emperor Constantine the Great, and like which there was no church in the Roman Empire, remained standing for seven days after this tremendous threat of God, while everything else had collapsed to the ground during the wrath of God. Then it too was overcome by fire and razed to the ground. Likewise the great church of the archangel Michael and the church of the ever Virgin Mary were taken down to the ground (the church of Michael the Archangel had been built by the emperor Leo); now both churches had suffered no damage during the disaster, but they were suddenly engulfed by fire in God’s wrath, alongside the church of the holy Prophets and church of the Saint Zechariah, and later they collapsed to the ground. Many other churches, which had not fallen during the God-sent calamity, were razed to their foundations by the fire. As witnesses said, up to 250,000 persons perished in this terror, both locals and strangers, men and women, children and old people. For it was the great feast of Christ our God, the Day of Ascension, and there was a great throng of strangers visiting the city. At the moment when the chimes (semantra) of the church known as that of Kerateion rang through the city for the procession which is held according to custom, the earthquake started. During this wrath of God, it became manifest how great the population of the inhabitants was.

[……] One of these people was Thomas, a silentiarius, also known as "the Jew", who took to robbing in that period. He had escaped to safety, fleeing the wrath of God, and was staying three miles outside the city at the locality known as the Gate of Saint Ioulianos. Employing his servants, he used to steal everything from people passing-by and fugitives. […]’

17.19 Ἔκτισεν δὲ ἐν τῇ αὐτῇ Ἀντιοχείᾳ εὐκτήριον οἶκον τῆς ἁγίας θεοτόκου καὶ ἀειπαρθένου Μαρίας, ἄντικρυς τῆς λεγομένης Ῥουφίνου βασιλικῆς, κτίσας πλησίον καὶ ἕτερον οἶκον τῶν ἁγίων Κοσμᾶ καὶ Δαμιανοῦ. ὡσαύτως δὲ ἔκτισεν καὶ ξενῶνα καὶ λουτρὰ καὶ κινστέρνας. ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ ἡ εὐσεβεστάτη Θεοδώρα καὶ αὐτὴ πολλὰ τῇ πόλει παρέσχεν· ἔκτισεν δὲ καὶ οἶκον τοῦ ἀρχαγγέλου Μιχαὴλ εὐπρεπέστατον πάνυ· ἔκτισεν δὲ καὶ τὴν λεγομένην Ἀνατολίου βασιλικήν, πέμψας τοὺς κίονας ἀπὸ Κωνσταντινουπόλεως. ἡ δὲ αὐτὴ Αὐγούστα Θεοδώρα, ποιήσασα σταυρὸν πολύτιμον διὰ μαργαριτῶν ἔπεμψεν ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις. ὁ δὲ αὐτὸς Ἰουστινιανὸς δωρεὰς κατέπεμψεν πᾶσι τοῖς ὑποτελέσι τῆς Ῥωμαϊκῆς πολιτείας.

‘He [Justinian] built in Antioch a church of the Holy Mother of God and ever-virgin Mary, opposite the building known as the basilica of Rufinus, building close to it another church, that of Saints Kosmas and Damianos. Equally he also built a hospice, baths and cisterns. Likewise the most religious Theodora also funded many things for the city. She built an extremely fine church of the archangel Michael; she also built what is known as the basilica of Anatolius, for which the columns were sent from Constantinople. The Augusta Theodora had a very costly cross, set with pearls, produced and sent to Jerusalem. The same Justinian granted tax remissions to all subjects of the Roman state.’

Text: Thurn 2000. Translation: E. Rizos, using Jeffreys, Jeffreys, and Scott 1986.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Stephen, the First Martyr : S00030 Michael, the Archangel : S00181 Zechariah, Old Testament prophet : S00283 Prophets, unnamed or name lost : S00139 Ioulianos/Julianus, martyr of Cilicia : S00305 Ioulianos/Julianus, martyr of Emesa : S01259 Mar

Saint Name in Source

Στέφανος Μιχαὴλ Ζαχαρίας προφῆται Ἰουλιανὸς Ἰουλιανὸς Μαρία Κοσμᾶς, Δαμιανός

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 Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Constantinople Antioch on the Orontes

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

Constantinople Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul Antioch on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora

Major author/Major anonymous work

John Malalas

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Gates, bridges and roads

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Construction of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Monarchs and their family


The Chronographia of John Malalas (c. 490–c. 570) is a Christian chronicle of universal history, from Adam to the death of Justinian I (565). It appears to have been composed in two parts, the earlier of which focuses on the history of Antioch and the East, ending in c. 528 or 532. The second part focuses on the urban history of Constantinople up to the death of Justinian. Malalas is likely to have pursued a career in the imperial administration at both Antioch and Constantinople, writing the two parts of his chronicle while living in these two cities. Malalas was widely used as a source by Byzantine chroniclers and historians, including John of Ephesus, John of Antioch, Evagrius Scholasticus, the Paschal Chronicle, John of Nikiu, John of Damascus, Theophanes, George the Monk, pseudo-Symeon, Kedrenos, Zonaras, Theodore Skoutariotes, and Nikephoros Kallistou Xanthopoulos. The text of the chronicle is preserved in a very fragmentary form, based on quotations in other sources (notably the Paschal Chronicle and Theophanes), and on a Slavonic translation which follows a more extensive version of the original text. It is believed that we now have about 90% of the text. On the composition and manuscript tradition of the text, see Thurn 2000, and:


Malalas’ account of calamities at Antioch under Justinian, which in Thurn’s edition is reconstructed based on the Slavonic version of the text, mentions a number of important shrines of Antioch. The Martyrion of Stephen the First Martyr near the headquarters (praetorium) of the general of the East (magister militum per Orientem) is also known from the Life of Symeon Stylites the Younger. The shrines of the Archangel Michael, ascribed by Malalas to Leo I (457-474), and Mary the Theotokos were two major churches of the city. Both of them are mentioned by Severus of Antioch (512-518). It seems probable that the homonymous churches built by Justinian and Theodora replaced the buildings destroyed in 526, though it is unknown whether they were built on the same sites. Procopius mentions the building of both churches in the Buildings, omitting the church of Kosmas and Damianos (E04425). The churches of the Prophets and Zechariah are only mentioned by Malalas. The former seems to have been restored after the fire, since a homily given on its dedication by Ephraim of Antioch (527-545), is mentioned by Photius (E00). The church of Zechariah was probably dedicated to the father of John the Baptist (S00597), though it is possible that it was dedicated to the Old Testament prophet (S00283). The Gate of Hagios Ioulianos apparently indicates the existence of a shrine dedicated to the Cilician martyr, whose relics were present in Antioch already in the times of Chrysostom (E02544). The Slavonic Malalas also mentions the interesting detail that the calamity took place on Ascension Day, when people gathered from the countryside in the city for the celebration. The day included a procession which apparently included a visit to the church of the Kerateion – or perhaps started from it. This was almost certainly the shrine of the Maccabean Martyrs. John of Nikiu reports that this procession, in fact, took place after the earthquake. Our passage contains one of the earliest references to semantra (metal or wooden chimes or bells) being used for the call to worship. For a detailed discussion, see: Mayer and Allen 2012, 67; 90-91; 98-99; 103-104; 107-109; 80-81; 122.


Text: Dindorf, L., Ioannis Malalae Chronographia (Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae; Bonn, 1831). Thurn, J., Ioannis Malalae Chronographia (Corpus Fontium Historiae Byzantinae 35; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2000). Translation: Jeffreys, E., Jeffreys, M., and Scott, R., The Chronicle of John Malalas: A Translation (Sydney, 1986). On Malalas: Carrara, L., Meier, M., and Radtki-Jansen, C. (eds.), Die Weltchronik des Johannes Malalas. Quellenfragen (Malalas-Studien 2; Göttingen: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2017). Jeffreys, E., Croke, B., and Scott, R. (eds.), Studies in John Malalas (Sydney, 1990). Meier, M., Radtki-Jansen, C., and Schulz, F. (eds.), Die Weltchronik des Johannes Malalas: Autor, Werk, Überlieferung (Malalas-Studien 1; Göttingen: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2016). Treadgold, W.T. The Early Byzantine Historians (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 235-256. Further reading: Mayer, W., and Allen, P., The Churches of Syrian Antioch (300‒638 CE) (Late Antique History and Religion 5; Leuven: Peeters, 2012).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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