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E05743: John Malalas in his Chronographia mentions the dedication of the church of *Eirene (martyr of Magedon, S02162) in Sykai (suburb of Constantinople) in September 551; a procession went from Saint Sophia to Sykai, during which the patriarchs of Constantinople and Alexandria paraded through the city, carrying the relics on their knees. Written in Greek at Antioch (Syria) or Constantinople, in the mid-6th c.

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posted on 2018-06-15, 00:00 authored by erizos
John Malalas, Chronographia, 18.113

Μηνὶ σεπτεμβρίῳ ἰνδικτιῶνος ιεʹ γέγονε τὰ ἐγκαίνια τῆς ἁγίας Εἰρήνης τῆς οὔσης πέραν ἐν Ἰουστινιαναῖς· καὶ ἐξῆλθον τὰ ἅγια λείψανα ἐκ τῆς μεγάλης ἐκκλησίας μετὰ καὶ τῶν δύο πατριαρχῶν, λέγω δὴ Μηνᾶ τοῦ πατριάρχου Κωνσταντινουπόλεως καὶ Ἀπολιναρίου τοῦ πάπα Ἀλεξανδρείας· καὶ ἐκάθισαν ἀμφότεροι ἐν τῷ βασιλικῷ ὀχήματι κατέχοντες ἐν τοῖς γόνασιν αὐτῶν τὰ τίμια λείψανα.

‘In the month of September of the 15th indiction there occurred the dedication of Saint Eirene which is across the Golden Horn in Ioustinianai. The holy relics left the Great Church with both of the patriarchs, I mean Menas, Patriarch of Constantinople, and Apollinarios, Pope of Alexandria. They both sat in the imperial carriage, holding the precious relics on their knees.’

Text: Thurn 2000. Translation: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Eirene, martyr of Magedon : S02162

Saint Name in Source


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 - Liturgical Activity

  • Procession

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Monarchs and their family

Cult Activities - Relics

Unspecified relic Transfer, translation and deposition of relics Public display of relics


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:


During the reign of Justinian, Constantinople witnessed several impressive feasts for the dedication of churches built or rebuilt by the emperor. Some of the most sumptuous and memorable ones are recorded by Malalas, including the rededication of the Holy Apostles in 550 (E05741) and the dedication of the church of *Theodora in the upper part of the Golden Horn in 562 (E05746). The episode recounted here took place in 551, given the reference to the two patriarchs (Menas of Constantinople, 536-552; Apollinaris of Alexandria, 551-569). This is indeed the year given by both Malalas and Theophanes. The latter, reproducing a more extensive version of Malalas, reports that the procession, with the two patriarchs seated on the imperial carriage, set off from Saint Sophia in Constantinople, reached Perama (Eminönü) and crossed the Golden Horn to Sycae, where they met the emperor Justinian (ed. de Boor, p. 228: 5-13 - AM 6044). A similar procession, this time featuring Menas alone on the imperial carriage, had taken place one year earlier, during the rededication of the Holy Apostles (E05741). The recording of the scene by the chronicler suggests that the ceremony made a deep impression and left a lasting memory. Procopius in the Buildings mentions that during the construction of the church of Eirene, relics of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste were discovered by the builders, which healed Justinian from gout (E04395). It is possible, though not explicitly stated, that these relics were used in the dedication ceremony recounted by Malalas. Alternatively, these relics may have been belonged to the martyrs *Eleutherios, Leonidas, and the Innocents, whose synaxis was celebrated at the basilica of Eirene in August, according to the Constantinopolitan Synaxarium. The dedication of the basilica of Eirene was probably a part of Justinian's project of embellishing the quarter of Sycae (the later Galata) which the emperor renamed as Ioustinianopolis/Justinianae and declared a self-standing city. Given the prominent reference to the two patriarchs, this episode was associated by Josef Strzygowski with the scene depicted in the famous Trier ivory (E00) (Strzygowski 1901, 80-89). His view was rejected by later scholars, based on the depiction of an empress in the relief: in 551, the empress Theodora was already dead. Yet, as Strzygowski suggested, this female figure may in fact be the martyr Eirene herself rather than an empress. This is supported by the fact that Eirene is portrayed as the virgin daughter of a king in her martyrdom account (BHG 952y-954c), which would justify her depiction in imperial garb.


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: Cronnier, E., Les inventions de reliques dans l'Empire romain d'orient (Hagiologia 11; Turnhout: Brepols, 2015), 155-156. Janin, R., La géographie ecclésiastique de l'empire Byzantin. I 3: Les eglises et les monastères de la ville de Constantinople. 2nd ed. (Paris, 1969), 108-109. Strzygowski, J., Orient oder Rom. Beiträge zur Geschichte der spätantiken und frühchristlichen Kunst (Leipzig, 1901).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity