University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E06769: In 555/557, Cyril of Scythopolis composes the Life of *Theodosios (the Coenobiarch, abbot in Palestine, ob. 528, S01325), recounting his life as a miracle working ascetic. Written in Greek in Palestine.

online resource
posted on 2018-10-08, 00:00 authored by erizos
Cyril of Scythopolis, Life of Theodosios (CPG 7539 = BHG 1777)

(References to other saints, and their cults, are highlighted in bold.)

Theodosios is born in Mogarassos, a village of Caesarea in Cappadocia, not far from Comana. He is a singer of the Church of Comana. He comes to Jerusalem under Marcian (450-457) and initially joins Longinos, an ascetic monk of the Anastasis, living at David’s Tower in Jerusalem. Longinos discourages Theodosios from leaving for the desert, due to the conflicts of the time over Monophysitism. Instead, he assigns him to the monastery then established by the ascetic noble woman Hikelia at the Kathisma of the Theotokos (*Mary, Mother of Christ, S00033). Hikelia was the first to establish the celebration of Christ’s Presentation in the Temple (Hypapante/Candlemas) with the use of tapers. Theodosios serves as the steward and singer of that shrine, and is soon elected as its abbot. Yet, seeking solitude and peace, he flees. He initially settles at Metopa, with the anchorite Marinos and abba Loukas of Metopa, disciples of *Euthymios (the Great, ascetic in Palestine, S01352). He soon establishes a vast coenobium, which becomes famous in Palestine. Theodosios’ coenobium grows thanks to a number of miraculous events, and to the donations of the illustris Akakios, an official from Constantinople. Theodosios is elected superintendent of all the cenobitic monasteries of Jerusalem. He dies on 11 January 528, aged 105. Theodosios’ successor, the Armenian *Sophronios, expands the monastery and builds its church of the Theotokos. Sophronios dies on 21 March 542.

Text: Schwartz 1939.
Summary: Efthymios Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Theodosios the Coenobiarch, ob. 529 : S01325 Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033

Saint Name in Source

Θεοδόσιος Θεοτόκος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

New Laura

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

New Laura Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Major author/Major anonymous work

Cyril of Scythopolis

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Construction of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Ecclesiastics - abbots Women Aristocrats


Born in Scythopolis in c. 525, Cyril was the son of a lawyer serving the bishopric of the city. He grew up in an environment closely linked to the clergy and monasteries of the Chalcedonian Orthodox community of Palestine. During a visit to Scythopolis in c. 531-2, Sabas the Sanctified blessed little Cyril and marked him out as a future monk. Cyril was indeed tonsured, and left for Jerusalem in 543. At the advice of John the Hesychast, he joined the monastery of Euthymios in the same year, where he stayed for ten years. He was chosen to join the 120 monks who reclaimed the New Laura for Orthodoxy, after the expulsion of the Origenists from it in 553. In 557, he was preparing to move to Sabas’ Great Laura, after which nothing is known about his life. All the information concerning Cyril's life is deduced from his writings. Cyril’s only known work are the Lives of the Monks of Palestine (Μοναχικαὶ Ἱστορίαι), a collection of seven monastic biographies of uneven length. The most extensive and important works of this corpus are the lives of Euthymios and Sabas, founders of the two monasteries which defined Cyril’s own life as a monk. In the epilogue of the Life of Euthymios, the author informs us that he conceived the idea of the work, while living at the monastery of Euthymios and witnessing various miracles of that saint. In the early to mid 540s, he started collecting notes of stories which were orally recounted by older monks, but was only able to turn them into a coherent narrative when he moved to the New Laura (555-558). The Life of Euthymios was apparently the first of these biographies to be composed, starting in c. 556, at the request of Georgios, abbot and founder of a monastery near Cyril’s native Scythopolis. The Life of Sabas was either slightly later, or roughly contemporary. The third major biography is the Life of Ioannes/John the Hesychast, Cyril’s personal mentor, which was written while its hero was still alive at the age of 104, in 557/558. The briefer Lives of Kyriakos, Theodosios, Theognios and Abraamios are probably the last to be written by the author. By including these figures, which were closely connected with Sabas and his monastery, Cyril produced a gallery of hagiographies of the main Chalcedonian monasteries of the Judaean Desert, which resembles and perhaps follows the model of Theodoret’s Religious History. For the manuscript tradition of the texts, see:


Text: Schwartz, E., Kyrillos von Skythopolis (Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur 49.2; Leipzig, 1939). Translations: Baldelli, R., and Mortari, L., Storie monastiche del deserto di Gerusalemme (Abbazia di Praglia, 1990). Festugière, A.-J., Les moines d'Orient, vol. 3, part 3, Les moines de Palestine: Vie des saints Jean l'hésychaste, Kyriakos, Théodose, Théognios, Abraamios (Paris, 1962). Price, R., and Binns, J., Cyril of Scythopolis, Lives of the Monks of Palestine (Cistercian Studies Series 114; Kalamazoo, 1991). Further reading: Flusin, B., Miracle et histoire dans l'œuvre de Cyrille de Scythopolis (Paris, 1983). Flusin, B., "Palestinian Hagiography (Fourth-Eighth Centuries)," in: S. Efthymiadis (ed.), The Ashgate Research Companion to Byzantine Hagiography I: Periods and Places (Farnham, 2011), 199-226. Hombergen, D., The Second Origenist Controversy: A New Perspective on Cyril of Scythopolis' Monastic Biographies as Historical Sources for Sixth-Century Origenism (Rome, 2001).

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager