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E06770: In 555/557, Cyril of Scythopolis composes the Life of *Theognios (ascetic and bishop in Palestine, S01506), recounting his life as a miracle working ascetic. He mentions a shrine and monastery of *Ioulianos (possibly the martyr of Emesa, S01259; or the martyr of Cilicia, S00305; or that of martyr of Antinoopolis, S01341) at Jerusalem. He also mentions an extensive biography of the saint, which has not survived. Written in Greek in Palestine.

online resource
posted on 2018-10-08, 00:00 authored by erizos
Cyril of Scythopolis, Life of Theognios (CPG 7540 = BHG 1787)

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

Born in Ariaratheia of Cappadocia, Theognios became a monk in his youth and came to Jerusalem in 454/455. He settled at the monastery of the holy woman Flavia who was then building a monastery and church of the martyr *Ioulianos on the Mount of Olives. When she died, he was elected abbot of the monastery, but fled to the desert and joined the monastery of Theodosios. He later became a hermit, famous for his virtues and miracles, and was finally ordained bishop of the coastal town of Betylion. He miraculously saved the town from being inundated by the rising sea. His life was been written in an extensive form by Paulos of Elousa. Theognios returned to his monastery and died.

Text: Schwartz 1939.
Summary: Efthymios Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Theognios, bishop of Betelia, near Gaza, ob. c. 522. : S01506 Ioulianos/Julianus, martyr of Cilicia : S00305 Ioulianos/Julianus, martyr of Emesa : S01259 Ioulianos and Basilissa, martyrs of Egypt and/or Antioch : S01341

Saint Name in Source

Θεόγνιος Ἰουλιανὸς Ἰουλιανὸς Ἰουλιανὸς

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 - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Miraculous protection - of communities, towns, armies

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Ecclesiastics - abbots Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Ecclesiastics - bishops 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).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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