University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E06966: The Homily (memrā) on *Dometios (monk of Syria, S00414) is written in Syriac during the late 5th/early 6th c. by Jacob of Serugh (c. 451-521). It extols the saint's ascetic virtues and his efficacy as healer, even after his death.

online resource
posted on 2018-10-22, 00:00 authored by sminov
Jacob of Serugh, Homily on Dometios

Brief summary:

After a brief rhetorical introduction (p. 321), the main body of the homily (pp. 322-327) recounts the story of the holy man Dometios, who lived in the time of the emperor Valens, described negatively as a pagan-minded supporter of Arianism. A pagan himself, Dometios joined the army of Valens and promised to help the emperor in his military campaign against 'the land of the East'. At that point, God sends to Dometios an angel who punishes him with a bodily affliction. In search of healing, Dometios leaves Valens and goes to the city of Cyrrhus. On his way to the city he meets a Christian holy man who instructs him to go to a mountain and to make repentance there. Dometios follows the advice and stays in a small cave on the mountain. After some time, the holy man visits him and baptises him. After baptism, Dometios decides to stay in the cave, wearing sackcloth and leading an ascetic way of life. After some time, the angel visits him a second time and heals him from his affliction. Dometios stays on the mountain for thirty years until the time of his death, fighting Satan and accepting visitors seeking healing. The homily concludes with a litany in the holy man's honour (p. 327), in which the author puts a special emphasis on the fact that even after the saint's death his bones bring healing, since the Holy Spirit abides in them permanently.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Dometios, monk and martyr of Syria under Julian : S00414

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Liturgical texts - Hymns Literary - Sermons/Homilies


  • Syriac

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region


Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Serugh Edessa Edessa Ἔδεσσα Edessa

Major author/Major anonymous work

Jacob of Serugh

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Chant and religious singing

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - bones and teeth


The Homily on Dometios is a poetic celebration of the life and achievements of Dometios, a 4th century ascetic and healer who was active in Syria. The Homily belongs to the literary genre of memrā, a narrative poem that employs couplets all in the same syllabic meter. Such poems, which appear to have been recited rather than sung, were presumably used in the liturgy, though there is no evidence from Late Antiquity of exactly how this happened. There is a critical edition of the Homily, prepared by Roger-Youssef Akhrass and Imad Syryany on the basis of three out of four existing manuscripts. Syriac text: Akhrass & Syryany 2017, vol. 1, 321-331. For general information on Jacob and his oeuvre, see Brock 2011; Lange 2004; Alwan 1986. On the development of the cult of Dometios, see Peeters 1939; Parmentier 1989.


In its presentation of the holy man's life, the Homily closely follows the plot of the Syriac version of the Life of Dometios (E06986), which places Dometios' life under the emperor Valens (r. 364-378) and allows him a peaceful death, whereas in the Greek tradition (E05716) he is said to have been a martyr under the emperor Julian (r. 361-363). At one point, the homilist refers explicitly to a written source on the saint's life, saying 'as the narrative (taš‘ītā) about him says' (p. 323, line 68); it thus appears that Jacob was acquainted with the Syriac Life.


Main editions and translations: Bedjan, P., Acta martyrum et sanctorum. 7 vols (Paris / Leipzig: Otto Harrassowitz, 1890-1897). Taylor, A.M., History of Mar Domitius the Healer: Translation from the Syriac (London: Luzac and Co., 1938). van den Gheyn, J., “Acta graeca S. Dometii martyris,” Analecta Bollandiana 19 (1900), 285-320. Further reading: Parmentier, M.F.G., “Non-Medical Ways of Healing in Eastern Christendom: The Case of St. Dometios,” in: A.A.R. Bastiaensen, A. Hilhorst and C.H. Kneepkens (eds.), Fructus centesimus. Mélanges offerts à Gerard J.M. Bartelink à l’occasion de son soixante-cinquième anniversaire (Instrumenta Patristica 19; Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1989), 279-296. Peeters, P., “S. Dometios le martyr et S. Dometios le médecin,” Analecta Bollandiana 57 (1939), 72-104. Wright, W., Catalogue of Syriac Manuscripts in the British Museum, Acquired since the Year 1838. 3 vols. (London: Trustees of the British Museum, 1870-1872).

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager