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E07002: The Greek Life of *Paulos/Paul (the Confessor, bishop of Constantinople, ob. c. 351, S01500) recounts the doctrinal conflicts of the 4th century by way of an account of the life of the orthodox bishop of Constantinople, based on 5th century ecclesiastical histories. Written, probably in Constantinople, in the later 5th century, or later.

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posted on 2018-10-27, 00:00 authored by erizos
The Life of Paul the Confessor (BHG 1472, 1472a)


1. Like Athanasius of Alexandria, Paul the Confessor was a defender of the Nicene creed against the Pneumatomachi and Macedonius.

2. Under Constantius II, there was a revival of Arianism. The bishop of Constantinople, Alexander, died without having chosen a successor. Two men were candidates for his succession, Paul and Macedonius. The former was young and virtuous, the latter old and only apparently pious.

3. The Arians supported Macedonius, while the orthodox supported Paul. The latter was installed as bishop at the Church of Saint Eirene.

4-6. Displeased, the emperor Constantius summoned a council which nominated Eusebius of Nicomedia as bishop of Constantinople. Eusebius summoned the Council of Antioch (341) which took place during the consecration of the Church of Antioch, the construction of which had started under Constantine. Ninety bishops gathered in the presence of the emperor Constantius, but Maximus of Jerusalem and Julius of Rome missed the council, which rendered the meeting illegitimate. The council deposed Athanasius of Alexandria and nominated the Arian Gregory the Cappadocian.

7. Many earthquakes occurred in the East. Eusebius sent a letter to Julius of Rome, requesting that Athanasius be put on trial. Both Paul and Athanasius, having fled their cities, were living in Rome. The Pope sent them back to their cities as the legitimate bishops of Constantinople and Alexandria.

8. Eusebius summoned another council in Antioch, contesting the orthodoxy of the Pope, but died just after the council ended. After Eusebius’ death, Paul returned to Constantinople.

9. Meanwhile, the Arians had elected Macedonius at the church which later was dedicated to Paul. Similarly, Athanasius in Alexandria was being attacked by Gregory the Cappadocian. Constantius gathered an army of five thousand hoplites to arrest Athanasius, but he escaped and fled to Rome, whilst Gregory took his place in Alexandria. The people of Alexandria revolted and burned down the church of Dionysios.

10-11. In 342, Constantius sent his general Hermogenes to crush a riot in Constantinople and expel Paul. However, the people protected the bishop, while Hermogenes was taken from his house and killed by the crowd.

12. Constantius, hearing of Hermogenes’ death, occupied the city of Constantinople and expelled Paul, but he delayed the proclamation of Macedonius as bishop because he had caused too many troubles.

13. Paul and Athanasius appealed to the Pope and the western emperor Constans, who gave them their support and authorised them to return to their sees. Paul was welcomed back to Constantinople.

14-15. Constantius, however, once again had Paul deposed and exiled, this time to Thessalonike.

16. Macedonius was installed as bishop under the protection of a military contingent. Thirty-five thousand people died in the conflicts of that day. In this violent way, the Arians took control of the Church.

17. At that time, the emperor Constantius built the church of Hagia Sophia, which was adjacent to the church of Hagia Eirene. Meanwhile, Paul sailed to Italy, where he met Athanasius. Once they were both in Italy, they brought their cases to the emperor Constans.

18-19. Constans, moved by the stories of Athanasius and Paul, asked his brother to explain his animosity towards the two men. Moreover, he asked him to send some bishops with a written profession of their faith in orthodox Christian doctrines. Constantius sent Narcissus of Cilicia, Theodore of Thrace, Maris of Chalcedon, and Mark of Syria, who refused to discuss the case of Paul, but presented to the emperor a creed, purged of the most heretical teachings, and left.

20. Three years later, the eastern bishops held a council which produced a new creed, and sent it for approval to the Italian bishops. The latter rejected it.

21. Eleven years after Constantine’s death, Arius and Athanasius persuaded the emperors to summon a new synod at Serdica. Over 300 western bishops and only 26 eastern ones attended.

22. The easterners refused to partake in the synod, if Athanasius and Paul were attending it. Therefore, they left and held a counter-synod at Philippopolis in Thrace which condemned the doctrine of consubstantiality. The westerners condemned the easterners and both synods issued encyclicals of their definitions.

23-24. Having been informed of Serdica and having exhorted his brother to reinstate Paul as bishop, Constans sent Paul back to Constantinople with an escort. Moreover, he warned his brother that he wanted this problem solved immediately, otherwise he would see to it personally. Constantius took seriously his brother’s warnings and reinstated both Paul and Athanasius to their episcopacies.

25. However, when Constans was killed, Constantius deviated once more from the orthodox faith. He substituted Athanasius with an Arian bishop, named George, and sent Paul into exile. Paul was confined in Koukousos/Cucusus in Armenia, where some members of his escort incited the locals against Paul, who was murdered by the local chief.

26-27. After Paul’s death, Macedonius took control of the church in Constantinople, and started a war against the followers of the orthodox faith. He persecuted those Christians who professed consubstantiality, including the Novatianists and their bishop Agelios.

28-29. The Arians were persecuting men, women and children. In particular, Macedonius convinced the emperor to send a small contingent to Mantinion in Paphlagonia, where they slaughtered many orthodox Christians.

30-31. During his episcopacy, Macedonius ordered the removal of the remains of the emperor Constantine from his mausoleum to the church of *Akakios (cf. E04004). This act was considered sacrilegious by the orthodox Christians and caused a riot and bloodshed. Outraged, the emperor Constantius deposed Macedonius from his ecclesiastical office.

32. After Constantius’ death, the heretic Valens rose to power, but his successor Theodosius was orthodox.

33. Thedosius attempted to reconcile the Arians to the orthodox faith, but their leader Demophilus refused. Moreover, he urged the Arians to return to the orthodox Christians the churches which they had stolen. Demophilus accepted and suggested to his fellow Arians to gather outside of the city.

34-36. Theodosius summoned an ecumenical council in Constantinople, which was attended by over 500 orthodox and 36 Arian bishops. The latter were not persuaded to abandon their heresy, and were banished and separated from the orthodox Church. Nectarius was elected bishop of Constantinople, which was now the second most important bishopric of the Roman Empire.

37. Theodosius brought the body of Paul from Ancyra to Constantinople, and the people of Constantinople and Chalcedon welcomed and venerated it. The body remained for one night in Hagia Eirene, and was then moved to the church named after him, near the Church of Anastasia. Paul was proclaimed blessed.

Text: Fusco 1996.
Summary: Lavinia Cerioni.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Paulos, bishop of Constantinople and confessor, ob. c. 350. : S01500

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Constantinople and region

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

Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Appropriation of older cult sites

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Monarchs and their family

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Transfer, translation and deposition of relics Transfer/presence of relics from distant countries


For the manuscript tradition of BHG 1472, see: For 1472a, see Fusco 1996 and:


The Life of Paul the Confessor belongs to a group of hagiographic texts which were composed in Constantinople, possibly in the 6th century. The group also includes the Lives of the Constantinopolitan bishops *Metrophanes and Alexandros (E07162), and Paul the Confessor, a now lost pre-metaphrastic Life of *Athanasius of Alexandria (E07163), the Martyrdom of *Markianos and Martyrios the Notaries (E06890), and the Life of *Isaakios (E06980). All of these works are characterised by the poverty of their information about their heroes and their dependence on the 5th c. ecclesiastical histories, especially Socrates. Consequently, they can be no earlier than the mid 5th century. Three of these texts (the Lives of Metrophanes and Alexandros, Paul the Confessor, and Athanasius) were read by Photius in the 9th century, and were summarised in his Bibliotheca in three consecutive chapters (246, 247, 248), which suggests that the author may have found them in the same volume. A 6th century date seems quite likely. Their composition may have been politically motivated by an effort to celebrate the contribution of Constantinople to Orthodoxy. This is most pronounced in the Life of Paul the Confessor who is presented as the Constantinopolitan counterpart and companion of Athanasius of Alexandria in his anti-Arian struggles (Fusco 1996). The text also refers to the transfer of Paul's remains in the aftermath of the First Council of Constantinople in 381, and their burial in a church at the centre of the city, which had been used by the community of Paul's foe, Macedonius. This church is recorded by the Notitia Urbis as one of the three of the Seventh Region of the city, alongside those of Anastasia and Eirene. Although the return of Paul's remains was a prominent statement of imperial support for the Nicene community, Paul's figure does not seem to have attracted more attention than that. Sozomen noted that, by the mid 5th century, the populace of Constantinople believed that the Paul buried in his church was actually Paul the Apostle (E02282).


Text, with Italian translation and commentary: Fusco, R., La vita premetafrastica di Paolo il Confessore (BHG 1472a). Un vescovo di Costantinopoli tra storia e leggenda (Rome, 1996).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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