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E07161: Eulogius of Alexandria wrote in Greek Five Books Against Novatus and On the Dispensation, which included a quotation/summary of a text recounting the arrest and interrogation of *Novatus (priest of Rome, S01442), describing him as a confessor. Written in Alexandria in 580/608; the work is lost, but summarised in the 9th century Bibliotheca of Photius.

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posted on 2018-12-13, 00:00 authored by erizos
Photius, Bibliotheca

182: Eulogius of Alexandria, Five Books Against Novatus and On the Dispensation


After talking about Novatus and his story, Photius summarises the work of Eulogius. A sixth book (apparently an appendix to his 'Five Books') contained (perhaps in full quotation) a text called the Hypomnemata/Acta (Trial Record) of Novatus. The text is summarised as follows: Under Decius and Valerian, a certain ducenarius Perennius persecutes Christians in Rome and its environs. The bishop of Rome, Macedonius, and his nine presbyters are arrested and forced to sacrifice. One of them is Novatus, and only he refuses to apostatise. Eulogius probably quoted the dialogue between Perennius and Novatus, which the author (or Photius) described as silly. The text ended by reporting that, besides Novatus, the bishops of Aquileia, Marcellus and Alexander, and the bishop of Tiberis, Agamemnon, and other Christians refused to sacrifice. After the persecution, they lived in a house together, and refused to have communion with those who had lapsed. It also claimed that the bishops of Alexandria at the time recognised Novatus as the legitimate bishop of Rome. Photius reports that Eulogius refuted this text as falsified in the fifth book of his work.

Text: Henry 1959.
Summary: Efthymios Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Novatus, priest of Rome : S01442

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom Literary - Theological works


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Alexandria Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Major author/Major anonymous work


Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Transmission, copying and reading saint-related texts

Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Acceptance/rejection of saints from other religious groupings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy


The Bibliotheca or Myriobiblos (the 'Ten Thousand Books') is a work of the 9th century scholar and Patriarch of Constantinople Photius (c. 810-893), composed of 279 reviews of books of Christian and pagan authors from the 5th century BC to the author’s own time in the 9th century AD. Almost half the books mentioned no longer survive.


This passage attests to the existence of a hagiographic text, which substantiated the claim of the Novatian community that its founder was the only legitimate leader of the Church of Rome after the Decian persecution. Eulogius apparently refuted it as not genuine in his five-book treatise, but probably provided a full quotation of the document in an appendix. The Acts of Novatus may have been considerably earlier than Eulogius' Five Books. The work contains various historical inaccuracies, such as the name of an otherwise unattested bishop of Rome, Macedonius.


Text: Henry, R., Photius. Bibliothèque, vol. 2 (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1960), with French translation. Canfora, L., Bianchi, N., and Schiano, C., Fozio, Biblioteca (Pisa: Edizioni della Normale, 2016), with Italian translation and commentary.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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