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E07366: The 'epic' Greek Martyrdom of *Mamas (martyr of Kaisareia/Caesarea in Cappadocia, S00436) recounts the birth of Mamas in prison, his Christian upbringing, arrest, and martyrdom. The text, probably written in Caesarea in the 8th/9th century, is based on a martyrdom account dating from the 4th century.

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posted on 2019-01-17, 00:00 authored by cpapavarnavas
Martyrdom of Mamas (BHG 1019)


§§ 1-5. Theodotos and Rhuphina, a Christian couple who lived in the town Gangra in Paphlagonia, are arrested because of their faith. Alexandros, 'the first [in rank] of the town Gangra', sends them to the governor in Caesarea, where they are immediately thrown in prison. Theodotos dies in jail, while Rhuphina, who was pregnant with Mamas, prematurely gives birth to her son due to the hardships in prison and dies soon afterwards. A pious woman named Ammia buries Mamas’ parents and undertakes his upbringing. She also entrusts his education to a teacher, who from the very beginning recognises and admires the extraordinary wisdom of the child.

§§ 6-10. Under the reign of the emperor Aurelian, on the feast day of Zeus, the tyrant Democritus orders that everybody offers sacrifice to the pagan gods. However, Mamas exhorts other children to disobey the order. Mamas is brought before the court and publicly refuses to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Democritus sends Mamas to the emperor Aurelian, who was in Aigai at the time. Upon arrival, Mamas is subjected to imprisonment, interrogation, and torment because of his disobedience.

§§ 11-25. An angel of God releases him from torture and instructs him to find refuge in the mountains of Caesarea. He goes to Siloam mountain, where he domesticates wild animals and is nourished with their milk. When the pagan opponent Alexandros gets to know his whereabouts, he sends some soldiers to arrest him. When the soldiers find him, Mamas teaches them Christian doctrine and expresses his willingness to appear before the governor. Alexandros calls on Mamas to renounce his God and punishes him after his flat refusal to do so. Mamas is sent to prison, where forty other persons were confined. At the dead of the night, the prison gate is miraculously opened, and the forty prisoners break out. Mamas, on the contrary, opts to remain there. Whereupon Mamas is subjected to several torments, including death by beasts, from which he emerges unscathed. Finally, he is struck in the stomach with a trident and dies a martyr’s death. Some pious men bury his body in 'a dignified place'. The martyrdom of Mamas took place 'on the 13th day before the September Kalends' (i.e. on August 16 or 19).

Text: A. Berger 2002, 280-308.
Summary: C. Papavarnavas.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Mamas, martyr of Kaisareia/Caesarea in Cappadocia : S00436

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Kaisareia/Caesarea in Cappadocia

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

Kaisareia/Caesarea in Cappadocia Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Freeing prisoners, exiles, captives, slaves

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives



For the manuscript tradition, see: For the edition, see Bibliography.


The martyr Mamas suffered martyrdom under the reign of the emperor Aurelian (270-275) in Caesarea in Cappadocia. Almost seventy years later, the cult of the saint can be attested in Caesarea: in one of his orations, Gregory of Nazianzus mentions that, during his exile in the imperial estate of Macellum near Caesarea (341-347 or 345-351), the later emperor Julian the Apostate erected a church dedicated to a martyr. According to Sozomen's Church History (first half of the 5th century), this church was dedicated to the martyr Mamas (Marava-Chatzinikolaou 1995: 6-9; Berger 2002: 241; see also E03590). Both Gregory of Nazianzus and Basil of Caesarea contributed to the dissemination of the cult of Saint Mamas by composing sermons devoted to him (BHG 1021; BHG 1020 and 1020a; see E00912 and E00719). The extant Greek Life (BHG 1019) was probably written in Caesarea in the 8th/9th century and is based on a martyrdom account/Passion dating from the 4th century (Berger 2002: 250, 254). There is also a Latin version of this martyrdom story (BHL 5191d) which is basically a translation from a Greek text dating back to the first half of the 5th century (Berger 2002: 242-243, 247, 250).


Text and German translation: Berger, A., "Die alten Viten des heiligen Mamas von Kaisareia. Mit einer Edition der Vita BHG 1019," Analecta Bollandiana 120 (2002), 280-309. Further reading: Marava-Chatzinikolaou, A., Ὁ ἅγιος Μάμας (Collection de l’Institut français d’Athènes, 57. Καππαδοκία, 9) (Athen, 1953; 2nd ed.: 1995)

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity