Site logo

The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity


from its origins to circa AD 700, across the entire Christian world


The Syriac Chronicle of Pseudo-Joshua the Stylite recounts how, during the year 504/505, the eunuch Urbicius made a donation for the building of a martyrium-church dedicated to *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033) in Edessa (northern Mesopotamia). In the same year, the city's governor diverted the oil assigned to Edessa's martyr-shrines to the lighting of the city's street. Written in Edessa, 506/515.

Evidence ID

E01215

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Chronicle of Pseudo-Joshua the Stylite 87

ܐܦ ܠܐܦܝܣܩܘܦܐ ܝܗܒ ܠܗ ܡܠܟܐ ܥܣܖ̈ܝܢ ܠܝܛܖ̈ܝܢ ܠܢܦ̈ܩܬܐ ܘܠܚܘܕܬܐ ܕܫܘܪܐ. ܘܐܘܪܒܝܩ ܡܗܝܡܢܐ ܥܣܪ ܠܝܛܖ̈ܝܢ ܕܢܒܢܐ ܒܝܬ ܣܗ̈ܕܐ ܠܛܘܒܢܝܬܐ ܡܪܝܡ. ܡܫܚܐ ܕܗܘܐ ܗܘܐ ܫ̈ܬܐ ܐܠܦ̈ܝܢ ܘܬܡܢ̈ܡܐܐ ܩܣ̈ܛܐ. ܫܩܠܗ ܡܢܗܘܢ ܗܘ ܗܓܡܘܢܐ ܘܦܩܕ ܕܢܢܗܪ ܒܐܣ̈ܛܘܐ ܕܡܕܝܢܐ. ܘܣܓܝ ܒܥܘ ܡܢܗ ܦܪܡܘܢܖ̈ܐ ܡܛܠܬܗ ܘܠܐ ܐܬܛܦܝܤ. ܘܕܠܐ ܢܣܬܒܪ ܕܠܗܝ̈ܟܠܐ ܕܒܢ̈ܝܢ ܠܐܠܗܐ ܫܐܛ ܝܗܒ ܡܢ ܕܝܠܗ ܠܟܠ ܒܝܬ ܣ̈ܗܕܐ ܡ̈ܬܝܢ ܩܣ̈ܛܐ.

'The emperor also gave twenty pounds to the bishop for expenses and the renewal of the wall, while Urbicius the eunuch (gave him) ten pounds to build a
martyrion to the blessed Mary. However, the governor (i.e. Eulogius) took away the (supply of) oil being given to the martyria and monasteries from the oil-store, which came to six thousand and eight hundred xestai, and gave orders that it should be used for illumination in the city’s colonnades. The vergers vigorously petitioned him about this, but he could not be persuaded. He did, however, give two hundred xestai from his own account to every martyrion, lest it be thought that he cared nothing for temples built for God.'

Text: Chabot 1927-1949, v. 1, 308. Translation: Trombley and Watt 2000, 106-107.

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Non Liturgical Activity

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings
Construction of cult buildings

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Aristocrats
Eunuchs

Source

The Chronicle of Pseudo-Joshua the Stylite is a historiographical work that deals for the most part with the events in the city of Edessa and the neighbouring region during the period 494-506. It is an original Syriac composition, most likely produced not long after the year 506 by a Syriac-speaking citizen of Edessa. In its present form, it is preserved as a part of a larger historiographic work, the Chronicle of Zuqnin (known also as the Chronicle of Pseudo-Dionysius of Tel-Mahre), an 8th c. West-Syrian composition.

Syriac text: Martin 1876, 1-82; Wright 1882, 1-92; Chabot 1927-1933, v. 1, 235-317; English translation: Wright 1882, 1-84; Trombley and Watt 2000; French translation:
Martin 1876, ix-lxxxvi; German translation: Luther 1997. For general information, see Trombley and Watt 2000, xi-lv; Luther 1997, 1-32; Watt 1999.


Discussion

The Chronicle reports that in the year 504/5 the eunuch Urbicius (PLRE II, 'Vrbicius 1'), a praepositus sacri cubiculi under emperor Anastasius (see on him, Honigmann 1949), donated to the bishop of Edessa a sum of money for building a martyrum-church in the city dedicated to Mary. The event took place during this official's visit to the city in the aftermath of the so-called Anastasian War, the military conflict between the Roman and Sasanian empires during the years 502-506 (for more information, see Greatrex 1998, 73-138).

It is also reported that during the same year Eulogius, the Roman governor of Osrhoene (
PLRE II, 'Eulogius 7'), carried out a redistribution of the oil assigned for the urban martyria-churches and monasteries from the city's oil-storage. He redirected this oil to be used for illumination in the city’s colonnades, while providing an amount of money from his own pocket to buy oil for the urban shrines.

The chronicler was probably an eyewitness of the events described. There is no reason to doubt this information.


Bibliography

Main edition:
Chabot, J.B., Incerti auctoris Chronicon Pseudo-Dionysianum vulgo dictum. 2 vols (CSCO 91, 104, Syr. III.1-2 [43, 53]; Paris: Typographeo Reipublicae, 1927, 1933).

English translation:
Trombley, F.R., and Watt, J.W., The Chronicle of Pseudo-Joshua the Stylite (Translated Texts for Historians 32; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2000).

Others editions and translations:
Luther, A., Die syrische Chronik des Josua Stylites (Untersuchungen zur antiken Literatur und Geschichte 49; Berlin / New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1997).

Martin, J.-P.P.,
Chronique de Josué le Stylite écrite vers l’an 515 (Abhandlungen für die Kunde des Morgenlandes 6.1; Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus, 1876).

Wright, W.,
The Chronicle of Joshua the Stylite Composed in Syriac A.D. 507 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1882).

Further reading:
Greatrex, G., Rome and Persia at War, 502–532 (Leeds: Francis Cairns, 1998).

Honigmann, E., “Le cubiculaire Urbicius,”
Revue des études byzantines 7:1 (1949), 47-50.

Watt, J.W., “Greek Historiography and the “Chronicle of Joshua the Stylite”,” in: G.J. Reinink and A.C. Klugkist (eds.),
After Bardaisan: Studies on Continuity and Change in Syriac Christianity in Honour of Professor Han J.W. Drijvers (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 89; Louvain: Peeters, 1999), 317-327.


Record Created By

Sergey Minov

Date Last Modified

05/02/2021

Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristܡܪܝܡCertain
S00060Martyrs, unnamed or name lostܣܗ̈ܕܐCertain


Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Sergey Minov, Cult of Saints, E01215 - http://csla.history.ox.ac.uk/record.php?recid=E01215