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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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

The Greek Life and Martyrdom of Athenogenes (martyr of Pedachthoe, S00065), of the 4th/5th c., mentions the martyrdom of *Theophrastos, Maximinos, Hesychios, Theophilos, and Kleonikos (S01388) under Diocletian, for whom *Athenogenes (bishop and martyr of Pedachthoe, S00065) built an octagonal shrine and underground tomb at the village of Pedachthoe (northern Asia Minor), where he himself was laid to rest after his martyrdom. Written in Pedachthoe.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives of saint

Anysios, Life and Martyrdom of Athenogenes (BHG 197b), 11-13.

[For a summary and discussion of the complete
Martyrdom, see E02993.]

11. Εἰρήνης δὲ λοιπὸν τῶν βαρβάρων ἐπικαταλαβούσης καὶ βασιλευόντων Διοκλητιανοῦ καὶ Μαξιμιανοῦ ἐπιλεγομένου Ἐρκουλίου καὶ ἡγεμονεύοντος Ἀγρικολάου τινος, πολὺς διωγμὸς τῶν χριστιανῶν κατεῖχεν τὴν χώραν, τῶν βασιλέων διὰ τὸ πρὸς τοὺς χριστιανοὺς μῖσος προσταξάντων γίνεσθαι τοῦτο. Συλληφθέντων δὲ ἐπὶ κολάσει ἁγίων ἀνδρῶν τῶν καὶ μαρτυρησάντων ὧν τὰ ὀνόματα Θεοφράστου, Μαξιμίνου, Ἠσυχίου, Θεοφίλου, Κλεονίκου, τούτων ἐν σιδηροῖς δεσμοῖς ὑπαρχόντων, γνοὺς ὁ ἅγιος Ἀθηνογένης οὐ μόνον ἐπεσκέψατο αὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ δεσμωτηρίῳ ὑπάρχοντας, ἀλλὰ γὰρ καὶ ἀπὼν ἐπιστολὴν διεπέμψατο στηρίζων αὐτοὺς ἐν τῇ πίστει.

‘11. When later peace prevailed among the barbarians, under the emperors Diocletian and Maximian, also called Herculius, and when a certain Agrikolaos was governor, a great persecution of Christians befell the land, since the emperors ordered that this be done out of hatred towards Christians. Some holy men were arrested for torture and eventually indeed became martyrs, whose names were Theophrastos, Maximinos, Hesychios, Theophilos, and Kleonikos. While they were in iron fetters, saint Athenogenes heard about them and not only visited them in gaol, but indeed, even when he was away from them, he sent them a letter, strengthening them in the faith.’

12. The letter is quoted in full.

13. Τούτοις τοῖς γράμμασιν χρησάμενος πρὸς τοὺς δηλωθέντας ἁγίους μάρτυρας, δίκαιον ἡγήσατο παρασκευάσαι αὑτοῖς ἐν Πηδαχθόῃ οἶκον κοιμητήριον γενέσθαι. Καὶ δὴ τοῦτο ἐνθυμηθεὶς ᾠκοδόμησεν εὺκτὴριον οἶκον ὀκτάγωνον ὲν πρωΐου προσχήματι ὥς ἐστιν καὶ νῦν· καλεῖται δὲ κλωβὸς ἐξ αὑτοῦ τοῦ σχήματος. Ἐπικρυπτόμενος χριστιανῶν εὐκτήριος οἶκος ὑπῆρχεν διὰ τὸ ἐν μηδενὶ μέρει τῆς ἁνατολῆς σημαίνειν. Καθάπερ καὶ ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ χωρίῳ ἡ προδηλωθεῖσα ὲκκλησία ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ κατεσκευάσθη, κατὰ δὲ τοῦ λεγομένου κλωβοῦ κατεσκεύασεν ὑπὸ γῆν τῶν ἁγίων τὰς θήκας ὅπου καὶ κατέθετο τοὺς δηλωθέντας μάρτυρας. Καὶ αὐτὸς καὶ νῦν ἐν ταῖς αὑταῖς κατάκειται θήκαις μετὰ τῶν ἁγιαζόντων τὸν οἶκον.

‘Having written these words to the said holy martyrs, he thought it right to have a house prepared for them at Pedachthoe as their resting place (
koimeterion). With this in mind, he built an octagonal prayer house externally looking like a pavilion, as it still is nowadays. It is called ‘the Cage’ because of that shape. This was an undercover prayer house of Christians, since no part of it indicated the east. Just as the aforementioned church in the same village had been built by him, he also built under the so-called Cage the underground tombs of the saints, where he put the said martyrs to rest. And until now he himself rests in the same tombs alongside those who sanctify the building.’

Text: Maraval 1990. Translation: Efthymios Rizos.

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)
Burial site of a saint - crypt/ crypt with relics
Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave
Martyr shrine (martyrion, bet sāhedwātā, etc.)
Descriptions of cult places

Non Liturgical Activity

Construction of cult buildings


Bodily relic - unspecified
Construction of cult building to contain relics

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


The text is preserved in one manuscript, the 10th-century Codex Sabaiticus 242, of the Patriarchal Library of Jerusalem, on which see:


For a summary and discussion of this text, see E02993.

This section provides a description and foundation account of the shrine of Athenogenes and his disciples in the village of Pedachthoe. The structure apparently consisted of an octagonal building with an underground burial chamber. The latter contained the tombs of Athenogenes together with Theophrastos, Maximinos, Hesychios, Theophilos, and Kleonikos, identified as a group of earlier martyrs, to whom Athenogenes had sent a letter.


Text, French translation, commentary:

Maraval, P. La Passion inédite de S. Athénogène de Pédachthoè en Cappadoce (BHG 197b). Subsidia Hagiographica 75. Bruxelles: Société des Bollandistes, 1990.

Record Created By

Efthymios Rizos

Date of Entry


Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00065Athenogenes, bishop and martyr of PedachthoeἈθηνογένηςCertain
S01388Theophrastos, Maximinos, Hesychios, Theophilos, and Kleonikos, martyrs of PedachthoeΘεόφραστος, Μαξιμῖνος, Ἡσύχιος, Θεόφιλος, ΚλεόνικοςCertain

Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Efthymios Rizos, Cult of Saints, E02996 -