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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 of *Theodoros (abbot of Sykeon, ob. 613, S01619), by Eleusios-Georgios of Sykeon, mentions the acquisition of relics of *George (soldier and martyr, S00259), and of the cloak of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033), by the monastery of Theodoros at Sykeon. Written at Sykeon (central Asia Minor), in the 640s.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Other saint-related texts

Georgios of Sykeon, Life of Theodoros, abbot of Sykeon and bishop of Anastasiopolis (CPG 7973 = BHG 1748)

100. 1-8. Ἐπόθει δὲ ὁ μακάριος λείψανα τοῦ ἐνδόξου καὶ πολυάθλου μάρτυρος Γεωργίου εὑρεῖν, καὶ ἐδέετο αὐτοῦ πληρῶσαι τὸν τοιοῦτον αὐτοῦ πόθον. Ἦν δὲ ὁ ὁσιώτατος Αἰμιλιανὸς ὁ ἐπίσκοπος τῶν Γερμίων ἔχων ἐκ τῆς ἁγίας αὐτοῦ κεφαλῆς μερίδα, καὶ τῆς χειρὸς ἕνα δάκτυλον, καὶ ἕνα τῶν ὀδόντων, καὶ ἄλλην μία μερίδα. Ἐφάνη οὖν ὁ μάρτυς τῷ ἐπισκόπῳ, παρακελευόμενος αὐτῷ δοῦναι αὐτὰ τῷ αὐτοῦ θεράποντι Θεοδώρῳ εἰς τὸν παρ’ αὐτοῦ οἰκοδομηθέντα αὐτῷ ναόν.

‘100. 1-8. The blessed man desired to find relics of the glorious and multiply victorious martyr Georgios, and used to pray to him that this his desire might be fulfilled. Now the most holy Aimilianos, the bishop of Germia, had a piece from his holy head, and a finger from his hand, and one of his teeth, and another piece. Thus the martyr appeared to the bishop, ordering him to give them to his servant Theodoros, for the church he had built for him.’

Aimilianos invites Theοdoros to Germia. The latter arrives and, after veneration at the church of *Michael the Archangel, is received by at the monastery of *Mary the Virgin, called Aligete.

128. 1-14. Δομνιτζιόλου δὲ τοῦ ἐνδοξοτάτου πατρικίου καὶ κουροπαλάτου ὑποσχομένου ποιῆσαι σταυρὸν χρυσοῦν ἐπὶ τῇ χρείᾳ τῆς τε λιτῆς καὶ καὶ τῆς προσκυνήσεως, ἀπέστειλεν ὁ ὅσιος ἕνα ἀποκρισιάριον αὐτοῦ, Ἐπιφάνιον τοὔνομα, τῆς διακονίας ἠξιωμένον ἐν τῇ Πόλει, πρὸς αὐτόν. Ὁ δὲ φιλόχριστος δοὺς τὸ χρυσίον τεχνίτῃ χρυσοχόῳ ἐκέλευσε τῷ ἀποσταλέντι ἀποκρισιαρίῳ προσκαρτερεῖν εἰς τὴν τοῦ τοιούτου ἔργου κατασκευήν. Καὶ ὁ ἅγιώτατος δὲ πατριάρχης Θωμᾶς, ὁ μετὰ τὸν ἐν μακαρίᾳ τῇ μνήμῃ Κυριακὸν τὸν τῆς ἀρχιερωσύνης θρόνον τῆς βασιλευούσης πόλεως κατέχων, συγχαίρων τῇ τοῦ ἐνδόξου ἀνδρὸς καρποφορίᾳ ἔδωκε καὶ αὐτὸς μερίδα έκ τοῦ τιμίου ξύλου, καὶ ἐκ τοῦ τιμίου λίθου τοῦ ἁγίου Κρανίου, καὶ ἐκ τοῦ ἁγίου μνήματος τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν θεοῦ, καὶ κράσπεδον έκ τοῦ μαφορίου τῆς παναγίας θεοτόκου, ἐπὶ τῷ βληθῆναι εἰς τὸ ὀμφάλιον τὸ μέσῳ τοῦ γενομένου σταυροῦ.

‘Since the most glorious patrician and
kouropalates Domnitziolos had promised to produce a golden cross for use in processions and veneration, the holy man sent an envoy of his, named Epiphanios and honoured with the diaconate, to him at the City. The Christ-loving man gave the gold to a goldsmith and instructed the envoy to wait for the production of the piece. Besides, the most holy Patriarch Thomas, who, after Kyriakos of blessed memory, was occupying the pontifical throne of the imperial capital, endorsed the donation of the noble man and gave himself a piece from the precious wood, and from the precious rock of Calvary, from the holy tomb of our Saviour and God, and from the edge of the cloak of the All-Holy Mother of God, in order to be placed in the capsule in the middle of the cross that had been produced.’

Text: Festugière 1970.
Translation: Efthymios Rizos.

Liturgical Activities


Non Liturgical Activity

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings


Saint aiding or preventing the translation of relics
Apparition, vision, dream, revelation


Bodily relic - bones and teeth
Contact relic - saint’s possession and clothes
Discovering, finding, invention and gathering of relics
Division of relics
Reliquary – institutionally owned

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops
Ecclesiastics - abbots

Cult Related Objects

Precious material objects


The text is preserved in three manuscripts of the 10th and 11th centuries (Biblioteca Marciana 359; Patmos Monastery Library 254; Athens National Library 1014).

The extant text is no earlier than Heraclius’ death in 641, since the author records the fulfilment of Theodoros’ prophecy about the emperor’s 30-year reign (166. 30-36). The author, however, also tells us that he started composing the text shortly before Theodoros’ death in 613, when he was still a teenager (165). Indeed, in his first appearance in the narrative (2. 21-27), the author requests his audience’s prayers on account of his young age. The twenty chapters which refer to the childhood of Theodoros (3-22) form a separate section with its own epilogue (22) where the author states that he wrote this part as a form of special teaching for the young. This might suggest that the whole childhood section, or at least its epilogue, were composed, when the author was at an advanced age. This is also suggested by the fact that the author introduces himself and talks about his sources in both the epilogue of the childhood section (22), and the final epilogue (170).


A distinctive aspect of the development of the monastery of Sykeon as a centre of cult and pilgrimage was that it took place, despite the fact that its shrines possessed no relics, until a much later stage. The acquisition of the relics of Georgios is placed by the author in the period just after the resignation of Theodoros from the episcopal see of Anastasiopolis (c. 596), whereas the donation of the precious processional cross with contact relics of Christ and the Virgin Mary is placed in the late years of the reign of Phocas (602-610). This means that in the first forty to fifty years of its existence, the monastic centre of Sykeon possessed no relics.


Festugière, A.-J. Vie de Théodore de Sykéon. 2 vols. (Subsidia Hagiographica 48; Brussels, 1970), with French translation and commentary.

Dawes, E., and Baynes, N.H., Three Byzantine Saints: Contemporary Biographies (London, 1948) (partial translation).

Further reading:
Brown, P.R.L., "The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity," Journal of Roman Studies 61 (1971), 80-101.

Kaplan, M., "Les sanctuaires de Théodore de Sykéôn," in : C. Jolivet-Lévy, M. Kaplan, and J.-P. Sodini (eds.),
Les saints et leur sanctuaire à Byzance. Textes, images et monuments (Byzantina Sorbonensia 11; Paris, 1993), 81-94.

Kaplan, M.
Pouvoirs, église et sainteté. Essais sur la société byzantine (Classiques de la Sorbonne 3; Paris, 2011).

Mitchell, S.,
Anatolia: Land, Men, and Gods in Asia Minor. Volume Ii: The Rise of the Church (Oxford: Clarendon, 1993), 122-150.

Rosenquist, O.,
Studien zur Syntax und Bemerkungen zum Text der Vita Theodori Syceotae (Uppsala, 1981).

Record Created By

Efthymios Rizos

Date Last Modified


Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristΘεοτόκοςCertain
S00259George, soldier and martyr, and CompanionsΓεώργιοςCertain

Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Efthymios Rizos, Cult of Saints, E05361 -