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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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

Hesychius of Jerusalem preaches his Homilies 1 and 2 on the feast of Hypapante (the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple), celebrated on 14 February at the Martyrion (Golgotha) in Jerusalem; it contains extensive references to *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033). Written in Greek at Jerusalem, in the 410s or 420s.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies

Major author/Major anonymous work

Hesychius of Jerusalem

Hesychius of Jerusalem, Homilies 1, 2, On Hypapante (CPG 6565 = BHG 1956; CPG 6566 = BHG 1957)

Both homilies consist of biblical exegesis, focusing on the doctrine of Christ’s incarnation.

Liturgical Activities



Saint’s feast

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy


Hesychius lived as a monk and priest in Palestine and Jerusalem in the first half of the 5th century. A member of the clergy of the Holy Sepulchre, he was a leading theologian and author, flourishing from the 410s to perhaps after 451. He was a close associate of Juvenal (bishop of Jerusalem 422-458), and participated in the theological debate against Nestorius, supporting Cyril of Alexandria. The date of his death is uncertain. Theophanes reports that he died in the same year as Melania the Younger (ed. de Boor 92, 20: AM 5926), but he is also reported to have been alive when the Council of Chalcedon took place in 451, and to have opposed it.

His surviving works include commentaries and homilies. He is known to have published an ecclesiastical history, which has not survived. The circulation of his works in the Middle Ages seems to have been geographically limited, since they tend to be found in manuscripts from Jerusalem and southern Italy, but hardly ever in Constantinopolitan ones. His homilies are important testimonies for the early stages of development of the liturgical traditions of the church of Jerusalem, and the appearance of a number of feasts with a strong Marian dimension like the 14 February feast of
Hypapante (Candlemas) and 15 August.

On the manuscript tradition of the two texts, see: Aubineau 1978, 19-21, 53-60, and:


The date of these sermons is unknown, but Homily 1 is thought to belong to the early part of Hesychius’ career, because of its relatively simple and archaic Christology. It refers to Mary several times, twice calling her θεοτόκος (mother of God). It is essentially a biblical homily, focusing on the doctrine of Christ’s incarnation.

The feast of Hypapante (the Presentation of Jesus at the temple) is first attested in Jerusalem by Egeria in 381/4. Since the church of Jerusalem celebrated the Nativity on 6 January (as Epiphany), the feast of Hypapante (forty days after the Nativity) fell on 14 February.


Text, French translation, and commentary:
Aubineau, M., Les homélies festales d’Hésychius de Jérusalem I: les homélies I-XV (Subsidia Hagiographica 59: Brussels, 1978).

Record Created By

Efthymios Rizos

Date Last Modified


Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristΜαρία, ΘεοτόκοςCertain

Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Efthymios Rizos, Cult of Saints, E05886 -