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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity


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


Antonios of Choziba composes the Life of Georgios (monk of Choziba, ob. after 614, 1522), recounting his life, miracles, and doctrines, and including stories about miracles of *Mary (mother of Christ, S00033) occurring at Choziba (Palestine). Written in Greek in Palestine, 614/628.

Evidence ID

E07175

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives

Antonios of Choziba, Life Georgios of Choziba (CPG 7985-BHG 669)

Summary:

I. Origins and early years in monasticism
1. Georgios is the son of a Cypriot landed family. His elder brother, Herakleides, becomes a monk at the Lavra of Kalamon in Palestine, leaving young Georgios with his parents.

2. When his parents die, an uncle of Georgios is in charge of the family estate, and attempts to marry the young orphan to his daughter. Yet, Georgios wishes to become a monk, and joins another uncle who is an abbot. This causes a conflict between the two uncles.

3. Georgios flees to Palestine, and joins his brother at the lavra of Kalamon. Due to his young age, he is not allowed to live in the lavra, and his brother entrusts him to the Monastery of Mary Theotokos in Choziba.

4-5. As a novice he demonstrates great humility and monastic virtue. Once, his master, a Mesopotamian monk, attempts to punish him unfairly, but his hand is miraculously paralysed. They pray together at the tomb of the saints [i.e. the founders of the monastery] and he is healed.

II. Asceticism at the lavra of Kalamon under his brother, Herakleides
6. Georgios lives at the so-called Ancient Church, together with his brother Herakleides [the latter has probably become abbot of the lavra of Kalamon]. They live in extreme asceticism and frugality.

7. Once, Herakleides wants to fell a fruitless palm tree. Young Georgios implores that it be left to live, and offers his assurance that the tree will give fruit in the future. The tree indeed becomes more fruitful than the rest.

8. Raising of the dead child of a peasant.

9. At the age of over 70, Herakleides dies and is buried in the tomb of the other holy men of the monastery.

10. One day, Georgios finds a lion lying before his door. The beast allows him to put his hand into its mouth and touch its teeth.

III. Georgios returns to Choziba
11. After Herakleides’ death, strife breaks out in the lavra. Georgios is distressed, and a vision instructs him to return to the monastery of Choziba. At that time, the prior was a holy and charitable man called Leontios.

12. Georgios is given a cell and lives in extreme frugality, making his garments and bed linen from dirty cloths, and eating the remnants of the communal food, which he turned into small dry balls. The author [apparently a monk of the lavra of Kalamon] witnessed this when he withdrew to the monastery during the Persian invasion of 614.

13. Temptations from the devil.

14. Miracle and teaching concerning pride and humility.

IV. The conversion of the luctator (wrestler) Epiphanios
15-19. Georgios heals a Cilician wrestler from Constantinople, Epiphanios, who had been struck by a disease under the influence of magic. Epiphanios becomes a monk and joins the monastery of Choziba.

V. Miracles
20-24. Miracles preserving Georgios and the monks from the perils of the precipitous roads, wild beasts, venomous snakes, and during services at the monastery. Some of the miracles are ascribed to the Virgin Mary (22: protection from snakes; 23: protection from fire at the bakery)

VI. Digression: Miracles performed by Mary at the monastery
25. At some point, the monastery needs money to pay a tax collector, but the abbot has none. Mary appears as a poor woman at the gate and gives a purse of 60 golden coins for the monastery.

26-27. Monks are miraculously saved during accidents.

28. The monastery is miraculously protected against brigands.

29. After the Persian sack of Jerusalem in 614, one of the monks has a vision of Mary, instructing the monks to go out and follow for a while the Persian troops carrying the True Cross, paying it homage.

VII. Georgios predicts the invasions of the Persians and Saracens
30. When the Persians reach Damascus, Georgios has visions warning him of the imminent disaster.

31. The Persians besiege Jerusalem, and the monks flee to various places. Georgios joins some monks from Choziba who hide in Kalamon, but the Saracens find them, kill some, and enslave the rest, but spare Georgios. He spends some time near the Jordan, goes to Jerusalem after its sack by the Persians, and finally returns to Choziba.

VIII. Antonios, the author, becomes a monk and joins Georgios
32-37. Antonios joins the monastery of Choziba together with a friend of his. Initially planning to go to Raithu, he is convinced by Georgios to stay in Choziba. He is closely connected with Georgios, his master, and stays with him during the Persian invasion, many times risking being caught by the Saracens and the Jews. During the invasion, he witnesses Georgios’ prophetic gift. Once, his prayers cause the oil provisions of the monastery to increase miraculously.

IX. Georgios instructs the monks on fraternal love and virtues
38-42. Antonios recounts various spiritual teachings of his master, which inspired him to write his biography.

X. Memories from Georgios’ childhood and spiritual teachings
43-56. Sermon of spiritual teaching

XII. Death and burial
57-60. Georgios falls ill and is about to die. On his last day, Antonios is on duty serving the guests of the monastery. He is supernaturally notified by Georgios that he should perform his service, and that the holy man will wait for him before dying. At the end, they embrace one another and Georgios dies peacefully. The author recapitulates Georgios’ virtues, and requests the prayers of the monks for himself.

Text: House 1888.
Summary: Efthymios Rizos.

Cult Places

Cult building - dependent (chapel, baptistery, etc.)
Cult building - monastic

Places Named after Saint

Monastery

Non Liturgical Activity

Prayer/supplication/invocation
Composing and translating saint-related texts

Miracles

Miracle during lifetime
Punishing miracle
Miracle with animals and plants
Power over life and death
Material support (supply of food, water, drink, money)
Miraculous protection - of church and church property
Miraculous protection - of people and their property
Other miracles with demons and demonic creatures
Revelation of hidden knowledge (past, present and future)

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits
Foreigners (including Barbarians)
Relatives of the saint
Children
Peasants

Source

For the manuscript tradition of the text, see:
https://pinakes.irht.cnrs.fr/notices/oeuvre/13378/


Discussion

The Life of Georgios with its sequel, the Collection of Miracles of Mary (E07176), are one of the major works of Palestinian monastic hagiographic in the early 7th century. The author recounts the story of his spiritual father, Georgios, adducing some miracles of the patron of the monastery of Choziba, the Virgin Mary. The text was written after the Persian invasion of 614, the consequences of which it describes vividly, and probably before 628, since it does not mention the reconquest of Palestine by the Byzantines. The author’s account echoes the structure of the monastic community of Choziba, which consisted of a cenobitic monastery and a lavra, and apparently had existed for about two centuries by the time the text was written. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the community also held in great veneration the tombs of its five founding ascetics.


Bibliography

Text:
Houze, C., "Sancti Georgii Chozebitae, confessoris et monachi vita auctore Antonio ejus discipulo," Analecta Bollandiana 7 (1887), 97-114, 336-359.

https://archive.org/details/AnalectaBollandiana1887_424/page/n101
https://archive.org/details/AnalectaBollandiana1887_424/page/n343

Translation:
Vivian, T., and Athanassakis, A.N., The Life of Saint George of Choziba and the Miracles of the Most Holy Mother of God at Choziba (San Francisco, 1994)

Further reading:
Flusin, B., "Palestinian Hagiography (Fourth-Eighth Centuries)," in S. Efthymiadis (ed.), The Ashgate Companion to Byzantine Hagiography I: Periods and Places (Farnham, 2011), 199-226.


Record Created By

Efthymios Rizos

Date Last Modified

16/04/2021

Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristΘεοτόκοςCertain
S01522Georgios, monk at Chozeba monastery in Palestine, 6th-7th cc. ΓεώργιοςCertain


Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Efthymios Rizos, Cult of Saints, E07175 - http://csla.history.ox.ac.uk/record.php?recid=E07175