The Feasts of Peter and Paul, Apostles, June 29


Photo by Kate Pettegrew (June 29, 2007)


Photo by Kate Pettegrew (June 29, 2007)


The troparion and kontakia for June 29 from the website of the Orthodox Church of America:


First-enthroned of the apostles,
teachers of the universe:
Entreat the Master of all
to grant peace to the world,
and to our souls great mercy!


O Lord, You have taken up to eternal rest
and to the enjoyment of Your blessings
the two divinely-inspired preachers, the leaders of the Apostles,
for You have accepted their labors and deaths as a sweet-smelling sacrifice,
for You alone know what lies in the hearts of men.


Today Christ the Rock glorifies with highest honor
The rock of Faith and leader of the Apostles,
Together with Paul and the company of the twelve,
Whose memory we celebrate with eagerness of faith,
Giving glory to the one who gave glory to them!

Abstracts from Paul, People, and Politics Conference

As a follow up to my last post on the “Corinth – Paul, People, and Politics” at Macquarie University, I have just received from Cavan Concannon a PDF document of the paper abstracts.  Check out the Corinth Conference Abstracts.  The papers covered a wide range of issues relating in some way to Pauline or early Christian Corinth. We have Pausanias and coins, the chronology of the letters and Paul’s visit, the language of economy in the letters, Dionysios bishop of Corinth, imperial cult, and the legacy of Paul, among others.  

St. Leonidas and the Seven Virgins, Martyrs, April 16

On the eve of the start of Holy Week in both western and eastern churches, it is appropriate to highlight the life of Leonidas and companions, martyred for their faith in Corinth while celebrating Pascha sometime in the mid-third century AD.

The Synaxarion of the Orthodox Church notes April 16 as the day commemorating the martyrdom of Leonidas, Charissa, Nike, Galina, Kalisa, Nunekhia, Vasilissa, and Theodora.  Like most Corinthian saints, we know very little about Leonidas, and even less about his companions.  His fame certainly paralleled Kodratos, martyr and bishop of Corinth, and clearly he numbered among Corinth’s most famous saints and church leaders.  The site of his martyrdom (west of the harbor Lechaion) was historically associated with an enormous basilica-style church of 6th century date–among the largest early Christian basilicas  of the eastern Mediterranean.

Leonidas and the seven virgins

Leonidas and the seven virgins are listed in the Acta Sanctorum, April, II, as part of a larger group of Corinthian martyrs celebrated on April 16.  But as the editors of AS explain, some of these names reflect different documentary traditions of the martyrdom of Leonidas.

Callistus, Martyr, Corinthi in Achaia (S.)
Charisius, Martyr, Corinthi in Achaia (S.)
Leonides, Martyr, Corinthi in Achaia (S.)
Christiana, Martyr, Corinthi in Achaia (S.)
Galla, Martyr, Corinthi in Achaia (S.)
Theodora, Martyr, Corinthi in Achaia (S.)
Lota, Martyr, Corinthi in Achaia (S.)
Tertia, Martyr, Corinthi in Achaia (S.)
Caristus, Martyr, Corinthi in Achaia (S.)
Chariessa, Martyr, Corinthi in Achaia (S.)
Nice, Martyr, Corinthi in Achaia (S.)
Gallena, Martyr, Corinthi in Achaia (S.)
Nunechia, Martyr, Corinthi in Achaia (S.)
Basilissa, Martyr, Corinthi in Achaia (S.)
Calis, Martyr, Corinthi in Achaia (S.)

Acta Sanctorum, April, II, pp. 402-404, also collects the different manuscript traditions for their suffering, and these different ancient and medieval traditions explain the variety in modern accounts of their passion.  It would be valuable at some point to post English translations of these different accounts.  For now, we can provide two brief overviews.

The Orthodox Church of America provides this brief summary:

The Holy Martyr Leonidas and the Holy Martyrs Charissa, Nike, Galina, Kalisa (Kalida), Nunekhia, Basilissa, and Theodora suffered at Corinth in the year 258. They threw them into the sea, but they did not drown. Instead, they walked upon the water as if on dry land, singing spiritual hymns. The torturers overtook them in a ship, tied stones around their necks and drowned them.


John Sanidopoulos of the Mystagogy blog produced a useful overview of Leonidas (“Newly-Revealed Martyrs Leonidas and His Companions“) which summarizes his life, details his modern veneration in New Epidaurus and Troezen, and describes the Lechaion basilica. Sanidopoulos provides a short bibliography and links to additional material, including Bill Caraher’s interesting piece,  “Some Thoughts on St. Leonidas and Baptism in Lechaion in Greece”  that highlighted the relationship between the martyr account of death by sea, the sacrament of baptism, his death on holy Saturday, and the position of the Lechaion basilica on the coast.  Sanidopoulos’  summary:

Leonidas was a teacher of the Church in Troezen of Peloponnesos. He was brought to Corinth for trial for his Christian faith before the governor Venousto during Holy Week along with the seven women who were later martyred with him. Venousto tried to convince Saint Leonidas and the seven women to recant their faith, but they remained steadfast. Saint Leonidas was tortured by being hung up high and scraped with a sharp instrument. When all tortures failed, Venousto condemned them all to be drowned in the Gulf of Corinth.

Before being thrown into the sea, Saint Leonidas looked up to heaven and said: “Behold! And with this second baptism today have I been baptized, which makes the man within us more clean.” They were thrown into the sea but the sea received them not. They walked upon the sea as upon dry land and it is said that Saint Charissa sang to God with the words of the Prophetess Mariam: “On the field of battle, I ran O Lord, and the army pursued me; O Lord I did not deny You; O Lord, save my soul!” Seeing them, the heathens, at first were amazed, but after they overtook them in a ship as the saints continued chanting the hymn. They tied stones around their necks and again threw them into the depths of the sea and they drowned. Their martyrdom occurred on Holy Saturday.

Their martyrology dating from the 13th century offers the following note after the bodies of the martyrs were washed ashore: “Pious men, dragging the bodies of the saints lying on the beach, having attended to them in honor they buried them, having built a church on the spot, where [the bodies], both augustly venerated and extolled everlastingly, to those who approach faithfully they make to gush out healings each time.”[1]

In several of the manuscript traditions, the group was arrested on Saturday evening, while singing hymns as part of the Easter vigil.

Further Reading:

Another summary of the passion can be found on pp. 450-452 of V. Limberis, “Ecclesiastical Ambiguities: Corinth in the Fourth and Fifth Century,” in Schowalter and Friesen (eds.), Urban Religion in Roman Corinth, Cambridge, MA 2005, 443-457.  And Amelia Brown, in her recent dissertation on Late Roman Corinth, also discusses the life briefly and includes citations to the different hagiographic sources.

The Lechaion Basilica and Baptistery were excavated by the Greek archaeologist Demitrios Pallas in the late 1950s, and published in modern Greek in the 1960s.  Useful English summaries and analyses of the site, the architecture, chronology, and the historical significance of the monument can be found in:

William Caraher, Church, Society, and the Sacred in Early Christian Greece (Dissertation, Ohio State 2003)

Richard Rothaus, Corinth:The First City of Greece, Leiden 2000. [see also his article on Lechaion]

G.D.R. Sanders, “Archaeological Evidence for Early Christianity and the End of Hellenic Religion in Corinth,” in Schowalter and S.J. Friesen (eds.), Urban Religion in Roman Corinth, Cambridge, MA, 2005, 419-42.

St. Kodratos and Company

March 10 marks the feast day of a third century martyr named Kodratos, a Christian poorly known today but evidently important for the church communities of Late Antique and Byzantine Corinth.  This Kodratos (aka Codratus / Quadratus) is not to be confused with the famous Kodratos of Athens, the bishop and apologist of the second century.

The information available on the internet about Kodratos of Corinth  is remarkably slim.  The wikipedia article notes only that he “was a hermit and healer who was martyred at Corinth with his friends Cyprian, Dionysius, Anectus, Paul and Crescens.” This is not much more than we find in the Synaxarion as well as in today’s note from the website of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America: “these martyrs contested for piety’s sake in Corinth during the reign of the Emperor Valerian (253-260).”  I found a short summary of his life and martyrdom here and a slightly longer version here.  His life is also treated briefly in Engel’s Roman Corinth and Vasiliki Limberis’ “Ecclesiastical Ambiguities: Corinth in the Fourth and Fifth Centuries” (in Urban Religion in Roman Corinth), which summarizes the account in the Menologion.

A couple of years ago, I managed to convince friends, colleagues, and students from Messiah College’s spring Latin Lunch reading group to plow through a version of the life of Kodratos.  It’s a late version by the 14th century Byzantine intellectual Nikephoros Gregoras, a man impressive for his breadth of interest: a history of the Roman state of his own day, astronomical treatises, commentaries on Homer, among others.  A copy of Gregoras’ manuscript ended up in Bavaria, where it was translated into Latin by a  Jesuit named Reinold Dehnius. As a Latin text translated from the Greek, it was not easy reading.  Someday perhaps, I’ll post a complete translation, but for now, I only have time for this brief paraphrase.

Kodratos was born on the Isthmus famous for its pleasures and opulence and to noble family with Christian parents who practiced virtue.  He had chance to enjoy neither for long.  While still an infant, his mother died and then his father, and he was loosened from the bonds of nature.

Destitute of resources, his hope now lay in the Lord alone who raised the boy in a marvelous manner, nourishing him in the fields as He once did John the Baptist in the desert.  Taken care of in this way, he grew in grace and wisdom, and all sorts of miracles surrounded him daily.  Not unlike the Israelites in their flight from Egypt, God provided for him, accompanying him in clouds and light.  Of garments and clothing and the sorts of things which bring comfort to the body, he had no need, for he lived the life of a man of the country and mountains.

When he reached a mature age, he descended from his mountain, went down to the city, and began to converse with men, serving out divine oracles as food.  He smelled like the country, ever fruitful, like one blessed by the Lord.  The people hung on to every word of his mouth, not unlike the Israelites listening to Moses, the contemplative.  A small group of like-minded sojourners joined him in his way of life, at one moment heading out to the country, at another returning to the city.  His stays in the country grew longer, his time in the city shorter.  Prudently he fled the crowd and henceforth devoted his whole course of life to divine conversation.

At this point, when the emperor Decius had gained control of the state and Jason was proconsul, they spread their wicked dogma, and the Christians willingly undertook danger.  Here divine Kodratos excelled before all others, as did his friends and comrades in their way of life, training their bodies as athletes for the great contest.  Led in chains before Jason, he addressed the governor with strong words: ‘Whence, o wicked head, does your great wrath move against Christ and us, his servants?’  Threatened with torture, Kodratos promises he will endure sword, fire, flood, and any other device.  “Bring it on!” [as one colleague of mine put this line: adhibe nobis omnia!].  Tortured in nasty ways, he encourages his companions to die in Christ.  Dragged through the city, these athletes of Christ were at last taken out of the city and decapitated.  Their blood fell on a stone which sprung a fountain of water that survives even into our own time and which has been a cure for main illnesses and ailments. Pious men gathered their remains and built a church on the spot.


Some interesting Corinthiaka (Corinthian Matters) for this Wednesday morning:

  • Roy Ciampa and Brian Rosner, authors of a new commentary on 1 Corinthians, talk about St. Paul and Roman sexual ethics in the Corinthian community in a two part video here and here.  Michael Bird’s brief review of their commentary can be found here.
  • A couple of summer conferences related to geology, archaeology, and Early Christianity in the Corinthia.  The theme of the latter is  “Archaeology and Identity in Roman Achaia.”  Looks fantastic.
  • A 17th century Spanish vessel sails through the Corinth canal.
  • The American School of Classical Studies excavations at Corinth featured in a new television series 1821.
  • If you’re an undergraduate interested in a field school in Kenchreai this summer, there are a couple of fellowship opportunities available for member institutions of the Center for Hellenic Studies.
  • Phoebe’s feast day was recently celebrated in the Lutheran and Episcopal church calendar.  A nice piece on Lydia, Dorcas, and Phoebe.
  • So also, in the Orthodox calendar, the 16th century fruitseller and martyr Nicholas of Ichthys of the Corinthia was celebrated on Feb. 14.  An interesting story from the Great Synaxarion of  Christian-Turkish relations in the Ottoman period rediscovered in the early 20th century.