Comments to: David Woods
Last Updated: September 1999

Sources for Cult of St. Mercurius

[6th-Century Sources] [7th-Century Sources]

6th-Century Sources

John Malalas, Chronicle 13.25

That same night Basil, the most holy bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, saw in a dream the heavens opened and the Saviour Christ seated on a throne and saying loudly, "Mercurius, go and kill the emperor Julian, who is against the Christians". St. Mercurius, standing before the Lord, wore a gleaming iron breast-plate. Hearing the command he disappeared, and then he re-appeared, standing before the [p. 182] Lord, and cried out, "The emperor Julian has been fatally wounded and has died, as you commanded, Lord." Frightened by the cry, bishop Basil woke up in confusion; for the emperor Julian held him in honour both as an eloquent man and as his fellow-student, and wrote to him frequently. St. Basil went to church for the morning service, summoned all his clergy and told them of his mysterious dream, and that the emperor Julian had been fatally wounded and had died that same night. They all entreated him to be silent and to tell nobody of such news. But the most learned chronicler Eutropius did not agree with some of these details in his account.

Source of Translation: E. Jeffreys et al., The Chronicle of John Malalas (Melbourne, 1986), 181-82.
Commentary:Writing in the 530s (the date of the 1st edition of his work), Malalas has left us an account of how St. Mercurius was supposed to have killed the pagan emperor Julian (360-63). Writing in the 470s, the Armenian historian Fawstos Buzand has preserved a similar story naming St. Theodore and St. Sergius as the martyrs responsible for the death of the Arian emperor Valens (364-78).

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7th-Century Sources

Anonymous, Chronicon Paschale s.a. 363

On the same night the most saintly Basil bishop of Caesarea saw in a vision the heavens opened and the saviour Christ seated on a throne, crying out and saying, "Mercurius, go and slaughter Julian the emperor, he who is against the Christians." And St. Mercurius, standing before the Lord and wearing an iron breastplate, disappeared when he heard the command. And again he was present, standing before the throne of the Lord, and he cried, "Julian the emperor is slain and dead, as you ordered, Lord." And the bishop Basil, terrified at the cry, awoke in confusion. The emperor Julian used to honour him as a man of eloquence and his companion, and he wrote to him constantly. And the bishop Basil went down to the church for the morning service, summoned all the clergy, and told them the mystery of the vision, saying, "Julian the emperor is slain and dead on this night." And all urged him to be silent and not to say such a thing.

Source of Translation: Mary and Michael Whitby, Chronicon Paschale 284-628 AD (Liverpool, 1989), 42.
Commentary:The author of the early 7th-century Chronicon Paschale repeats Malalas' story almost word for word.

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© 1999, David Woods. This file may be copied for the purpose of private research only.