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(3760 - 2080 BCE)
(2080 - 1240 BCE)
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(400 BCE - 440 CE)
(440 - 1280 CE)
(1280 - 2120 CE)
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Empress Eudocia in Jerusalem
(4204 AM - 444 CE)
Jerusalem becomes a Patriarchy
(4211 AM - 451 CE)
The sack of Rome by the Vandals
(4215 AM - 455 CE)
The Kathisma church
(4220 AM - 460 CE)
Fall of the Roman Empire
(4236 AM - 476 CE)
The Jews against the Vandals
(4250 AM - 490 CE)
Completion of the Talmud
(4260 AM - 500 CE)
(4260 AM - 500 CE)
The end of the world
The last Jewish king of Yemen
(4285 AM - 525 CE)
Denys le Petit sets the Christian calendar
(4285 AM - 525 CE)
(4287 AM - 527 CE)
Closure of the Greek academia
(4289 AM - 529 CE)
The Byzantines conquer North Africa
(4294 AM - 534 CE)
The Byzantine empire
(4315 AM - 555 CE)
The Madaba map
(4320 AM - 560 CE)
Previous << Generation 36 >> Next
Hebrew years 4200 to 4320 (440 - 560 CE)
This 36th Generation is symbolized by the Jewish meaning of the number 36, which was the number of hours during which the original Spiritual Light created on the 1st Day of Creation was kept in the world of Adam until God took it away from him and concealed it for the righteous people of every generation and for the world to come. And what better beacon of light is there if not the Torah? This is why, in this 36th Generation, some forces of darkness disappear (end of the Western Roman Empire, end of the Greek philosophy) while the light of the Torah emerges in the world (completion of the Talmud).
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Eudocia was married to the emperor Theodosius II and had converted to Christianity from her pagan family. Theodosius II involved himself in several religious controversies that shook the Christian world. About the Jews, he forbade them to build any new synagogue, but only allowed them to refurbish existing ones. We can find archaeological evidence of this fact in several sites in Israel where a synagogue shows signs of two dates, about the 3rd or 4th century for its initial construction, and then about the 5th century for addition or refurbishments.~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Eudocia travelled to the Holy Land in 438 and brought back sacred relics. Back in Constantinople, she was accused of having an affair and was repudiated in 443. She returned to Jerusalem in 444 and remained there, as a pious woman and patron of arts, until her death in 460.
She left her mark in the Holy City by having organised major constructions:
- the Church of Saint Stephen, on the side of north entrance to the city (Neapolis Gate, now called Damascus Gate); in 415, the relics of Stephen, who was considered as the "proto-martyr" (i.e. the first martyr of Christianity), were discovered in the village of Beth-gamal, south from Beth-shemesh (the village was apparently named after Gamaliel who came from there). His bones were taken to the recently built church of Hagia Sion (today it is the site of the Dormition in Mount Sion, Jerusalem). Eudocia built a church dedicated to Stephen, on the presumed site of his stoning, and arranged for his bones to be taken there
- a church on the site of the Siloam Pool, in the City of David; at her time, people thought that the pool found there was the one mentioned in the New Testament, Shiloh pool, where Jesus gave sight back to a blind man; this was a good assumption as it was the only pool in the area; but more recently the real Shiloh pool was discovered by archaeologists and it is located slightly more south from Siloam Pool; at the time of Eudocia it was full of rubble from the destrution of Jerusalem and therefore could not been seen
- the southern wall of the city: the walls had been destroyed by Titus army in 70 CE and never built again; Eudocia wanted to protect the recent church on Mount Sion as well as the one in the City of David; her new wall followed, for most of its path, the old walls of Jerusalem (of the time of the Second Temple)
When Eudocia died in Jerusalem in 460, she was buried in the church that she had built for Saint Stephen.
Jerusalem after Eudocia constructions
At the Council of Chalcedon in 451, decision was made to raise Jerusalem to the status of Patriarchy, along with the previous four other cities of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria and Antiochus. This decision made Jerusalem the definite capital of the Holy Land, and the previous Roman capital of Caesaria totally decline in importance.
The background of this decision was the debate that opposed two visions of Christianity at this Council: mainstream Christianity wanted to approve the diophysis nature of Jesus (whereas he was to be considered both divine and human) whereas "Oriental" churches wanted to keep the divine only nature (monophysis). The dispute was also political because Rome wanted to prove its dominance over the Christian matters in opposition to the oriental authorities. As a result of this argument where Rome won, four churches decided to split from mainstream Christianity to keep with the monophysis approach. These churches are called the Eastern (or Oriental) Churches: they are the Copte, Ethiopian, Armenian and Syrian churches. It is thus understandable that, as a counter to the split from the Oriental churches, Rome decided to make Jerusalem (in the Oriental world) as a patriarchy, as a mean to step foot in the Holy Land and no longer rely on the other churches for Christian presence.
Another group, the Vandals, led by Genseric behaved much in the same way as the Huns. To avoid competition over territory with them, they moved to Spain. But seeing themselves unwelcome by the Visigoths who were there before them, the Vandals crossed over to Africa in 429, near the modern-day city of Oran, and moved eastward destroying the Roman cities that were established in that part of the coastal region. They reached Carthage where they established the seat of their kingdom by 440. They ruled over Northern Africa for about 100 years. The Jews who were established there with the Berbers, long before the arrival of the Romans, fled the cities and sought refuge more south, in the Atlas mountains and beyond, or east towards the desert of Lybia. In these regions, the Vandals who had only horsemen would not chase them. It was during this Vandal yoke that the Berbers became judaized when they came in closer contact with the Jews to fight a common enemy. From Carthage, Genseric managed a fleet of pirate ships. In 455, they crossed the sea and sacked Rome. Unlike the Visigoths who had spared the Christian establishment before, the Vandals hated the Christians and they sacked the treasures that the papaucy had been keeping after the civil power of Rome moved to Ravenna. In particular, the Vandals took with them the treasures that Titus brought back from the Temple of Jerusalem in 70 CE, and carried them to Carthage. It was these actions that owned them the word vandalism in the languages.
Genseric sacks Rome, Karl Pavlovich Briullov, 1836
(Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow)
This was the second sack of Rome in a period of 35 years. Augustine of Hippo was alive during the first sack in 410, but had died in 430 when Genseric was about to take the city of Hippo, and didn't witness this last blow against the seat of the papal power. After the passage of the Vandals, there was little left of what was once the great city of Rome. It was a trying period in general for the Christian world: after having reached the status of official religion of the Roman empire, that empire got destroyed just over 100 years later, and the core city of Christianity had been sacked, twice.
On the road to Jerusalem to Bethlehem, the remains of an important Byzantine church were discovered by chance in 1992: it is the Kathisma church. The church was never found in previous searches in the area, although it was known by name. Indeed Theodosius the Cenobiarch who came to Jerusalem in 451, when the city became a Patriachy, told that the church was under construction thanks to a sainted woman called Hicelia. He later became its patron when Hiceia died. Why build a church there? Because, according to Christian tradition, Mary, who was pregnant of Jesus, rested on a rock near a source of water and under a palm tree when, on her way to Bethlehem with her husband Joseph, she suffered from heat. In Byzantine times, the source of water was known between Jerusalem and Bethlehem and, as it was the only one, the place was identified as the very location where Mary had rested. They also found a large flat rock nearby and decided that that was the stone of her rest (although the palm tree no longer existed at their time). So a church was built and it was named "Kathisma" which means "seat" in Greek. In Christian sources, the story appears in an Apocrypha text which is not canon for the Catholic church but accepted by the Orthodox church and therefore the Kathisma is venered by the Christian Orthodox faith:
And it came to pass on the third day of their journey, while they were walking, that the blessed Mary was fatigued by the excessive heat of the sun in the desert; and seeing a palm tree, she said to Joseph: Let me rest a little under the shade of this tree. Joseph therefore made haste, and led her to the palm, and made her come down from her beast. And as the blessed Mary was sitting there, she looked up to the foliage of the palm, and saw it full of fruit, and said to Joseph: I wish it were possible to get some of the fruit of this palm. And Joseph said to her: I wonder that thou sayest this, when thou seest how high the palm tree is; and that thou thinkest of eating of its fruit. I am thinking more of the want of water, because the skins are now empty, and we have none wherewith to refresh ourselves and our cattle. Then the child Jesus, with a joyful countenance, reposing in the bosom of His mother, said to the palm: O tree, bend thy branches, and refresh my mother with thy fruit. And immediately at these words the palm bent its top down to the very feet of the blessed Mary; and they gathered from it fruit, with which they were all refreshed. And after they had gathered all its fruit, it remained bent down, waiting the order to rise from Him who bad commanded it to stoop. Then Jesus said to it: Raise thyself, O palm tree, and be strong, and be the companion of my trees, which are in the paradise of my Father; and open from thy roots a vein of water which has been hid in the earth, and let the waters flow, so that we may be satisfied from thee. And it rose up immediately, and at its root there began to come forth a spring of water exceedingly clear and cool and sparkling. And when they saw the spring of water, they rejoiced with great joy, and were satisfied, themselves and all their cattle and their beasts. Wherefore they gave thanks to God.--- Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, chapter 20
The church was built in an octogonal form surrounding te large stone, in the way that the (circular) rotunda was built in the Holy Sepulchre. Rich mosaics were also found, one of them depicting the palm tree.
Palm tree mosaic in the Kathisma church
(source: Israel Antiquities Authority)
There is a follow-up of this story during the Early Muslim period.
Then the Western Roman Empire declined inexorably over time, with disparate provinces, a lack of unity, and an impossible central ruling. In 476 CE, it existed no more, officially on the 4th of September, which corresponds to one of the last days of the Hebrew month of Elul, just before the start of the New Year 4237. Only subsisted the Eastern Empire, with Constantinople as its capital but with its countryside ravaged by Barbarian hords.
Across Western and Central Europe, dominions started to take form and shape in the remains of the Roman Empire. In Gaul for example, Jews had been established in this Roman province before the start of the Common Era. By the fall of the Roman Empire, Jewish communities existed in all major cities of Italy but also in Marseilles, Narbonne, Orleans, Clermont, Bordeaux and Paris, where roman administration had generally been established. In the early years, the relations between Jews and Gallic Christians were friendly, and the Jewish religion started to attracta certain number of Gentiles. This ultimately worried the Church who, in 465 at the Concile of Vannes (Britanny), forbad their congregants and religious leaders to entertain social relations with the Jews. Over the coming years, this segregation led to worse consequences.
When the Vandals attempted to extend their realm to the East, they were confronted by nomadic tribes composed of Jews and Berbers (also called Moors) allied together and mounting camels. Their leader was a Jew who inflicted a crushing defeat to the Vandals, as Procopius recalled in his history of the war:
There was a certain Cabaon [Gibeon] ruling over the Moors of Tripolis, a man experienced in many wars and exceedingly shrewd. This Cabaon, upon learning that the Vandals were marching against him, did as follows. First of all he issued orders to his subjects to abstain from all injustice and from all foods tending towards luxury and most of all from association with women; and setting up two palisaded enclosures, he encamped himself with all the men in one, and in the other he shut the women, and he threatened that death would be the penalty if anyone should go to the women's palisade. And after this he sent spies to Carthage with the following instructions: whenever the Vandals in going forth on the expedition should offer insult to any temple which the Christians reverence, they were to look on and see what took place; and when the Vandals had passed the place, they were to do the opposite of everything which the Vandals had done to the sanctuary before their departure. And they say that he added this also, that he was ignorant of the God whom the Christians worshipped, but it was probable that if He was powerful, as He was said to be, He should wreak vengeance upon those who insulted Him and defend those who honoured Him. So the spies came to Carthage and waited quietly, observing the preparation of the Vandals; but when the army set out on the march to Tripolis, they followed, clothing themselves in humble garb. And the Vandals, upon making camp the first day, led their horses and their other animals into the temples of the Christians, and sparing no insult, they acted with all the unrestrained lawlessness natural to them, beating as many priests as they caught and lashing them with many blows over the back and commanding them to render such service to the Vandals as they were accustomed to assign to the most dishonoured of their domestics. And as soon as they had departed from there, the spies of Cabaon did as they had been directed to do; for they straightway cleansed the sanctuaries and took away with great care the filth and whatever other unholy thing lay in them, and they lighted all the lamps and bowed down before the priests with great reverence and saluted them with all friendliness; and after giving pieces of silver to the poor who sat about these sanctuaries, they then followed after the army of the Vandals.
After the passage of the Vandals
And from then on along the whole route the Vandals continued to commit the same offences and the spies to render the same service. And when they were coming near the Moors, the spies anticipated them and reported to Cabaon what had been done by the Vandals and by themselves to the temples of the Christians, and that the enemy were somewhere near by. And Cabaon, upon learning this, arranged for the encounter as follows. He marked off a circle in the plain where he was about to make his palisade, and placed his camels turned sideways in a circle as a protection for the camp, making his line fronting the enemy about twelve camels deep. Then he placed the children and the women and all those who were unfit for fighting together with their possessions in the middle, while he commanded the host of fighting men to stand between the feet of those animals, covering themselves with their shields. And since the phalanx of the Moors was of such a sort, the Vandals were at a loss how to handle the situation; for they were neither good with the javelin nor with the bow, nor did they know how to go into battle on foot, but they were all horsemen, and used spears and swords for the most part, so that they were unable to do the enemy any harm at a distance; and their horses, annoyed at the sight of the camels, refused absolutely to be driven against the enemy. And since the Moors, by hurling javelins in great numbers among them from their safe position, kept killing both their horses and men without difficulty, because they were a vast throng, they began to flee, and, when the Moors came out against them, the most of them were destroyed, while some fell into the hands of the enemy; and an exceedingly small number from this army returned home. --- Procopius, History of the Wars, The Vandalic War, Book III, VIII, 15-27
The Talmud of Babylon, or Babli, is traditionnally considered to have been completed with the death of the last amora, Ravina II, in 500 CE. The generations of amoraim have been the following ones since the beginning of the redaction of the Gemara in both Palestine and Babylon:
It is widely accepted that the Gemara was compiled by Rav Ashi and Ravina, and this completed the Babylonian Talmud (Mishna and Gemara together).
The compilation of the Talmud of Babylon left aside a certain number of teachings which were not essentially aiming to comment the Law. Indeed the Talmud is mostly concerned about the explanations of the Halachic commandments and less about the Haggadic traditions. One of the first collection of such Haggadic accounts, which complements the Talmud with stories from the lives and teachings of certain rabbis, was the Midrash Tanhuma. It derives its name from one of the Palestinian amora of the 5th generation (period 160-200 CE), Rabbi Tanhuma ben Abba.
One of the teachings of the Midrash Tanhuma concerns the meaning of certain numbers, and this is relevant to the present chronology:
Out of certain classes of things God has chosen one. Of days, the seventh was chosen and sanctified. Of years, too, the seventh was chosen as the Sabbatical year; and out of seven Sabbatical years one was selected as the Jubilee. Of countries, God made choice of Palestine. Of the heavens, the Aroboth was chosen for God's throne. Of nations, Israel was the choice, and of the tribes of Israel, that of Levi. --- Midrash Tanhuma
It was also known among Christian circles, and from Jewish Tradition, that the end of the world would occur 6000 years after the creation of the world. And there was also a belief that the end of the world and the Resurrection of the Justs would occur 500 years after the birth of Jesus, which would have thus taken placed 5500 years after the Creation. As Rome got involved in the Judean affairs 500 years earlier that time, it came as a surprise that the world had not ended as yet around 500 CE. A Christian bishop called Dionysus Exiguus, also known as Denys the Small, set himself the task to recalculate the date of the end of the world and of Jesus' birth, called Anno Domini (or AD). His calculations, from scriptures and from astronomical calculations, led him to believe that Jesus was born 500 years before that present time, and this set the Common Era (CE) to Anno Domini (AD 1, as there was no AD 0). In the same calculation, he established that the end of the world would occur in AD 2000.
But again in AD 2000, the end of the world didn't happen, as it didn't happen in Dionysus' time of AD 500. The Church acknowledged that Dyonisos had made mistakes in the birth of Jesus, which is now broadly believed to have taken place some time between 6 and 4 BCE. In November 2012, a statement from the Pope's book declared that "Jesus was born several years earlier than commonly believed". Furthermore, about the date of 25 December, he declared: "We don't even know which season he was born in. The whole idea of celebrating his birth during the darkest part of the year is probably linked to pagan traditions and the winter solstice." 
Jews have been established in the southern part of the Arabian peninsula since very old times. Some say they came with the Queen of Sheba after she returned from her visit to King Solomon about 1000 BCE. For sure, many Jews fled there before the destruction of the First Temple, after hearing the prophecy of Jeremiah that the kingdom of Judea would come to its end. At a time when all the Arabian peninsula was pagan, Jews could thrive in good relationship with their neighbours. And several Arab and Yemenite tribes also converted to Judaism. Trouble started in the region with the venue of Christians in the region who, unlike the Jews, were proselytes and endeavoured to convert the Pagans. In 517 CE, a Jewish man called Yusef (Joseph) Dhu Nuwas, who was from a Judaized Arab tribe (the Himyarites), seized power over all Yemen. In 523, he declared that he would persecute the Christians, after having heard that the Christians persecuted his Jewish brethren in the Byzantine empire. He carried out his threat and massacred a great number of Christians in Yemen in this time. The Emperor then sent a fleet to Yemen in revenge to help another Arab ally to conquer Yemen. Yosef apparently died in battle in 525.
Yusef Dhu Nuwas
(drawing by Ben Abrahamson)
In the Roman Empire, the calendar was followed according to the legendary date of the foundation of Rome, stated to have been done on 21 April 753 BCE. All Roman dates were subsequently counted of X years from the foundation of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita or AUC). But the Empire having become Christian, it was decided to move to a calendar based from the birth of Jesus. The issue was to set such unknown date. The task was given to a monk called Denys le Petit (Dionysius Exiguus in Latin), who estimated that Jesus was born on the year 753 AUC. In comparison, King Herod died in 750 AUC, which therefore became the date 4 BCE in Christian calendar.
The calendar was adopted universally in the Christian world and is still in use today. The problem, compared to the original goal, is that it is well acknowledged today that Jesus was born while Herod was still alive, thus leading to an error of about 4 years for the wished start of the Christian calendar.
In 527, a new emperor came to reign over the Eastern Empire: it was Justinian. His father's name was Sabbatius which means Shabbat ! The origin of his family is supposed to have been from Thrace. When he became emperor, he considered as his duty to restore the Roman Empire to his former glory and dominions, so he engaged in a series of wars of reconquest.
Justinian (Church of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy)
Justinian also thought necessary to stop any pagan rite in his empire. To this effect, he decreed in 529 the much controversial closure of the philosophical schools of Greece. These schools had been celebrated for centuries and were a beacon to Western civilization. But the Greek culture had remained pagan by nature, and this caused conflict with the Christians. This was a strange reverse of fortune because Christianity would have never become a world religion without the Greek culture which was first to provide the early followers for the new religion, and which completed the first translation of the Bible from Hebrew in a language that the masses could understand. Also, the Greek culture offered artistic representations of their pantheon and this greatly helped Romans to absorb the new religion better with the help of similar approach to represent divine characters such as the Christ and the Apostles. The Greek culture indeed helped spread the new religion, and the Roman empire, after fighting much against it, finally adopted it.
This date of 529 CE can be considered as the end of the Greek culture as a "live" culture and its becoming into the "classics". This change had been made possible because Christianity had become a political power, and no longer simply a religion. This new power endeavoured to terminate the other cultures that were aliens to its principles. The Greeks had aimed to spread their culture to the world, by published works from its schools (Plato, Aristotle, etc.), but Christianity endeavoured to keep the masses generally in ignorance and even put a stop to the spread of culture and books. The study of carefully chosen scriptures was only left to those who ran the churches.
After securing the eastern borders of his empire, Justinian turned his attention on North Africa. He sent an army there led by his general Belisarus. But he also sent an administrator to rule the provinces once they would be liberated. His name of Solomon. The Historian Procopius participated to this campaign and had been able to write his Vandalic War from his own eye witness account.
The Christian army took Carthage at the end of 533. There they found the treasures that Genseric took from Rome and sent them to Constantinople. Among them, were the treasures of the Temple of Jerusalem, including the Menorah, the great candelaber that is depicted on the Arch of Titus in Rome:
And one of the Jews, seeing these things, approached one of those known to the emperor and said: "These treasures I think it inexpedient to carry into the palace in Byzantium. Indeed, it is not possible for them to be elsewhere than in the place where Solomon, the king of the Jews, formerly placed them. For it is because of these that Gizeric [Genseric] captured the palace of the Romans, and that now the Roman army has captured that the Vandals." When this had been brought to the ears of the Emperor [Justinian], he became afraid and quickly sent everything to the sanctuaries of the Christians in Jerusalem. --- Procopius, History of the Wars, The Vandalic War, Book III, IX, 4-11
Thus, the treasures of the Temple were returned to Jerusalem in 535 CE, some 465 years after they were taken from there by the Romans. In Jerusalem, these treasures were kept under the protection of the Church.
When the king of the Vandals, Gelimer, was presented to Justinian in Carthage in 534, during the parade of triumph, Procopius recorded his words:
And when Gelimer reached the hippodrome and saw the emperor sitting upon a lofty seat and the people standing on either side and realized as he looked about in what an evil plight he was, he neither wept nor cried out, but ceased not saying over in the words of the Hebrew scripture: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." --- Procopius, History of the Wars, The Vandalic War, Book III, IX, 11-16
This anecdote shows that the Vandals had themselves been exposed somehow to the influence of Judaism during their century of life in North Africa which had a vast population of Jews established there from time immemorial.
Under the Byzantine rule, North Africa was organised into six provinces, each with a religious leader (a bishop). Then restrictions were soon renewed against the Jews, by applications of the Code that Justinian had established in his empire. Many of them, along with the Judaized Berbers, preferred to find shelter in the mountains again, where no regular army would venture.
The Byzantines ruled over this region for about 100 years, as the Vandals did, before they were vanquished by other conquerors: the Muslims.
General Belisarius was also successful in his reconquest of the Italian peninsula around 537.
Belisarius against the Goths in Rome - by H. Vogel, 19th century
At the end of Justinian's reign, the Roman Empire had streched to its greatext extent since the days of its past glory.
The Roman Empire in 555 CE (source: Wikipedia)
It is probably in the context of the recent extension of the Byzantine empire that a mosaic map was made on the floor of a new church in Madaba, Jordan. It was discovered at the end of the 19th century. Scholars estimate that it was possibly made between 542 CE and 570 CE, based on the buildings it depicts and their known year of construction. In this map, Jerusalem is listed as "Aelia Capitolina" with its Cardo, that starts in the north of the city with a column from which are measured the distances from Jerusalem, and ends in the south with the location of the Nea Church (meaning "New" Church which was consacred in 542 CE). The northern part of the Cardo was built in Roman times, during the reign of Hadrian, and its extension to the South was built in Byzantine times, by Justinian, in order to provide a path from the Holy Sepulchre and the newly built Nea Church.
In antique times, maps were not orientated North-South as we do today, but West-East (so the direction of the North was on the left side of the map).
 About the presence of the Jews in the Italian cities, it is worth mentioning that Theodoric the Great, the Goth who ruled over Italy in 493-526 in a tolerant fashion, authorized the Jews of Genoa to rebuild the synagogue that Christians had destroyed and also the Jews of Rome for their synagogue of the Trastevere (where the Jews lived) which had also been burned down, and also granted lost privileges to the Jews of Milan (source: Cassiodorus, Variae Epistolae, translated by Thomas Hodgkin, The Letters of Cassiodorus); the hatred of the Christians towards the numerous Jews of the Italian Peninsula was already high in these times, and a contemporary Latin Christian poet, Rutilius, did not hesitate to state in his book "De Reditu Suo", book I, 395 : Atque utinam numquam Judæa subacta fuisset Pompeii bellis imperiisque Titi ! (meaning: and [it is as if] Judea would have never been subdued by the wars of Pompey and the commands of Titus !)
 To read the article from the Telegraph, UK, click here
 After the destruction of the First Temple and the dispersion of the 12 Tribes, the count of the Jubilee, as prescribed by the Bible to be the 50th year after seven Sabbatical cycles of 7 years, was nullified; in Rabbinical times, the Jubilee was still not commemorated but simply considered as the last Sabbatical year of the seven cycles; in other words, the Jubilee became the 49th year, instead of the extra intercalary 50th year
 The Life of St. Theodosius is related by Cyril of Scythopolis in The Lives of the Monks of Palestine
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