ISIDORUS, SAINT, (Isidore of Antioch)

A martyr under DIOCLETIAN (feast day: 19 Bashans). He is known in both the Greek and the Coptic tradition, but his legend in the Coptic tradition has been completely refurbished. The text of the Coptic is preserved in Sahidic in a complete codex in the in Cairo (Munier, 1918, pp. 97-190) and in fragments from another codex (Till, 1935; von Lemm, 1913).

The Coptic claims to be composed by an eyewitness named Sotericus, who is named only at the end of the text. The opening scene is in Antioch, where Diocletian promulgates his famous demanding worship of pagan gods. The governor, Pantaleon, with his wife, Sophia, and his son, Isidorus, remains faithful to Christianity. CONSTANTINE, the future emperor, takes refuge with them. At this point, Basilides the general and Victor, two characters from the cycle of Basilides, are also named.

The archangel MICHAEL appears to Isidorus to announce his forthcoming martyrdom, which will take place after he has been killed and brought back to life five times. Then follows a lengthy description of the six martyrdoms, in which Diocletian plays a direct part as a judge. The devil appears frequently, and there are accounts of every type of miracle being performed by the saint and of visions of and of Jesus.

At a certain point, the scene moves to Seleucia and then to Rhodes, but from there the saint returns to Antioch, where he suffers final martyrdom. The last part of the text describes the end of Diocletian and the advent of Constantine, and the translation of the relics of Isidorus to Constantinople.

The redaction of this seems to be very late, even compared to others of the cycle type. In particular, it presupposes of Philotheus, as well as those of George and Victor.


  • Baumeister, T. Martyr Invictus. Der Märtyrer als Sinnbild der Erlösung in der Legende und im Kult der frühen koptischen Kirche. Münster, 1972.
  • Bollandiani, Socii, ed. Passio Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca. Brussels, 1909; 3rd ed., 1957, p. 960.
  • Lemm, O. E. von. Bruchstücke koptischer Märtyrerakten I-IV. Saint Petersburg, 1913.
  • Munier, H. “Les Actes du martyre de Saint Isidore.” Bulletin de l’Institut français d’Archéologie orientale 14 (1918):97-190.
  • Till, W. C. Koptische Heiligen- und Martyrerlegenden, Vol. 1. Orientalis Christiana Analecta 102. Rome, 1935.