5th-century Greek Historian on Appearances of the Virgin Mary


5th-century Greek historian, Sozomen (A.D. 445), has given us a description of a glorious feat in the Eastern city of Constantinople. What struck me as I read this is how this 5th-century man, a historian no less, and thus deeply interested in the “historia” of Christianity, can remark that appearances of the Virgin Mary for the purpose of releasing divine power was a matter that she was “wont” to do. It was a customary report for he to do this. Here, he is recording of events in the prior century (4th), as well. I suspect that a modern day Protestant would not only feel “not at home” in 4th/5th century Eastern Christianity, but would positively repudiate what was a commonly accepted reality. And I don’t mean to offend by that, unless it would help.

“Shortly after promulgating this law, Theodosius went to Constantinople. At that time the Arians, led by Demophilus, still controlled the churches; Gregory of Nazianzus, however, led those who professed their faith in the consubstantial Trinity. There was a little house that had been transformed into a Church by men who followed this Creed. It had been entrusted to Gregory and to those who had the same faith he did. There he would call together the assembly of the faithful. Later, this little church became one of the most famous churches of the Imperial city, and it is still famous today, not only because of the beauty and completeness of its structure, but also for the frequent favors that were received there through manifestations of divine power. For a divine power was manifested there to persons both watchful and asleep, which brought relief to many oppressed by illness and other woes. It is believed that this power came from the Virgin Mary, Mother of God. For in such wise is she wont to appear. This church was called “Anastasia” (Resurrection) , because, it seems to me, the Nicene doctrine, which had been oppressed or, so to speak, slain by the power of the heretics, there rose from the dead and returned to life through Gregory’s preaching (Ecclesiastical History 7:5)

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