EUGENIUS (MĀRAWGEN), legendary Christian saint traditionally credited with the introduction of Egyptian monasticism into Mesopotamia and Persia. Part of a Sogdian version of his legend, translated from the Syriac, has been identified by Sundermann (pp. 263-64) in a group of unpublished fragments preserved in the Turfan collection of the Berlin-Brandenburgische Academie der Wissenschaften, the largest of which (bearing the signatures C6 and T ii B 6c) was previously inaccurately characterized by Hansen (p. 96) as belonging to the martyrdom of Bishop Miles. The Syriac text, published by Bedjan (pp. 376-480) and conveniently summarized by J. Labourt (pp. 304-6), was justly described by Paul Peeters (p. 129) as an “incoherent rhapsody,” though Jean-Maurice Fiey is inclined to accept that it may contain some kernel of truth.

According to the legend, Eugenius began his career as a pearl-fisher on the island of Clysma near Suez, before becoming a monk in the monastery of Pachomius and travelling to the western borderlands of the Persian empire to evangelize Nisibis and found a monastery on Mt. Izlā. The year of his death is given as 363 C.E. The story is embroidered with many miracles and episodes in which famous personages of the period—including St James of Nisibis, the heresiarch Mani, and the emperors Constantine, Julian the Apostate, Jovian, and Šāpūr II—are brought into connection with the saint. Contrary to the views expressed by Labourt (pp. 308-9), Anton Baumstark (pp. 235-36), and others, this legend must already have been fully formed by the late 7th century C.E., when it was summarized by Dādišoʿ Qaṭrāyā (q.v.) in his still unpublished commentary on the Paradise of the Fathers (see Sims-Williams, pp. 44-47). Only the list of Eugenius’ seventy-six disciples (in one of the two MSS used by Bedjan, pp. 472-74, cf. also Labourt, pp. 310-11, as opposed to a mere ten in the other MS and in Dādišoʿ’s summary) is clearly a later accretion.



A. Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Literatur, Bonn, 1922.

P. Bedjan, Acta martyrum et sanctorum III, Paris and Leipzig, 1892.

J.-M. Fiey, “Aonès, Awun et Awgin (Eugène): aux origines du monachisme mésopotamien,” Analecta Bollandiana 80, 1962, pp. 52-81.

O. Hansen, “Die christliche Literatur der Sogdier,” in HO I/IV, 2/1, 1968, pp. 91-99.

J. Labourt, Le christianisme dans l’empire perse sous la dynastie sassanide (224-632), Paris, 1904.

P. Peeters, review of Le christianisme dans l’empire perse by J. Labourt, in Analecta Bollandiana 24, 1905, pp. 127-32.

N. Sims-Williams, “Dādišoʿ Qaṭrāyā’s Commentary on the Paradise of the Fathers,”Analecta Bollandiana 112, 1994, pp. 33-64.

W. Sundermann, “Byzanz und Bulayïq,” in P. Vavronšek,, ed., Iranian and Indo-European Studies, Memorial Volume of Otakar Klíma, Prague, 1994, pp. 255-64.

(Nicholas Sims-Williams)

Originally Published: December 15, 1998

Last Updated: January 20, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. IX, Fasc. 1, p. 64