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Dionysius the Areopagite

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Dionysius the Areopagite
Mosaic of Dionysius in Hosios Loukas monastery
Hieromartyr and Bishop of Athens
Born1st century AD
Died1st century AD
Venerated in
AttributesVested as a bishop, holding a Gospel Book
PatronageAthens, Crotone, Jerez de la Frontera and Ojén

Dionysius the Areopagite (/dəˈnɪsiəs/; Greek: Διονύσιος ὁ Ἀρεοπαγίτης Dionysios ho Areopagitēs) was an Athenian judge at the Areopagus Court in Athens, who lived in the first century. A convert to Christianity, he is venerated as a saint by multiple denominations.


Dionysius the Areopagite with Thomas Aquinas, Madonna and the Child. Madonna and Child Enthroned between Angels and Saints by Domenico Ghirlandaio 1486.
Διονυσίου του Αρεοπαγίτου, τα σωζόμενα πάντα, or Sancti Dionysii Areopagitæ, opera omnia quæ extant [All extant works of Dionysius the Areopagite] (Venice: Antonio Zatta, 1756)

As related in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 17:34), he was converted to Christianity by the preaching of Paul the Apostle:[2]

Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

After his conversion, Dionysius became the first Bishop of Athens,[3] though he is sometimes counted as the second after Hierotheus. He is venerated as a saint in the Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox churches. He is the patron saint of Athens and is venerated as the protector of judges and the judiciary. His memory is celebrated on October 3.[4]

Historic confusions


In the early sixth century the so-called Corpus Dionysiacum, a series of writings of a mystical nature, employing Neoplatonic language to elucidate Christian theological and mystical ideas, was ascribed to the Areopagite. Its author is now known as Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite.[5] A minority of scholars, including Romanian theologian Dumitru Stăniloae,[6] argue in favor of authenticity citing internal historical details and the existence of explicit citations of Dionysius predating Proclus by writers such as Dionysius of Alexandria and Gregory Nazianzus.[7] Even Proclus himself appears to cite an external authority for a euphemism ("flowers and supersubstantial lights") when the said verbiage is found explicitly in the Corpus Dionysiacum.[8]

Dionysius has been misidentified with the martyr Dionysius, the first Bishop of Paris. However, this mistake by a ninth-century writer is ignored and each saint is commemorated on his respective day.[9]

Modern references


In Athens there are two large churches bearing his name, one in Kolonaki on Skoufa Street, while the other is the Catholic Metropolis of Athens, on Panepistimiou Street. The pedestrian walkway around the Acropolis, which passes through the rock of the Areios Pagos, also bears his name.

Dionysius is the patron saint of the Gargaliani of Messenia, as well as in the village of Dionysi in the south of the prefecture of Heraklion. The village was named after him and is the only village of Crete with a church in honor of Saint Dionysios Areopagitis.

See also


Further reading

  • Ælfric of Eynsham (1881). "Of Saint Dionysius" . Ælfric's Lives of Saints. London, Pub. for the Early English text society, by N. Trübner & co.
  • Chapman, Henry Palmer (1909). "St. Dionysius" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  • Alexander Weiß, Soziale Elite und Christentum. Studien zu ordo-Angehörigen unter den frühen Christen, Berlin/Boston, De Gruyter, 2015, pp. 80–101.


  1. ^ Domar: The calendrical and liturgical cycle of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church, Armenian Orthodox Theological Research Institute, 2002, p. 528.
  2. ^ "Dionysius The Areopagite". Encyclopedia Britannica.
  3. ^ Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiae III: iv
  4. ^ "Dionysios the Areopagite - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America". www.goarch.org. Retrieved 2018-10-04. Martyrologium Romanum, editio typica altera (Vatican City: Typis Vaticanis, 2004).
  5. ^ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on the confusion between Dionysius and Pseudo-Dionysius
  6. ^ "The Dionysian Authorship of the "Corpus Areopagiticum" According to Fr. Dumitru Staniloae". johnsanidopoulos.com. Retrieved 2023-12-06.
  7. ^ Anthony Pavoni and Evangelos Nikitopoulos, The Life of Saint Dionysius the Areopogite. Scriptorium Press: Montreal, 2023, 14-180.
  8. ^ Ibid., 94-96.
  9. ^ "Hieromartyr Dionysius of Paris, Bishop". oca.org. Retrieved 2015-10-16.


Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
New creation or Hierotheos
Bishop of Athens Succeeded by