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Melito of Sardis
Apologist and Bishop of Sardis
Died 180
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Catholic Church
Canonized Pre-congregation
Feast 1 April

Saint Melito of Sardis (died c.180) was the bishop of Sardis, near Smyrna in western Anatolia, and a great authority in Early Christianity: Jerome, speaking of the Old Testament canon established by Melito, quotes Tertullian to the effect that he was esteemed a prophet by many of the faithful. His feast is celebrated on April 1.


Peri Pascha

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Aside from a homily Peri Pascha (On the Passover) in the Bodmer Papyri, only fragments of his works survive. Melito was a prolific early Christian writer, judging from lists of them preserved by Eusebius and Jerome. He wrote a celebrated apology for Christianity which he sent to Marcus Aurelius.

Melito's Canon

Melito provides us with what is possibly the earliest known Christian canon of the Old Testament having traveled to Palestine (probably the library at Caesarea Maritima) seeking to acquire accurate information in this regard.


According to the Catholic Encyclopedia Melito believed in a Millennial reign of Christ on Earth. He wrote against idolatry or relying on teachings of fathers to condone it (Melito's Apology addressed to Marcus Aurelius Antoninus). He presented elaborated parallels between the Old Testament, the form or mold, and the New Covenant, as the truth that broke the mold, in a series of Eklogai, six books of extracts from the Law and the Prophets presaging Christ and the Christian faith; a passage cited by Eusebius contains Melito's famous canon of the Old Testament.

Origen, in a brief note, relates that Melito ascribed corporeality to God, and believed that the likeness of God is preserved in the human body. The note is too brief to tell exactly what Melito might have meant by this.

Death and legacy

A letter of Polycrates of Ephesus to Pope Victor I about 194, mentioned by Eusebius, (H.E. 5.24) states that "Melito the eunuch" was interred at Sardis.

Melito's reputation as a writer remained strong into the Middle Ages: numerous works were pseudepigraphically ascribed to him.



  • Hansen, Adolf, and Melito. 1990. The "Sitz im Leben" of the paschal homily of Melito of Sardis with special reference to the paschal festival in early Christianity. Thesis (Ph. D.)--Northwestern University, 1968.
  • Melito, and Bernhard Lohse. 1958. Die Passa-Homilie des Bischofs Meliton von Sardes. Textus minores, 24. Leiden: E.J. Brill.[1]
  • Melito, J. B. Pitra, and Pier Giorgio Di Domenico. 2001. Clavis Scripturae. Visibile parlare, 4. Città del Vaticano: Libreria editrice vaticana. [2]
  • Melito, J. B. Pitra, and Jean Pierre Laurant. 1988. Symbolisme et Ecriture: le cardinal Pitra et la "Clef" de Méliton de Sardes. Paris: Editions du Cerf. [3]
  • Melito, and Josef Blank. 1963. Vom Passa: die älteste christliche Osterpredigt. Sophia, Quellen östlicher Theologie, Bd. 3. Freiburg im Breisgau: Lambertus-Verlag. [4]
  • Melito, and Othmar Perler. 1966. Sur la Pâque et fragments. Sources Chrétiennes, 123. Paris: Éditions du Cerf. [5]
  • Melito, and Richard C. White. 1976. Sermon "On the Passover.". Lexington Theological Seminary Library. Occasional studies. Lexington, Ky: Lexington Theological Seminary Library. [6]
  • Melito, and Stuart George Hall. 1979. On Pascha and fragments. Oxford early Christian texts. Oxford: Clarendon Press. [7]
  • Waal, C. van der, and Melito. 1973. Het Pascha der verlossing: de schriftverklaring in de homilie van Melito als weerspiegeling van de confrontatie tussen kerk en synagoge. Thesis--Universiteit van Suid-Afrika. [8]
  • Waal, C. van der, and Melito. 1979. Het Pascha van onze verlossing: de Schriftverklaring in de paaspreek van Melito van Sardes als weerspiegeling van de confrontatie tussen kerk en synagoge in de tweede eeuw. Johannesburg: De Jong. [9]

External links


Melito is of Italian derivation and could refer to one of four things:

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

MELITO, bishop of Sardis, a Christian writer of the 2nd century, mentioned by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. iv. 21) along with Hegesippus, Dionysius of Corinth, Apollinaris of Hierapolis, Irenaeus, and others, his contemporaries, as a champion of orthodoxy and upholder of apostolic tradition. Of his personal history nothing is known, and of his numerous works (which are enumerated - with quotations - by Eusebius) only a few fragments are extant. They included an Apologia addressed to Antoninus some time between A.D. 169 and 180, two books relating to the paschal controversy, and a work entitled 'EKXoyai (selections from the Old Testament), which contained the first Christian list of "the books of the Old Covenant." It excludes Esther, Nehemiah and the Apocrypha. The fragments have been edited with valuable notes by Routh (Reliquiae sacrae, vol. i., 1814). These are sufficient to show that Melito was an important figure in Asia Minor and took much part in the paschal, Marcionite and Montanist controversies.

It seems more than doubtful whether the Apologia of Melito "the Philosopher," discovered in a Syriac translation by Henry Tattam (1789-1868), and subsequently edited by W. Cureton and by Pitra-Renan, ought to be attributed to this writer and not to another of the same name. The KXds (clavis), edited by PitraRenan, is a much later Latin collection of mystical explanations of Scripture.

See A. Harnack, Texte and Untersuchungen, i. 240-278 (Leipzig, 1882) Erwin Preuschen, s.v. " Melito" in Herzog-Hauck, Realencyklopeidie, xii., 1903, giving full list of works and bibliography.

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