Saint Zoticos

4th Century AD

Saint Zoticos, an early Christian martyr, lived during the early 4th century, during the reigns of Constantine and of his son Constantius II (337-361). Zoticos was Chief Magistrate in the court Constantine during the year 330 AD. When Constantine decided to shift the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire to Constantinople, he brought Zoticos with him.

Just after moving to Constantinople, in 331 AD, a plague resulting in leprosy ravaged the city. Constantine and his administration decided to contain the epidemic by drowning those afflicted in the Bosphoros Sea. Zoticos went against the decision and the wishes of the Emperor and established a leprosarium in Pera, across from Constantinople. He used money that had been given him by Constantine for other purposes.

While Constantine turned his head and allowed Zoticos to establish and run his leprosarium, his son who assumed the throne following Constantine's death in 337 AD was not sympathetic to Zoticos, even though his own daughter was living there. Constantius ordered Zoticos's execution. Zoticos was thrown off the mountain near his leprosarium to his death.

Stiker, in his history of disability, sees the Zotico story as significant, though, perhaps apocryphal because it inaugurates an ethical system of charity for the sick and disabled.

… the text appears at the beginning of organized Christianity, in the capital of the new empire whose ruler was a convert. Zotikos stands in opposition to the emperor, who represented the succession of the world of antiquity, despite his conversion. The entire situation and context has a bridging value: … Zotikos inaugurates the system of charity (Stiker, 1997, p. 73).