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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

from its origins to circa AD 700, across the entire Christian world

Fragmentary Greek inscription with remnants of what could have been a governor's letter, possibly dealing with the status of the church of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033) and the church of *John the Apostle and Evangelist (S00042) in Ephesos. Found in Ephesos (western Asia Minor), at the site of the church of Mary. Probably 6th c.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)

Canonical and legal texts

Fragment A:

] . ̣ιτρα[
] ἔστω [
τῆ]ς μεγάλης [ἐκκλησί]-
[ας καὶ τοῦ σ]εβασμίο[υ οἴκου]
[τοῦ ἁγίου Ἰωάνν]ου τ[οῦ θεολόγου

Fragment B:

τ]οῦ ἀπο[στόλου
Κ]̣αισα̣ρ (?)[

'[- - -] may it happen [- - -] of the Great [Church and of the re]verend [house of Saint Joh]n th[e Theologian - - -] of the Apo[stle - - - C]aesar (?) [- - -].'

I. Ephesos, no. 1373.

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Non Liturgical Activity

Awarding privileges to cult centres

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops
Monarchs and their family


Two fragments of a blue marble plaque found at the site of the church of Mary in Ephesos. Fragment A: H. 0.165 m; W. 0.27 m; Th. 0.035-0.04 m. Fragment B: H. 0.11 m; W. 0.13 m; Th. 0.025 m.

Having revisited and examined the fragments, Denis Feissel suggests that, although published separately, they almost certainly form missing parts of another monumental inscription with a governor's letter, found in Ephesos (our E00778), see Feissel 1999, 127-128 and no. 27. In a letter dated 17.05.2018 Feissel informed us about his forthcoming new edition and restoration of this text.


The first editors hypothesised that the inscription may have preserved fragments of an imperial letter from Justinian or one of his sixth-century successors that dealt with the status of two major churches in Ephesos: the episcopal church of *Mary (the Great Church, μεγάλη ἐκκλησία of our text, if that is the correct reading) and the newly constructed church of *John the Evangelist, locally called the Theologian (reconstructed as the Reverend House, σεβάσμιος οἶκος, of the inscription). They pointed out that the wording resembles other imperial letters published in Ephesos as inscriptions (see E00745; E00766).

Denis Feissel, however, very plausibly identifies the fragments as elements of a letter of a governor (
proconsul) of the province of Asia that was preserved in another Ephesian inscription, and probably accompanied an imperial resolution concerning the church of Mary and the church of John the Evangelist. See E00778.


Die Inschriften von Ephesos, no. 1373.

Further reading:
Feissel, D., "Épigrahie administrative et topographie urbaine: l'emplacement des actes inscrits dans l'Éphèse protobyzantine (IVe – VIe s.)", in: R. Pillinger, O. Kersten, F. Krinzinger, O. Russo (eds.), Efeso paleocristiana e bizantina (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1999), 121-132.

Record Created By

Pawel Nowakowski

Date Last Modified


Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristCertain
S00042John, the Apostle and EvangelistUncertain

Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Pawel Nowakowski, Cult of Saints, E00765 -