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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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

Greek inscription with a poem commemorating the construction of a church dedicated to *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033), and encouraging her to settle in the sanctuary. Found near Korykos/Corycus (Cilicia, south-east Asia Minor). Probably 5th or 6th c.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

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

Literary - Poems

In four dodecasyllable verses:

+ ὥσπερ θεὸν ἐδέξω τὸν ἀχώρητον Λόγον
χαίρουσα μεικροῖς ἐνκατῴκησον δόμοις,
οἷς Παῦλος ἀνήγειρε θεράπων ὁ σὸς καμών,
τὸν παῖδα τὸν σὸν Χριστὸν ἐκμιμουμένη

'+ As you (i.e. the Virgin Mary) received God, the uncontainable Word, do imitate Christ your child, and settle happily in this little house which your servant Paulos has built, by (his own) effort.'

MAMA III, p. 219. Translation E. Rizos, P. Nowakowski.

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Non Liturgical Activity

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings
Construction of cult buildings

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people


Engraved on the lintel, above the entrance to a one-aisled church with a rectangular apse, flanked by two chambers, at the site of the so-called Caves of Korykos (Korykion Antron). The Caves of Korykos, located in valleys near modern Narlıkuyu, to the east of Silifke, were a natural phenomenon, renowned already in antiquity and praised by Strabo (XIV 5,670) and Pomponius Mela (I 71-76). The church is located at the entrance to a subterranean passage which led down to the sea. Josef Keil and Adolf Wilhem hypothesised that the sanctuary was meant to repel subterranean demons. For a description and plan of the church, see Bell 1906, 30-31; MAMA III, 217-219. The inscription was first copied by James Bent and edited by Edward Hicks in 1891. Revisited by Gertrude Bell in 1905, and Josef Keil and Adolf Wilhem in 1931.


The inscription commemorates the foundation of a church, dedicated to Mary by a certain Paulos. Josef Stauber and Reinhold Merkelbach follow the opinion of R. Kassel that it is a poem consisting of four verses, meant to be dodecasyllables. However, verses 1 and 3 contain 14 instead of 12 syllables. This is apparently because in verse 1 the word θεόν or Λόγον and in verse 3 the name Παῦλος were inserted into the correct text. On the other hand, Denis Feissel suggested to us a different interpretation of the meter. He notes that “late antique as well as classical iambic trimeters allow for some substitutions; in verse 1 I read a tribrach in the second position and an anapest in the fourth position: ὥσπερ / θεὸν ἐ/δέξω / τὸν ἀχώ/ρητον / Λόγον.” (from a letter dated 17.09.2016).

As for the contents and themes of the poem, one can notice that the author encourages the Virgin to settle in the church, despite its small size, just as the 'uncontainable' Word of God settled in her womb. The request, expressed in verse 3: μεικροῖς ἐνκατῴκησον δόμοις ('settle in this little house'), is apparently based on a passage from Euripides: κενοῖσιν ἐγκατοικήσεις δόμοις ('settle in this empty house') (E. fr. 188, ed. Nauck).

Dating: 4th c. Hicks (no arguments); 6th c. (Bell, based on the period of prosperity of the city of Korykos). A dedication to Mary is very unlikely to predate the later 5th c.


Steinepigramme aus dem griechischen Osten IV, no. 19/08/02.

Hagel, St., Tomaschitz, K., (eds.),
Repertorium der westkilikischen Inschriften (Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Denkschriften der philosophisch-historischen Klasse 265, Ergänzungsbände zu den Tituli Asiae Minoris 22, Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1998), no. KrA 5.

Monumenta Asiae Minoris Antiqua III, p. 219 (from a squeeze made by Keil and Wilhem, deposited in the archive of the Tituli Asiae Minoris Project).

Hicks, E.L., "Inscriptions from western Cilicia",
The Journal of Hellenic Studies 12 (1891), no. 25 (from Bent's copy).

Further reading:
Bell, G., "Notes on a journey through Cilicia and Lycaonia. III", Revue archéologique, 8 (1906), 31.

Mietke, G., "Monumentalisierung christilcher Heiliger in Kilikien in frühbyzantinischer Zeit",
Olba 17 (2009), 121.

Record Created By

Pawel Nowakowski

Date Last Modified


Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristCertain

Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Pawel Nowakowski, Cult of Saints, E01073 -