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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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

Greek invocation of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033), as the God-Bearer, asked to 'steer' a city. Found at Mytilene (Lesbos). Possibly late antique or later.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

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

+ Θεοτό-
κ(αι) πρόστα κ(αὶ) κυ-
τὴν πόλιν ταύτη(ν)

1-2. Θεοτό|κ(αι) = Θεοτό|κ(ε) the word is abbreviated in the same way as κ(αὶ), so the ending -αι is expected || πρόστα = πρόστηθι Papageorgiu

'+ O God-Bearer (
Theotokos), command and steer this city!'

Text: Papageorgiu 1900, no. 40.

Non Liturgical Activity

Saint as patron - of a community


A large white plaque, found in March 1895 by Petros Papageorgiu, director of the Gymnasium of Mitilini, at the site of a house at Mytilene, next to a fragment of the epitaph for a bishop.


The inscription is an invocation of Mary as the God-Bearer. The saint is asked to 'steer' (κυβερνάω) a city, apparently Mytilene itself. The verb κυβερνάω has obvious maritime connotations and was probably chosen because Mytilene was located on the island of Lesbos and the inhabitants were often engaged in maritime business.

The inscription certainly postdates 431, as the title God-Bearer (Θεοτόκος) became popular only after the council of Ephesos, held in that year, but it may actually be of a much later date.


Grégoire, H (ed.), Recueil des inscriptions grecques chrétiennes d'Asie Mineure, vol. 1 (Paris: Leroux, 1922), no. 151.

Papageorgiou, P.,
Unedierte Inschriften von Mytilene (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1900), no. 40.

Further reading:
Kiourtzian, G., "Pietas insulariorum", [in:] Eupsychia: mélanges offerts à Hélène Ahrweiler, vol. 2 (Série Byzantina Sorbonensia 16, Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1998), 376.


Papageorgiou 1900, plate VI.

Record Created By

Paweł Nowakowski

Date Last Modified


Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristΘεοτόκοςCertain

Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Paweł Nowakowski, Cult of Saints, E01180 -