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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity


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


A graffito in Greek, probably of the 7th/9th c., in the basilica of *Demetrios (martyr of Thessalonike, S00761) in Thessalonike (south Balkans/Greece), invokes *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033), *Demetrios (martyr of Thessalonike, S00761), and *Theodore (martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita, S00480).

Evidence ID

E01257

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Graffiti

(Christogram) Θεωτώκαι βοήθη τοῦ δούλου σου Ἀναστασίου καὶ Ἰωάννου
(Christogram) Ἁγ(ιε) Δημήτρι βοήθη τοῦ δούλου σου Ἀναστασίου καὶ Μαρκαιλίνας
(Christogram) Ἅγ(ιε) Θεώδορε βοήθη τους δούλυ σου Ἀναστασίου καὶ ̣Ρουπίου

[ἅγ]ιος <ὁ> Θεὸς
Κύ(ριε) βοήθησ(ον) M(οναχοῦ) Κυρ<ι>ακοῦ

̣Ἰ̣ο̣υ̣σ̣τ̣ί̣ν̣ου Ἰουστίνου
+ γρυψ

'Oh God-Bearer, help your servant Anastasios and Ioannes
Saint Demetrios, help your servant Anastasios and Markailina
Saint Theodore, help your servants Anastasios and Roupios

Holy God
Lord help the monk (?) Kyriakos

of Ioustinos, [son?] of Ioustinos'

Text: Soteriou 1952 (modified by E. Rizos)
Translation: E. Rizos

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Non Liturgical Activity

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women

Source

This graffito is engraved on the mortar joints between the bricks of the second pillar of the southern colonnade of the nave. Initially covered by the marble incrustation, it was revealed after the latter collapsed during the fire of 1917, and was recorded by Soteriou. It is now covered behind the bishop’s throne. Soteriou suggests that the graffito was engraved by the craftsmen, prior to the construction of the marble incrustation.


Discussion

This graffito is a testimony of major importance for understanding the cults housed at the great shrine of Thessalonike during Late Antiquity, as it invokes the three figures of Mary, Demetrios, and Theodore. This graffito and the 6th/7th- century mosaics of the church (see $E###) suggest that the main patron saint, Demetrios, shared his shrine with Mary and Theodore, a fact otherwise unattested in the written sources. In the Middle Byzantine period, the presence of Theodore in the cult seems to have been forgotten, perhaps as a result of the tumultuous time of Iconoclasm. For this reason, we suggest that this graffito is no later than the 8th century.

Bibliography

Edition:
G. Soteriou, M. Soteriou,βασιλικτοῦ Ἁγίου Δημητρίου Θεσσαλονίκης, Βιβλιοθήκη τςνθήναιςρχαιολογικςταιρείας, 34, Athens, 1952, 233-234.

Further reading:
Bauer, F.A., Eine Stadt und ihr Patron: Thessaloniki und der Heilige Demetrios (Regensburg: Schnell & Steiner, 2013), 214-215.

Images



A probably 7th/9th-century graffito in the basilica of *Demetrios (Soteriou 1952)
























Record Created By

Efthymios Rizos

Date Last Modified

15/04/2020

Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristΘεωτώκοςCertain
S00480Theodore, soldier and martyr of Amaseia and EuchaitaCertain
S00761Demetrios, martyr of ThessalonikeΔημἠτριοςCertain


Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Efthymios Rizos, Cult of Saints, E01257 - http://csla.history.ox.ac.uk/record.php?recid=E01257