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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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

Fragment of a Greek inscription just possibly referring to a martyr shrine (martyrion), and to *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033) as the God-Bearer. Found near the village of Agioi Deka, close to ancient Gortyna (southern Crete). Probably 6th c. or later.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

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

Inscriptions - Funerary inscriptions

Preserved text:

]υρον ιατ[
̣ηθι αγιο δουλ[

Reconstruction by Anastasios Bandy:

[+ τῷ]
[μαρτ]υρõν ἰατ[ρῷ]
[Κ(ύρι)ε βο]
̣ήθι ἁγίο δού̣λ[ῳ]
[σου +]

'+ [Lord], acknowledging the worth of the physycian Proxenos, help [Thy] pious servant!'

Text and translation: Bandy 1971, no. 18.

Reconstruction by Philippe Gauthier and Evelyne Samama with remarks by the editors of Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum:

[μαρτ]ύρ<ι>ον, ἰατ[ροῦ]
[Κ(ύρι)ε βο]ήθι ἁγίο δού
[σου +]

'[+ (This is) the] martyrion of the physician Proxenos. [Lord,] help [Thy] pious servant!'

Text: Samama 2003, no. 179.

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)
Burial site of a saint - other
Martyr shrine (martyrion, bet sāhedwātā, etc.)

Non Liturgical Activity


Protagonists in Cult and Narratives



Fragment of a blackish marble plaque, possibly from a tomb, broken and lost on all sides. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.155 m; W. 0.24 m; letter height 0.03-0.035 m.

Found in a field, in the place named Hagia Paraskevi, near the church of St. Titus in Agioi Deka (southern Crete). Copied by Gaetano Cattaneo in the first half of the 19th c. and again in 1922 by Gaspare Oliverio. First published by Margherita Guarducci in 1950.


This fragmentary inscription was first published by Margherita Guarducci without completions and detailed commentary. She just noted that the fragment might have come from an epitaph, that the first preserved line could contain the name Proxenos, the second line could refer to a physycian, and the third line was very likely to have contained an invocation of God as the Lord ([Κύριε, βο]ήθι) or of Mary as the God-Bearer ([Θεοτόκε, βο]ήθι).

In 1971 Anastasios Bandy in his corpus of the Greek Christian inscription of Crete offered a hypothetical reconstruction of the text as an invocation of God by a living or dead physician Proxenos. He interpreted the letters ΥΡΟΝ in the second line as remnants of the particple μαρτυρῶν/'acknowledging', and accepted most of Guarducci's suggestions.

The inscription was, however, reinterpreted in 2003, in a book on the epigraphic attestations of ancient physicians by Evelyne Samama with the aid of Philippe Gauthier. They tentatively proposed that the mutilated word in line 2 should have been completed as [μαρ]τύρ<ι>ον/'martyr shrine (?)', and that the text referred to a sanctuary of a martyr Proxenos, physician. The reconstruction, they offered, contained Dorian genetive endings in lacunas, implausible in the Christian period, which were corrected to regular genetive endings by the editors of
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum (whence we republish the text).

Needless to say, Samama's and Gauthier's reconstruction is highly disputable, as the state of preservation of the inscription is very poor. Therefore, all conclusions drawn from the extant lines cannot be taken for granted.

Dating: Guarducci and Bandy dated the fragment to the 5th c., based on the form of letters.


Samama, E., Les médecins dans le monde grec. Sources épigraphiques sur la naissance d’un corps medical (Geneva: Librairie Droz, 2003), no. 179.

Bandy, A.C., (ed.),
The Greek Christian Inscriptions of Crete (Athens: Christian Archaeological Society, 1971), no. 18.

Guarducci, M.,
Inscriptiones Creticae, vol. 4: Tituli Gortynii (Rome: Libreria dello Stato, 1950), no. 511.

Reference works:
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 53, 946.

Record Created By

Paweł Nowakowski

Date Last Modified


Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristUncertain

Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Paweł Nowakowski, Cult of Saints, E01371 -