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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 on a bronze round object (identified as a buckle) with an invocation of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033), as the God-Bearer. Found at Knossos (north Crete). Probably 7th c.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed objects

Images and objects - Other portable objects (metalwork, ivory, etc.)

written as a cross-shaped monogram:

(Θεοτόκε, βοήθει)

'O God-Bearer, help!'

Text: Megaw 1984, 326.

Non Liturgical Activity



The inscription is on a 'bronze buckle', found in a tomb at the south end of the narthex of the cemetery church in Knossos, under the remains of a skeleton. There is no published description or image of the object. The cemetery is sited on the road to Heraklion. It was excavated in 1978 by Arthur Megaw, under the auspices of the Greek Archaeological Service and the British School at Athens, before the construction of a hospital. The excavations revealed the existence of c. 300 tombs and the Christian basilica. The basilica had three aisles, a trefoil sanctuary, a narthex, and a small atrium with a brick-build cistern. Megaw dated the church to the 5th c., based on a coin found at the bottom of the foundation trench, datable to c. 400. According to him, it was a well-built sanctuary of considerable importance.


The inscription is a common invocation of Mary as the God-Bearer. Megaw notes that only its first part was deciphered (the one which we offer above). We can suppose that the other part contained the name of the person, for whom the help was requested.

The buckle was stylistically dated by Megaw as belonging to a 'late type'. At the site of the cemetery a coin (
follis) of Hercalius was found, proving that burials were conducted there even in the mid-7th c.


Megaw, A.H.S., “A cemetery church with trefoil sanctuary in Crete”, in: Actes du Xe Congrès international d'archéologie chrétienne, Thessalonique, 28 septembre-4 octobre 1980, vol. 2 (Studi di antichità cristiana 37, Hellenika, Parartema 26, Città del Vaticano: Pontificio Istituto di archeologia cristiana, 1984), 326.

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, E01391 -