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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 lintel, with an invocation of Christ as the Messiah and *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033). Found at Ḥūarte/Hawarte, close to ancient Apamea on the Orontes (central Syria). Perhaps late 6th-7th c.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

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

[Ἐμ]μανούηλ, μεθ' ἡ̣μ[ῶν ὁ] θεός· ἁγία Μ̣α̣ρία βοίθ̣ι + .

after the final cross: ὑ[μῖν] = ἡ[μῖν] Canivet,
an unidentified sign Rey-Coquais

'Emmanuel, God is with us! O holy Mary, help! +'

Text: Rey-Coquais 1987, no. 21.

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Non Liturgical Activity



A limestone lintel, found in the ruins at Ḥūarte. When recorded, the stone was partially buried. Length of the inscribed field 1.40 m; letter height 0.08-0.085 m. The ornaments below the inscription are damaged: either by erosion or intentionally.

Seen and copied by Pierre Canivet in 1965, during an archaeological survey of the territory of Apamea. Reedited by Jean-Paul Rey-Coquais in 1987, based on the photograph.


The first part of the inscription contains the acclamation based on a passage from the Gospel according to Matthew: καὶ καλέσουσιν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἐμμανουήλ· ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον 'Μεθ’ ἡμῶν ὁ θεός' / 'They shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us' (Matthew 1:23, cf. Psalm 46:7; Isaiah 7:14). The phrase was understood by early Christians as referring to Christ as the Messiah, and is quite frequent in inscriptions in Syria and other eastern provinces (see: E01012). Importantly, Canivet notes that among several parallel text from the territory of Apamea, none was found at the site of a church or a monastery. He concludes, however, that our lintel is a high-quality element of architecture, and is very unlikely to come form a secular structure.

The second part of the inscription contains an invocation of Mary, notably not as the God-bearer/
Theotokos, but as 'holy Mary'. Based on this, Canivet considered our inscription as a work of people unwilling to support the Chalcedonians. Such an interpretation is, of course, hypothetical, and lacks further evidence, though it is true that Monophysite beliefs dominated in Syria.

Canivet noted that the style of the lintel resembles the stones from Basilica B (the so-called Basilica of Photios) in Ḥūarte, whose mosaic pavement was constructed in 483 (see: E01624). However, based on the forms of letters, the scholar dated our inscription to the late 6th or 7th c.


Rey-Coquais, J.-P., "Épigraphie", in: P. & M.T. Canivet and others, Ḥūarte. Sanctuaire chrétien d’Apamène (Paris 1987), 59, no. 21.

Canivet, P., "Due iscrizioni greche a Ḥūarte nell'Apamene (Siria)",
Epigraphica 33 (1971), 95-98, no. 4.

Reference works:
Bulletin épigraphique (1973), 489.

Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 37, 1430.


From: Canivet 1971, 96.

From: Canivet 1971, 96.

From P. & M.T. Canivet 1987, plate CLVIII.

From P. & M.T. Canivet 1987, plate CLVIII.

Record Created By

Paweł Nowakowski

Date Last Modified


Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristΜαρίαCertain

Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Paweł Nowakowski, Cult of Saints, E01625 -