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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 house at Barad/Brad in the Limestone Massif (north Syria), with a list of six or more saints: a saint *John (presumably either the Baptist, S00020, or the Apostle and Evangelist, S00042), *Dometios (monk of Syria, later 4th c., S00414), *George (soldier and martyr, S00259), *Christophoros (martyr of Pamphylia, S00616), *Euphemia (probably the martyr of Chalcedon, S00017), *Philotheos (possibly the martyr of Antioch, S00878), possibly *Kyros and Ioannes/Cyrus and John (physician and soldier, martyrs of Egypt, S00406), a certain *Eusebios, possibly *Thomas the Apostle (S00199), and other unnamed martyrs. Probably 5th/6th c.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

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

Α: + Κ[(υρί)ε Ἰ(ησο)ῦ Χ]ρ(ιστὲ), βοήθισον τοῦτο τὸ οἴκῳ. +
ὁ ἅ[γιο]ς Ἰωάννης (καὶ) ὁ ἅγιος Δωμέτις (καὶ) ὁ ἅγιος Γεώργις (καὶ)
ὁ ἅγιος Χριστόφορος (καὶ) Εὐφυμία (καὶ) ὁ κῦρις Φιλόθεως

Β1: ἅ+μα τῶν ἑτέρων μαρτύρον
B2: (καὶ) Ἰωάννης (καὶ) Εὐσέβιος ὑιὸς (καὶ) Θωμᾶς

C: Κύ(ριε), βοή(θει) Ἰωάννου ἐπιτρόπου

A: '+ O Lord, Jesus Christ, help this household! +
Saint John, and Saint Dometios, and Saint George, and
Saint Christophoros, and Euphemia, and the lord (
or Kyros) Philotheos

B1: with other martyrs
B2: and John, and Eusebios the son, and Thomas.'

C: 'O Lord, help the steward (epitropos, procurator) Ioannes!'

Text: Lassus 1947, 171-172.

Non Liturgical Activity



Collections of multiple relics

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives



The inscription is carved on the gate (a lintel) of an isolated house in the south part of modern Barad/Brad .

Seen and copied by Jean Lassus in 1936. First published by Lassus in 1947.

Part A is within a frame, parts B1-2 below the frame, part C to the right of the frame.


The inscription begins and ends with an invocation of God as the Lord, asked to help a certain steward Ioannes and his household. Between we find a list of names. Unfortunately, it is not clear whether all these figures are saints, as only the first four are labelled ἅγιος/'holy'. Based on the layout of the text and the forms of the letters, Lassus suggested that the list was twice extended. If it refers to the saints venerated in the martyrion of the local cathedral church (the so-called Basilica of Ioulianos, see: E01687), it might show the consecutive phases of the enriching of its collection of relics.

Lassus identified the saints as the following characters, but his suggestions are based only on his general knowledge of the popularity of given figures in Syria, and not on specific arguments:

Part A: John the Baptist rather than John the Evangelist; Dometios, monk, and according to some traditions, a martyr under the emperor Julian; George, soldier and martyr; Euphemia, martyr of Chalcedon; Kyros, a holy physician, martyred under Diocletian in Alexandria and venerated nearby; Philotheos, martyr of Antioch.

Part B1: other martyrs – some unnamed figures or those listed below.

Part B2: John, a soldier, martyred under Diocletian in Alexandria and venerated together with Kyros; Thomas the Apostle, whose relics were kept in Edessa (where Euphemia, Dometios, and George were also venerated).

'Eusebios the son' (Part B2) could perhaps be a martyr of Antioch, mentioned in the
Martyrdom of *Shenoufe (E01224), who is described there as the son of a stratelates. Christophoros (Part A) is not readily identified.

Lassus chose these figures, mostly because their feasts appear in the liturgical calendar of Antioch on the Orontes, and the saints are praised in hymns by Severos of Antioch. He concludes that the list gives us an impression of important places for the cult of saints, which influenced the religious life in north Syria, namely: Alexandria, Edessa, Chalcedon, and Cyrrhus.

The identity of these saints was also briefly commented on by Louis Robert in
Bulletin épigraphique. Robert argued that the word ὁ κῦρις in part A is not the name Kyros, but rather the title 'lord', quite often given to saints in the Near East, and here referred to Philotheos ('the lord Philotheos'). This is plausible, as the word is preceded by the article, unlikely to appear before a personal name. Robert was also sceptical about the identification of Thomas as the Apostle. He pointed out that the Apostle would have been mentioned together with his unique title, and here would appear just as a local martyr (cf. the comments by Peeters 1945, 259-260 on the identity of Thomas from Anasartha, E01620). In this case, however, Robert's reasoning is less convincing.

In fact, one can say very little about the identity of these saints, as they bear no epithets. Even the identification of the people mentioned in part B2 as saints may be questioned. These figures are not named 'saints', and there is no need to suppose that the phrase 'and other martyrs' in the preceding line describes them. They could be, for example, donors or supplicants, expecting the help of the aforementioned holy figures. But on the other hand it is also possible that Dometios is Domitius, a Syriac holy physician, whose prominent sanctuary was known to Gregory of Tours (see: E00652). 'Eusebios the son', might be Eusebios, son of the
stratelates Basilides, reportedly the first martyr in Antioch on the Orontes (see: E01224).

For a similar list (with references to Christopher and George), see the building inscription of the martyrion in Elaiousa-Sebaste/Yanıkhan in Cilicia (southeast Asia Minor): E01076.

The identity of the steward (
epitropos) Ioannes, occurring in part C is not clear. One cannot even be sure that he was the person who invoked the saints, or if his inscription was carved on another occasion.

Dating: Lassus says nothing explicitly about dating, but his reasoning presupposes that the inscription postdates the construction of the Church of Ioulianos in 402 or even of its martyr shrine (accessible through the north aisle) in the late 5th or 6th c. There is no evidence for the cult of Kyros and John before the discovery of their relics by Cyril of Alexandria in 414 (
EXXXXX). One would also expect the spread of the cult of Euphemia to postdate the council of Chalcedon in 451, which acknowledged her as a protectress of orthodoxy (but cf. EXXXXX).


Lassus, J., Sanctuaires chrétiens de Syrie: essai sur la genèse, la forme et l'usage liturgique des édifices du culte chrétien, en Syrie, du IIIe siècle à la conquête musulmane (Bibliothèque archéologique et historique 42, Paris: P. Geuthner, 1947), 171-172.

Further reading:
Peeters, P., "Review: Mouterde R., Poidebard A., Limes de Chalcis...", Analecta Bollandiana 63 (1945), 259-260 (o Tomaszu).

Reference works:
Bulletin épigraphique (1950), 207.

Record Created By

Paweł Nowakowski

Date Last Modified


Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00017Euphemia, martyr of ChalcedonUncertain
S00020John the BaptistUncertain
S00042John, the Apostle and EvangelistUncertain
S00060Martyrs, unnamed or name lostUncertain
S00199Thomas, the ApostleUncertain
S00259George, soldier and martyr, and CompanionsUncertain
S00406Kyros and Ioannes/Cyrus and John, physician and soldier, martyrs of EgyptUncertain
S00414Dometios, monk of Syria, later 4th c.ΔωμέτιςUncertain
S00616Christophoros, martyr of PamphyliaUncertain
S00740Eusebius, son of the stratelates Basilides, martyr of AntiochUncertain
S00842Thomas (unspecified) Certain
S00878Philotheos, child martyr of AntiochUncertain

Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Paweł Nowakowski, Cult of Saints, E01689 -