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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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

Syriac inscription followed by the name 'Maria' in Greek letters, possibly referring to a monastery dedicated to *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033). Found at Ḥalbān near Apamea on the Orontes (central Syria). Probably 5th-7th c.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

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

ܘܕܝܪܐ (or: ܗܕܝܪܐ) Μαρία +

'and the monastery' (or: 'the glorious one') (?). 'Mary. +'

Text: Littmann 1934, no. 1 (Syriac) +
IGLS 4, no. 1899 (Greek). Translation: E. Littmann.

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Places Named after Saint


Non Liturgical Activity

Construction of cult buildings


Fragment of an architrave, broken and lost at the right-hand end. H. 0.18 m; W. 1 m. Possibly conjoining with the inscribed architrave fragments bearing a Greek inscription (letter height 0.08 m), published in IGLS 4 under no. 1898.

When recorded by the Princeton Archaeological Expedition to Syria, the stone was reused in an inner room of a modern house, over a blocked window or door. The Greek text was published in 1922 by William Prentice (with a drawing), the Syriac in 1934 by Enno Littman. The Greek passage was republished in 1955 by René Mouterde, based on the earlier edition.


The inscription may have indicated the site of a monastery dedicated to Mary, as, according to Littmann, the Syriac text probably reads ܘܕܝܪܐ ('and the monastery, convent'). The other possibility is, however, that the Syriac word is an epithet of Mary, perhaps ܗܕܝܪܐ ('the glorious one').

According to Butler, the present fragment and several other reportedly conjoining inscribed slabs came from an architrave which presumably lay over the colonnade of a monastic court. The inscription on the possibly conjoining fragments is probably an independent text which reads approximately as: + ἰδία τῆς τ(οῦ) θ(εο)ῦ εἰς τ[ὴ]ν κώμιν ἠφιμί<α>ς δ<ήλω>σ<ι>ς/'+ A singular sign (?) of God's benevolence for the village.' Littmann was sceptical about Butler's idea, and he himself seems to have favoured the reading
ܗܕܝܪܐ ('the glorious one'). He also rightly noted that the Syriac inscription is written upside down, which makes it less likely to be an element of the Greek inscription(s).


Greek text:
Jalabert, L., Mouterde, R., Mondésert, Cl., Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 4: Laodicée, Apamène (BAH 61, Paris: Librairie orientalise Paul Geuthner, 1955), no. 1899.

Prentice, W.K. (ed.),
Publications of the Princeton University of archaeological Expeditions to Syria in 1904-1905 and 1909, Division III: Greek and Latin Inscriptions, Section B: Northern Syria (Leyden: E.J. Brill, 1922), 29, no. 880.

Syriac text:
Littmann, E., Publications of the Princeton University of archaeological Expeditions to Syria in 1904-1905 and 1909, Division IV: Syriac Inscriptions, Section B: Northern Syria (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1934), no. 1.

Further reading:
Peña, I., Lieux de pèlerinage en Syrie (Milan: Franciscan Printing Press, 2000), 13.


Drawing. From: Littmann 1934, 1.

Drawing. From: Prentice 1922, 30.

Record Created By

Paweł Nowakowski

Date Last Modified


Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristΜαρίαUncertain

Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Paweł Nowakowski, Cult of Saints, E01894 -