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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity


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


Fragmentary Greek inscription possibly referring to a monastery (phrontisterion) named after *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033). Found at Garion/Ghoūr to the west of Ḥimṣ/Emesa (northwest Phoenicia). Probably 5th-7th c.

Evidence ID

E01933

Type of Evidence

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

[τῆς ἁγίας (?) Θεοτ]-
όκου (?) φροντισ[τήριον - - -]

'The monastery (
phrontisterion) [of the Holy] God-Bearer (Theotokos) [- - -].'

Text:
IGLS 5, no. 2160.

Cult Places

Cult building - monastic

Places Named after Saint

Monastery

Source

Fragment of a stone, broken and lost at the top and at both ends. H. 0.26 m; W. 0.95 m; letter height 0.10 m. When recorded it was reused in a wall, below a large cistern.

Found to the east of the village by René Mouterde. First published by Mouterde in 1959 from his own copy.


Discussion

The inscription is only partially preserved but the occurrence of the word phrontisterion is certain. In the Christian period this term was sometimes used to denote monasteries but it was originally coined to name places suitable for thinking, for example the famous school of Socrates, as depicted in a passage from the Clouds by Artistophanes (see: Ar. Nubes 94). A common Christian would normally name a monastery μονή or μοναστήριον.

Mouterde suggested that the term
phrontisterion was here preceded by the name of the patron saint, probably Θεοτόκος/'the God-Bearer'. Although this is not impossible, we must note that normally names of patron saints followed the designations of their sanctuaries instead of appearing before them.

Dating: If the inscription does refer to Mary as Θεοτόκος, it is unlikely to predate the council of Ephesos 431, as its decisions greatly contributed to the spreading of her cult under this names.


Bibliography

Edition:
Jalabert, L., Mouterde, R., Mondésert, C., Les inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 5: Émésène (BAH 66, Paris: P. Guethner, 1959), no. 2160.


Record Created By

Paweł Nowakowski

Date Last Modified

30/10/2017

Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristΘεοτόκοςUncertain


Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Paweł Nowakowski, Cult of Saints, E01933 - http://csla.history.ox.ac.uk/record.php?recid=E01933