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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 invoking the help of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033), for a local community and probably for a presbyter. Originally situated at Liftāya to the west of Ḥimṣ/Emesa (northwest Phoenicia). Probably the 6th-7th c.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed architectural elements

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

Fragment A:

[- - -] ὁ θ(εὸ)ς (?)
[- - -] ΗΡΡΙ

'O, God (?) [- - -]!'

Fragment B:

[ἁγία (?)] Θεότωκ(ε), βοήθι τοῦ ἡμῶ<ν λ>αο[ῦ (?)].

'[O holy (?)] God-Bearer (
Theotokos), help our people (?) !'

Fragment C:

[βο]έθ<ι τ>οῦ θεωφιλεστ(άτου) [Ἰω]άννου π[ρ(εσβυτέρου)].

'Help the most dear-to-God presbyter Ioannes!'

IGLS 5, no. 2649.

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Non Liturgical Activity

Saint as patron - of a community

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy


The inscriptions are carved on three faces of two squarish capitals, reportedly brought from Liftāya to Ḥadīde where they were reused in the gateway of a roadside inn (khan). Inscription A is on the left side of the left-hand capital. Inscriptions B is on the front face of the left-hand capital and C on the right-hand capital. For their layout, see the enclosed image. Letter height 0.06 m. There is no published description.

First recorded by René Dussaud and described (with an imperfect transcription) in 1897. Revisited and copied by René Mouterde, and published by him in 1959.


Both published copies suggest that the text of these inscriptions can be corrupted. Fragment B certainly comes from an invocation of Mary but it is not clear whether the saint was really addressed on behalf of the local community (λαός) as conjectured by Mouterde. Fragment C contains an invocation with a request for help for a presbyter Ioannes but we cannot say whether it was also addressed to the saint.

It is not unlikely that the church, where the capitals were originally situated, was dedicated to Mary, though the inscriptions do not explicitly say so.

Dating: the forms of letters and the formulas used in these invocations suggest a considerably late date, probably the 6th or 7th c.


Jalabert, L., Mouterde, R., Mondésert, C., Les inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 5: Émésène (BAH 66, Paris: P. Guethner, 1959), no. 2649 (with a drawing).

Dussaud, R., "Voyage en Syrie",
Revue archéologique (1897), 357.


Dussaud's edition. From: Dussaud 1897, 357.

Drawing by Mouterde. From: IGLS 5, 277.

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, E01952 -