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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 from a lintel, probably commemorating the construction of a monastery (mone) dedicated to *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033) and an unspecified *John (presumably the Baptist, S00020, or the Apostle and Evangelist, S00042). Found at Jerusalem (Roman province of Palaestina I). Precise provenance unknown. Probably 6th c.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

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

[μ]ονὴ τῆς θε[οτόκου κ(αὶ)]
τοῦ ἁγ]ίου Ἰωάννου δ[ιὰ - - -]
[κ(αὶ) Σ]οφίας τõν τ[έκνων τοῦ μα]-
[καρ(ίου) Ἰ]ωάννου ἀ[νεγερθεῖσα (?)]

[ὑπὲρ μ]νήμης | [τοῦ ἁγ]ίου Ἰωάννου | [καὶ τῆς Σ]οφίας τὸν | [οἶκον Ἰωάννου] | θε[ολόγου - - -] Germer-Durand || [ἐκτίσθη ἡ μο]νὴ τῆς Θε[οτόκου παρθένου | καὶ τοῦ ἁγ]ίου Ἰωάννου δ[ιὰ - - -|- - - Σ]οφίας, τὸν τ[- - -|- - - Ἰ]ωάννου κα[ὶ - - -] Clermont-Ganneau

'Monastery (
mone) of the God-Bearer (Theotokos) and of Saint John established by [- - - and] of Sophia, the children of the blessed (i.e. deceased) Ioannes.'

CIIP 1/2, no. 858. Translation: L. Di Segni, lightly adapted.

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)
Cult building - monastic

Places Named after Saint


Non Liturgical Activity

Construction of cult buildings

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people


Central fragment of a reddish sandstone lintel. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.495 m; W. 0.914 m; Th. 0.20 m. Decorated with a carving of a cross within a circle, with trefoils in four sectors delimited by the arms of the cross. It is not clear if the text is spread over two columns (as argued by Germer-Durand) or we have here continuous lines on both sides of the central cross (Clermont-Ganneau and Di Segni).

When recorded by Charles-Jean-Melchior de Vogüé in 1862 the fragment was reused in the wall of a modern house in Haret el-Wad (Valley Street, Rehov ha-Gay) in Jerusalem. Rediscovered before 1903 in a garden near the hospital of the London Jews Society (now the Anglican School, Street of the Prophets). Di Segni also records a squeeze by R.A. Stuart Macalister in the archive of the Palestine Exploration Fund and a probably lost squeeze by Prosper sent to Paris, to Clermont-Ganneau.

The inscription long functioned as an incomprehensible drawing or
descriptum. Even William Waddington, despite his prowess as an epighraphist, who saw the stone in the 1860s, was unable to decipher it. A better drawing and the first transcription were offered only in 1892 by Joseph Germer-Durand; and a significantly altered transcription by Charles Clermont-Ganneau followed in 1903 (from a squeeze by P. Prosper). In the present record we follow the recent edition by Leah Di Segni from the Corpus inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae (2012), which is basically an altered version of Clermont-Ganneau's reading.


As the inscription is carved on a large lintel, it almost certainly commemorates the construction of a sanctuary. Germer-Durand, the first editor, believed that it was a church of *John the Evangelist (here called the Theologian), built as a vow for the memory of one Ioannes and Sophia, both deceased and therefore called ἅγοι. His restoration was, however, based on the probably wrong assumption that the inscription is divided into two columns. Soon after Germer-Durand's edition, Clermont-Ganneau plausibly argued that the text should be read simply from left to right in all lines, and that the commemorated building was a monastery dedicated to Mary (termed Theotokos/the God-Bearer) and an unspecified John. That John can possibly be identified as the Evangelist (as, according to the Gospel of John, Christ entrusted his mother to his protection), but in late antique and Byzantine art Mary is usually associated with *John the Baptist, so perhaps he is the saint mentioned here.


Cotton, H.M., Di Segni, L., Eck, W., Isaac, B., Kushnir-Stein, A., Misgav, H., Price, J.J., Yardeni, A. and others (eds.), Corpus inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae: A Multi-Lingual Corpus of the Inscriptions from Alexander to Muhammad, vol. 1, part 2: Jerusalem, nos. 705-1120 (Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2012), no. 858 (with further bibliography).

Thomsen, P., "Die lateinischen und griechischen Inschriften der Stadt Jerusalem und ihrer nächsten Umgebung. 1. Nachtrag",
Zeitschrift des deutschen Palästina-Vereins 64 (1941), no. 15.

Thomsen, P.,
Die lateinischen und griechischen Inschriften der Stadt Jerusalem und ihrer nächsten Umgebung (Leipzig: J.C. Hinrichs, 1922), no. 15.

Clermont-Ganneau, Ch., "Inscriptions de Palestine",
Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres (1903), 481, no. 5 (= Idem, Recueil d'archéologie orientale 6 [1905], 184, no. 5) (first complete transcription).

Germer-Durand, J., "Epigraphie chrétienne de Jérusalem",
La Revue biblique 1 (1892), 584, no. 46 (drawing).

Waddington, W.H.,
Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie (Paris: Firmin Didot Frères, Libraires-Éditeurs, 1870), no. 1903 (descriptum).

De Vogüé, Ch.J.M.,
Le temple de Jérusalem, monographie du Haram-ech-Chérif (Paris: Par. &c, 1864), 135 and Pl. XXXVII, 8.

Further reading:
Abel, F-M., "", DACL 2358.

Bieberstein, K., Bloedhorn, H.,
Grundzüge der Baugeschichte vom Chalkolithikum bis zur Frühzeit der osmanischen Herrschaft (TAVO Beiheft B 100, 1-3; Wiesbaden 1994), vol. 2, 351-352.

Halkin, F., "Inscriptions grecques relatives à l'hagiographie. IV La Palestine",
Analecta Bollandiana 69 (1951), 70.

Leclercq, H., "", DACL 13/1, col. 853.


Drawing. From: CIIP 1/2, 233.

Record Created By

Paweł Nowakowski

Date Last Modified


Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00020John the BaptistUncertain
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristCertain
S00042John, the Apostle and EvangelistUncertain

Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Paweł Nowakowski, Cult of Saints, E02731 -