Site logo

The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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

Greek inscription, once wrongly thought to have mentioned a Christian orphanage affiliated with a church of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033). Found at Caesarea Maritima (Roman Province of Palaestina I). Probably 5th - mid-7th c.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

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

Inscriptions - Funerary inscriptions

The inscription was first published by Joseph Germer-Durand in 1895. This scholar, however, did not make a proper copy but reproduced the text from memory (the present lines 2 and 4). Based on this 'transcription' Raphaël Savignac and Charles Clermont-Ganneau argued for the existence of an orphanage affiliated to a church of Mary in Caesarea, as they restored the lines as follows τῇ ἁγιω[τάτῃ Θεοτόκῳ (?)] | ἤτοι τῷ εὐ[κτηρίῳ] | ὀρφαν(ο)τροφίῳ/'to the most holy [God-Bearer (Theotokos)], or the [oratory], the orphanage' (see Clermont-Ganneau 1905, 209: 'Si les restitutions que j'indique sous réserves sont exactes, cet asile d'orphelins aurait été placé sous l'invocation de la Vierge.').

Kenneth Holum and Clayton Lehmann in 2000, in their corpus of inscriptions of Caesarea, rightly noted that the restoration of the name of Mary in the lacuna is unjustified. Walter Ameling in the
Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae (2012) plausibly suggests that the inscription could refer simply to 'the most holy church'/'τῇ ἁγω[τάτῃ ἐκκλησίᾳ]'. In her comments in Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum to Ameling's edition, Leah Di Segni suggested that the whole inscription might have read: + ̣θ̣̣κ̣η [διαφέρουσα] | τῇ ἁγιω|[τάτῃ ἐκκλησίᾳ] | ἤτοι τῷ εὐαγ[εῖ - - -] | ὀρφαν<ο>τροφίῳ [vacat?]/ '+ A (collective) tomb [belonging] to the most holy [church (of Caesarea?)], or the reverend [- - -] orphanage.'

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Places Named after Saint

Hospital and other charitable institutions


Lower left hand corner of a marble slab with large margins. Letter height c. 0.05 m. Fine carving. Now in the Museum of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum in Jerusalem. Photographed by Nili and Abraham Graicer.


Ameling, W., Cotton, H.M., Eck, W., and others, Corpus inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae: A Multi-Lingual Corpus of the Inscriptions from Alexander to Muhammad, vol. 2: Caesarea and the Middle Coast 1121-2160 (Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2011), no. 1168 (with further bibliography).

Lehmann, C.M., and Holum, K.G.,
The Greek and Latin Inscriptions of Caesarea Maritima (The Joint Expedition to Caesarea Maritima Excavation Reports 5; Boston, Mass.: The American Schools of Oriental Research, 2000), no. 65.

Piccirillo, M., Studium Biblicum Franciscanum. Jerusalem, Museum (SBF, Museum 6, Jerusalem: SBF, 1983), 133-134.

Mentzou-Meimaris, K., "",
Byzantina 11 (1982), 287-288.

Clermont-Ganneau, Ch., "Fiches et notules", Recueil d'archéologie orientale 6 (1905), 209.

Savignac, R., "", La Revue biblique 13 (1904), 83, no. 4.

Germer-Durnad, J., "",
La Revue biblique 4 (1895), 76.

Reference works:
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 61, 1168.


Photograph by Nili and Abraham Graicer. From: CIIP 2, 93.

Record Created By

Paweł Nowakowski

Date Last Modified


Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristUncertain

Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Paweł Nowakowski, Cult of Saints, E02857 -