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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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

Greek inscription/graffito invoking the mercy of Jesus and *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033). Found at Pharan/Tell Pheiran in the Sinai desert (Roman province of Palaestina III). Probably 5th-7th c.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

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

+ Κ(ύρι)ε Ἰ(ησο)ῦ Χ(ριστ)ὲ κ(αὶ) ἁγία
ἡ θ(ε)ωτώκος ἐλέ-
ϊσον τòν δοῦ-
λόν σου Ἀνασ-
τάσιν ὑποδι-
άκο(νον)· ἐγράφ(η) μη(νὶ)
+ θ΄ δ΄ εἰνδικ(τιῶνος) ιδ΄

8. + θ΄ δ΄ εἰνδικ(τιῶνος) ιδ΄ Feissel, + θ΄ Δε(κεμβρίῳ) ἰνδικ(τιῶνος) ιδ΄ Meimaris

'+ O Lord, Jesus Christ, and Holy Mary, the God-Bearer (
Theotokos), have mercy upon your servant Anastasios, the subdeacon. Written on the 4th day in the 9th month, 14th indiction.'

Text: Meimaris 1984, 334 with altered interpretation of line 8 by D. Feissel in
CEByz, 821.

Non Liturgical Activity


Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy


Carved on the upper part of a granite slab. H. 1.30 m; W. 0.34 m (inscribed field: H. 0.37 m; W. 0.34 m). Clumsy lettering.

Found in the ruins of Tell Pheiran by a guard of the metochion of the modern Monastery of Saint Catherine. Now in the chapel of Moses in that metochion. First published by Yiannis Meimaris in 1980, republished with no changes (but with a drawing) by Meimaris in 1984. An altered interpretation of line 8 was suggested by Denis Feissel in
Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine.


The inscription records an invocation of mercy. Remarkably, Jesus, and *Mary are here invoked as equal partners. For similar invocations, see E04533 and EXXXXX.

Based on the poor quality of the lettering, Meimaris argues that the inscription was carved by the subdeacon Anastasios himself. His other conclusions are less convincing: he argues that the inscription dates to the 5th c., as, he thinks, a peculiar abbreviation of the term Theotokos, reflects 5th-c. theological disputes. This reasoning is, however, highly implausible. The inscription probably dates to a period between the mid-5th and late 7th c., the high point of dated inscriptions attesting to the cult of saints in the region.

Meimaris considers the inscription a testimony to the existence of a church dedicated to Mary in the territory of the bishopric of Pharan. Again, this is an unjustified conclusion.


Meimaris, Y., "Two unpublished inscriptions from Palestine", in: Actes du Xe Congres International d'Archeologie Chretienne. Thessalonique 28 Septembre - 4 Octobre 1980, vol. 2: Communications (Vatican: Pontifico Istututo di Archeologia Christiana, 1984), 334-337.

Meimaris, Y., "Two unpublished Greek inscriptions",
Liber Annuus 30 (1980), 228-232.

Reference works:
Bulletin épigraphique (1987), 531.

Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 821.

Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 30, 1701; 36, 1353.


Drawing. From: Meimaris 1984, 334.

Record Created By

Paweł Nowakowski

Date Last Modified


Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristΜαρίαCertain

Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Paweł Nowakowski, Cult of Saints, E04401 -