Site logo

The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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

Floor-mosaic with a Greek funerary inscription for the presbyter and abbot Kyriakos, describing him as the founder of an oratory (eukterion) of *George (soldier and martyr, S00259), and mentioning a donation to the Justinianic 'Nea' Church in Jerusalem, dedicated to *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033). Found at Jericho (Roman province of Palaestina I). Dated 566.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

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

Inscriptions - Funerary inscriptions

+ θήκη μακαρι-
ωτάτου Κυρια-
κοῦ πρεσβ(υτέρου)
(4) (καὶ) ἡγουμένου
τοῦ (καὶ) συνστη-
σαμένου τὸ
εὐαγὲς εὐκτή-
(8) ριον τοῦ ἁγίου
(καὶ) ἐνδόξου μάρ-
τυρος Γεωργί-
ου (καὶ) δωρησαμέ-
(12) νω τῇ ἁγιωτά(τῃ)
νέᾳ ἐκλησίᾳ τῆς
ἐνδόξου Θεοτόκου
ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις. ἐ-
(16) τελεύτησεν μηνὶ
Δεκενβρίου ιαʹ, ἰνδ(ικτιῶνος)
ιεʹ, βασιλίας τοῦ δεσ-
πότου ἡμών Φλα(ουίου)
(20) Ἰουστίνου ἔτους
τὸ β΄. +

11-12. δωρησαμέ|νῳ
SEG Avi-Yonah, possibly: δωρησαμέ|νω = δωρησαμένου

'+ Grave (
theke) of the blessed Kyriakos, presbyter and abbot (higoumenos), and founder of the pious oratory (eukterion) of the holy and glorious martyr George, and offered [i.e. the oratory?] to the most holy 'Nea' Church of the glorious God-Bearer (Theotokos) in Jerusalem (or, in Avi-Yonah's translation: 'and benefactor to the most holy 'Nea' Church of the glorious God-Bearer (Theotokos) in Jerusalem'). He passed away on 11 December of the 15th year of the indiction, in the 2nd year of the reign of our lord, Flavius Justin. +'

SEG 8, 315. Translation: M. Avi-Yonah, lightly adapted.

Cult Places

Cult building - dependent (chapel, baptistery, etc.)
Cult building - independent (church)

Non Liturgical Activity

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings
Construction of cult buildings

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy
Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits


Inscribed rectangular panel in a floor-mosaic. H. 2.35 m; W. 0.82 m. Grey tesserae on white background. Set at the inner side of the border of a carpet mosaic decorated with geometric patterns.

When recorded, the mosaic was located in the garden of the Russian Hospice in Jericho. First published in 1911 by Félix-Marie Abel, who was informed about the find by Father Féderlin, superior of the Missionaries of Africa ('Pères Blancs') in Jerusalem. Later reprinted and discussed by a number of scholars. Republished by Michael Avi-Yonah in his corpus of mosaic pavements in 1932, and in the eighth volume of the
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum.


The inscription mentions two religious institutions named after saints: an oratory of George, soldier and martyr of Diospolis/Lydda, and the 'Nea' Church in Jerusalem, dedicated to Mary by the emperor Justinian in 543.

Although the mosaic was found in Jericho, the location of the oratory of George, built by the abbot Kyriakos, is by no means clear, as it is not explicitly stated in the text. August Heisenberg suggested to Michael Avi-Yonah that Kyriakos built the oratory in Jerusalem, but was himself buried in Jericho. Jean Perrot argued that the oratory could be even identical with a chapel of George at Sheikh Bader (modern Giv'at Ram, Binyanei Ha-'Uma) in Jerusalem, identified by an inscribed floor-mosaic (see E02710).

A different opinion was, however, expressed by Michael Avi-Yonah. He argued that the participle δωρησαμένῳ (= literally 'the one which was offered to'), which appears in lines 11-12 and apparently refers to the oratory, should rather be understood as describing Kyriakos himself as a 'benefactor' of the Church of Mary. This could then refer to a different donation than the presumed offering of the oratory, with no need to assume that the latter was sited in Jerusalem.

Avi-Yonah's interpretation of the meaning of the participle, however, is not entirely convincing. Its case (dative singular) does not match either that of the name of Kyriakos (genitive), or that of the oratory (accusative). Alternatively, one could consider the participle's case as a corrupted genitive (δωρησανένω) with the ending -ου spellt -ω (this sometimes happens in late antique inscriptions, and would match the case of Kyriakos' name), but even in this case the participle has the medium form, not the active.

Françoise Halkin (1951, 72) and Leah Di Segni (in her comments to
CIIP 1/2, no. 846 = E02710) did not discuss the meaning of the participle, but accepted Avi-Yonah's supposition that the oratory built by Kyriakos must have been located in proximity of his tomb, in Jericho, rather than near the 'Nea' Church in Jerusalem.

Dating: The inscription is confidently dated by the second year of the reign of the emperor Justin II and 15th indiction year (which fell on AD 566/567).
Interesting , I'd like to discuss this: Therefore, the inscription is one of the earliest reliably dated attestations to the cult of Saint George.


Avi-Yonah, M., "Mosaic pavements in Palestine" Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities of Palestine 2 (1932), 161-162, no. 98 (with further bibliography); Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities of Palestine 3 (1933), no. 347 and Plate XVII (photograph).

Abel, F.-M., "Le tombeau de l'higoumène Cyriaque à Jéricho",
La Revue biblique 8 (1911), 286-289, 440.

Further reading:
Alt, A., "Die Zeitrechnung von Jerusalem im späteren Altertum", Palästinajahrbuch des deutschen evangelischen Instituts für Altertumswissenschaft des Heiligen Landes zu Jerusalem 30 (1934), 76.

Augustinović, P.A,
Gerico e dintorni. Guida (Jerusalem: Tipografia dei PP. Francescani), 86-87.

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), 218 (mentioned).

Delehaye, H., Origines du culte des martyrs, 1933, 186, note 8.

Halkin, F., "Inscriptions grecques relatives à l'hagiographie. IV La Palestine",
Analecta Bollandiana 69 (1951), 72.

Meimaris, Y.,
Sacred names, saints, martyrs and church officials in the Greek inscriptions and papyri pertaining to the Christian Church of Palestine (Athens: National Hellenic Research Foundation, Center for Greek and Roman Antiquity, 1986), 84, no. 536; 126, no. 683.

Perrot, J., "Nouvelles archéologiques",
Syria 27 (1950), 195-196.

Reference works:
Bulletin épigraphique (1952), 173.

Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 8, 315.


From: Avi-Yonah 1933, Plate XVII.

From: Abel 1911, 288.

Record Created By

Paweł Nowakowski

Date Last Modified


Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristΘεοτόκοςCertain
S00259George, soldier and martyr, and CompanionsΓεώργιοςCertain

Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Paweł Nowakowski, Cult of Saints, E04404 -