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E00182: Coptic child donation document of 12 March 776, certifying the gift of a male child to Apa *Phoibammon (soldier and martyr of Assiut, S00080) at Deir el-Bahari (Upper Egypt), after having been granted healing at the saint’s shrine located within the monastery of Apa Phoibammon on the mountain of Jeme. It is one of seven child donation documents, which report that a child is pledged to the Saint at birth, by analogy to 1 Samuel 1, but because the parents fail to honour this agreement they are punished with a severe illness of their child.

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posted on 2014-11-18, 00:00 authored by gschenke
P.KRU 80

Zael, son of Mark from Hermonthis, donates his son Abraham. The child had been pledged at birth, but not given. A life-threatening illness befalls the child, who is brought into the monastery. There the saint is entreated to grant one of his miraclulous healings. The child is then pledged again, should healing be granted. The saint shows mercy and the boy is donated with this document. His future duties will be sweeping and sprinkling, as well as taking care of the water for the basins (λουτήρ) and the lamp by the altar.

Lines 27–30:
ϩⲙ ⲡⲧⲣⲉϥⲭⲁⲣⲓⲍⲉ ⲛⲁϥ ⲟⲩⲛ ⲙⲡⲧⲁⲗϭⲟ ⲁⲓⲧⲁⲗⲟ ⲙⲡϣⲏⲣⲉ ϣⲏⲙ ⲁⲓϫⲓⲧϥ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲡⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲁⲓⲧⲁⲁϥ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲡⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ
ⲉⲩⲱⲣϫ ⲟⲩⲛ ⲙⲡⲡⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ϩⲓⲧⲟⲟⲧⲕ ⲛⲧⲟⲕ ⲥⲟⲩⲣⲟⲩⲥ ⲡⲉⲡⲣⲟⲉⲥⲧⲟⲥ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲡⲟⲓⲕⲟⲛⲟⲙⲟⲥ ⲙⲡⲙⲟⲛⲁⲥⲧⲏⲣⲓⲟⲛ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ

'When he had granted him healing, I lifted the small boy and brought him to the holy topos. I donated him to the topos. As a security for the saint, represented through you Sourous, the proestos and oikonomos of the holy monastery, …'

Lines 37–40:
ⲛϥⲣϩⲙϩⲁⲗ ⲙⲡⲙⲟⲛⲁⲥⲧⲏⲣⲓⲟⲛ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲉⲡⲥⲱϩⲣ ⲙⲛ ⲡⲛⲟⲩϫⲕ ⲙⲛ ⲡⲙⲟⲟⲩ ⲉⲛⲗⲟⲩⲧⲏⲣ ⲙⲛ ⲡⲣⲟⲟⲩϣ ⲙⲡϩⲏⲃⲥ ⲙⲡⲉⲑⲩⲥⲓⲁⲥⲧⲏⲣⲓⲟⲛ ⲙⲛ
ⲑⲩⲡⲟⲩⲣⲅⲓⲁ ⲧⲏⲣⲥ ⲙⲡⲙⲁ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲙⲛ ϩⲱⲃ ⲛⲓⲙ ⲉⲧⲉⲣⲉ ⲡⲟⲓⲕⲟⲛⲟⲙⲟⲥ ⲛⲁⲕⲉⲗ[ⲉⲩⲉ] ⲙⲙⲟⲟⲩ ⲛⲁϥ

'… and he shall be a servant at the holy monastery with respect to the sweeping and the sprinkling and the water of the basins and the care for the lamp at the altar and the entire service rendered at the holy topos, as well as everything which the oikonomos will order him to do.'

The Coptic text can be found under:;1;5593/

(Text: W. E. Crum and G. Steindorff, German trans. W. C. Till, Engl. trans. G. Schenke)


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Phoibammon, soldier martyr of Preht (ob. c. 304) : S00080 Sourous, Apa Sourous, superior and holy man at the monastery of Apa Phoibammon on the mountain of Jeme : S01584

Saint Name in Source

ⲁⲡⲁ ⲫⲓⲃⲁⲙⲱⲛ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲥⲟⲩⲣⲟⲩⲥ

Type of Evidence

Documentary texts - Donation document


  • Coptic

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Hermonthis Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places

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

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Monastery

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Punishing miracle Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Children Ecclesiastics - abbots Other lay individuals/ people


P.KRU 80, complete papyrus document located at the British Museum in London, Pap. 79v. These documents testify, often in great detail, to a healing cult at the monastery of Apa Phoibammon. Patients remain in the holy place (topos) for a period of time, praying and entreating the saint to grant healing, and receiving the eucharist. Holy water in a basin by the altar seems to play an essential role in the healing miracles performed, when poured over the patient.


Of the twenty-six child donation documents known so far, P.KRU 78–103 (E00179–E00204), dating from the years 734–786, nearly half are entirely preserved (P.KRU 79–82 86, 88, 91, 93, 96, 99, 100). In these documents parents state their desire to donate their son as a lifelong servant to Apa Phoibammon. The reason stated in these documents is a miraculous healing bestowed upon these children through the intervention of Apa Phoibammon. It is explicitly stated that parents proceed with this donation for the salvation of their own souls. In most documents, fathers are donating the child with the consent of its mother; occasionally, however, this procedure is carried out by mothers acting independently (P.KRU 79, 81, 86, 95), either as widows, or by simply not mentioning a husband. Formally, these donation documents following a successful healing are carried out as legal documents, addressed to the managerial body (the dikaion) of the monastery and/or to its current superior. They are written by a professional scribe, read out by a notary, approved by the donor, and signed by several witnesses. They form the final link in a chain of cult events aiming to secure a miracle healing performed in the saint’s sanctuary and are intended to ensure its lasting effect. This document belongs to a group of seven child donation documents, which report that a child is pledged to the saint at birth, by analogy to 1 Samuel 1, but because the parents fail to honour this agreement they are punished with a severe illness of their child. They beg the saint for forgiveness and promise to donate their child to the monastery, if the saint should grant him healing. This he does, and the boy is donated. P.KRU 85, 86, 89, 96, 97, and 100 belong to the same group of documents: child pledged at birth, oath dishonoured, punishment by illness, healing of child, donation. The original pledge, which was then dishonoured, was made explicitly for the salvation of the donor’s soul. It appears to have been a purely private promise between the donor and the saint, without any formal documentation or witnessing. In P.KRU 86, a similar document of this kind, however, seems to refer to a written contract (homologia) with respect to the pledge made at birth (P.KRU 86, line 32).


Edition: Crum, W.E., and Steindorff, G., Koptische Rechtsurkunden des achten Jahrhunderts aus Djeme (Theben) (Leipzig, 1971), 253–320 (P. KRU 78–103). German Translations: Till, W.C., Die Koptischen Rechtsurkunden aus Theben (Vienna: H. Böhlaus, 1964), 149–186. Further reading: Biedenkopf-Ziehner, A., Koptische Schenkungsurkunden aus Thebais: Formeln und Topoi der Urkunden, Aussagen der Urkunden, Indices (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2001). Godlewski, W., Deir el-Bahari V: Le monastère de St. Phoibammon (Warsaw: PWN, 1986). Papaconstantinou, A., "Notes sur les actes de donation d’enfants au monastère thébain de Saint-Phoibammon," The Journal of Juristic Papyrology 32 (2002), 83–105. Papaconstantinou, A., "Theia oikonomia. Les actes thébains de donation d’enfants ou la gestion monastique de la pénurie," in: Mélanges Gilbert Dagron (Paris: Association des amis du Centre d'histore et civilisation de Byzance, 2002), 511–526. Richter, T.S., "What’s in a story? Cultural narratology and Coptic child donation documents," The Journal of Juristic Papyrology 35 (2005), 237–264. Schaten, S., "Koptische Kinderschenkungsurkunden," Bulletin de la Société d’archéologie copte 35 (1996), 129–142. Schenke, G., "The Healing Shrines of St Phoibammon. Evidence of Cult Activity in Coptic Legal Documents," Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum (ZAC) 2016, 20(3), 496–523. Schroeder, C., "Children and Egyptian Monasteries," in: C. B. Horn and R. R. Phenix (eds.), Children in Late Ancient Christianity (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009), 317–338. Thissen, H.–J., "Koptische Kinderschenkungsurkunden. Zur Hierodulie im christlichen Ägypten," Enchoria 14 (1986), 117–128. Wipszycka, E., "Resources and Economic Activities of the Egyptian Monastic Communities (4th–8th century)," The Journal of Juristic Papyrology 41 (2011), 159–263, esp. 221–227. For a full range of the documentary evidence on Phoibammon: Papaconstantinou, A., Le culte des saints en Égypte des Byzantins aux Abbassides (Paris: CNRS, 2001), 204–214.

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