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E00183: Coptic child donation document of 26 May 771, 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.

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posted on 2014-11-18, 00:00 authored by Bryan
P.KRU 81

Stauru, daughter of Peschate, from Matoi in the district of Psoi, living in the monastery of Apa *Sergios (probably the soldier and martyr of Rusafa, S00023) in castron Ape, donates her son Andrew. The boy falls ill and is brought to the shrine at the monastery of Phoibammon. He is placed next to the altar and the saint entreated to grant him healing through Christ. If the boy is healed, he is promised to be given as a servant to the saint at the monastery. The document testifies to the saint’s healing powers and the boy is donated to his shrine.

Lines 17–21:
ⲁⲓϫⲓⲧϥ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲡⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲁⲃⲃⲁ ⲫⲱⲃⲁⲙⲱⲛ ⲡⲙⲁⲣⲧⲉⲣⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲧⲁⲉⲓⲏⲩ ⲡⲁⲓ ⲉⲧⲕⲏ ⲉϩⲣⲁⲓ ϩⲛ ⲡⲧⲟⲟⲩ ⲛϫⲏⲙⲉ
ⲁⲓⲕⲁⲁϥ ϩⲓⲑⲏ ⲛⲡⲉⲑⲩⲥⲓⲁⲥⲧⲉⲣⲓⲟⲛ ⲁⲓⲡⲁ<ⲣⲁ>ⲕⲁⲗⲉⲓ ⲙⲙⲟϥ ϩⲛ ⲟⲩⲧⲱⲃϩ ⲙⲛ ϩⲉⲛⲥⲟⲡⲥⲉⲡ ϫⲉ ⲉⲕϣⲁⲛϫⲓ ϩⲙⲟⲧ ⲉϩⲣⲁⲓ ⲉϫⲱϥ
ⲛⲛⲁϩⲣⲛⲡⲉⲭⲥ ⲛⲧⲉⲡⲉϥⲛⲁ ⲧⲁϩⲟϥ ⲛϥⲛⲁ ⲛⲁϥ ϣⲁⲓⲁⲁϥ ⲛϩⲙϩⲁⲗ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲡⲉⲕⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ

'I took him to the holy place of Apa Phoibammon, the honoured martyr, this one which is located on the mountain of Jeme. I placed him in front of the altar. I entreated him through a prayer and through invocations, "If you receive grace from Christ on his behalf and his charity falls upon him and he takes pity on him, I shall donate him as a servant for your holy place".'

Witnesses to the document are said to live at (a monastery) of Apa Papnouthios on the mountain of Ape.
Lines 59–61 read as follows:

† ⲁⲛⲟⲛ ⲫⲓⲗⲟⲑⲉ ⲇⲁⲩⲉⲓⲇ ⲙⲛ ⲓⲱⲁⲛⲛⲏⲥ ⲡϣⲏⲣⲉ
ⲛⲡⲓⲗⲱ ⲙⲛ ⲅⲉⲱⲣⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲡϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲛⲡⲉⲥⲩⲛⲑⲓⲟⲥ ⲛⲁⲓ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲏϩ ϩⲛ ⲡϩⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ
ⲁⲡⲁ ⲡⲁⲡⲛⲟⲩⲑⲓⲟⲥ ⲛⲡⲧⲟⲟⲩ ⲛⲁⲡⲏ ⲧⲛⲱ ⲛⲙⲛⲧⲣⲉ

'We, Philothe, son of David, John, son of Pilo, and George, son of Pesynthios, these who are living in saint Apa Papnouthios on the mountain of Ape, we are witnesses.'

The full Coptic text can be found under:;1;5594/

(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 Paphnoutios of Thebes : S00881 Sergios, soldier and martyr of Rusafa : S00023

Saint Name in Source

ⲁⲃⲃⲁ ⲫⲱⲃⲁⲙⲱⲛ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲡⲁⲡⲛⲟⲩⲑⲓⲟⲥ

Type of Evidence

Documentary texts - Donation document Late antique original manuscripts - Papyrus sheet


  • Coptic

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Ape Deir el-Bahari

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

Ape Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis Deir el-Bahari 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 Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Children Ecclesiastics - abbots Other lay individuals/ people


P.KRU 81, complete papyrus document located at the British Museum in London, Pap. 79r. 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 nine child donation documents, which report a child growing up and falling fatally ill. Apa Phoibammon is entreated to intervene and grant healing, in return for which he is promised that the child will be given to the monastery. It is made explicit in these donation documents that the boys are being given, not in order to become monks, but to be servants at the saint’s topos. Also P.KRU 78, 79, 84, 88, 91, 93, 98, and 102 belong to the same category of documents: severe childhood illness, saint entreated for help, child healed and donated to the monastery of the saint in return. Here the document offers a bit more detail with respect to the actual cult activity taking place within the healing sanctuary: the young patient is placed next to the altar and the saint entreated. The donor of the boy is a woman herself living in a monastery, that of Apa Sergios located in the vicinity.


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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