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E00186: Coptic child donation document of 26 May 770, 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 gschenke
P.KRU 84

Shenute and his wife Martha, from Jeme in the district of Hermonthis, donate their son Pesynthios. The boy falls seriously ill and is brought into the monastery. They place the child in front of the sanctuary (ἱερατεῖον), entreating the angel of the altar to have mercy on him and ask Christ for healing for the boy (lines 19–21). The martyr saint and God have mercy on he boy and his parents, and the child is healed. The donation takes place.

Lines 14–24:
ⲉⲓⲥϩⲁⲓ ⲛⲡⲁⲑⲗⲟⲫⲱⲣⲟⲥ ⲡⲙⲁⲣⲧⲉⲣⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ϩⲓⲧⲱⲧⲕ ⲛⲧⲟⲕ ⲥⲟⲩⲣⲟⲩⲥ ⲡⲇⲓⲁⲕ(ⲟⲛⲟⲥ) ⲁⲩⲱ ⲡⲉⲡⲣⲱⲉⲥⲧⲟⲥ
ⲛⲡⲙⲟⲛⲟⲥⲧⲉⲣⲓⲟⲛ ⲉⲧⲙⲙⲁⲩ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉⲧⲛⲏⲩ ⲙⲛⲛⲥⲟⲕ ϣⲁ ⲉⲛⲉϩ ϫⲉⲕⲁⲥ ⲉⲣⲉⲡⲙⲁⲣⲧⲉⲣⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲫⲟⲃⲁⲙⲱⲛ ϣⲟⲟⲡⲉ
ⲉϥⲟ ⲛϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲉⲡⲉⲛⲙⲉⲣⲓⲧ ⲛϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲡⲉⲥⲛⲑⲓⲟⲥ ⲕⲁⲛ ϩⲓⲱⲓ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉⲧⲛⲏⲩ ⲙⲛⲥⲟⲓ ϣⲁ ⲉⲛⲉϩ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϫⲉ ⲙⲛⲥⲁ ⲧⲣⲉⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲉⲓⲛⲉ ⲛⲡϣⲱⲛⲉ
ⲉϫⲟϥ ⲁⲛⲧⲁⲗⲟϥ ⲁⲛϫⲓⲧϥ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲡⲙⲁⲣⲧⲉⲣⲓⲟⲛ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲁⲛⲕⲁⲁϥ ϩⲓⲑⲏ ⲛⲡϩⲓⲉⲣⲁⲧⲓⲟⲛ ⲁⲛⲡⲁⲣⲁⲕ(ⲁⲗⲉ) ⲛⲡⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ
ⲛⲡⲉⲑⲩⲥⲓⲁⲥⲧⲉⲣⲓⲟⲛ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲉⲧⲣⲉⲡⲉϥⲛⲁ ⲧⲁϩⲟϥ ⲛϥⲡⲁⲣⲁⲕ(ⲁⲗⲉⲓ) ⲛⲡⲭ(ⲣⲓⲥⲧⲟ)ⲥ ⲓ(ⲏⲥⲟⲩ)ⲥ ⲉϫⲟϥ ⲛϥⲭⲁⲣⲓⲍⲉ ⲛⲁϥ ⲛⲛⲧⲟⲗϭⲟ ⲙⲛⲥⲁⲥⲁ ⲛⲁⲓ ⲁⲡⲙⲁⲣⲧⲉⲣⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ϣⲛϩⲧⲏϥ ⲁϥⲡⲁⲣⲁⲕⲁⲗⲉⲓ ⲛⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲁϥⲛⲁ ⲛⲁϥ ϩⲓⲧⲛ ⲧⲉⲛⲟϭ ⲛϣⲡⲏⲣⲉ ⲁⲛⲧⲓ ⲡⲉⲛⲟⲩⲟⲓ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ
ⲉⲡⲉⲉⲛⲅⲣⲁⲫⲟⲛ ⲛⲇⲱⲣⲓⲁⲥⲧⲓⲕ(ⲟⲛ) ⲛⲛⲁⲅⲁⲡⲏ ϫⲉⲕⲁⲥ ⲉϥⲉϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲉϥⲟ ⲛϩⲙϩⲁⲗ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲡⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲙⲛ ⲡⲗⲓⲭ(ⲛⲟⲥ) ⲉⲛⲡⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ ϣⲁ ⲉⲛⲉϩ

'I am writing to the prize-winning holy martyr, represented through you, Sourous, the deacon and superior of that monastery and through those who come after you eternally, so that the holy martyr Apa Phoibammon shall be master over our beloved son Pesynthios, as concerns me, as well as those that come after me eternally. Because, after God had brought an illness over him, we took him and brought him into the holy martyr shrine. We placed him in front of the sanctuary and we entreated the angel of the holy altar to let his mercy be on him and to invoke Jesus Christ on his behalf and to let him grant him healing. Afterwards the holy martyr had mercy and entreated God. He was merciful towards him through the great miracle. We proceeded with our donation document as a loving gift, so that he shall be a servant at the holy place and for the lamp there eternally.'

The full Coptic text can be found under:;1;5596/

(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 ⲫⲟⲃⲁⲙⲱⲛ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲥⲟⲩⲣⲟⲩⲥ

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

Jeme Hermonthis

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

Jeme Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis Hermonthis Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

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 84, incomplete papyrus document located at the British Museum in London, Pap. 83. 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, 81, 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 mentions a sanctuary (ἱερατεῖον) where the patient is placed and the saint invoked for help to bring about the healing of the boy’s illness. The document states explicitly that the saint himself is the recipient of the child donation.


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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