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E00193: Coptic child donation document of April 781, 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 18.11.2014, 00:00 by pnowakowski
P.KRU 91

Pesynte, son of Panias, and his wife Tasia, daughter of Theodotos from Jeme in the district of Hermonthis, donate their son Panias. Growing up, the child falls ill and the distraught parents take an oath to donate him to Apa Phoibammon. They bring him there and pour water from the basins (λουτήριον) of the holy place over his body (lines 11–12). God and the martyr’s prayers finally granted the desired healing. The parents nurture him until he is completely recovered and then ask the superior (proestos) of the monastery whether he would prefer their son to serve at the holy place (topos), or instead to make payments of whatever he will earn in life to the holy monastery. The superior is to decide as he does concerning all the other boys donated to the saint at the monastery.

The Coptic text can be found under: http://papyri.info/ddbdp/sb;1;5602/

Summary: Gesa Schenke

History

Evidence ID

E00193

Saint Name

Phoibammon, soldier martyr of Preht (ob. c. 304) : S00080

Saint Name in Source

ⲁⲡⲁ ⲫⲟⲓⲃⲁⲙⲱⲛ

Type of Evidence

Documentary texts - Donation document

Language

Coptic

Evidence not before

781

Evidence not after

781

Activity not before

781

Activity not after

781

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

Prayer/supplication/invocation

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

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - water and other liquids

Source

P.KRU 91, complete document written on leather, providing an additional date, the year 164 of the Saracenes, in addition to the usual indiction year, located at the British Museum in London, Pap. 95. 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.

Discussion

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 (the others being P.KRU 78, 79, 81, 84, 88, 93, 98, and 102), 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 holy place (topos). The mention of water from a basin in the sanctuary which when poured over the patient causes his miraculous healing occurs as well in a self donation document (P.KRU 104) from the same healing shrine of Apa Phoibammon located at his monastery.

Bibliography

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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