Saint NamePhoibammon, soldier martyr of Preht (ob. c. 304) : S00080
Saint Name in Sourceⲁⲃⲃⲁ ⲫⲟⲓⲃⲁⲙⲱⲛ
Type of EvidenceDocumentary texts - Donation document
Late antique original manuscripts - Papyrus sheet
Evidence not before770
Evidence not after780
Activity not before770
Activity not after780
Place of Evidence - RegionEgypt and Cyrenaica
Egypt and Cyrenaica
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcApitele
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Apitele
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - monastic
Cult activities - Places Named after Saint
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
Cult Activities - MiraclesMiracle after death
Healing diseases and disabilities
Miraculous protection - of people and their property
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesChildren
Ecclesiastics - abbots
Other lay individuals/ people
SourceP.KRU 93, complete papyrus document, located at the Cairo Museum, no. 8732.
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.
DiscussionOf 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 holy place (topos).
Also P.KRU 78, 79, 81, 84, 88, 91, 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.
The mention of a runaway child is unique amongst the donation documents of this corpus.
Crum, W.E., and Steindorff, G., Koptische Rechtsurkunden des achten Jahrhunderts aus Djeme (Theben) (Leipzig, 1971), 253–320 (P. KRU 78–103).
Till, W.C., Die Koptischen Rechtsurkunden aus Theben (Vienna: H. Böhlaus, 1964), 149–186.
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.