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E00336: Coptic letter from the region of Hermopolis Magna (Middle Egypt) written in the 7th c., referring to a planned journey to venerate an unnamed saint (S00518) at or in the vicinity of a convent.

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posted on 2015-03-09, 00:00 authored by Bryan
KSB 4 1692

The addressees of the letter are a nun and her convent from whom the sender hopes to receive a letter of condolence due to the sender’s great despair following the death of a young girl who seems to have been the biological rather than the spiritual daughter of the sender. The sender speaks of great sadness and suffering on his as well as on her mother’s part and hopes that a message from the convent would console them both, before they are planning to set off on their journey south to visit the addressed and to venerate the saint (whose name is not mentioned).

Lines 7–9:
ⲗⲟⲓⲡⲟⲛ ϭⲱ ⲉⲧⲛⲉⲉⲓⲣⲉ ⲛⲡⲉⲛⲙⲉⲉⲩⲉ ϩⲛ ⲛⲉⲧⲛⲉϣⲗⲏⲗ ϣⲁⲛⲧⲉ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲟⲩⲱϣ ⲧⲛⲉⲓ ⲉⲣⲏⲥ ⲙⲛⲛⲥⲁ ⲡⲉⲓϩⲟⲟⲩ ⲥⲛⲁⲩ ⲧⲛⲡⲣⲟⲥⲕⲩⲛⲉ[ⲓ]

'Now continue to remember us in your prayers, until God wishes that we come south after these two days and venerate the saint.'

Translation: Gesa Schenke


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Saints, unnamed or name lost : S00518

Type of Evidence

Documentary texts - Papyri


  • 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)

Hermopolis Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs



Complete papyrus letter of eleven lines written in the Hermopolite dialect and dated to the 7th century on palaeographical and stylistic grounds. This papyrus number K2 is located at the Benaki Museum in Athens.


The name of the saint is not stated, though from the context he is likely to have been closely connected with the addressed convent. The region of Hermopolis has thus far produced evidence for more than 41 monasteries listed in Gascou 1994, four of which were explicitly for nuns. Although not explicit in the letter, the planned visit to the saint appears to have been intended to acquire consolation at a time of bereavement.


Edition: Hasitzka, M.R.M, Koptisches Sammelbuch IV (Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2012). = KSB Further reading: Gascou, J., Un codex fiscal Hermopolite (P. Sorb. II 69) (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1994), 80–85. Schenke, G., "Die Trauer um ein kleines Mädchen: Eine Bitte um Trost," Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 127 (1999), 117–122.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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