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E01308: Fragment of a Coptic Martyrdom of *Thekla, virgin from Assiut (S00777), presenting a hymn invoking the help of all the saints and the Archangels *Michael (S00181), *Gabriel (S00192), and *Raphael (S00481), sung by two holy men in the midst of the crowd gathered to witness the trial of Thekla; 5th-9th century, of unknown Egyptian provenance.

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posted on 2016-04-25, 00:00 authored by gschenke
Coptic Martyrdom of Thekla of Assiut (K9503, Till, KHML II, 129–132)

ⲉⲁⲡⲁ ⲡⲁⲙⲟⲩⲛ ⲙⲛ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲕⲗⲁⲩⲇⲓⲟⲥ · ⲉⲩⲯⲁⲗⲗⲉⲓ ⲉⲣⲉ ⲛⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲟⲩⲱϩⲙ ⲛⲥⲱⲟⲩ ⲉⲩϫⲱ ⲙⲡⲉⲓϩⲩⲙⲛⲟⲥ · ϫⲉ ⲁⲣⲓ̣ ⲡⲉⲛⲙⲉⲉⲩⲉ ⲡⲉⲓⲱⲧ
ⲙⲛ ⲡϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲡⲉⲡⲛⲁ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ · ⲁⲣⲓ ⲡⲉⲛⲙⲉⲉⲩⲉ ⲛⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ⲛⲧⲉⲧⲛϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲛⲁⲛ ⲙⲡⲣⲉⲥⲃⲉⲩⲧⲏⲥ · ⲁⲣⲓ ⲡⲉⲛⲙⲉⲉⲩⲉ ⲙⲓⲭⲁⲏⲗ · ⲙⲛ ⲅⲁⲃⲣⲓⲏⲗ · ⲛⲉⲃⲁⲓϣⲉⲛⲟⲩⲃⲉ̣ ⲛⲛⲉ̣ⲧ̣ϩ̣ⲛⲙ̣ⲡ̣ⲏⲟⲩⲉ (?) · ⲁⲣⲓ ⲡⲉⲛⲙⲉⲉⲩⲉ ϩⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗ ·ⲛⲅϩⲱⲃⲥ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲓϫⲱⲛ ⲛⲛⲉⲕⲧⲛϩ ⲛⲟⲩⲟⲉⲓⲛ ·
ϣⲁⲛⲧⲉⲛ̣ⲟⲩⲱ̣ⲧϥ ⲉϩⲣⲁⲓ ⲉⲡϫⲓⲥ̣ⲉ ⲛⲛⲙⲡⲏⲩⲉ ϫⲉ ⲛⲛⲉⲛⲉⲝⲟⲩⲥⲓ̣ⲁ ⲉⲑⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲡⲁⲛⲇ̣ⲓⲕ̣ⲉ̣ⲓ̣ⲙⲉⲛⲟⲥ ϭ̣ⲙϭⲟⲙ ⲉ̣ⲣ̣ⲟⲛ ⲁ[ⲣ]ⲓ ⲡⲉⲛⲙⲉⲉⲩⲉ [ⲅⲁⲃ]ⲣⲓⲏⲗ· ⲛⲅⲟⲩ[ⲱ]ⲛ ⲛ̣ⲁ̣ⲛ · ⲛⲛⲉⲡ̣ⲩⲗⲏ ⲙⲡⲱⲛϩ ⲧⲁⲣⲉⲛⲉⲓ ⲉϩⲟ̣ⲩ̣ⲛ ⲛϩⲏ̣ⲧⲟⲩ · ⲁⲣⲓ ϩⲓⲑⲏ ⲙⲙ̣ⲟ̣ⲛ ⲱ̣ ⲡ̣ⲛ̣ⲣ̣ⲣ̣ⲟ̣ ⲛⲅ̣ⲉⲓ ⲛ̣ⲁ̣ⲛ · ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲛ ⲙ̣ⲡ̣ⲏⲩⲉ ·
ⲡⲁⲣⲭⲓϩⲓⲁⲧⲣⲟⲥ · ⲛⲛⲁⲓⲱⲛ ⲙⲡⲟⲩⲟⲉⲓⲛ̣ ⲓⲥ ⲡⲉⲭⲥ ⲡⲉⲥⲧⲉⲫⲁⲛⲓⲧⲏⲥ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲡⲧⲁϫ[ⲣ]ⲟ̣ ⲛⲧⲡⲉ ⲙ̣ⲛ̣ ⲡ[ⲕⲁ]ϩ · ⲁⲙⲟⲩ ⲛⲅ[ⲃⲟⲏⲑ]ⲉ̣ⲓ̣ ⲉⲣⲟⲛ · ⲁⲩⲱ
ⲛ[ⲅⲁ]ϩⲉⲣⲁⲧⲕ ⲛⲙ[ⲙⲁⲛ] ϣⲁⲛⲧⲉⲛϫ[ⲣⲟ] ⲉⲛⲉⲧϯ ⲛⲙⲙ̣[ⲁⲛ] ⲛⲧⲉⲣⲟⲩϫⲱⲕ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲙⲡⲉⲓϩ[ⲩⲙ]ⲛⲟⲥ · ⲛϭⲓ ⲁⲡ[ⲁ ⲕ]ⲗⲁⲩⲇⲓⲟⲥ· ⲙ[ⲛ ⲁ]ⲡⲁ
ⲡⲁⲙⲟⲩⲛ̣ [ⲁ]ⲩϯ ϯⲣⲏⲛⲏ ⲙⲡⲙ̣ⲏ̣ⲏ̣ϣ̣ⲉ̣ ⲉⲩ̣ⲟ̣ⲩ̣ⲏϩ ⲛⲥⲱ̣ⲟⲩ ⲉⲩϫⲱ ⲙⲙⲟⲥ ϫⲉ ϯⲣⲏⲛⲏ ⲙⲡⲉⲭⲥ · ⲉⲥⲉϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲛⲙⲙⲏⲧⲛ ⲧⲏⲣⲧⲛ · ⲛⲥ̣ⲥⲙⲟⲩ
ⲉⲣⲱⲧⲛ̣ ϫ̣ⲓⲛⲉ ⲡⲉⲧⲛⲕⲟⲩⲓ ϣⲁ̣ ⲡⲉⲧⲛⲛⲟϭ ⲛⲉϩⲟⲟⲩⲧ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉϩⲓⲟⲙⲉ ·

'While Apa Pamoun and Apa Klaudios are singing, the saints repeat after them, as they sing this song:
"Remember us, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
Remember us, all (you) saints, and become ambassadors for us!
Remember us, Michael and Gabriel, the bearers of glad tidings from the ones in heaven(?)!
Remember us, Raphael, and cover us with your luminous wings, until we pass through into the height of the heavens, so that the evil forces of the enemy (antikeimenos) will have no power over us!
Remember us, Gabriel, and open the gates to life for us, so that we enter through them! Guide us, our king, and come to us from the heavens, primary physician of the aeons of light, Jesus Christ, the crown bearer and strength in heaven and on earth! Come and help us and stand with us, until we are victorious over those who fight with us!"
When Apa Klaudios and Apa Pamoun completed this song, they gave peace to the crowd standing around them, saying: "The peace of Christ shall be with you all and bless you from small to great, men and women!"'

ⲙⲛⲛⲥⲁ ⲛⲁⲓ ⲇⲉ ⲡⲉϫⲉ ⲡϩⲏⲅⲉⲙⲱⲛ ⲛⲧⲉⲥϩⲓⲙⲉ ⲙⲡⲁⲣⲑⲉⲛⲟⲥ · ϫⲉ ⲛⲓⲙ ⲡⲉ ⲡⲟⲩⲣⲁⲛ ⲡⲉϫⲁⲥ ⲛⲁϥ · ϫⲉ ⲑⲉⲕⲗⲁ ⲡⲉ ⲡⲁⲣⲁⲛ · ⲁⲗⲗⲁ ⲡⲁⲣⲁⲛ
ϩⲱⲱ[ϥ] ⲉϯⲛⲁϫⲓⲧϥ ϩ[ⲛ ⲙ]ⲡⲏⲩⲉ ⲡⲉ [ⲧ]ϣⲉⲗⲉⲉⲧ ⲙ[ⲡⲉ]ⲭⲥ ⲡ̣[ⲉ]ϫⲉ ⲁⲣⲓⲁⲛⲟⲥ [ⲛ]ⲁ̣ⲥ · ϫⲉ ⲟⲩⲛⲧⲉ [ⲉⲓ]ⲱⲧ ⲙⲙⲁⲩ ϩⲓ [ⲙⲁ]ⲁⲩ · ⲡ[ⲉ]ϫⲁⲥ
ϫⲉ ⲥⲉ ⲟⲩⲛ[ⲧⲁⲓ] ⲙⲡⲁⲉⲓⲱⲧ ⲙ[ⲙ]ⲁⲩ ⲕⲁⲧⲁ ⲡⲉⲓ[ⲕⲟ]ⲥⲙⲟⲥ · ⲡⲉϫⲁⲥ ⲛⲁϥ ⲟⲛ ϫⲉ̣ ⲡⲣⲁⲛ ⲙⲡⲁⲉⲓⲱⲧ · ⲡⲉ ⲕⲩⲣⲟⲥ · ⲡⲉϫⲁϥ ⲛⲁⲥ ⲛϭⲓ
ⲡϩⲏⲅⲉⲙⲱⲛ ϫⲉ ⲧⲉⲟⲩⲟⲛϩ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϫⲉ ⲟⲩⲛⲧⲉ ⲟⲩⲛⲟϭ ⲛⲥⲟⲫⲓⲁ ⲙⲙⲁⲩ · ⲡⲉϫⲁⲥ ⲛⲁϥ ϫⲉ ⲧⲥⲟⲫⲓⲁ ⲧⲏⲣⲥ ⲧⲁⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲧⲉ · ⲉϥϯ ⲙⲙⲟⲥ
ⲛⲛⲉⲧⲙⲉ ⲙⲙⲟϥ ⲛϩⲏⲅⲉⲙⲱⲛ ⲇⲉ ⲁϥⲥϩⲁⲓ ⲙⲡⲉⲥⲣⲁⲛ · ⲉⲩⲭⲁⲣⲧⲏⲥ ⲉϥϫⲱ ⲙⲙⲟⲥ · ϫⲉ ⲑⲉⲕⲗⲁ ⲧϣⲉⲉⲣⲉ ⲛⲕⲩⲣⲟⲥ ⲡⲡⲟⲗⲓⲧⲉⲩⲙⲉⲛⲟⲥ
ⲛⲥⲓⲟⲟⲩⲧ ⲉⲡⲓⲇⲏ ⲁⲥ̣ⲧⲟⲗⲙⲁ · ⲙⲁⲩ[ⲁⲁⲥ] ⲁⲥⲓ ⲉⲡⲇⲓⲕⲁⲥⲧⲏⲣⲓⲟⲛ ⲁⲥⲥⲱϣ ⲛⲛⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲙⲡⲣⲣⲟ · ⲁⲩⲱ ⲁⲥⲟⲩⲁϩⲥ ⲛⲥⲁ ⲧⲙⲁⲅⲓⲁ
ⲛⲛⲉⲭⲣⲏⲥⲧⲓⲁⲛⲟⲥ · ϯⲕⲉⲗⲉⲩⲉ ⲉⲧⲣⲉⲩϥⲓ ⲛⲧⲉⲥⲁ[ⲡⲉ ϩⲛ ⲧⲥⲏϥⲉ]

'Afterwards the governor said to the virgin woman: "What is your name?"
She said to him: "My name is Thekla. But the name which I will receive in heaven is the Bride of Christ."
Arianos said to her: "Do you have father and mother?"
She said: "Indeed I have my father according to this world." And she said further to him: "The name of my father is Kyros."
The governor said to her: "You appear to possess great wisdom."
She said to him: "All the wisdom is God’s who gives it to those who love him."
But the governor wrote her name down on a sheet which said: "Thekla, the daughter of Kyros, the politeuomenos of Assiut, since she ventured on [herself] and came to the courtroom (dikasterion) and despised the gods of the emperor and followed the magic of the Christians, I command to have her head taken [by the sword]."'

Translation: Gesa Schenke.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Thekla, virgin martyr from Assiut : S00777 Michael, the Archangel : S00181 Gabriel, the Archangel : S00192 Raphaēl, the Archangel : S00481

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • 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)

Assiut Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs



Parchment fragment from a former codex kept at the Papyrus collection in Vienna, K 9503. The description of the manuscript and the use of red ink point to a possible 9th century date. The date of composition of the text cannot be ascertained; any date from the 5th to the 9th century is possible.


The hymn sung (with its invocation of the Trinity, of the saints and of the archangels) resembles the many invocations on Coptic grave steles, see e.g. E01251, E01252, and E01302, and gives the impression that such Christian singing would have been tolerated prior to a martyr trial during the time of Diocletian. The fragment preserved here presumably once formed part of the liturgical compositions read out and performed during memorial festivities for a saint, here Thekla, the daughter of Kyros, curialis (politeuomenos) of the city of Assiut/Lykopolis (Upper Egypt). The text thus offers a glimpse into how festive songs and hagiography merged. The account of Thekla's death is itself very short, assuming that what is preserved is not the end of many pages of trials and unsuccessful tortures by one governor (see for example E01224 and E01225), until the saint is finally handed over to another governor and executed immediately. The context of the hymn, mentioning that the saints were singing along, seems to refer to more martyrs present at the trial together with Thekla. This Thekla, who is otherwise unknown, appears to have been an Egyptian virgin of noble background from Assiut; she may well have been a creation inspired by the famous *Thekla, the young follower of Paul (S00092). The present tense used at the beginning of the fragment may suggest that the hymn preserved here was sung during the commemoration festivities and that the two men mentioned are the "singers" in the shrine, while the saints "answering" are present in spirit only.


Text: Till, W., Koptische Heiligen- und Märtyrerlegenden, vol. II (Rome, 1936), 129–132.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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