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E01628: Floor-mosaic with a Greek inscription mentioning the 'resting place' and intercession of a martyr *Ioulianos (probably the martyr of Emesa, S01259, or perhaps the martyr of Cilicia, S00305, or a local martyr). Found in Syria, precise provenance unknown, just possibly the territory of Apamea on the Orontes or Emesa (northwest Phoenicia). Probably 5th-7th c.

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posted on 2016-06-14, 00:00 authored by dlambert
ἔνθα κῖται ὁ ἅγει-
ος μάρτυς Ἰουλιαν-
ός· εὐχε̄ς αὐτοῦ ἔλε-
ος ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς γένηται

'Here lies the holy martyr Ioulianos. By his intercessions may the mercy (of God) be upon us!'

Text: Rey-Coquais 1996, no. 4. Translation: Wilma Fitzgerald in Muscarella 1981, 309 (lightly modified).


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Ioulianos/Julianus, martyr of Cilicia, ob. c. 303-311 : S00305 Julian, martyr of Emesa, ob. 283 : S01259

Saint Name in Source

Ἰουλιανός Ἰουλιανός

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Inscriptions - Funerary inscriptions


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Apamea on the Orontes Emesa

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

Apamea on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora Emesa Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miraculous protection - of communities, towns, armies

Cult Activities - Relics

Unspecified relic Bodily relic - entire body Contact relic - unspecified Contact relic - oil Ampullae, eulogiai, tokens

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Ampullae, flasks, etc.


Rectangular panel from a mosaic floor. H. 0.34 m; W. 0.68 m; letter height 0.01-0.068 m. Squarish letters made of red tesserae on a whitish background. Provenance unknown. Seen and copied by Henri Seyrig in the antiquities market in Beirut in the spring of 1968. The mosaic later came into the possession of Elie Borowski, a prominent art collector and dealer of antiquities based at Basel. It was first published by Beat Brenk in 1981 with a colour and a black/white photograph, in the catalogue of an exhibition of Borowski's vast private collection which became the core of the collection of the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem, founded by Borowski in 1992. In 1996 Jean-Paul Rey-Coquais, unaware of the pervious edition, published the mosaic again as an ineditum together with other mosaic inscriptions from Tell Minis and the area of Idlib, also seen by Seyrig in 1968 (but this one seems to have no links with those texts). As for the presumed provenance of the mosaic one may hesitate between Tell Minis (as tentatively indicated by Seyrig) or Emesa, where a cult of one Saint Ioulianos (Julian) is attested. The latter possibility was first considered by Patrick Osmund Lewry in his contribution to the same exhibition catalogue where Brenk first published the inscription, and that provenance was accepted in 2011 by Edward Lipiński, and by Julien Aliquot in 2016. However, based on Seyrig's observations on the style of the mosaics and presumably the information he acquired from dealers of antiquities in Beirut, Rey-Coquais ascribed the find to Tell Minis. Denis Feissel in the Bullletin épigraphique (2014), 505 says that although one Saint Ioulianos was venerated at Emesa, this is too little to consider the city the place of provenance of our mosaic and repeats this opinion in the Bullletin épigraphique (2016), 528.


The inscription begins with a regular funerary formula, frequent in epitaphs: ἔνθα κεῖται/'here lies'. Therefore, Rey-Coquais supposed that the mosaic was placed in a martyr shrine (martyrion) of this saint, where his relics (or rather the whole body) were venerated. This is, of course, plausible. We suggest that the mosaic might have been sited in a room just above the crypt with relics, as in the case of the basilica described in E01246 (Thasos, martyr Akakios), or in front of a doorway to a chapel housing relics of the martyr. Denis Feissel in the Bulletin épigraphique (2014), 505 points out that a funerary mosaic inscription with a very similar formula was published by Michael Peppard (2014, 172): ἐνθά(δε) κῖτε ὁ εὐλα|βέστατος πρεσβύ|τερος Ἀββώσης/'Here lies the most reverent presbyter Abboses'. It is now in the collection of mosaics of Fordham University and probably belonged to the same lot seen by Henri Seyrig in 1968 and associated by him with Tell Minis, to which may belong also the epitaph for Ioulianos. The identity of this Ioulianos (Julian) is not certain. Patrick Osmund Lewry suggested that he could be Ioulianos of Emesa, or an obscure homonymous martyr. Rey-Coquais guessed that he was a local martyr, as the name was popular in Syria. Yet the popularity of the name can be associated with the major shrine of Ioulianos of Cilicia in Antioch or with Ioulianos of Emesa: for a description of his tomb in a cave and a church built over it, see E02593. It is therefore probable that the saint under discussion is one of them. According to Lipiński the phrase εὐχαῖς αὐτοῦ ἔλεος ἐφ ἡμᾶς γένηται/'By his intercessions, may the mercy (of God) be upon us' echoes the Arab Christian idea of God 'the Compassionate' (ar-Rahman, etc.), and here we can have ἔλεος/'grace' as the personified divine compassion.


Editions: Rey-Coquais, J.-P., "Mosaïques inscrites paléochrétiennes de la Syrie du Nord-Ouest", Syria 73 (1996), no. 4. Muscarella, O.W. (ed.), Ladders to Heaven: Art Treasures from Lands of the Bible: A Catalogue of some of the Objects in the Collection Presented by Elie Borowski to the Lands of the Bible Archaeology Foundation and Displayed in the Exhibition "Ladders to Heaven: Our Judeo-Christian Heritage 5000 BC-AD 500", Held at the Royal Ontario Museum June 23-October 28, 1979 (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1981), p. 19 (colour photograph), p. 306 (comments by Patrick Osmund Lewry), and p. 309, no. 286 (Greek text by Beat Brenk and English translation by Wilma Fitzgerald, with a black/white photograph). Further reading: Aliquot, J., "Culte des saints et rivalités civiques en Phénice à l'époque protobyzantine", in: J.C. Caillet, S. Destephen, B. Dumézil, H. Inglebert, Des dieux civiques aux saints patrons (IVe-VIIe siècle) (Paris: éditions A. & J. Picard, 2015), 135. Lipiński, E., "Elaha Gabal d'Émèse dans son contexte historique", Latomus 70 (2011), 1081-1101. For a funerary mosaic inscription with a similar formula, see: Peppard, M., "Mosaics from a church in the diocese of Apamea, Syria (463 CE)", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 190 (2014), 172. Reference works: L'Année épigraphique (1996), 1538. Bulletin épigraphique (1998), 486; (2014), 505; (2016), 528. Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 564. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 46, 1806; 61, 1387.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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