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E01714: Coptic Martyrdom of *Philotheos of Antioch (S00878), a young, rebellious boy of pagan parents, prosecuted by Diocletian and demonstrating his miraculous power over idols; datable to the 6th/7th century.

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posted on 2016-07-12, 00:00 authored by gschenke
Martyrdom of Philotheos of Antioch

The parchment leaf K 9501 from Vienna contains two fragmentary pages, 53 (ⲛⲅ) and 54 (ⲛⲇ), of a former codex with the Martyrdom of Philotheos.

The part preserved here, has the martyr praying to Christ to support him in his plan to prove to the crowds gathered at his trial that the imperial gods have neither soul nor power. As a result of the martyr’s prayer, the archangel Raphael is sent down to stand beside him, and the martyr addresses Diocletian:

ⲡⲉϫⲉ ⲡⲙⲁⲕⲁⲣⲓⲟⲥ ⲛⲇⲓⲱⲕⲗⲏⲧⲓⲁⲛⲟⲥ · ϫⲉ ⲱ ⲡⲉⲑⲏⲣⲓⲟⲛ ⲉⲑⲟⲟⲩ · ⲉⲓⲉ ϩⲛⲁⲧϭⲟⲙ ⲛⲉ ⲛⲉⲕⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲛⲧⲉⲓϩⲉ ⲧⲏⲣⲥ · ⲉⲓⲙⲏⲧⲉⲓ ⲛⲥⲉⲧⲱⲟⲩⲛ
ϩⲁⲣⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲉⲩⲉϣⲙⲟ[ⲟ]ϣⲉ :
ⲧⲟⲧⲉ ⲡⲉϫⲁϥ ⲛϭⲓ ⲡϩⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲫⲓⲗⲟⲑⲉⲟⲥ · ϫⲉ ⲉⲓϫⲉⲣⲟⲕ ⲛⲧⲟⲕ ⲱ ⲡⲉⲧⲟⲩⲱⲧ ⲛⲁⲯⲩⲭⲟⲛ ϯⲟⲩⲉϩⲥⲁϩⲛⲉ ⲛⲁⲕ ϩⲙ ⲡⲣⲁⲛ ⲛⲓⲥ ⲡⲁⲣⲣⲟ
ⲉⲧⲣⲉⲕⲙⲟⲟϣⲉ ⲛⲅⲃⲱⲕ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲡⲣⲡⲉ ϩⲛ ⲟⲩϭⲏⲡⲏ · ⲛⲅⲉⲓⲛⲉ ⲛⲁⲓ ⲙⲡⲉⲓⲕⲉⲥⲉ ⲯⲓⲥ ⲛⲧⲟⲩⲱⲧ · ⲙⲛ ⲡⲉⲩⲕⲉϣⲉ ⲙⲁⲁⲃ ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ ⲛⲟⲩⲏⲏⲃ ·
ⲛⲅⲧⲁϩⲟⲓ ϩⲛ ⲟⲩϭⲉⲡⲏ · ⲧⲁⲣⲉⲧϭⲟⲙ ⲙⲡⲁϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲓⲥ ⲟⲩⲱⲛϩ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲙⲡⲟⲟⲩ ϩⲛ ⲧⲙⲏⲧⲉ ⲙⲡⲉⲓⲙⲏⲏϣⲉ ⲧⲏⲣϥ :
ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲧⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩ ⲁⲡⲉⲧⲟⲩⲱⲧ ⲃⲱⲕ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲡⲣⲡⲉ ⲡⲉϫⲁϥ ⲛⲛⲉⲧⲟⲩⲱⲧ · ϫⲉ ⲉⲓϫⲉⲣⲱⲧⲛ ⲛⲉⲧⲟⲩⲱⲧ ⲛⲛⲟⲩⲃ ϩⲓ ϩⲁⲧ ⲛⲁⲓ ⲛⲧⲁ
ⲇⲓ[ⲱⲕⲗⲏⲧⲓⲁⲛⲟⲥ …

‘The blessed one said to Diocletian: “Evil beast, truly your gods are completely powerless! If not carried, they are unable to move.”
Then saint Philotheos said: “I am addressing you, soulless idol. I command you in the name of Jesus, my emperor, to make you walk and go quickly into the temple, and bring me the other sixty-nine idols together also with their one hundred and thirty-eight priests, and do it quickly for me, so that the power of my Lord Jesus shall become apparent today in the midst of this entire crowd.”
And immediately, the idol went into the temple. It said to the idols: “I am addressing you, idols of gold and silver, these which Diocletian […” ’

Text: W. C. Till, KHML I, 1–2. Translation: G. Schenke.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Philotheos, martyr in Egypt : S00878

Saint Name in Source

ⲡϩⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲫⲓⲗⲟⲑⲉⲟⲥ

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 name in other Language(s)

Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Miracles experienced by the saint Power over objects Specialised miracle-working

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Monarchs and their family Crowds


K 09501 is kept in the Papyrus collection in Vienna. The parchment’s layout and script suggest a 9th/10th century date for the manuscript. For further information concerning measurements etc., visit:  The martyrdom is also known through two other Coptic fragments, of which the oldest is dated to the 7th century (see Crum, Theological Texts from Coptic Papyri, no. 16 and 17, p. 68–73). A manuscript with the Martyrdom of Philotheos belonged to the monastery of Apa Elijah, according to a list of books from that monastery, datable to the 7th/8th century (see E01731). A complete 9th century Coptic text is preserved in M 583 (to be published by M. Müller and S. Ulias). A Georgian version of the Martyrdom of Philotheos of Antiochia is currently being prepared by Anna Rogozhina (National Research University HSE Moscow) who also works on the Coptic text M 583 (see:


Edition with German translation: Till, W.C., Koptische Heiligen- und Martyrlegenden, vol. 1 (Rome: Pont. institutum orientalium studiorum, 1935), 1–2. For other fragments: Crum, W.E., Theological Texts from Coptic Papyri (Anecdota Oxoniensia, Semitic Series, 12; Oxford, 1913). For a full range of the documentary evidence on Philotheos: Papaconstantinou, A., Le culte des saints en Égypte des Byzantins aux Abbassides (Paris: CNRS, 2001), 202–203.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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