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E01872: Greek inscriptions from the so-called 'church of the Apostles' at I'djāz near Apamea on the Orontes (central Syria), invoking the intercession of unnamed Apostles, and also unnamed prophets and martyrs, for the well-being of the emperors Theodosius I and Arcadius, and of other Christians. 383-395.

online resource
posted on 2016-09-30, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Inscription 1:

(christogram) εὐχε͂ ἀποστόλων ὑπὲρ νίκης [τ]ῶν κ[υρίων ἡμ]ῶν Φλα(ουίων?) Θεοδοσίου καὶ Ἀρκαδίου Καί[σαρος]

'(christogram) Through the prayer of Apostles for the victory of our lords Flavii, Theodosius and Arcadius the Caesar.'

Text: IGLS 4, no. 1587; Translation: W. Prentice, lightly adapted.

Inscription 2: in the nave, probably from the first north arch from the apse.

ἀνανέωσις κα[ὶ ζ]οὴ̣ [τοῖς κυρίοις ἡμῶν Θεοδοσίῳ καὶ Ἀρκα]δίῳ κα[ὶ αὐτῶν] πράγμασι (christogram)

'Renewal and life be [to our lords, Theodosius and] Arcadius, and to [their] affairs. (christogram)'

Text: IGLS 4, no. 1858. Translation: W. Prentice.

Inscription 3: probably from the second north arch of the nave or from an arch of the apse.

[εὐχε͂] ἀποστόλω[ν] ὑπὲρ τοῦ λα[οῦ (?) κὲ τῆς συναγωγῆς κὲ τ]έκνων αὐτῆς <π>ανα[πημ]ώνω[ν - - -]

'Through the prayer of Apostles for [the people (?) and the gathering (synagoge) and] her children, be they all-harmless.'

Text: IGLS 4, no. 1589.

Inscription 4: from the first south arch of the nave.

εὐχε͂ ἀποστόλων, προφητῶν, μαρτύρων, ὑπὲρ [ἀ]νανεώ[σεως συναγ]ωγῆς καὶ λαοῦ

'Through the prayer of Apostles, prophets, martyrs for the renewal of the gathering (synagoge) and people.'

Text: IGLS 4, no. 1590. Translation: W. Prentice, lightly adapted.

Inscription 5: from the second south arch of the nave.

[εὐχε͂ ἀ]ποστόλων [ὑ]πὲρ τῶ[ν (?) - - -] Εὐφράνις πρ(εσ)β(ύτερος)

'[Through the prayer] of Apostles on behalf of [- - -] Euphranis, presbyter.'

Text: IGLS 4, no. 1591. Translation: W. Prentice, lightly adapted.

Inscription 6: from the third south arch of the nave.

εὐχε͂ ἀποστόλων ὑπὲρ τῶν πλαζαμένων καὶ εἰσκορπισμένων ἀδελφῶν, χηρῶν καὶ ὀρφονῶν

'Through the prayer of Apostles for the wandering and scattered brothers, widows, and orphans.'

Text: IGLS 4, no. 1592. Translation: William Prentice, lightly adapted.

Inscription 7: from the fourth south arch of the nave.

εὐχε͂ ἀποστόλων ὑπὲρ τῶν Διαβόλου [μεθοδείαις (?)] κακουμένων καὶ [ἐξα]πατου[μένων]

'Through the prayer of Apostles for those by devilish wiles (?) maltreated and deceived.'

Text: IGLS 4, no. 1593. Translation: William Prentice, lightly adapted.

Inscription 8: probably from the fifth south arch of the nave and partially the arch of the narthex.

[εὐ]χε͂ ἀποστόλων [ὑπὲρ] ἀνανεώσεως κ[αὶ] ζοῆς ἡμῶν <π>άντων (christogram)

'Through the prayer of Apostles for the renewal and life of us all. (christogram)'

and: [εὐχε͂ ἀποσ]τόλων [ὑπὲρ - - -]/'[Through the prayer] of Apostles [for - - -]' on the fragment from the arch of the narthex.

Text: IGLS 4, no. 1594. Translation: William Prentice, lightly adapted.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Apostles (unspecified) : S00084 Unnamed martyrs (or name lost) : S00060 Prophets (unspecified) : S00139

Saint Name in Source

ἀπόστολοι μάρτυρες προφῆται

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Liturgical texts - Other Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea)


  • 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 I'djāz

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

Apamea on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora I'djāz Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Monarchs and their family Women Crowds Merchants and artisans Other lay individuals/ people


The inscriptions were engraved on wedge-shaped stones (voussoirs) from fallen arches in the ruins of the so-called 'Church of the Apostles'. The church is situated to the north of the village (for a description, see: Butler 1920, 74-75 and plate XI). Together 82 stones were recorded, 8 of them with crosses or christograms and 72 with fragments of inscriptions (one or two letters on each stone). Dimensions of the stones: H. 0.035-0.46 m; W. 0.37 m (on top) - 0.84 m (on bottom); letter height 0.05-0.014 m. The site was first surveyed by Max von Oppenheim, whose copies and notes were used by Hans Lucas to publish the text of one of the inscriptions (no. 4) in 1905. Revisited by the Princeton Archaeological Expedition to Syria (copies by Howard Butler, Enno Littmann, and William Prentice) and published by William Prentice in 1922. Republished by René Mouterde in 1955, based on earlier editions. By the time of Mouterde's edition some of the stones were reportedly lost. The stones had to be arranged and lacunas completed in order to get a consecutive text. The editors agree concerning the general meaning of inscriptions, though their editions differ slightly regarding the forms of some restored words, etc. Here we follow the text established by Mouterde with adjusted translations by Prentice.


The inscriptions were engraved along the inner sides of the arches of the nave, beginning from the apse. They record numerous requests for intercession, mostly from the Apostles (but unnamed prophets and martyrs are also invoked in one case), for the well-being of the emperors Theodosius I and Arcadius, of the local community, and of Christians in need (the poor, the scattered, the sinful, etc.). Based on their contents, the church was identified as dedicated to the Apostles. The cult of the Apostles is independently attested in the area by an invocation of Paul and Peter from a nearby village, see: E01873. Most of these requests use conventional formulas, frequently occurring in Eastern liturgies, for example, the Liturgy of James (for references to specific passages, see the comments of editors). This allows us to suggest that the inscriptions reproduce the text that was recited during the celebration of the Eucharist. In Inscriptions 3 and 4 we find a remarkable description of the Christian Church as συναγωγή (synagoge). Though normally used to denote a Jewish place of cult, the etymological meaning of this word is very close to that of ἐκκλησία (ekklesia), the normal word for the Church. Dating: the inscriptions were apparently created in an early phase of the construction of the church, as evidenced by the reference to the two emperors. Inscription 1 must postdate 383 when Arcadius was proclaimed Augustus (being a child he is here still named Caesar, as the intended heir) and predate the death of Theodosius I in 395. The church was apparently completed somewhat later, probably in 429/430, as suggested by a dated inscription from a pillar of its chancel screen (IGLS 4, no. 1586). Based on the contents of Inscription 5, Frank Trombley suggested that the construction was supervised by the presbyter Euphranios (or Euphronios).


Edition: Jalabert, L., Mouterde, R., Mondésert, Cl., Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 4: Laodicée, Apamène (BAH 61, Paris: Librairie orientalise Paul Geuthner, 1955), nos. 1587-1595. Prentice, W.K. (ed.), Publications of the Princeton University of archaeological Expeditions to Syria in 1904-1905 and 1909, Division III: Greek and Latin Inscriptions, Section B: Northern Syria (Leyden: E.J. Brill, 1922), 87-91, nos. 1006-1014. Lucas, H., "Griechische und lateinische Inschriften aus Syrien, Mesopotamien und Kleinasien", Byzantinische Zeitschrift 14 (1905), 53, no. 82. Further reading: Butler, H.C. (ed.), Syria, Publications of the Princeton University Archaeological Expeditions to Syria in 1904-1905 and 1909, division II: Ancient Architecture in Syria, part B: North Syria (Leyden: E.J. Brill, 1920), 74-75 and plate XI. Peña, I., Lieux de pèlerinage en Syrie (Milan: Franciscan Printing Press, 2000), 21. Trombley, F.R., Hellenic Religion and Christianization c. 370-529, vol. 2, (Leiden - New York - Cologne: Brill, 1994), 297-298. For photographs from the site, see:

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity