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E01935: Greek inscription with a Christian acclamation and an invocation of the help of a 'Saint John' (probably either the Baptist, S00020, or the Apostle and Evangelist, S00042), possibly by soldiers garrisoned at the citadel of Ḥimṣ/Emesa (northwest Phoenicia). Found at a gateway, at the citadel. Dated probably 509.

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posted on 2016-10-18, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
[+ νικᾷ] ἡ πίστις τῶν Χριστιανῶν. ἅ̣γ̣ι(ε) Ἰω̣ά[ννη, β(οήθι) (?)].
[ὁ Κ(ύριο)ς φυλάξῃ τ]ὴν ἴσο- δον κ[αὶ ἔξοδόν]
         [σ]- ου
[ἔτ(ους) (?)] <ω>κʹ (?), Δε- [σίου . .ʹ] (?), ἰνδ(ικτιῶνος) [-ʹ]

1. [+ νικᾷ] or [... αὔξει (?)] Mouterde

'[+] May the faith of Christians [triumph! (?)]. Saint John, [help! (?)]. [May the Lord protect thy] coming in [and thy going out]. [In the year (?)] 820 (?), in the month of Daisios (?), [- - -] indiction.'

Text: IGLS 5, no. 2204 with alternative completions from p. 318.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John the Baptist : S00020 John the Evangelist : S00042

Saint Name in Source

Ἰωάννης Ἰωάννης

Image Caption 1

Drawing. From: IGLS 5, 109.

Type of Evidence

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


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Ḥimṣ/Emesa Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives



Stone lintel. There is no published description of the object. The drawing shows that the lintel is decorated with a carving of a cross within a circle, flanked by the letters Α and Ω. Found at a doorway at the citadel of Ḥimṣ/Emesa (probably reused). First published in 1959 by René Mouterde, from a drawing by Robert du Mesnil du Buisson.


The inscription begins with an acclamation of the Christian faith and an invocation of the help of an unspecified Saint John whose identity is not clear. Mouterde supposed that this was in fact an acclamation of the emperors, as the phrase αὔξει ἡ πίστις τῶν Χριστιανῶν/'May the faith of the Christians be strengthened!' is included in the dossier of imperial acclamations by Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos in De Ceremoniis (PG 112, col. 669). Mouterde pointed out that such acclamations usually followed triumphs or distributions of goods or money to the soldiers. However, we must note that the text can be also interpreted as a common building inscription, especially as in line 2 it contains the popular apotropaic phrase based on Psalm 120,8, frequently put over doorways, and a regular dating formula. Furthermore, the names of emperors are not explicitly mentioned in the text and the acclamation need not be authored by soldiers as according to du Mesnil's note the inscription was probably only reused at the citadel. Dating: The date which probably reads 820 is computed according to the Seleucid era and together with the month of Daisios corresponds to AD 509.


Edition: Jalabert, L., Mouterde, R., Mondésert, C., Les inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 5: Émésène (BAH 66, Paris: P. Guethner, 1959), no. 2174 and p. 318 (addendum).

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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