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E02152: Greek inscription labelling a church dedicated to *Romanos (probably the deacon of Caesarea Maritima, martyred in Antioch, S00120). Found at Shaqrā, to the north of Izra/Zorava, between Bostra and Aere (Roman province of Arabia). Probably late 5th-7th c.

online resource
posted on 2016-12-20, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
+ ἅγιος

'+ Saint Romanos.'

Text: IGLS 15/1, no. 161.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Romanos from Caesarea, martyr in Antioch, ob. 303 : S00120

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

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


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Arabia Arabia Arabia Arabia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Izra/Zorava Bosra Shaqrā Aere

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

Izra/Zorava Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Bosra Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Shaqrā Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Aere Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)


Stone lintel from the main doorway of the north church of the village. The sanctuary is now abandoned. Dimensions: H. 0.34 m; W. 1.675 m; Th. 0.43 m. Decorated with a carving of a cross in the middle of the front face. The inscription, in irregular letters, is to the left of the circle. Letter height 0.04-0.05 m. First recorded by Maurice Dunand and published by him with a drawing in 1950. Dunand, however, wrongly ascribed the object to the village of Danaba/Dneibeh, while the church, where the stone is displayed, is in Shaqrā, to the north of Izra/Zorava, between Bostra and Aere. Revisited by Marcell Restle and Johannes Koder during their survey of the Hauran in 1978-1980, who republished the text with a photograph. The most recent edition is by Annie Sartre-Fauriat and Maurice Sartre in the fifteenth volume of Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie (2014), based on a new photograph and an examination of the object.


The inscription labels the church as dedicated to a certain Saint Romanos and is probably a simple building inscription for the sanctuary. Annie Sartre-Fauriat suggests that this Romanos was the deacon and exorcist of a village in the territory of Caesarea Maritima, known to Eusebius of Caesarea, and said to have been martyred in 303 in the city of Antioch (Eus. MP 2; cf. E00298). The description by Eusebius stresses that although he died in Syria, far away from his homeland, he should be counted among the Palestinian martyrs, as a native of the region. Eusebius says: 'What occurred to Romanus on the same day at Antioch, is also worthy of record. For he was a native of Palestine, a deacon and exorcist in the parish of Caesarea; and being present at the destruction of the churches, he beheld many men, with women and children, going up in crowds to the idols and sacrificing. But, through his great zeal for religion, he could not endure the sight, and rebuked them with a loud voice. Being arrested for his boldness, he proved a most noble witness of the truth, if there ever was one. For when the judge informed him that he was to die by fire, he received the sentence with cheerful countenance and most ready mind ... [H]e was summoned again before the emperor, and subjected to the unusual torture of having his tongue cut out. But he endured this with fortitude ... After this punishment he was thrown into prison ... At last the twentieth anniversary of the emperor being near ... he alone had both his feet stretched over five holes in the stocks, and while he lay there was strangled, and was thus honored with martyrdom, as he desired. Although he was outside of his country, yet, as he was a native of Palestine, it is proper to count him among the Palestinian martyrs. These things occurred in this manner during the first year, when the persecution was directed only against the rulers of the Church.' (trans. Arthur Cushman McGiffert) It seems that the cult of this Romanos was widespread. For a possible mosaic depiction of the martyr in Thessaloniki, see E00595 (interestingly, if this mosaic really shows our Romanos, it means that he was venerated there as a presbyter and not deacon), and for works of Prudentius (in Spain), praising Romanos, see E00875, E00946, E00947. As for the date of our inscription, we can say only that it is likely to fall in the late 5th or 6th c., as other, dated, inscriptions from Jordan and Syria usually come from this period. On the other hand, the cult of Romanos must have been established at a relatively early point, as two commemorations, of probably this saint, are mentioned already in the Syriac Martyrology of 411: see E01479 (20th April); E01584 (18th November).


Edition: Sartre-Fauriat, A., Sartre, M., Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 15/1: Le plateau du Trachôn et ses bordures (BAH 204, Beyrouth: Institut Français du Proche-Orient, 2014), no. 161. Restle, M., Koder. J., Architekturdenkmäler der spätantiken und frübyzantinischen Zeit im Hauran, vol. 1: Azr'a (Zora) (Veröffentlichungen zur Byzanzforschung 31, Vienna: Verlag der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2012), 245, fig. 141. Dunand, M., "Nouvelles inscriptions du Djebel Druze et du Hauran", Archiv Orientalni: Journal of the Czechoslovak Oriental Institute, Prague 18 (1950), 164, no. 373. Further reading: Sartre-Fauriat, A., "Georges, Serge, Élie et quelques autres saints connus et inédits de la province d'Arabie", in: Fr. Prévot (ed.), Romanité et cité chrétienne. Permances et mutations. Intégration et exclusion du Ier au VIe siècle. Mélanges en l'honneur d'Yvette Duval (Paris: De Boccard, 2000), 311-312. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1953), 218. Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 387. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 50, 1518. L'Année épigraphique (2000), 1526.

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