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E02566: Greek graffito on a roof tile, with an invocation of *Paulos (probably the Apostle, S00008, but perhaps another saintly Paulos) and *Germanos (possibly the martyr of Caesarea in Palestine, S00195) on behalf of the circus faction of the Blues; a fragmentary dedicatory inscription to a saint whose name is lost; and a reliquary. All found in the so-called 'Church of St. Paul' at Umm er-Rasas/Kastron Mefaa, to the southeast of Madaba (Roman province of Arabia/Jordan). Probably late 6th or 7th c.

online resource
posted on 2017-03-14, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Inscription 1:

A trapezoidal roof tile. Dimensions not specified. Letter height c. 0.04-0.05 m. The inscription was made before the tile was fired in a kiln.

+ ἅγιε Παῦλε
(καὶ) Γερμανέ, σõ-
σον τοὺς Βενέτο-
υς (καὶ) Παπίωνα
Γεωργίου ἀνα-
γν(ώστην)· ἀμήν

5-6. ἀνα|γν(ώστην) Feissel, ἀνα|γν(ώστου) Piccirillo

'+ Saint Paul and Germanos, save the Blues and Papion, son of Georgios, the reader! Amen.'

Text: Piccirillo 1997, 389 with altered expansion of the abbreviation in line 6 by D. Feissel from BE (1997), 580.

Inscription 2:

The inscription is carved on a fascia of a stone screen. Dimensions not specified. Letter height 0.03 m. Piccirillo offers only a transcription with no diacritics and no division of words.

[- - - προσ]ίνικεν τοῦ ἁγήου ̣Σ[- - -]

ΑΓΗΟΥΧ[- - -] Piccirillo 2002

'[- - -] offered to Saint S[- - -]'

Text: Piccirillo 1997, 391 with diacritics by D. Feissel from BE (1997), 580.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Paul, the Apostle : S00008 Antōninos, Zevinās and Germanos, martyrs in Palestine, ob. 309 : S00195 Sergios, martyr in Syria, ob. 303-311 : S00023 Stephen, the First Martyr : S00030 Paulos, martyr in Palestine, ob. 309 : S00164 Pamphilos, martyr

Saint Name in Source

Παῦλος Γερμανός Παῦλος Παῦλος

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed architectural elements Inscriptions - Inscribed objects Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea) Archaeological and architectural - Extant reliquaries and related fixtures Inscriptions - Graffiti Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Arabia Arabia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Madaba Umm er-Rasas/Kastron Mefaa

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

Madaba Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Umm er-Rasas/Kastron Mefaa Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Other lay individuals/ people

Cult Activities - Relics

Reliquary – institutionally owned


The church, usually referred to as the 'church of Saint Paul' (which is solely based on our Inscription 1, written on a roof tile) or Church 9, lies in the centre of the so-called 'ecclesiastical complex', to the south of the churches of *Stephen (E02131) and of bishop Sergios. The church was a small three-aisled basilica (16.00 m x 7.00 m) with an inscribed apse flanked by two extensions of the aisles (rather than real chambers). A large chapel (7.00 m x 14.00 m) was annexed to the west section of the north wall, the so-called 'chapel of peacocks'. The lid of a reliquary shaped as a small sarcophagus and broken into three conjoining fragments was found on the floor-mosaic of the south aisle. A large arched niche was constructed in the east wall of the extension of the south aisle, and a small niche was set in the extension of the north aisle. These were probably designed as reliquary sockets. The whole church was paved with mosaics (showing trees, other floral and geometric motifs, and figural depictions) which were, however, damaged in a period of iconoclasm, and when the church was reused as a dwelling. The church was excavated between 1995 and 1998 by Michele Piccirillo. The inscriptions were published by Piccirillo in 1997, further comments were offered by Denis Feissel in Bulletin épigraphique and by the editors of Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum.


The roof tile bears an invocation of almost certainly two saints. Piccirillo stresses the quality of the execution of the inscription and the fact that its lettering resembles cursive script. The saints invoked are named 'Paul and Germanos'. As for Paul, Piccirillo suggests that he is Paul the Apostle, since his cult was popular in the region. He was venerated both alone (Riḥāb: E02053) and with Peter (Jerash: E02366). His image probably appears also on a ring found in the nearby 'church of the courtyard' in Umm er-Rasas (E02588). In addition, in our church one of the donors mentioned in floor-mosaic dedications bears the name Paulos. As for the word ΓΕΡΜΑΝΟΣ, Piccirillo hesitates whether this is an epithet of Paul (an otherwise unattested borrowing from Latin that would mean 'dear' as, he says, 'in the Roman liturgy that uses a hymn by Prudentius, Paul is called "germane Petri" ') or a personal name of another invoked saint, but since there are no parallels for the former option and the word ΓΕΡΜΑΝΟΣ is almost certainly precede by the abbreviated conjunction καί/'and', he rightly opts for one Saint Germanos. We suggest that this might be Germanos, one of the three martyrs in Palestine in 309 (Antoninos, Zevinas and Germanos), mentioned by Eusebius (see E00389). In 2000 Leah Di Segni suggested that Paulos and Germanos were both martyrs of Caesarea Maritima (2000, 399). Paulos can be either a confessor beheaded on 25 July 309 in Caesarea (S00164) or Paulos of Yamnia, a companion of Pamphilos, whose fate is uncertain (S01333). See also: E00391. As for Germanos, she agrees with the identification suggested by Piccirillo. The invocation is on behalf of the circus faction of the Blues, and only after them the name of the actual supplicant, a certain lector Papion, is mentioned. We can compare it with similar invocations: E00790 (Ephesos), E00844 (a village near Kibyra in southwest Asia Minor). For another invocation of a saint, written on a roof tile in Umm er-Rasas, see E02570. Inscription 2 commemorates a dedication made to a saint whose name begins with the letter sigma. This might be *Stephen the First Martyr to whom a church was dedicated in Umm er-Rasas (E02131). Another possibility is that the saint was *Sergios, whose cult was widely spread in the region. In Umm er-Rasas a number of people bore the name of this saint. Dating: the inscriptions probably date to the late 6th or 7th c., as the mosaic panel with the building inscription for the church was dated to 578 or 593. Based on the study of ceramic finds, the excavators established that the church was abandoned in the 9th or 10th, but it is possible that the structure lost its religious character already in the mid-8th c.


Edition: Piccirillo, M., "The ecclesiastical complex of Saint Paul at Umm ar-Raṣāṣ - Kastron Mefaa", Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 46 (2002), 545-549. Piccirillo, M., "La chiesa di San Paolo a Umm al-Rasas - Kastron Mefaa", Liber Annuus 47 (1997), 389-390, no. 3. Further reading: Di Segni, L., "A Chapel of St. Paul at Caesarea Maritima? The Inscriptions", Liber Annuus 50 (2000), 399. Michel, A., Les églises d'époque byzantine et umayyade de Jordanie (provinces d'Arabie et de Palestine), Ve-VIIIe siècle: typologie architecturale et aménagements liturgiques (avec catalogue des monuments; préface de Noël Duval; premessa di Michele Piccirillo) (Bibliothèque de l'Antiquité tardive 2, Turnhout: Brepols, 2001), 401 (for the inscription); 397-401, no. 145 (for a description of the church). Roueché, C., "Spectacles in Late Antiquity: some observations", Antiquité tardive: revue internationale d’histoire et d’archéologie 15 (2007), 62-64. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1997), 580. Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 914. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 47 2083-2084; 52, 1724.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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