University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E02733: Greek inscription commemorating the construction of a charitable institution for elderly poor women or nuns (gerokomeion), by a church or monastery of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033) or through the intercession of the saint. Found at Jerusalem (Roman province of Palaestina I). Precise provenance unknown. Probably 6th c.

online resource
posted on 2017-04-21, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
+ γεροκομῖον γυνεκῶν
ταπινῶν συσταθὲν διὰ τῆς
ἁγίας τῆς Θεοτόκου ὑπὸ Ἰω-
άννου κ(αὶ) Βερίνης Βυζαντίων

'+ Home for elderly, miserable women, established through the holy (church or monastery) of the God-Bearer (Theotokos) by Ioannes and Verina from Byzantion (= Constantinople).'

Text: CIIP 1/2, no. 859. Translation: L. Di Segni, lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033

Saint Name in Source


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

Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Jerusalem Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Hospital and other charitable institutions

Cult Activities - Miracles

Saint aiding or preventing the construction of a cult building

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Other lay individuals/ people Foreigners (including Barbarians) Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits


Stone lintel. H. 0.42 m; W. 1.50 m. Reused in the north wall of the gate tower of Herod's Gate (Bab ez-Zahra), about 4.5 m above the ground. Weathered and scarcely legible surface. The inscription is framed by a tabula ansata. First recorded by Félix de Saulcy in 1863, and subsequently by Mr. S. Bergman who in the 1870s pointed it out to Claude Reignier Conder surveying Palestine on behalf of the Palestine Exploration Fund. In 1881 Conder offered a very fragmentary transcription: he managed to read intelligible words only at the left- and right-hand ends. Subsequent editors published better readings, especially Charles Clermont-Ganneau who in 1896 re-published the text with a good drawing (based on his own copy taken in 1868, i.e. before Conder). Interestingly, both Conder and Clermont-Ganneau describe 'special measures', they had to use to reach the stone and read the text. Conder climbed a ladder while Clermont-Ganneau first used binoculars ('field-glasses') and then 'with the obliging assistance of some of Captain Warren's staff, [he] had [himself] let down by ropes from the battlements, and was thus able to make a close examination of the inscription, to measure it, and to take a squeeze of it.' We can add that Clermont-Ganneau's dedication was rewarded, as his copy proved to be better than that of Conder. Here we follow the edition by Leah Di Segni (2012), including a new photograph taken by Nili and Abraham Graicer. For a complete list of editions, see CIIP 1/2, no. 859.


The inscription commemorates the construction of a charitable institution (gerokomeion, an almhouse for the old) specifically for the care and shelter of women. The institution is apparently described as being founded through a religious establishment dedicated to Mary as the Theotokos: διὰ τῆς ἁγίας τῆς Θεοτόκου. The actual designation of that establishment is not mentioned, but as its article is feminine, we can presume that it was either a church (ekklesia) or a monastery (mone, see E02731). The latter possibility seems quite plausible, since the elderly women are described as ταπειναί/'miserable', 'humble', and this was a common epithet of monks and nuns (see Clermont-Ganneau 1986, 248 who supposes that the gerokomeion was actually run by nuns and not built for them). The dominant view is, however, that the epithet ταπειναί means here 'poor', and that the said institution dedicated to Mary was a church, possibly the so-called 'Nea' Church, dedicated to the Virgin and constructed in Jerusalem by the emperor Justinian in 543 (EXXXX), as suggested by Clermont-Ganneu. Yet another option is that the author of the inscription meant that the gerokomeion was built, not through a church/monastery of Mary, but through and thanks to the intercession of the saint herself (again, see Clermont-Ganneau 1986, 248). For a similar formula, see a building inscription from Kidyessos in Phrygia (central Asia Minor) mentioning *Michael the Archangel (E00899: θεοῦ προνύᾳ διὰ τοῦ ἀρχανγέλου Μιχαὴλ ἐγένετο τὸ ἔργον/'Thanks to divine foresight, through the Archangel Michael, this work was completed'), and for the name of Mary with the repetition of the article, see an inscription from Kalenderhane in Istanbul (EXXXXX: τῇ ἁγίᾳ τῇ Θεοτόκῳ Θεόδωρος πρε[σβύτερος/'to the holy one, the God-Bearer, Theodoros, presbyter [- - -]'). For another saintly foundation 'by the Byzantines' in Jerusalem, see E02788.


Edition: Cotton, H.M., Di Segni, L., Eck, W., Isaac, B., Kushnir-Stein, A., Misgav, H., Price, J.J., Yardeni, A. and others (eds.), Corpus inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae: A Multi-Lingual Corpus of the Inscriptions from Alexander to Muhammad, vol. 1, part 2: Jerusalem, nos. 705-1120 (Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2012), no. 859 (with further bibliography). Thomsen, P., "Die lateinischen und griechischen Inschriften der Stadt Jerusalem und ihrer nächsten Umgebung. 1. Nachtrag", Zeitschrift des deutschen Palästina-Vereins 64 (1941), no. 9. Thomsen, P., Die lateinischen und griechischen Inschriften der Stadt Jerusalem und ihrer nächsten Umgebung (Leipzig: J.C. Hinrichs, 1922), no. 9. Milik, J.T., "La topographie de Jérusalem vers la fin de l'époque byzantine", Mélanges de l'Université Saint-Joseph 37 (1960-1961), 150. Vincent, L.H., Abel, F.M. (eds.), Jérusalem: recherches de topographie, d'archéologie et d'histoire, vol. 2: Jérusalem nouvelle, part 4: Sainte-Anne et les sanctuaires hors de la ville (Paris: J. Gabalda, 1926), 920. Clermont-Ganneau, Ch., Archaeological Researches in Palestine During the Years 1873-1874. With Numerous Illustrations from Drawings Made on the Spot by A. Lecomte du Noüy (London: Published for the Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund, 1896), vol. 1, 246-248. Germer-Durand, J., "Epigraphie chrétienne de Jérusalem", La Revue biblique 1 (1892), 583, no. 45 (drawing). Conder, C., "Lieutenant Conder's reports", Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 13 (1881), 197 and 272-273. Further reading: Abel, F-M., "", DACL 2357. Bieberstein, K., Bloedhorn, H., Grundzüge der Baugeschichte vom Chalkolithikum bis zur Frühzeit der osmanischen Herrschaft (TAVO Beiheft B 100, 1-3; Wiesbaden 1994), vol. 2, 370-371. Leclercq, H., "", DACL 6/2, col. 2759; 13/1, col. 840. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1963), 286.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager