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E03566: Coptic fragments from the Life of *Severos (bishop of Antioch, ob.538, S00262), relating Severos’ vision of the martyr *Leontios (martyr of Tripolis, Phoenicia, S00216), urging him to become a monk, and his decision to visit the martyr shrine of Leontios in Tripolis; written most likely in the 6th/7th century.

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posted on 2017-08-15, 00:00 authored by gschenke
After having had a vision of the martyr Leontios, Severus decides at one point to leave Athens in order to visit the martyr shrine (martyrion) of Leontios in Tripolis. He asks three of his classmates to join him on his pilgrimage, as a result of which all four of them convert to Christianity.

Till, KHML I, p. 190, line 19–p. 191, line 1:

Ϯⲛⲁⲃⲱⲕ [ⲉⲧ]ⲣⲓⲡⲟⲗⲥ ⲧⲁϣ[ⲗⲏ]ⲗ ϩⲙ ⲡⲙⲁⲣⲧⲩⲣ[ⲓ]ⲟⲛ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲙⲡϩⲁⲅⲟⲥ ⲗⲉⲱⲛⲧⲓⲟⲥ · ⲛⲧⲉⲣⲟⲩϫⲱⲕ ⲇⲉ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛϭⲓ ⲛⲉϩⲟⲟⲩ
ⲛⲧⲁϥⲧⲁⲥⲥⲉ ⲉⲉ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛϩⲏⲧⲟⲩ ⲁϥϫⲟⲟⲥ ⲛⲛⲉϥϣⲃⲉⲉⲣ ⲥⲭⲟⲗⲁⲥⲧⲕⲟⲥ ⲉⲧϩⲛ ⲧⲁⲛⲥⲏⲃⲉ ⲛⲙⲙⲁϥ · ϫⲉ ⲧⲉⲧⲛⲁⲉ ⲛⲙⲙⲁ ⲉⲡⲙⲁⲣⲧⲩⲣⲟⲛ
ⲙⲡϩⲁⲅⲟⲥ ⲗⲉⲱⲛⲧⲟⲥ ⲛⲧⲛϣⲗⲏⲗ · ⲛⲧⲁⲩ ⲇⲉ ⲁⲩⲧⲁⲥⲥⲉ ⲛⲁϥ ϫⲉ ⲥⲉ ⲧⲛⲛⲏⲩ ⲛⲙⲙⲁⲕ

‘I will go to Tripolis and I will pray in the holy martyr shrine of saint Leontios. After the days when he had made preparations to leave came to an end, he said to his classmates who were in school with him: “Will you come with me to the martyr shrine of saint Leontios and we will pray (there)?”
They were falling in line with him, saying: “Indeed, we are coming with you.”’

On his way to Tripolis, Severus was met by the anchorite Apelles, who came out of his monastery and began to greet him:

Till, KHML I, p. 191, lines 15–19:

ⲭⲁⲓⲣⲉ ⲥⲉⲩⲏⲣⲟⲥ ⲡϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲛⲥⲉⲩⲏⲣⲟⲥ · ⲭⲁⲓⲣⲉ ⲡⲁⲣⲭⲙⲁⲛⲇⲣⲧⲏⲥ ⲛⲙⲙⲟⲛⲁⲥⲧⲏⲣⲟⲛ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ⲛⲙⲙⲟⲛⲁⲭⲟⲥ · ⲭⲁⲣⲉ ⲡⲡⲁⲧⲣⲁⲣⲭⲏⲥ
ⲛⲛⲉⲡⲥⲕⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ :

‘Greetings, Severos, son of Severos. Greetings archimandrite of all the monasteries of monks. Greetings patriarch of all the bishops.’

The greetings continue, until the anchorite urges Severos to enter the shrine.

Till, KHML I, p. 192, lines 4–11 and 17–20–p. 193, line 2:

ⲛⲧⲉⲣⲉϥⲃⲱⲕ ⲇⲉ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲡⲙⲁⲣⲧⲩⲣⲓⲟⲛ ⲙⲡϩⲁⲅⲟⲥ ⲗⲉⲱⲛⲧⲟⲥ ⲁϥⲁⲣⲭⲓⲥⲑⲁ ⲗⲟⲡⲟⲛ ⲛⲉⲡⲓⲕⲁⲗⲉ ⲙⲡⲙⲁⲣⲧⲩⲣⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ
ⲉⲧⲣⲉϥⲇⲟⲓⲕⲉ ⲙⲡⲉϥⲃⲟⲥ · ⲕⲁⲧⲁ ⲡⲉⲧⲉⲣⲁⲛⲁϥ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ
ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲧⲉⲣⲟⲩⲛⲕⲟⲧⲕ ϩⲛ ⲟⲩⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ ϩⲙ ⲡⲙⲁⲣⲧⲩⲣⲟⲛ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ [ ] ⲁⲩⲛⲁⲩ ⲉⲣⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲡⲉϥⲧⲟⲟⲩ ⲉⲣⲉ ⲛⲉⲩⲃⲁⲗ ⲟⲩⲏⲛ ϩⲛ ⲟⲩϩⲟⲣⲟⲙⲁ
ⲛⲟⲩⲱⲧ · ϩⲱⲥ ⲉⲣⲉ ⲡⲙⲁⲣⲧⲩⲣⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲗⲉⲱⲛⲧⲟⲥ ⲁϩⲉⲣⲁⲧϥ ϩϫⲱⲟⲩ ⲙⲡⲉⲥⲙⲟⲧ ⲛⲟⲩⲥⲧⲣⲁⲧⲟⲡⲉⲧⲁⲣⲭⲏⲥ ⲛⲅⲉⲛⲛⲁⲟⲥ · ϩⲱⲥ ⲉⲣⲉ
ⲧⲉϥⲁⲛⲍⲱⲛⲏ ⲉⲧⲙⲏⲣ ⲙⲙⲟϥ ⲧⲟϭⲥ ⲛⲱⲛⲉ ⲙⲙⲉ ϩ ⲙⲁⲣⲕⲁⲣⲧⲏⲥ ⲉⲣⲉ ⲟⲩϭⲉⲣⲱⲃ ⲛⲥⲁⲣⲇⲓⲟ ϩⲛ ⲧⲉϥϭⲓϫ ⲙⲛ ⲟⲩⲃⲁⲥⲟⲛ ⲙⲙⲟⲛⲁⲭⲕⲟⲛ
ϩϫⲛ ⲛⲉϥϭⲃⲟ ⲙⲛ ϩϫⲉⲛ ⲛⲉϥⲕⲉϩⲧⲉ · ⲛⲧⲉⲣⲟⲩⲛⲁⲩ ⲇⲉ ⲉⲣⲟϥ ϩⲙ ⲡⲉⲛⲟϭ ⲙⲫⲟⲃⲟⲥ ⲁⲩⲣϩⲟⲧⲉ ⲛⲧⲟϥ ⲇⲉ ⲡⲡⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲗⲉⲱⲛⲧⲟⲥ
ⲁϥⲥⲟⲟⲩⲧⲛ ⲛⲧⲉϥϭⲓϫ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲉϥⲕⲣⲟⲧⲉⲩⲉ ⲙⲙⲟⲟⲩ ϩⲛ ⲟⲩⲣⲁϣⲉ ⲉϥϫⲱ ⲙⲙⲟⲥ ϫⲉ ⲙⲡⲉⲣⲣϩⲟⲧⲉ · ⲧⲱⲟⲩⲛ ⲛⲧⲉⲧⲛⲉⲱ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛⲛⲉⲧⲛϩⲟ
ⲉⲥ ⲡⲙⲁ ⲅⲁⲣ ⲁⲩⲥⲃⲧⲱⲧϥ ⲛⲏⲧⲛ · ⲛⲧⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩ ⲇⲉ ⲁϥϩⲟⲡϥ ⲉⲣⲟⲟⲩ ⲛϭⲓ ⲡⲙⲁⲣⲧⲩⲣⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ·

‘After he went into the martyr shrine of saint Leontios, he then began to invoke the holy martyr to have him lead his life in accordance with what is pleasing to God.
After they had settled down at a place in the holy martyr shrine [a description of the three friends of Severos follows here], the four (of them) saw the things with their eyes open in one and the same vision, as the holy martyr Leontios stood above them in the manner of a noble leader of the camp, while his belt which bound him was studded with precious stones and pearls, and while a staff of carnelian was in his hand and a monastic basion was on his arms and hips.
When they saw him in this great frightfulness, they were afraid. But he, saint Leontios, stretched out his hands clapping them joyfully, saying: “Do not be afraid. Rise and wash your faces. For behold, the place has been prepared for you.” And at once, the holy martyr hid from them.’

Very early in the morning, the priest of the shrine approaches all four of them, Severos, Priskus, Uranikos and Eustathios, knowing all about them and their vision through the martyr himself. He offers to baptise them and they accept.

(Text: W. C. Till, KHML I, 188–200; summary and trans. G. Schenke)


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Severos, bishop of Antioch (465–538) : S00262 Leontios, martyr in Tripolis (Syria), ob. c. 303-312 : S00216

Saint Name in Source

ⲥⲉⲩⲏⲣⲟⲥ ⲗⲉⲱⲛⲧⲟⲥ

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives of saint Late antique original manuscripts - Parchment codex


  • Coptic

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

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

Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places

Martyr shrine (martyrion, bet sāhedwātā, etc.)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Verbal images of saints

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Miracles experienced by the saint Miraculous behaviour of relics/images Apparition, vision, dream, revelation

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Pagans Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy


Twenty-two pages from two different parchment codices known to preserve parts of the Life of Severus are housed at Vienna (K 9482–K 9484, pages 7–12; K 9273 pages 45/46, and K 9485–K 9486), Paris (P 12914, fol. 118–121), and London (BM 349). The manuscripts have been dated to the 11th/12th century on the basis of layout and script.


Text and German translation: Till, W.C., Koptische Heiligen- und Martyrlegenden. 2 vols. (Rome: Pont. institutum orientalium studiorum, 1935-36), vol. 1, 188–200; vol. 2, 140–143.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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