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E04400: Greek inscription on a lintel, asking *Kosmas and Damianos (brothers, physician martyrs of Syria, S00385) to heal an unnamed supplicant, and mentioning the intercessory role of saints in bringing God's grace. Found in the 'Town Church' at Pharan/Tell Pheiran in the Sinai desert (Roman province of Palaestina III). Probably second half of the 6th c.

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posted on 2017-11-22, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
+ Κ(ύρι)ε Ἰ(ησο)ῦ Χ(ριστ)έ, σόσον (καὶ) ἐλέησον τὸν δοῦλόν σου Μωϋσέως·

ἅγιοι Κοσμᾶ (καὶ) Δαμιανέ, ἰάσαται τ-
οῦ δούλου ὑμῶν ὅν τὸ ὄνομα γινόσκεται∙ +
+ ἐκ θλίψεως ἐπεκαλησάμην τὸν Κ(ύριο)ν καὶ ἐπέκουσέν μ-
ου εἰς πλατυσμὸν (καὶ) διὰ τῆς πρεσβ(είας) τῶν ἁγίων αὐτοῦ∙ Κ(ύρι)ε, ἐλέησ-
ον ὥν γινόσκις τὸ ὄνομα

5. διὰ τῆς πρεσβ(είας) τῶν ἁγίων Feissel, διὰ τῆς Θεο(τόκου) (καὶ) τῶν ἁγίων Meimaris || 6. ὧν SEG, put probably meant to be Acc. sing., as in l. 2

'+ O Lord, Jesus Christ, save and have mercy upon your servant Moses!'

'O Saints Kosmas and Damianos, heal your servant, whose name you know! + + I called on the Lord out of affliction and he hearkened to me: so as to bring me into the wide place, and (he did it) through the intercessions of his saints. O Lord, have mercy upon the one, whose name you know!'

Text: SEG 48, 1897. Translation: Y. Meimaris, lightly adapted.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Kosmas and Damianos, brothers, physician martyrs of Syria : S00385

Saint Name in Source

Κοσμᾶς (καὶ) Δαμιανός

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

Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Pharan Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Specialised miracle-working Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people


Brownish sandstone lintel. H. 0.375 m; W. 1.31 m; Th. 0.25 m. Broken into two conjoining fragments. Damaged upper left- and right-hand corners. The inscription is framed by an irregular tabula ansata ('having the ansae ... penetrating inside the rectangular frame on both of its short sides, instead of coming out of the rectangular frame'). Line 1 is carved above the frame. Letter height 0.02-0.04 m. First recorded by Peter Grossmann, head of the archaeological mission at Pharan, in 1995, over the south side-door of the Town Church, sited close to the town centre. First published by Yiannis Meimaris in 1998. Comments on line 5 were offered by Denis Feissel in the Bulletin épigraphique. We present the inscription, as published in the Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum, including altered readings in line 5 by Feissel.


Meimaris argues, probably rightly, that line 1, written above the text field delimited by the tabula ansata, and naming the supplicant as a certain Moses, was probably added later to the original text, preserved in lines 2-6. They form the main body of the inscription, where an unnamed supplicant invokes Saints Kosmas and Damianos, the famous physician saints, to heal his affliction. This invocation is skilfully combined with a quotation of verse 5 of Psalm 117(118), which in its Greek version can be understood as the cry of an ill person. Feissel points out that the quotation is elegantly followed by a reference to the intercessory role of saints (presumably again Kosmas and Damianos) in drawing God's attention to people's sufferings. Meimaris, however, saw here a reference to the intercession of both the saints and *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033), which is less plausible. Although lines 2 and 3 clearly contain a request for healing (the verbs are in the imperative), Meimaris argues that the inscription commemorated an already accomplished healing by the two saints, with the construction of the church where the inscription is displayed as a kind of an ex-voto offering. Based on the contents of this inscription, the church was identified as dedicated to Kosmas and Damianos. It is, however, not mentioned as such by the Piacenza Pilgrim who visited this Pharan, and described its oratory (E00508). We would like to stress that explicit reasons for invoking saints, including explicit requests for healing, are very rare in monumental inscription. Therefore, the present text is an important testimony to the motives behind this practice. Dating: Pottery finds suggest that the church was built in the later 6th c.


Edition: Meirmaris, Y., "The Greek inscription from the lintel of the south door of the Town Church", in: P. Grossmann, M. Jones, Y. Meimaris, "Report on the season in Firan - Sinai.. (February - March 1995)", Byzantinische Zeitschrift 91 (1998), 355-358. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1999), 575. Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 823. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 48, 1897.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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