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E04409: Coptic fragment of a hortatory sermon from Bala’izah (Upper Egypt), claiming that the death of the saints (S00518) is a precious incident; the text also suggests resting at their (burial) ‘place’ to commemorate them; datable to the 6th century.

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posted on 2017-11-27, 00:00 authored by gschenke
P.Bal. 50

A papyrus leaf written in two columns preserves parts of a sermon arguing that the death of evil men is indeed a reason for grief, since they will be judged. Whereas the death of righteous men is a blessing, as they shall escape the wrath of God. The text then goes on to quote a statement, saying: ‘The death of the saints for the Lord is honoured by his presence,’ and seems to suggest resting at the saints’ (burial) place to commemorate them.

Col. II, lines 20–26 reads as follows:

ⲑⲉ ⲉⲧⲥⲏϩ ϫⲉ ⲡⲙⲟⲩ ⲛⲛⲉⲧⲟ[ⲩ]ⲁⲁ̣ⲃ ⲙⲡϫⲟⲉⲓ[ⲥ] ⲧⲁⲏⲩ ⲙⲡⲉϥⲙⲧⲟ [ⲉ]ⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲱ[ⲥ]ⲧ̣ⲉ̣ ⲛⲁⲥ̣ⲛⲏⲩ ϣⲁ ⲡⲉⲩⲙ̣ⲁ : ⲙⲁⲣⲉⲛⲙⲧⲟⲛ ⲙⲙⲟⲛ ·
ϩⲛ ⲡⲉⲩⲙⲧⲟⲛ · ⲟⲩⲥ̣ⲟⲉⲓⲧ ⲅⲁⲣ ⲉⲛⲁⲛⲟⲩϥ ⲡⲉ ⲡⲣⲡⲙⲉⲉ[ⲩⲉ] ⲙⲡ[ⲇⲓ]ⲕⲁⲓⲟⲥ ·

‘…] as it is written: “The death of the saints for the Lord is honoured by his presence.” So that, my brethren, at their (burial) place let us rest ourselves by their rest, for a good account is the commemoration of the righteous.’

(Text and trans.: P. E. Kahle, modified)


Evidence ID


Saint Name

All Saints : S01151 Unnamed saints (or name lost) : S00518

Type of Evidence

Late antique original manuscripts - Papyrus codex Literary - Sermons/Homilies


  • Coptic

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Bala’izah Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting graves and shrines


Text and Translation: Kahle, P.E., Bala'izah: Coptic Texts from Deir el-Bala'izah in Upper Egypt, 2 vols. (London, 1954), 470–471.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity