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E04559: Stone reliquary, reportedly inscribed with the names of *Sergios (soldier and martyr of Rusafa, S00023), and a certain Saint *Abraham (probably a local martyr or holy monk). Found in the territory of Epiphaneia/Ḥamāh (central Syria). Now lost. Probably 5th-6th c.

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posted on 2018-01-05, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Marie-Christine Comte mentions a stone reliquary inscribed with the names of saints Sergios and Abraham. The reliquary was found to the east of the city of Epiphaneia/Ḥamāh, but its shape and decorations resemble reliquaries from the territory of Apamea on the Orontes. The object is now lost. There is no photograph or drawing.

The reliquary was mentioned by René Mouterde and Antoine Poidebard in 1949, in their paper on the archaeological and epigraphic evidence for the cult of Saint Sergios. They say that the object was communicated to them by Father Nicolas Karam.

According to the published description, the reliquary had the shape of a small sacrophagus, about 80 cm long. One of the longer sides was decorated with carvings of busts of two saints, erased in a period of iconoclasm. The other bore the inscription mentioned above. The exact text is not known.

Comte supposes that the reliquary was designed for the production of holy oil. She stresses the significance of the find, as no other stone reliquaries decorated with busts of saints have been found in this region, and even inscribed reliquaries are extremely rare.

Whereas the identity of Sergios is clear (this is certainly the soldier and martyr of Rusafa), there were several martyrs and holy monks who bore the name Abraham, who were venerated in Syria. Sadly, we cannot confidently identify any of them with our Abraham. The figure is unlikely to have been the Old Testament Patriarch.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Sergios, soldier and martyr of Rusafa : S00023 Abraham of Arbela, bishop and martyr in Persia, ob. ca. 345 : S01366 Abraham of Harran, monk and bishop of Syria, ob. c. 420s : S00366 Abraham of Qidun, monk in Syria, 4th c. : S01233 Abraham, monk o

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed objects Archaeological and architectural - Extant reliquaries and related fixtures


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Ḥamāh Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Public display of an image

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - oil Making contact relics Reliquary – institutionally owned


Further reading: Comte, M.-Ch., Les reliquaires du Proche-Orient et de Chypre à la période protobyzantine, IVe-VIIIe siècles: formes, emplacements, fonctions et cultes (Bibliothèque de l'Antiquité tardive 20, Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2012), 101, 381. Peña, I., Lieux de pèlerinage en Syrie (Milan: Franciscan Printing Press, 2000), 23. Mouterde, R., Poidebard, A., "À propos de saint Serge. Aviation et épigraphie", Analecta Bollandiana 76 (1949) [= Mélanges Paul Peeters], 112 (original description).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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