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E00181: Coptic child donation document of the 8th c., certifying the gift of a male child to Apa *Phoibammon (soldier and martyr of Assiut, S00080) at Deir el-Bahari (Upper Egypt), after having been granted healing at the saint’s shrine located within the monastery of Apa Phoibammon on the mountain of Jeme. It is one of nine child donation documents reporting a child growing up, falling fatally ill and being miraculously healed through the power of the saint.

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posted on 18.11.2014, 00:00 by pnowakowski
P.KRU 78

John, son of Biktor, from Jeme, donates his son Viktor. The three year old falls ill, and suffers a long time. Phoibammon is entreated to grant the boy healing. Since he does, the father donates his son as a servant who shall, in addition to his service, pay a solidus yearly all life long.

Lines 15–25:
ⲙⲛⲛⲥⲁ ϣⲟⲙⲧⲉ ⲛⲣⲟⲙⲡⲉ ϫⲓⲛⲧⲁⲓϫⲡⲟϥ ⲁϥϩⲉ ⲉϩⲣⲁⲓ ⲉⲩ[ⲛⲟ]ϭ [ⲛϣⲱⲛⲉ] ⲛⲧⲉⲣⲉϥⲱⲥⲕ ⲟⲩⲛ ϩⲛ ⲡϣⲱ[ⲛⲉ ⲉⲙⲛ ⲗⲁⲁⲩ] ⲛⲧⲁⲗϭⲟ ϣⲱⲡⲉ
ⲛⲁϥ ⲁⲓⲡⲣⲟⲥⲇⲟⲕ[ⲉⲓ ] ⲁⲓⲉⲣⲏⲧ ⲙⲙⲟϥ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲡⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ [ⲛⲫⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲁⲡⲁ] ⲫⲟⲓⲃⲁⲙⲙⲱⲛ ⲛⲡⲧⲟⲟⲩ ⲛϫⲏⲙⲉ ⲉⲓϫⲱ ⲙ[ⲙⲟⲥ] ϫⲉ ⲉⲣϣⲁⲛ
ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲛⲫⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲫⲟⲓⲃⲁⲙⲙⲱⲛ ⲭⲁⲣⲓⲍⲉ ⲛⲁϥ ⲛⲡⲧⲁⲗϭⲟ ϣⲁⲓⲇⲱⲣⲓⲍⲉ ⲙⲙⲟϥ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲣⲟϥ ⲛⲉϥϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲉϥⲥⲩⲛⲧⲉⲗⲉⲓ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲣⲟϥ
ⲛⲡⲉϥⲱⲛϩ ⲧⲏⲣϥ ⲉⲛⲟⲩϩⲟⲗⲟⲕ[ⲟⲧⲧ]ⲓ[ⲛⲟⲥ] ⲕⲁⲧⲁ ⲣⲟⲙⲡⲉ ϣⲁ ⲉⲛⲉϩ

'Three years after I had begotten him, he fell into a severe illness. When he remained ill then with no healing whatsoever taking place for him, I thought […] and I promised him to the topos [of saint Apa] Phoibammon on the mountain of Jeme, saying, "If God of saint Apa Phoibammon grants him healing, I will donate him to him and he will be contributing to him lifelong one solidus per year eternally".'

(Text: W. E. Crum and G. Steindorff, German trans. W. C. Till, Engl. trans. G. Schenke)


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Phoibammon, soldier martyr of Preht (ob. c. 304) : S00080

Saint Name in Source

ⲁⲡⲁ ⲫⲟⲓⲃⲁⲙⲙⲱⲛ

Type of Evidence

Documentary texts - Donation document



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)

Jeme Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Monastery

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Children Ecclesiastics - abbots Other lay individuals/ people Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits


P.KRU 78, fragmentary papyrus document, belonging to the University of Kazan. These documents testify, often in great detail, to a healing cult at the monastery of Apa Phoibammon. Patients remain in the holy place (topos) for a period of time, praying and entreating the saint to grant healing, and receiving the eucharist. Holy water in a basin by the altar seems to play an essential role in the healing miracles performed, when poured over the patient.


Of the twenty-six child donation documents known so far, P.KRU 78–103 (E00179–E00204), dating from the years 734–786, nearly half are entirely preserved (P.KRU 79–82 86, 88, 91, 93, 96, 99, 100). In these documents parents state their desire to donate their son as a lifelong servant to Apa Phoibammon. The reason stated in these documents is a miraculous healing bestowed upon these children through the intervention of Apa Phoibammon. It is explicitly stated that parents proceed with this donation for the salvation of their own souls. In most documents, fathers are donating the child with the consent of its mother; occasionally, however, this procedure is carried out by mothers acting independently (P.KRU 79, 81, 86, 95), either as widows, or by simply not mentioning a husband. Formally, these donation documents following a successful healing are carried out as legal documents, addressed to the managerial body (the dikaion) of the monastery and/or to its current superior. They are written by a professional scribe, read out by a notary, approved by the donor, and signed by several witnesses. They form the final link in a chain of cult events aiming to secure a miracle healing performed in the saint’s sanctuary and are intended to ensure its lasting effect. This document belongs to a group of nine child donation documents, which report a child growing up and falling fatally ill. Apa Phoibammon is entreated to intervene and grant healing, in return for which he is promised that the child in question will be given to him and his holy place. It is made explicit in these donation documents that the boys are being given, not in order to become monks, but to be servants at the saint’s topos. Also P.KRU 78, 81, 84, 88, 91, 93, 98, and 102 belong to the same category of documents: severe childhood illness, saint entreated for help, child healed and donated to the monastery of the Saint in return. In addition to serving at the monastery, here the donated boy is to pay a solidus each year, which is likely to be his tax contribution which the monastery has to pay for him, because he now belongs to it.


Edition: Crum, W.E., and Steindorff, G., Koptische Rechtsurkunden des achten Jahrhunderts aus Djeme (Theben) (Leipzig, 1971), 253–320 (P. KRU 78–103). German Translations: Till, W.C., Die Koptischen Rechtsurkunden aus Theben (Vienna: H. Böhlaus, 1964), 149–186. Further reading: Biedenkopf-Ziehner, A., Koptische Schenkungsurkunden aus Thebais: Formeln und Topoi der Urkunden, Aussagen der Urkunden, Indices (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2001). Godlewski, W., Deir el-Bahari V: Le monastère de St. Phoibammon (Warsaw: PWN, 1986). Papaconstantinou, A., "Notes sur les actes de donation d’enfants au monastère thébain de Saint-Phoibammon," The Journal of Juristic Papyrology 32 (2002), 83–105. Papaconstantinou, A., "Theia oikonomia. Les actes thébains de donation d’enfants ou la gestion monastique de la pénurie," in: Mélanges Gilbert Dagron (Paris: Association des amis du Centre d'histore et civilisation de Byzance, 2002), 511–526. Richter, T.S., "What’s in a story? Cultural narratology and Coptic child donation documents," The Journal of Juristic Papyrology 35 (2005), 237–264. Schaten, S., "Koptische Kinderschenkungsurkunden," Bulletin de la Société d’archéologie copte 35 (1996), 129–142. Schenke, G., "The Healing Shrines of St Phoibammon. Evidence of Cult Activity in Coptic Legal Documents," Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum (ZAC) 2016, 20(3), 496–523. Schroeder, C., "Children and Egyptian Monasteries," in: C. B. Horn and R. R. Phenix (eds.), Children in Late Ancient Christianity (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009), 317–338. Thissen, H.–J., "Koptische Kinderschenkungsurkunden. Zur Hierodulie im christlichen Ägypten," Enchoria 14 (1986), 117–128. Wipszycka, E., "Resources and Economic Activities of the Egyptian Monastic Communities (4th–8th century)," The Journal of Juristic Papyrology 41 (2011), 159–263, esp. 221–227. For a full range of the documentary evidence on Phoibammon: Papaconstantinou, A., Le culte des saints en Égypte des Byzantins aux Abbassides (Paris: CNRS, 2001), 204–214.

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