Saint NameSeveros, bishop of Antioch (465–538) : S00262
Saint Name in Sourceⲥⲉⲟⲩⲏ̅ⲣⲟⲥ
Type of EvidenceDocumentary texts - Papyri
Literary - Magical texts and amulets
Evidence not before600
Evidence not after799
Activity not before600
Activity not after799
Place of Evidence - RegionEgypt and Cyrenaica
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Hermopolis
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - unspecified
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsVisiting/veneration of living saint
Cult Activities - MiraclesFertility- and family-related miracles (infertility, marriages)
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesOther lay individuals/ people
SourceText written on a small piece of papyrus, dated on the basis of its script to the 7th/8th century, housed at the Institute for African Studies and Egyptology in Cologne under inventory number 10211. There is no record of where in Egypt the papyrus was found.
DiscussionThis example of an oracle question is one of many posed through saints, but the only one so far attested for a Saint Severos. It is unclear who this Severos is, but since Severos, the former bishop of Antioch, became such an important figure in Egypt, so much so that he features in the diptychs of the Coptic church, dating back to at least the 7th century, it is not unlikely that he may be the one in question and that a shrine dedicated to him existed at which oracle questions could be posed.
Answers to such oracle questions were obtained by phrasing two opposite statements as answers to the same question. Both would then be handed into the shrine, but only one of them would be brought back out to the petitioner. The version received back was then considered to be the answer to the question and the correct way to proceed. Thus it is to be assumed that this Cologne papyrus text was accompanied by a sister piece when handed into the saint’s shrine, most likely reading: 'God of saint Severos, if it is NOT time for me to marry Anastou, you shall bring it out to me. Lord!' Receiving the latter version, no marriage would have taken place.
Among such oracle questions posed to other saints, those concerning marriage matters were particularly frequent.
For oracle questions addressed through *Kollouthos see E01000.
Schenke, G., "Das Orakel des Heiligen Severus," Archiv für Papyrusforschung 57:1 (2011), 65–72.