Saint NameNicholas, bishop of Myra, southern Asia Minor, ob. 343 : S00520
Saint Name in SourceΝικόλαος
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Evidence not before400
Evidence not after800
Activity not before400
Activity not after800
Place of Evidence - RegionAsia Minor
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcMylasa
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Mylasa
Cult Activities - Cult Related ObjectsCrosses
SourceMarble plaque found in Mylasa (Caria, west Asia Minor) by Louis Robert. First published by François Halkin.
DiscussionThe most interesting feature of this inscription is Nicholas' byname: ἀρχίαστρος. François Halkin says that this puzzling word resembles an epithet used for the pagan goddess Astarte and the Moon, e.g. ἀστροάρχη and ἀστράρχη which can be freely translated as the lady of stars. Saint Nicholas of Myra could be called so because he was considered as a patron of sailors, using stars to navigate. Another explanation is that the epithet was misspelt and it should be read as ἀρχιατρός, i.e. the great physician. The word ἀρχιατρός occurs in another late antique inscription from Mylasa (see I. Mylasa, no. 629) which is apparently a poorly preserved list of objects belonging to a local church. It is therefore possible that the church was dedicated to Saint Nicholas the 'Great Physician'. This text is, however, to be republished by Denis Feissel with a photograph by Louis Robert.
Die Inschriften von Mylasa, no. 628.
Halkin, F., "Inscriptions grecques relatives à l'hagiographie, IX, Asie Mineure", Analecta Bollandiana 71 (1953), 99.
Bulletin épigraphique (1954), 26.