Saint NamePaul, the Apostle : S00008
Saint Name in SourceΠαῦλος
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Inscribed architectural elements
Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Evidence not before550
Evidence not after600
Activity not before550
Activity not after600
Place of Evidence - RegionAegean islands and Cyprus
Aegean islands and Cyprus
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcSamos
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Samos
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
SourceFragment of a plaque (probably right-hand lower corner of a horseshoe-shaped altar), found in obscure circumstances on/near a church built on the site of the Roman baths in Pythagorio. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.38 m; W. 0.305 m; Th. 0.064 m. First edited by Cornelius Steckner. When recorded and copied by Klaus Hallof, it was kept in the Museum of Pythagorio. The inscription is written on the lower margin, in cursive script.
DiscussionThe fragment contains only the name of Paul the Apostle, in the genitive form. Based on the inscription, Steckner supposes that the basilica, constructed in c. 570-580 over the ruins of the Hellenistic gymnasium (extended with thermae (baths) in the Roman period), where the fragment had been found, was probably dedicated to Paul. The basilica was a three-aisled structure with an atrium, c. 45 m long and c. 15 m wide. It is supposed that this was the episcopal church and some elements of the old thermae were refurbished as a baptisterium.
The founders of the church, might have chosen Paul as the patron for the sanctuary, because of an episode in his life. Acts say that in AD 58, Paul briefly stayed on Samos, during the third of his missionary journeys (see: Acts 20:15: κἀκεῖθεν ἀποπλεύσαντες τῇ ἐπιούσῃ κατηντήσαμεν ἄντικρυς Χίου, τῇ δὲ ἑτέρᾳ παρεβάλομεν εἰς Σάμον, τῇ δὲ ἐχομένῃ ἤλθομεν εἰς Μίλητον / 'And we sailed thence, and came the next day over against Chios; and the next day we arrived at Samos, and tarried at Trogyllium; and the next day we came to Miletus').
Beside the discussed basilica, the site contained several other ecclesiastical structures, including, for example, a holy tomb, where relics of some local Samian martyrs could have been deposited. Cornelius Steckner hypothesises that the complex could have been a lively pilgrimage centre, possibly visited by Sophronios, patriarch of Jerusalem, c. 560-638, author of a treatise on the journeys of the Apostles (see: De laboribus, certaminibus et peregrinatibus St. Petri et Pauli, PG 87, coll. 4011-4014).
Inscriptiones Graecae XII 6,2, no. 941.
Steckner, C., "Apostel Paulus, eine samische Altarinschrift und die Lokaltraditionen zu den Apostelreisen", in: Akten des XII. Internationalen Kongresses für Christliche Archäologie, Bonn, 22.-28. September 1991, ed. E. Dassmann, J. Engemann (Münster: Aschendorffsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1995), 1213-1218.
Kiourtzian, G., "Pietas insulariorum", [in:] Eupsychia: mélanges offerts à Hélène Ahrweiler, vol. 2 (Série Byzantina Sorbonensia 16, Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1998), 377.
Martini, W., Steckner, C., Samos XVII: Das Gymnasium von Samos. Das frühbyzantinische Klostergut (Bonn: In Kommission bei R. Habelt, 1993), 100.
Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 238.
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 46, 1177.