Saint NameTheodore Tiro, martyr of Amaseia (Helenopontus, north-eastern Asia Minor), ob. 306 : S00480
Saint Name in SourceΘεοδώρος
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Inscribed architectural elements
Evidence not before400
Evidence not after1300
Activity not before400
Activity not after1300
Place of Evidence - RegionAegean islands and Cyprus
Aegean islands and Cyprus
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcMilos
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Milos
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
SourceA large rounded marble plaque, found by Federico Halbherr before or in 1891, in the apse of a ruined late antique basilica in a place called Kipos/Κῆπος near Mount Elias in the southern part of the island of Milos. The basilica was at some point reconstructed and dedicated to *Mary, Mother of Christ as "the Panagia/the All-Holy One". When Halbherr surveyed the site, the building was 'almost buried in earth and shrubs', but a cupola adorned with paintings of saints and the head of Christ as the Pantocrator was preserved. In the upper section of the apse Halbherr found depictions of two seated figures, one male and one female, which he interpreted as an imperial couple, who founded the sanctuary, or as the emperor Constantine and his mother, Helena. The basilica was later explored and described by H. M. Fletcher and S. D. Kitson, who stated that its most intriguing element was a baptismal font, sited just in front of the apse, close to our inscription.
When recorded, the plaque was fixed on a small marble column and used as an altar, but it is highly probable that the stone had been originally a part of another architectural element. Halbherr suggested that it was "the base of some ancient statue". Fletcher and Kitson identified it as "a drum of an ancient column", Smith and Kiourtzian as a fragment of a pulpit.
The inscription is engraved in fine lettering on the right-hand rim of the plaque. H. 0.09 m; W. 0.86 m; letter height 0.035-0.05 m.
DiscussionThe inscription is an invocation of Saint Theodore, asked to protect the local community. The formula derives from Psalm 40,17: Κύριος φροντιεῖ μου/'The Lord will have care of me'. Based on this invocation, Halbherr supposed that Theodore was the original patron of the church, where the stone was found (an idea accepted by later scholars).
The identity of this Theodore is not specified. Kiourtzian supposes that he was Theodore, the soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita in Helenopontus (northeastern Asia Minor, see: S00480), who was widely venerated in Late Antiquity. This inscription is the only attestation to the cult of Theodore on the island.
Kiourtzian dated the inscription to the 6th c., based on the archaeological context and the form of letters. A 6th c. date was also suggested by Halkin (though he later changed his mind and dated it to the 5th c). Henri Grégoire opted for a 5th c. dating. Louis Robert was unsure whether it was carved in the late antique, middle Byzantine, or even a later period.
Kiourtzian, G., Recueil des inscriptions grecques chrétiennes des Cyclades, de la fin du IIIe au VIIIe siècle après J.-C., (Travaux et mémoires du Centre de recherche d'histoire et civilisation de Byzance. Monographies 12, Paris: De Boccard, 2000), no. 28 (with further bibliography).
Jakobs, P.H., Die frühchristlichen Ambone Griechenlands (Bonn: R. Habelt, 1987), 279.
Volonakis, I., Τὰ παλαιοχριστιανικὰ βαπτιστήρια τῆς Ἑλλάδος (Athens: , 1976), 109.
Lazaridis, P., "ΒΥΖΑΝΤΙΝΑ ΚΑΙ ΜΕΣΑΙΩΝΙΚΑ ΜΝΗΜΕΙΑ ΝΗΣΩΝ ΑΙΓΑΙΟΥ", Αρχαιολογικόν Δελτίον 23 (1968), Χρονικά, 395.
Vaos, Z.A, Ναοὶ καὶ ναΰδρια τῆς Μήλου (Athens: , 1964), 127.
IGC - Grégoire, H (ed.), Recueil des inscriptions grecques chrétiennes d'Asie Mineure, vol. 1 (Paris: Leroux, 1922), no. 210(2).
Casson, S., "The baptistery at Kepos in Melos", The Annual of the British School at Athens 19 (1912-1913), 120.
Smith, C., "Inscriptions from Melos", The Journal of Hellenic Studies 17 (1897), no. 46.
Fletcher H.M., Kitson, S.D., "The churches of Melos”, The Annual of the British School at Athens 2 (1895-1896), 161, 168.
Halbherr, F., "Krete, the Sporades and the Kyklades", The American Journal of Archaeology 7 (1891), 531.
Halbherr, F., “Greek Christian inscriptions in the Cyclades and in Crete”, Athenaeum (1891), 458.
Halkin, F., "L'Egypte, Chypre, la Crète et les autres îles grecques. La Grèce continentale et les pays balkaniques. L'Italie et la Sycylie", Analecta Bollandiana 70 (1952), 121-122.
Halkin, F., "Supplément. Conclusion", Analecta Bollandiana 71 (1953), 340.
Kiourtzian, G., "Pietas insulariorum", [in:] Eupsychia: mélanges offerts à Hélène Ahrweiler, vol. 2 (Série Byzantina Sorbonensia 16, Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1998), 368.
Leclercq, H., “Mélos”, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et liturgie, vol. 11/1 (Paris: Librarie Letouzey et Ané, 1933), coll. 278-279.
Bulletin épigraphique (1970), 431.
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 50, 747.