Saint NamePantaleōn / Panteleēmōn, martyr of Nicomedia, during the Diocletian persecution of 305 : S00596
Demetrios, martyr in Thessalonike, ob. 304-311 : S00761
Saint Name in SourceΠαντελεήμων
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Inscribed architectural elements
Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea)
Evidence not before550
Evidence not after1300
Activity not before550
Activity not after1300
Place of Evidence - RegionAegean islands and Cyprus
Aegean islands and Cyprus
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcCrete
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Crete
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
SourceThe inscriptions are carved on two of four extant fragmentary marble column shafts from the early Christian basilica, sited near the coast at Sougia Selinou, southwest Crete.
Inscription A: placed 0.83 m above the base (c. 1.50 m above the floor), letter height 0.041 m; dimensions of the shaft: H. 2.06 m; diameter at base: 0.32 m; diameter at top: 0.26 m.
Inscription B: placed 0.98 m above the base (c. 1.60 m above the floor), letter height 0.03 m; dimensions of the shaft: H. 2.02 m; diameter at base: 0.32 m; diameter at top: 0.26 m.
First recorded and copied by Anastasios Orlandos in 1952, during the first survey of the basilica. The church, apparently constructed in the mid- or late 6th c., had three aisles, one apse and a narthex. Dimensions: L. 16.75 m (without narthex); W. 12.40 m. It is known for its mosaic floors from the narthex and nave, showing geometrical motifs, fish, and birds. The ancient structure is now covered by a modern church.
DiscussionThe inscriptions are nicely carved invocations of Panteleemon and Demetrios. Anastasios Orlandos, their first editor, supposed that the basilica was dedicated to these saints, but we lack further evidence for this theory. It is also not clear, why these two figures were associated.
The name Panteleemon (Παντελεήμων, literally the all-merciful) was adopted by Saint Pantaleon (Πανταλέων), martyr of Nikomedia (Bithynia), after his conversion to Christianity. According to hagiographical accounts, Panteleemon was a renowned physician, highly regarded at the court of the Tetrarchs. He was convinced of the priority of miraculous healing over traditional, Hippocratic medicine and was himself credited with miraculous cures. He was martyred in 305 and was venerated, both in the West and in the East, as one of the 'Holy Unmercenaries' (Hagioi Anargyroi). For a church dedicated to the saint in Isaurian Aphrodisias (south Anatolia, close to Crete) by a family of ship-owners, see: E01032.
Demetrios, invoked here, is probably the famous martyr of Thessalonike, one of the most popular saints in the middle Byzantine period, venerated then as a holy warrior.
Orlandos hypothesised that other columns could have borne invocations of other saints.
Dating: Orlandos and Bandy date the inscriptions to the 6th c., based on letter forms and contents. Such invocations may be, however, of a later date. The fact that they are carved, and not scratched, may mean that they were contemporary to the construction, or were associated with a later restoration of the basilica.
Bandy, A.C., (ed.), The Greek Christian Inscriptions of Crete (Athens: Christian Archaeological Society, 1971), no. 112.
Orlandos, A.K., "Η παλαιοχριστιανική βασιλική της Συίας", Κρητικὰ Χρονικά 7 (1953), 343.
Kiourtzian, G., "Pietas insulariorum", [in:] Eupsychia: mélanges offerts à Hélène Ahrweiler, vol. 2 (Série Byzantina Sorbonensia 16, Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1998), 375.
Lemere, P., “Bulletin archéologique IV: 1952-1954”, Revue des études byzantines 13 (1955), 231, no. 197.