Saint NameMichael, the Archangel : S00181
Saint Name in SourceΜιχαήλ
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Images and objects - Wall paintings and mosaics
Evidence not before400
Evidence not after600
Activity not before400
Activity not after600
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
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - bishops
SourceInscription from the mosaic floor in the narthex of the basilica at Prines Mylopotamou.
First published by Petros Themelis in 1994/1995. An improved reading, suggested by Yannis Tziphopoulos, was published in the 45th volume of Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum.
DiscussionThe inscription commemorates the construction of the church where the mosaic was found, dedicated to Michael the Archangel as an efficient intercessor. The founder is bishop Euphratas. Themelis notes that a certain Euphratas was the first recorded bishop of Eleutherna. He participated in the council of Chalkedon/Chalcedon in 451. According to Themelis it is probable that he was the founder of the basilica, and the person mentioned in our inscription. The identity of the two bishops was, however, questioned by Michalis Andrianakis. Having analysed other finds from the church, he concluded that the entire building was probably constructed in the 6th c., and that it was probably a cemetery church.
Intercession (presebeia) by an archangel is rarely mentioned in inscriptions, though Michael is frequently the addressee of requests for help (boethei), especially in pilgrim graffiti, dating to the 6th and later centuries.
The word temenos, here used to name the church, is rare in Christian texts and has strong pagan connotations, meaning 'sacred enclosure'. It appears, however, in the vocabulary of several Christian authors, for example: Procopius uses this word for a church dedicated to saints *Sergios and *Bakchos in Constantinople (De aedif., I 4: οὗ δὴ καὶ τέμενος ἄλλο ἁγίοις ἐπιφανέσι Σεργίῳ τε καὶ Βάκχῳ ἐδείματο/'where he also built another temenos to the glorious martyrs Sergios and Bakchos', see: EXXXXX), and for a sanctuary of an unnamed *Archangel near Strobilos in Bithynia (De aedif., V 13,16-20: τοῦ ἀρχαγγέλου τὸ τέμενος/'the temenos of the Archangel', see: EXXXXX). In addition, a probably 11th c. inscription from Amaseia in Helenopontus describes a temenos of Saint Basileus, bishop of Amaseia martyred under Licinius (see: Steinepigramme aus dem griechischen Osten, vol. 2, no. 11/07/07).
Tzifopoulos, Y.Z., "", in: P. Themelis (ed.) Πρωτοβυζαντινὴ Ἐλεύθερνα, Τομέας Ι. Δεύτερος τόμος (Rethymno: Panepistēmio Krētēs, 2000) 241-243, no. 1.
Themelis, P., “”, Kretike Hestia 5 (1994-1996), 273.
Andrianakis, M., "Χριστιανικά Μνημεία Επαρχίας Μυλοποτάμου", in: I. Gavrilaki, Y.Z. Tzifopoulos (eds.), Πρακτικὰ Διεθνοῦς Συνεδρίου “Ὁ Μυλοπόταμος ἀπὸ τὴν ἀρχαιότητα ὡς σήμερα”, vol. 4 (Rethymnon: , 2006), 51-52.
Kiourtzian, G., "Pietas insulariorum", [in:] Eupsychia: mélanges offerts à Hélène Ahrweiler, vol. 2 (Série Byzantina Sorbonensia 16, Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1998), 375.
Themelis, P., "", in: N.C. Stampolidis (ed.), Ἐλεύθερνα. Πόλη - Ἀκρόπολη - Νεκρόπολη (Athens: Mouseio Kykladikēs Technēs, 2004), 76 (with a photograph).
Tzifopoulos, Y.Z., "The inscriptions", in: P.G. Themelis (ed.), Ancient Eleutherna. Sector I, vol. 1 (Athens: EΚ∆ΟΣΕΙΣ ΠΑΝΕΠΙΣΤΗΜΙΟΥ ΚΡΗΤΗΣ, 2009), 139.
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 45, 1267 (with an improved reading, provided by Yannis Tzifopoulos); 54, 838; 59, 1030.