Saint NameAnatolios, bishop of Laodikeia in Syria, ob. 283 : S00900
Anatolios (unspecified) : S00901
Anatolios, bishop of Constantinople 449-458 : S00902
Saint Name in SourceἈνατόλιος
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Inscribed objects
Images and objects - Other portable objects (metalwork, ivory, etc.)
Evidence not before400
Evidence not after800
Activity not before400
Activity not after800
Place of Evidence - RegionSyria with Phoenicia
Syria with Phoenicia
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcAntioch on the Orontes
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Antioch on the Orontes
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
Cult Activities - Cult Related ObjectsCrosses
Precious material objects
SourceLeft-hand horizontal arm of a bronze cross, ending with two loops. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.022-0.055 m; W. 0.135 m (W. of the inscribed field: 0.113 m); letter height 0.007-0.009 m.
Found during the surveys of the Committee for the Excavation of Antioch and its Vicinity in the debris in Room 10 (annex to the baptistery) of the so-called Cruciform Church/the Church at Kaoussie, a suburb of Antioch. First published, with a photograph, by Jean Lassus in 1938.
The church was sited outside the city walls of ancient Antioch, on the right bank of Orontes. It was discovered thanks to its mosaic floors, unearthed in 1934 and 1935. The church consisted of a central squarish chamber (c. 16 m x 16 m), four perpendicular aisles (W. 11 m; L. 25 m), and extensions. A mosaic floor inscription says that the foundation of the church must predate 387. The construction of annexes, including the baptistery, postdates 412. The church is normally identified as the martyr shrine of *Babylas, based on the fact that this was the only sanctuary outside the walls of Antioch, mentioned in extant sources. If so, the exact date of its construction can be established thanks to the testimony of John Chrysostom (E00095) and Sozomen (E02283), who place it in 379/380 under bishop Meletios (buried there in 381).
DiscussionThe first editor, Jean Lassus, supposed that the inscription extended also on other branches of the cross, as otherwise the preserved text would be scarcely understandable. Given the genitive form of the name of the saint, followed by a request for mercy, the most reasonable reconstruction, he says, is that the God of Saint Anatolios was the addressee of the plea.
Lassus identified this Anatolios as bishop of Laodikeia in Syria, a man of born in Alexandria and trained as a mathematician, who held the episcopal see of Laodikeia from 264 to 283. He was said to have died just before the beginning of the persecutions under Diocletian (not as a martyr).
According to Lassus this cross was an ex-voto offering, hung on a wall (as its reverse lacks decorations). René Mouterde, in the review of the second volume of Antioch-on-the-Orontes, published in Mélanges de l'Université Saint-Joseph in 1939, added that the room might have contained relics of the saint.
A more detailed commentary was offered by Mouterde several years later, in the third volume of Les inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie. He argued there that the inscription was rather a simple label, marking the ownership of the cross, as such precious objects were frequently kept in ecclesiastical treasuries (see: E00868; EXXXXXX). Therefore, he reconstructed the inscription as 'The treasury of saint Anatolios' or simply 'Of saint Anatolios'. One must, however, note that this reconstruction is not coherent with the invocation 'Have mercy!', following the name of the saint.
As for the identity of Anatolios, Mouterde considered him as bishop of Constantinople, presiding over the council of Chalcedon 451, whose Life is summarised in the Synaxarium Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae (3rd July).
Now also: Mayer, W., Allen, P., The Churches of Syrian Antioch (300-638 CE) (Leuven - Paris - Walpole, MA: Peeters, 2012).
Jalabert, L., Mouterde, R., Les inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 3/1: Région de l’Amanus, Antioche (BAH 46, Paris: P. Geuthner, 1950), no. 784.
Lassus, J., "L'Église cruciforme", [in:] R. Stillwell and others (ed.), Antioch-on-the-Orontes, vol. 2: The Excavations 1933-1936 (Princeton: Princeton Univeristy Press, London: Oxford University Press, the Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1938), 43, no. 6.
Downey, G., “The shrines of St. Babylas at Antioch and Daphne”, [in:] R. Stillwell and others (ed.), Antioch-on-the-Orontes, vol. 2: The Excavations 1933-1936 (Princeton: Princeton Univeristy Press, London: Oxford University Press, the Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1938), 45-48.
Downey, G., A history of Antioch in Syria: from Seleucus to the Arab conquest (Princeton : Princeton University Press, 1961), 415; 455.
Mouterde, R., “Review: Antioch-on-the-Orontes, II. The Excavations of 1933-1936 edited by R. Stilwell...”, Mélanges de l'Université Saint-Joseph (Beyrouth, Lebanon) 22 (1939), 131.
Bulletin épigraphique (1938), 503; (1940), 169.