Saint NameMary, Mother of Christ : S00033
Saint Name in SourceΜαρία
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Evidence not before450
Evidence not after750
Activity not before450
Activity not after750
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 - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - lesser clergy
SourceA stone lintel, reused over the southwest doorway of a private house at Deir Rehšān. There is no published detailed description and image.
First published by René Mouterde and Louis Jalabert in 1939, from a copy by Froment, a French officer stationed in Syria and mapping the Syrian interior in cooperation with Mouterde.
DiscussionThe inscription is a simple invocation of God as the Lord and Mary, asked to help a presbyter, Maras. What is noteworthy is that here God and the saint are invoked as equal partners. For similar cases, see: (E00786 (7): God and *John the Evangelist in Ephesos; EXXXX; EXXXX). Frank Trombley suggested that this lintel came from a church built by our presbyter, and dedicated to Mary. If so, we can suspect that another lintel bore the proper dedicatory inscription with a dating formula, which is not present in our text.
Dating: this kind of short invocation with the βοήθει/'help!' formula is usually dated to the later 5th or the 6th-7th c. Trombley places the inscription precisely in the 6th c., but his arguments refer mostly to the superficial description of the forms of letters by Mouterde and to the fact that the cult of Mary started only in the mid-5th c.
Mouterde, R., Jalabert, L., Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 2: Chalcidique et Antiochène: nos 257-698 (Paris: P. Geuthner, 1939), no. 489.
Trombley, F.R., Hellenic Religion and Christianization c. 370-529, vol. 2 (Leiden, New York, Cologne: Brill, 1994), 267.