Saint NameDometios, monk and martyr of Syria, ob. 363 : S00414
Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033
Saint Name in SourceΔομήτι
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea)
Archaeological and architectural - Extant reliquaries and related fixtures
Evidence not before500
Evidence not after600
Activity not before500
Activity not after600
Place of Evidence - RegionSyria with Phoenicia
Syria with Phoenicia
Syria with Phoenicia
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcBeroia
Antioch on the Orontes
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Beroia
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 NarrativesOther lay individuals/ people
Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits
Cult Activities - RelicsReliquary – institutionally owned
Contact relic - oil
Making contact relics
SourceA fallen stone block. There is no published description or image. Decorated at its left end with a carving of a squarish tabula ansata (0.42 m) in low-relief, and with the volute of a moulding, probably from a window. The inscription is within the tabula. Poor and weathered lettering.
Recorded by the American Archaeological Expedition to Syria 1899-1900 in a ruined 'chapel', situated to the northeast of Kefr Finsheh in Jabal Barisha, near an oil press. First published in 1908 by William Prentice, based on his own copy. Republished by René Mouterde and Louis Jalabert in 1939, from the edition by Prentice. In the 1980s the site was revisited by Ignacio Peña, Pasquale Castellana, and Romuald Fernandez. They identified our chapel as a one-aisled church and noted the presence of the inscription. To the north of this shrine they found ruins of a monastery with a burial chamber with a sarcophagus and other tombs, and a chapel with a small 'martyr shrine' in its east part. Inside the 'martyr shrine' there was a reliquary with two niches and fixtures for the production of holy oil, embedded in the south wall. An arcosolium tomb was found in the wall, near the doorway.
DiscussionThe inscription is a simple invocation of two saints: Mary and Dometios. William Prentice suggested that the block, on which it was inscribed, was originally positioned in the south wall of the clerestory, and that the inscription was adjacent to another text (likewise very poorly spelt), which reads: Κύριε τῆς δόξις, βοέθισον ἑμῖν πάντας/'Lord of glory, help us all!' (IGLS 2, no. 609). According to Prentice, these inscriptions were authored by a person having little training in Greek, and certainly not by a professional stone-cutter.
The saint Dometios, invoked together with Mary, is probably the healer of Syria, whose cult was known even to Gregory of Tours in distant Gaul (E00652), or just possibly Dometios, a supposed martyr under the emperor Julian (S00877).
Dating: This kind of invocation is usually dated to the late 5th or the 6th/7th c. Invocations of Mary are unlikely to predate the council of Ephesos 431 which greatly contributed to the spreading of her cult. The date of the construction of the church/chapel and of the monastery is unknown.
Mouterde, R., Jalabert, L., Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 2: Chalcidique et Antiochène: nos 257-698 (Paris: P. Geuthner, 1939), no. 608.
Prentice, W.K. (ed.), Greek and Latin Inscriptions (Publications of an American archaeological expedition to Syria in 1899-1900 3, New York: Century 1908), 57, no. 31.
Butler, H.C., Architecture and other Arts (Publications of an American Archæological Expedition to Syria in 1899–1900 2, New York: Century, 1903), 236-237.
Butler, H.C., Baldwin, S.E., Early churches in Syria: fourth to seventh centuries (Princeton monographs in art and archaeology, Princeton: Institute for Advanced Study, 1929), 51.
Comte, M.-Ch., Les reliquaires du Proche-Orient et de Chypre à la période protobyzantine, IVe-VIIIe siècles: formes, emplacements, fonctions et cultes (Bibliothèque de l'Antiquité tardive 20, Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2012), 331.
Lassus, J., Sanctuaires chrétiens de Syrie: essai sur la genèse, la forme et l'usage liturgique des édifices du culte chrétien, en Syrie, du IIIe siècle à la conquête musulmane (Bibliothèque archéologique et historique 42, Paris: P. Geuthner, 1947), 111, note 2.
Peña, I., Castellana, P., Fernandez, R., Les cénobites syriens (Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1983), 181-186.
Peña, I., Castellana, P., Fernandez, R., Inventaire du Jebel Baricha, Recherches archéologiques dans la région Villes Morte de la Syrie du Nord (Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Collectio Minor 33, Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1987), 126.
Peña, I., Lieux de pèlerinage en Syrie (Milan: Franciscan Printing Press, 2000), 12, 26.
Tchalenko, G., Villages antiques de la Syrie du Nord. Le massif du Bélus à l'époque romaine, vol. 1 (Paris: P. Geuthner, 1953), 295 and 335, note 1.
For Butler's photographs from Kfer Fenche, see: http://vrc.princeton.edu/archives/items/show/9109 and the following items.