[+ νικᾷ] ἡ πίστις τῶν Χριστιανῶν. ἅ̣γ̣ι(ε) Ἰω̣ά[ννη, β(οήθι) (?)].
[ὁ Κ(ύριο)ς φυλάξῃ τ]ὴν ἴσο- δον κ[αὶ ἔξοδόν]
[ἔτ(ους) (?)] <ω>κʹ (?), Δε- [σίου . .ʹ] (?), ἰνδ(ικτιῶνος) [-ʹ]
1. [+ νικᾷ] or [... αὔξει (?)] Mouterde
'[+] May the faith of Christians [triumph! (?)]. Saint John, [help! (?)]. [May the Lord protect thy] coming in [and thy going out]. [In the year (?)] 820 (?), in the month of Daisios (?), [- - -] indiction.'
Text: IGLS 5, no. 2204 with alternative completions from p. 318.
Saint NameJohn the Baptist : S00020
John the Evangelist : S00042
Saint Name in SourceἸωάννης
Image Caption 1Drawing. From: IGLS 5, 109.
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Evidence not before480
Evidence not after550
Activity not before480
Activity not after550
Place of Evidence - RegionSyria with Phoenicia
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcḤimṣ/Emesa
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Ḥimṣ/Emesa
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesSoldiers
SourceStone lintel. There is no published description of the object. The drawing shows that the lintel is decorated with a carving of a cross within a circle, flanked by the letters Α and Ω.
Found at a doorway at the citadel of Ḥimṣ/Emesa (probably reused). First published in 1959 by René Mouterde, from a drawing by Robert du Mesnil du Buisson.
DiscussionThe inscription begins with an acclamation of the Christian faith and an invocation of the help of an unspecified Saint John whose identity is not clear. Mouterde supposed that this was in fact an acclamation of the emperors, as the phrase αὔξει ἡ πίστις τῶν Χριστιανῶν/'May the faith of the Christians be strengthened!' is included in the dossier of imperial acclamations by Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos in De Ceremoniis (PG 112, col. 669). Mouterde pointed out that such acclamations usually followed triumphs or distributions of goods or money to the soldiers. However, we must note that the text can be also interpreted as a common building inscription, especially as in line 2 it contains the popular apotropaic phrase based on Psalm 120,8, frequently put over doorways, and a regular dating formula. Furthermore, the names of emperors are not explicitly mentioned in the text and the acclamation need not be authored by soldiers as according to du Mesnil's note the inscription was probably only reused at the citadel.
Dating: The date which probably reads 820 is computed according to the Seleucid era and together with the month of Daisios corresponds to AD 509.
Jalabert, L., Mouterde, R., Mondésert, C., Les inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 5: Émésène (BAH 66, Paris: P. Guethner, 1959), no. 2174 and p. 318 (addendum).