Saint NameStephen, the First Martyr : S00030
Thekla from Gaza, martyr in Palestine, ob. ca. 306 : S00189
Timotheos from Gaza, martyr in Palestine, ob. 305 : S00122
Domninos, martyr in Palestine, ob. 308 : S00190
Unnamed martyrs (or name lost) : S00060
Saint Name in SourceΘέκλα
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Documentary texts - List
Documentary texts - Relic label
Evidence not before460
Evidence not after700
Activity not before460
Activity not after700
Place of Evidence - RegionPalestine with Sinai
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcJerusalem
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Jerusalem
Cult activities - Liturgical Activity
Cult activities - Festivals
- Anniversary of church/altar dedication
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Places Named after Saint
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsBequests, donations, gifts and offerings
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesWomen
Monarchs and their family
Cult Activities - RelicsBodily relic - bones and teeth
Collections of multiple relics
Transfer, translation and deposition of relics
SourceFragment of a white marble plaque. Broken and lost in the upper left-hand corner and on the right-hand side. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.27 m; W. max. 0.245 m; Th. 0.025 m. Letter height 0.02-0.03 m.
Found during the construction of a mosque, close to Eudocia's church of Stephen the First Martyr (sited north of the north city gate/nowadays the Damascus Gate), at the present-day Dominican Convent of St. Stephen. The original location of the inscription is unknown. Now in the Museum of the École biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem.
First published by H. Hänsler in 1908. Since then the inscription has been re-published several times with different restorations, notably by Peter Thomsen in his corpus of inscriptions from Jerusalem in 1922, by Marie-Joseph Lagrange in 1926 in Abel and Vincent's volume on the history of Jerusalem, and by Yiannis Meimaris in 1983. Comments on the restoration of the last two lines were also offered by Bernard Flusin in 1993. Here we follow the most recent edition (2012) by Leah Di Segni in the Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestine except for the restoration of lines 8-9. In 2014 Julien Aliquot, in his review of the CIIP 1/2 rightly argued that the restoration by Flusin much better fits this passage in the light of a very similar phrase used in an inscription from Sakkaia/Maximianopolis (our E00839).
Di Segni re-publishes the inscription with a new photograph by Nili and Abraham Graicer, and with a drawing by Marie-Joseph Lagrange.
DiscussionThe inscription, carved on a thin marble plaque, used to be considered by early editors as the plaque from an altar of the Eudocian church of Saint Stephen in Jerusalem, in which the relics of the listed martyrs were kept. The term 'mensa martyrum', usually associated with plaques inscribed with names of martyrs in North Africa, has also been used for our plaque (e.g. Thomsen 1941, 209: 'Reliquiar-Inschrift' or 'mensa martyrum'; Halkin 1951, 69: 'mensa martyrum'). In fact we do not know the original use of our stone: whether it was displayed vertically, e.g. fixed on a wall; or horizontally, as the top of a table/altar, or as a floor panel. Di Segni rightly suspends judgment on this problem.
The name Eudocia, appearing in line 3, together with the findspot of the inscription, close to the site of the empress Eudocia's foundation, allowed for the identification of the text as a list of relics offered by Eudocia to her new sanctuary. Eudocia's church and monastery of Stephen were originally completed on 15 May 439 (see EXXXXX; Life of Peter the Iberian), and then, after Eudocia's exile from the imperial court in 443, must have been further fostered by her, since Jerusalem became her main place of residence. After her death on 20 October 460, Eudocia was buried here. Di Segni argues that the inscription commemorates a deposition of relics in the church, at a dedication, or re-dedication, of the shrine on 15 June 460 recorded by Cyril of Scythopolis (EXXXX). Consequently, she says, the plaque must have been engraved shortly before that date.
The list preserves three complete names of martyrs: Kallinikos, Domninos, and Thekla. Their identity has been differently described by previous scholars. For example Thomsen associated Kallinikos with the martyr whose name appears on a stone reliquary from Apamea in Syria (see E01832), Domninos with the martyr of Caesarea in Palestine, known to Eusebius (see S00190 and E00377), and Thekla with the famous martyr of Seleukeia/Seleucia in Isauria (S00092) or an unspecified Thekla whose relics were kept in the church at Bethphage on the Mount of Olives (EXXXX; Jerome, Ep. 22 ad Eustochium (PL 22, 424); Theodosius, De situ Terrae Sanctae 21????). Halkin also favoured the latter identification, over the possibility that she was *Thekla of Gaza, martyred in Caesarea (S00189, see also E00376) or Thekla of Seleukeia/Seleucia.
Di Segni probably rightly notes that the key to an understanding of the list is the Georgian version of the Lectionary of Jerusalem, as it lists all the names of martyrs mentioned here and allows for possible restorations. *Kallinikos, a martyr of Gabala is commemorated there on 19 December (SXXXXX; EXXXXX), together with a certain *Meletios (SXXXXX), and Di Segni hypothetically restores his name in line 5 or 6: respectively before or after the name of Kallinikos. Domninos, martyr of Caesarea in Palestine (S00190), is commemorated on 6 November (E03421), while a saint Thekla is mentioned on 19 June (E03200). Di Segni presumes that she is Thekla of Gaza (S00189), a fellow martyr of *Agapios (S00188) and Timotheos (S00122). Since the lacuna in line seven begins after the letter Τ, Di Segni suggests that the name of Timotheos can plausibly be restored there. One Timotheos is mentioned on 14 March (E03054), and Di Segni suggests that this might be Timotheos of Gaza (S00122), the companion of Agapios and Thekla. As the three did not suffer martyrdom on the same day, it is explicable that they were commemorated on different days in the calendar.
We must remember that, although attractive and plausible, Di Segni's identification of the listed martyrs is still hypothetical. Similarly, it is not clear whether the inscription is the original plaque carved in 460, during the re-dedication of the shrine, or a later label informing the reader which relics were kept in the church. It contains no dating formula and no expression that would refer precisely to the rite of deposition, e.g. ἐγένετο ἡ κατάθεσις τῶν λειψάνων/'the deposition of relics took place, etc.' which one could expect in a commemorative text (cf. E00989). Therefore, we believe that the inscription served as a label of relics, referring to the tradition of Eudocia's donation, rather than being a contemporary mid-5th c. account of their deposition.
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