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E03534: Coptic fragment of the Martyrdom of *Theodore (soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita, S00480), mentioning a mass martyrdom of 3407 bystanders and the incorruptibility of his body after martyrdom; written most likely in the 6th/7th century.

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posted on 05.08.2017, 00:00 by dlambert
Martyrdom of Theodore

The text of this fragment begins in the middle of a verbal exchange between the prosecutor, here the emperor Diocletian, and the saint, after which all the bystanders praise the Christian God and mock the Imperial Gods.

Till, KHML I, p. 107, lines 7–16:

ⲛⲧⲟϥ ⲇⲉ ⲁϥϭⲱⲛⲧ ⲁϥⲕⲉⲗⲉⲩⲉ ⲛⲙⲙⲁⲧⲟⲓ ⲉϩⲱⲧⲃ ⲛⲥⲱⲟⲩ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲙⲡⲉ ⲛⲉⲙⲁⲧⲟⲓ ⲛⲧⲁⲇⲓⲕⲓⲁ ⲗⲟ ⲉⲩϩⲱⲧⲃ ⲛⲥⲱⲟⲩ ϣⲁⲛⲧⲉ ⲡⲕⲁϩ ϩⲱⲣⲡ
ⲛⲥⲛⲟϥ ϩⲛ ⲛⲉⲛⲧⲁⲩⲙⲟⲟⲩⲧⲟⲩ · ⲛⲉⲛⲧⲁⲩϩⲟⲧⲃⲟⲩ ⲇⲉ ⲙⲡⲉϩⲟⲟⲩ ⲉⲧⲙⲙⲁⲩ ⲥⲉⲉⲓⲣⲉ ⲙⲙⲁⲁⲃⲧⲁϥⲧⲉ ⲛϣⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲥⲁϣϥⲉ ⲙⲯⲩⲭⲏ · ⲉⲁⲩϫⲱⲕ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲙⲡⲉⲩⲇⲣⲟⲙⲟⲥ ⲛⲥⲟⲩ ϫⲟⲩⲧⲁⲥⲉ ⲙⲡⲁⲣⲙⲟⲩⲧⲉ · ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲉⲣⲉ ⲛⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲁϩⲉⲣⲁⲧⲟⲩ · ⲉⲩϫⲓ ⲛⲛⲉⲩⲯⲩⲭⲏ ⲉⲛⲉⲩⲥⲧⲟⲗⲏ ⲛⲟⲩⲟⲉⲓⲛ · ⲉⲩⲣⲁϣⲉ ⲛⲙⲙⲁⲩ ϣⲁⲛⲧⲟⲩϫⲓⲧⲟⲩ ⲉⲛⲙⲡⲏⲩⲉ ·

‘He was enraged and commanded the soldiers to kill them. And the soldiers of injustice did not stop killing them, until the ground was drenched with blood from the ones they killed. And those they had killed on that day were 3407 souls, completing their course on day twenty-six of Parmoute. The angels stood by, taking their souls into their shining garments, rejoicing with them, until they brought them to the heavens.’

Theodore then was put into prison for nearly three months, before Diocletian gave the command to behead him and destroy his body by fire.

Till, KHML I, p. 107, lines 25–26:

ⲡⲡⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲇⲉ ⲑⲉⲱⲇⲱⲣⲟⲥ ⲛⲉϥϩⲙ ⲡⲉϣⲧⲉⲕⲟ ⲛϣⲟⲙⲛⲧ ⲛⲉⲃⲟⲧ · ϣⲁⲧⲉ ϥⲧⲟⲟⲩ ⲛϩⲟⲟⲩ :··

‘Saint Theodore was in prison for three months, short of four days.’

Theodore spoke one last prayer, before being beheaded on day 20 of the month Epiph.

Till, KHML I, p. 109, lines 5–10:

ⲛⲧⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩ ⲇⲉ ⲁϥϣⲟⲩⲟ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛϭⲓ ⲟⲩⲙⲟⲟⲩ · ⲙⲛ ⲟⲩⲥⲛⲟϥ · ⲁⲩⲱ ⲁⲩⲛⲟϭ ⲛⲥϯⲛⲟⲩϥⲉ ϣⲱϣ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲙ ⲡⲙⲁ ⲧⲏⲣϥ : ⲛⲇⲩⲙⲓⲟⲥ ⲇⲉ
ⲁⲩϯ ⲙⲡⲕⲱϩⲧ ⲉⲡⲉϥⲥⲱⲙⲁ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲁⲩⲣ ⲟⲩⲛⲟϭ ⲛⲕⲟⲟⲩ ⲉⲩⲧⲱⲕ ⲉϫⲱϥ · ⲁⲩⲱ ⲙⲡⲉ ⲡⲕⲱϩⲧ ϭⲙϭⲟⲙ ⲉⲣⲟϥ ·

‘Immediately, water and blood poured forth and a strong perfume dispersed throughout the whole place. The executioners put fire to his holy body. They did so for a long time, kindling it. But the fire had no power over it.’

(Text: W. C. Till, KHML I, 106–111; summary and trans. G. Schenke)


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Theodore, soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita : S00480

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom Late antique original manuscripts - Parchment codex



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle at martyrdom and death Bodily incorruptibility Miraculous sound, smell, light

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives



Four pages of a former parchment codex are preserved in Paris (12915 f. 32, p. 143/4) and Vienna (K 9449, p. 145/6). The manuscript is datable to the 9th–11th century, according to layout and script.


See E01901 for further discussion.


Text: Till, W.C., Koptische Heiligen- und Martyrlegenden. Vol. 1 (Rome: Pont. institutum orientalium studiorum, 1935), 106–111.

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