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Leo bishop of Liparis (eighth/ninth century)

Accession number BZS.1947.2.192
Diameter 30 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 1, no. 7.1.
Laurent, Corpus V/1, no. 902.


Bust of the Virgin holding medallion of Christ before her. On the left, cruciform invocative monogram consisting of Θ, Ε, Τ and Ο in ligature above, and Κ below. On the right, a cruciform invocative monogram consisting of Θ, Η, Ο above, and Β below. Indeterminate border.

Θεοτόκε βοήθει


Inscription of four lines. Indeterminate border.


Λέοντι ἐπισκόπῳ Λειπάρεως


Θεοτόκε βοήθει Λέοντι ἐπισκόπῳ Λειπάρεως.

Theotokos, help Leo bishop of Liparis.


Laurent read lines 3 and 4 as ΛΕΠΑΡΕ/, but at the end of line 3 there seem to be traces of another letter and indeed, with the addition of an iota, the line becomes balanced. Laurent dated the seal to the later ninth/early tenth century, but an earlier date seems preferable. Invocative monograms flanking a representation of the Virgin are a standard decorative element on seals of the iconophile reaction (787-815). Additionally, we note that the beta used in the monogram at left is formed with two loops, the shaft and bottom loop resting on a long horizontal bar: this design is standard in the seventh and eighth centuries, while after 850 the beta resembles the Latin letter . Moreover, the disposition of the serifs of Κ and the final abbreviation sign point to a date before the middle of the ninth century (Dated Seals, 164, 167 and nos. 42 and 44).

The island of Liparis, lying to the north of Sicily, was subject to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the archbishop of Syracuse and was among the sees transferred to Constantinople in the mid-eighth century. The island was taken by the Arabs in 864; its last known Byzantine bishop was a certain Samuel who attended the Photian synod of 878-880 (cf. Laurent, Corpus V/1, 708 and 709).