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Gregory monk and abbot of the imperial lavra of Maleïnos (tenth/eleventh century)

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.2215
Diameter 22 mm
Field diameter 19 mm
Condition Chipped above at channel opening
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 56.1.
Laurent, Corpus V/2, no. 1266.


A cross on three steps mounted on a ball; tendrils arise on either side, and an X marks the crossing. Within a border of dots, circular inscription:


Κ(ύρι)ε βοήθ[ει τῷ] σῷ δούλ(ῳ)


Inscriptions of five lines. Border of dots.


Γρ[ηγορ(ίῳ)] μονα[χ([ῷ)], προεστότ(ι) τῖς β(ασιλικῆς) λάβρα(ς) τοῦ [Μ]αλεΐν[ου]


Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Γρηγορίῳ μοναχ, προεστότι τῖς βασιλικῆς λάβρας τοῦ Μαλεΐνου.

Lord, help your servant Gregory, monk (and) abbot of the imperial lavra of Maleïnos.


For some reason Laurent assigned this seal to the period of the late eleventh or early twelfth century. In keeping with tenth-century practices Maleïnos' monastery was normally called a lavra (cf. the foundation of his disciple St. Athanasios the Athonite). See L. Petit, "Vie de Saint Michel Maleïnos," ROC (1902) 598, cf. pp. 562, 589. From the word βασιλικῆς, omitted in Laurent's edition, we learn that the institution had achieved the status of imperial monastery because, no doubt, it had received donations and a privilege from an emperor. Mount Kyminas had more than one monastic community, and had received financial support from Romanos I Lakapenos, but to judge from the Life, Michael Maleïnos was on bad terms with this emperor (Petit, "Vie de Saint Michel," 565-66). It is possible that the qualification of imperial monastery came later when the saint's nephew Nikephoros Phokas took the throne.

The lavra of Maleïnos was established by a descendant of a noble family, St. Michael Maleïnos, uncle of Emperor Nikephoros Phokas, on Mount Kyminas in Bithynia (exact place unknown). Born in 894 and christened Manuel, he took the monastic habit and the name Michael in 912, was ordained priest in 930, founded his lavra shortly thereafter, and died in 961. The monastery is well attested in the tenth and the eleventh centuries. See Laurent, Corpus, V/2, 185; Janin, Grands centres, 115-16; ODB II, 1276-77.