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Seal of the monastery of Stylos (eleventh century)

Accession number BZS.1955.1.5037
Diameter 19 mm
Field diameter 11 mm
Condition Cracked at chanel opening (obverse).
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 22.4.

Corpus V/3, no. 1930.


Inscription of four lines, last line obscured. A decoration above. Border of dots.


Τῆς μονῆς σφραγί[ς]


Inscription of four lines. Border of dots.


εἰμι τοῦ σηστοῦ Στύλου


Τῆς μονῆς σφραγίς εἰμι τοῦ σηστοῦ Στύλου.

I am the seal of the monastery of Stylos (the monastery of the shaken pillar).


The laura of Stylos, one of the major establishments of Mt. Latros, was founded by St. Paul in the period 920-930 (Janin, Grands centres, 234). The name "Stylos" refers to a rock formation with a natural column, on top of which St. Paul spent many years as a hermit.

Laurent was puzzled by the reading on the reverse; we think that στηστοῦ is a homophonic error for σειστοῦ, "shaken" or "shakeable," that is, "the monastery of the shaken pillar." This is obviously a reference to the miracle described in the Life of St. Paul (AnalBoll 11 [1892] 47-49: para. 15): mass was being held at the top of the rock column, and at the moment of communion, the whole rock started shaking as if by an earthquake; but this phenomenon was perceptible only to those were on top of the stylos while the other monks at its foot felt nothing.

The monastic community of Mt. Latros was situated near Milet in Caria. The first secure traces of the community date from the year 787. The community benefited from the largess on the part of Romanos I Lakapenos, suffered considerably from the Turks, starting with the late 70s of the eleventh century, had a new period of flourishing in the twelfth century, and survived until the fourteenth century. It contained several monasteries, the most important of which were the ones of Stylos (or St. Paul) and of Kellibara. The whole monastic community formed a kind of confederation with an archimandrites at its head. See Laurent, Corpus V/2, 156; Janin, Grands centres, 215-40; ODB II, 1188-89; and D. Stiernon in DHGE, fasc. 143 (1993) 1399-1403.