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The Church Treasure


In the rooms adjoining the church, the liturgical items were stored: the vessels used in the Eucharist, the holy books, processional objects, and the liturgical vestments.
In addition to these precious objects, funds and gifts acquired by the church through donations, through the leasing of property that had been bequeathed to the church, and through the fulfillment of vows was also stored in the treasury, just as they had been stored in the temples in previous periods. It was forbidden to sell this property, unless this were necessary in order to pay for the release of prisoners or the redemption of captives. The donations of the faithful - both congregants and pilgrims - were the main source of the church's wealth and were used for its maintenance and renovation.

An exceptional scene from the mosaic pavement of the church at Kissufim depicts two female donors, one of whom contributes sixteen coins and the other a bird in a vessel. The women's names are inscribed above: "Kaliora and the Lady Siltus"

Church near Kissufim, the Negev, 6th century
Israel Antiquities Authority, 77-416/13-14
Photo: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem


List of Donations for the Festival of St. Sergius at Nizzana


In excavations conducted at Nizzana in the late 1930s, several churches and a monastery dating from the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods were unearthed. The buildings contained numerous inscriptions and other artifacts. Of particular importance are various documents dating from the sixth to seventh century, which were found in the caches (genizot) of two churches. Most were written in Greek, with a few in Arabic. Among the documents were economic and legal records dealing with loans, inheritances, the transfer of property, and taxes, as well as private letters. In addition, copies of books of the New Testament and Christian apocryphal works, along with fragments of Virgil's Aeneid in Latin and Greek, were found. These apparently served as textbooks, and it is therefore possible that adjacent to the monastery (of St. Sergios ?) was a school for monks.

One of the document found was a long list of donations to the Monastery of St. Sergios. The list is divided into several categories, according to the purpose of the donation, including donations for the festival of St. Sergios and for "special purposes." The donors are mentioned by their names and places of origin: Shivta, Avdat, Beersheba, and othe unidentifiable sites, presumably in the vicinity of Nizzana.

"To Father Zunayn from George, by the grace of God bishop.
Before everything I am writing to send greetings to Father Zunayn. Next I beg you, since I am sick and cannot go out to the festival of St. Sergios, if you go, to beg the abbot to give Father Procopius my donation so that he will not be forced to come out after the festival. Thus he will himself be relieved of the expense, and I may rest in peace (?). You are requested to grant me the favor, which is my due. Abide in good health. If you do not go out, write to me."

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In the Days of Jesus |In the Early Church |Pilgrimage |Images & Symbols |Monasticism in the Holy Land

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