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John bishop of Servia (ninth/tenth century)

Accession number BZS.1955.1.4650
Diameter 20 mm
Condition Corroded.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 1, no. 25.1.
Laurent, Corpus V/3, no. 1729.


Bust of the Virgin holding medallion of Christ before her. Sigla: ..ΧΥ̅: Μήτηρ Χριστοῦ. Circular inscription, beginning at 6 o'clock, between two borders of dots.


Θεοτόκε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ


Inscription of four lines, decoration below. Border of dots.


Ἰωάνῃ ἐπησκόπο Σερβίον


Θεοτόκε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Ἰωάνῃ ἐπησκόπο Σερβίον.

Theotokos, help your servant John bishop of Servia.


The portrait of the Virgin is practically a replica of the one on the seal of Sabas, metropolitan of Athens, attested between 879/80 and 913; Oikonomides, Dated Seals, no. 56. One should also note the appellation μήτηρ Χριστοῦ; it shows that the formula μήτηρ Θεοῦ was not completely generalized, not to mention the Nestorian/iconoclastic trait that it reveals.

Servia (modern Servia), southwest of Berroia, was established as a suffragan see of Thessalonica by the turn of the tenth century (Darrouzès, Notitiae, 278), if not earlier (see DO Seals 1, no. 25.1); cf. Laurent, Corpus V/3, 84-85. A strategos was also set up in Servia shortly before 1001; cf. Kekaumenos, 174, 433-35; Konstantopoulos, Stamoules, no. 85; Zakythinos, Mélétai 17 (1941) 226-27.