St. Menas

The pilgrimage complex of St. Menas
  Egypt was a significant centre for early Christianity, with a patriarchate at Alexandria, burgeoning monasticism in its deserts (which the fourth-century pilgrim, Egeria, found almost crowded with monks), and several important shrines, such as that of St Menas in the Maryut desert, southwest of Alexandria. After his martyrdom in the early fourth century, Menas acquired a reputation for miraculous healing powers. His shrine soon attracted pigrims from around the Christian world. In its most developed form the church of St Menas consisted of a complex of three principal structures laid out along an east-west axis: the pilgrimage church, the so-called Grave Church, and a baptistery. The huge pilgrimage church was a transept basilica, similar in plan to that of St John at Ephesus. The Grave Church, also of basilical plan, was refurbished in the beginning of the sixth century, when a tetraconch was added in its centre, over the presumed burial place of St Menas. The latter was a catacomb, later transformed into a stone-built crypt. The complex was built of small ashlar and paved in marble, with walls decorated with polychrome marble revetment, gold figured mosaics and stuccos.
  The impressive architectural remains, the lavish materials, and the wealth of surviving pilgrim souvenirs attest to the shrine's popularity. Earthenware flasks intended as pilgrim souvenirs were mass-produced at St Menas' shrine, and widely spread in the Mediterranean region. They contained eulogiai or blessings' - that is, sanctified substances, such as water from a spring endowed with miraculous healing properties because of its proximity to the saint's relics, or oil from a lamp suspended before the saint's tomb. Pilgrim flasks fulfilled important amuletic and medicinal functions. Several examples bear stamped decoration. They usually offer the blessing of Menas, and picture the saint as a nimbed orant figure flanked by two camels, which, according to the saint's biography, carried his dead body to the site of his future shrine. The popularity of Menas and the potency of the eulogia brought back from his shrine did much to spread his cult beyond Egypt. Images of the saint adorn ivory or stone carvings assigned to Constantinopolitan and Syrian workshops.
  A broad range of objects was produced to satisfy the pilgrims' desire for souvenirs of the holy sites. Flasks similar to those connected with the shrine of Menas, tokens and medallions come from a number of shrines around the empire. Several lead flasks from the Holy Land depict the Grotto of the Nativity or the Holy Sepulcher. Pilgrim tokens picturing stylite saints are equally common. St Symeon the Younger (died in 592) spent many years on top of a column in imitation of the earlier Symeon, the patron saint of Qal'at Sem'an. Tokens bearing his image were made from the earth at the base of the column. According to the saint's biography, one of the purposes of these tokens was medicinal. When ground to dust and mixed with water, they formed a paste capable of curing a range of diseases. They also prevented disasters. A token was once dissolved and sprinkled over a stormy sea by a monk called Dorotheos; the miraculous dust calmed the sea at once, and the monk's life was thus saved. Earthenware pilgrim tokens were also distributed at Qal' at Sem' an.