In your inventory tab National Archaeological Museum translates: “The girl signature, of sweet character, he lived between a good two years and eight months. She was welcomed into peace on the seventh day of the Kalends of February [25 de enero]Saturday”. It is an inscription on a tombstone in Latin that also has a chrismon. It is about a Christian who lived more than 15 centuries ago in what is now the municipality of marbella and that belongs to the necropolis of more than 148 burials that surrounds the early Christian basilica of Vega del Mar. Two steps from the promenade of Saint Peter of Alcantara, of beaches, golf courses or other monuments of marine heritage and on land. The site is located at a point that provides enough arguments to spend good days of leisure and offers the possibility of looking at the sea as the oldest Christians did, of whom a similar heritage is preserved in this part of the west coast of Malaga.

The dating of the piece by the National Archaeological Museum places Firmana living at the end of the fourth century or the beginning of the V. Other authors point out that it is from the VI, but the Professor of Epigraphy and Numismatics in Complutense University of Madrid, Javier Santiago Fernandez published in the journal of ancient history Geryon an analysis in which he places the epigraphic elements in time, comparing the tombstone of Firmana found in San Pedro de Alcántara with others from the Iberian Peninsula and from different periods. In addition, the typology of the chrismon and other factors make the professor limit the age of the tombstone to ten possibilities: “it can be dated in any of the years of the second half of the fourth century (346, 352, 357, 363, 374, 380, 385, 391) or the first (402, 413) of the V”, which are the ten years in which “the seventh day before the kalendas of February was Saturday”.

The first Christians in Malaga

Firmana’s tombstone.

Firmana’s tombstone.


National Archaeological Museum.

So the peculiar basilica around which the tombstone was found is one of the oldest Christian sites preserved in the province. Recently, Paleo-Christian remains were found in the Sagrario church in the Malacitana capital, dating from between the 4th and 6th centuries. The Christian presence in what is now the province of Malaga is dated, according to the Diocese of Malaga, by the documents that point to St. Patrick as the first bishop of Malaga that is recorded by the minutes of the Council of Elvirawhere he was accompanied by the presbyters of Teba, Acinipo (near Ronda), Singilia Barba (near Antequera) and Iluro (Álora)at the beginning of the fourth century and from whose records it is intuited that he must have been Bishop of Malaga from the 290. After Saint Patrick there are no successor documents until 578. By then, Christianity was already organized and widespread.

The Paleo-Roman basilica of Vega del Mar has three naves and two apses, particularities that, along with other aspects, it shares with similar constructions found in the north of Africa. It also has a baptismal font and is surrounded by eucalyptus trees a short distance from the sea. The land, bought by Azucarera Española at the beginning of the 20th century and before by the Cordovan (from Argentina) Marquis of the Duero, Manuel Gutiérrez de la Concha and Irigoyen, which created an agricultural colony that gave rise to the current San Pedro. The site was excavated for the first time in 1916, then the Firmana tombstone was found, but later it was excavated again in 1930 and in 1981. Part of the findings of the last works can be seen in the Malaga Museum.

This heritage point is not only close to San Pedro, Estepona and Marbella with everything that the three towns offer, it also has a stage suitable for all of the Great Path of Malaga. Specifically, the path that goes from San Pedro de Alcántara to the Guadalmansa tower. That in fact passes next to the Paleo-Christian basilica. It is a route with very good views, little demand in terms of unevenness and that can offer some nature by the sea depending on the time of year you visit.

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