Saint NameArtemios, martyr in Antioch on the Orontes, ob. 362 : S01128
Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033
Saint Name in SourceἈρτέμιος
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Hagiographical - Monastic collections (apophthegmata, etc.)
Evidence not before658
Evidence not after668
Activity not before582
Activity not after668
Place of Evidence - RegionConstantinople and region
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcConstantinople
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Constantinople
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsVisiting graves and shrines
Cult Activities - MiraclesMiracle after death
Healing diseases and disabilities
Apparition, vision, dream, revelation
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesWomen
SourceThe Miracles of Artemios is a collection of 45 miracle-stories, effected by the saint at and around his burial and cult site in the church of St. John the Baptist in the Oxeia quarter of Constantinople. Artemios was an Alexandrian dux and martyr of the reign of Julian, who has an independent Martyrdom (E06781). The Miracles does not include this passio, although the stories on occasion show some acquaintance with it. Nothing is known of the cult before the period described in the Miracles.
The Miracles’ vignettes stretch from (at least) the reign of Maurice (582-602) to that of Constans II (641-668). The current text was compiled in the period 658-668: the terminus post quem is provided by the last datable event mentioned within the text (Mir. 41: 4 October 658) and the terminus ante quem by the fact that Constans is there described as still alive (as he is too in Mir. 23).
The text is not, however, the product of a single pen, but seems instead to be a compilation of several parts. Those narratives at the beginning and end of the collection (Mir. 1-14, 42-45) are short, somewhat unembellished, healing narratives of a more-or-less standardised kind; while those of the central section are far more elaborate and varied, and seem to fall into rough thematic doublets or groups. One such group is conspicuous because all of its miracles (24-31) conclude with some sermonettes on secular medicine. The most obvious explanation for this basic dissonance is that the collection as we have it has been composed from at least three different parts: first, an earlier, more simple collection which opens the text; second, an original composition in the central section (where the addition of the sermonettes to some miracles perhaps indicates the exploitation of another, pre-existent collection of miracles); and third, a final addition of the four concluding miracles.
Besides pre-existent collections of written material preserved within the shrine itself, the text also draws, no doubt, on the oral traditions then circulating amongst the shrine’s clientele. The text itself describes in vivid terms the community of clerics and lay devotees who gathered around the shrine, in particular for its weekend vigil, and several such persons are the protagonists of individual miracles. One such person is an anonymous devotee of the saint’s vigil who features in two long and detailed miracles (Mir. 18, 22); another is George, a cleric and devotee of Artemios, who features as protagonist in three different miracles (Mir. 38-40). It seems clear, then, that the compiler draws from the oral accounts, or perhaps even written records, which the saint’s clerics and devotees produced, and which provide these central miracles with their vivid detail and insight. Indeed, although the compiler of the collection is anonymous, it is reasonable to suppose that he is also a lay devotee of the saint, and perhaps even one of those persons who feature prominently in the text.
Through descriptions of this vigil, and other scattered details, we are offered an unparalleled perspective both on the layout of the church of St. John—which can be reconstructed in some detail—and on the practices of Artemios’s devotees. The saint’s cult was an incubatory healing cult, in which the sick came to the shrine and slept overnight, in the hope of a miraculous cure. The collection underlines the importance of performing ‘the customary rites’ in advance of a cure, which seems to mean the dedication of a votive lamp and other offerings. The weekly vigil is also presented as especially efficacious, for on this night it was possible to sleep in and around the crypt where the tomb which contained the saint’s relics was sited (see e.g. Mir. 17).
Almost all of the cures occur within the church of St John itself, or else upon those who have spent some time there and then withdrawn. The principal mode of healing is a miraculous dream, sometimes in combination with the application of holy oil taken from the tomb’s lamps, or a wax-salve imprinted with the image of the saint. Almost all of the miracles concern healing, but also of a particular kind. For Artemios was a specialist in diseases of the male genitals and groin, which dominate the entire collection. Sick women at the shrine could expect a vision of the martyr *Phebronia, who appears in several places as Artemios’ female equivalent (Mir. 6, 23, 24, 38, 45).
In contrast to equivalent collections, Artemios does not collaborate with secular doctors, or depend on quasi-Hippocratic cures. Indeed, one of the most striking features of the text is the series of sermonettes which punctuate the central miracles and denounce in virulent terms the inadequacies of contemporaneous Hippocratic medicine (Mir. 24-31).
The text was compiled at a moment of high drama for the eastern Roman Empire, in which its territorial holdings, and revenues, had been dramatically reduced through the Arab conquests. This context is however strikingly absent from the collection, which instead paints a picture of vivid and thriving urban life, in particular amongst the capital’s middle classes, who make up the vast majority of the saint’s devotees. Nevertheless, it has been suggested the text offers a powerful political metaphor related to the perceived disease of the body politic: that the cure for all ailments, whether derived from sin or from natural causes, is not to turn to other men, but rather to propitiate and to trust in God.
DiscussionThis healing miracle, a short and to some extent standarised account, belongs to the first of the several sections that make up the collection of Artemios' miracles (Mir. 1-14; see Discussion).
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