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E05371: The Miracles of Saint Thekla recounts how *Thekla (follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092) overpowered Zeus, drove him from Seleucia ad Calycadnum, and made his temple into a shrine of *Paul (the Apostle, S00008). He mentions the veneration of Paul at Tarsus and Thekla at Seleucia by the citizens of both cities, explains how the saints can help us on earth, and enumerates the many types of miracle that Thekla can bring about. Written in Greek at Seleucia ad Calycadnum (southern Asia Minor) in the 470s.

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posted on 25.04.2018, 00:00 by julia
Miracles of Saint Thekla, 4

After having performed the deeds described in E05838, Thekla turned her attack upon Zeus, the very chief of the demons. In a manly fashion she drove him out of the city, like a criminal or a tyrant, and made his temple into a dwelling place for her teacher Paul, just as Paul had done in his city of Tarsus.

ὥστε ξενίζειν τε καὶ ξενίζεσθαι παρ’ ἀλλήλοις καὶ τοὺς ἀλλήλων πολίτας ἀνθυποδέχεσθαι. Πρόξενος γοῦν Σελευκέων μὲν ὁ Παῦλος, Ταρσέων δὲ ἡ παρθένος, καὶ πολλή τις ἡ ἐν τοῖς πολίταις τούτοις ἅμιλλα, ἢ ἐπὶ τὸν ἀπόστολον ἀναδράμοιεν κατὰ τὴν ἐκείνου πανήγυριν, ἢ ἐκεῖθεν ἐπὶ τὴν ἀπόστολον ὁμοίως ἔλθοιεν κατὰ τὴν αὐτῆς ἑορτήν, καὶ ἐπὶ τὴν ἀπόστολον ὁμοίως ἔλθοιεν κατὰ τὴν αὐτῆς ἑορτήν, καὶ πολλὴ πᾶσιν ἡμῖν ἡ περὶ τούτου ἔρις ἐμπέφυκε καὶ λίαν ἀγαθὴ καὶ πρέπουσα χριστιανῶν παισί τε καὶ δήμοις.

Καὶ τὰ μὲν κατὰ τῶν δαιμόνων θαύματα τοιαῦτα τῆς μάρτυρος, ἃ καὶ τοῖς ἄγαν βουλομένοις ἀπιστεῖν οὐκ ἔστι μὴ πάντως ὁμολογεῖν μήτε λέγειν καὶ διηγεῖσθαι ἄλλοις. Τίς γὰρ ἂν τὰ ὑπὸ τοῖς πάντων ὀφθαλμοῖς ἀρνήσαιτο μὴ οὕτως ἔχειν ἢ μὴ οὕτω γεγενῆσθαι; Ἐπεὶ καὶ τὸ κρατῆσαι πολυχρονίων οὕτω δαιμόνων καὶ πολλὴν τὴν ἀπὸ τῶν αὐτοῖς λατρευόντων προβεβλημένων ἰσχύν—οὗτοι δὲ ἦσαν ὅλαι πόλεις καὶ ὅλα ἔθνη—μόνου τε Θεοῦ καὶ μόνων τῶν ὑπὸ Θεοῦ τεταγμένων εἰς τοῦτο μαρτύρων. Ὥσπερ δὲ ἄλλοις ἄλλας τῶν ἁγίων πόλεις καὶ χώρας ὁ Χριστὸς διένειμεν ὥστε ἀνακαθᾶραι σὺν ἀκριβείᾳ τὴν γῆν, οὕτω καὶ αὐτῇ ταύτην ἀπένειμεν, ὡς Πέτρῳ τὴν Ἰουδαίαν, ὡς Παύλῳ τὰ ἔθνη.

Ἀλλὰ γὰρ ἰτέον ἤδη καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ λοιπὰ θαύματα τῆς μάρτυρος. Τοσοῦτον δὲ προρρητέον μόνον· ἐπειδὴ γὰρ Θεοῦ μὲν ἐπιτυχεῖν οὐ πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις ἦν εὐπετὲς οὐδὲ ῥᾷστον, δυνάμεως οὕτως ὑπερτάτης καὶ ὑψηλοτάτης καὶ οὐδὲ ἀγγέλοις οὐδὲ ἀρχαγγέλοις ἐφικτῆς, ἦ πού γε ἀνθρώποις, ἢ διὰ βίον ἢ διὰ τρόπον ἢ δι’ ἀμφότερα κωλυομένοις τῆς θείας ἐκείνης ἀκοῆς ἐξικνεῖσθαι, πολὺ δὲ ὅσον καὶ φιλοκίνδυνον ἀεὶ τὸ γένος τῶν ἀνθρώπων, πολλαῖς ἀεὶ καὶ ποικίλαις περιπειρόμενον ὀδύναις καὶ ἀνίαις, φιλάνθρωπος ὢν ὁ Θεὸς καὶ περὶ τὸ ἐλεεῖν ἑτοιμότατος καὶ φιλοτιμότατος ἐγκατασπείρει τῇ γῇ τοὺς ἁγίους, ὥσπερ τισὶν ἰατροῖς ἀρίστοις κατανείμας τὴν οἰκουμένην, ὥστε τὰ μὲν αὐτοὺς ἀπραγματεύτως θαυματουργεῖν ὥς που καὶ πλησιαίτερον τῶν δεομένων ὄντας κἀκ τοῦ παραχρῆμα ἐπαΐοντάς τε καὶ τὴν θεραπείαν ἐπάγοντας, τὰ δὲ καὶ διὰ τῆς αὐτοῦ χάριτος καὶ δυνάμεως μεγαλουργεῖν ὅσα καὶ τῆς αὐτοῦ μάλιστα δεῖται βοηθείας, πρεσβεύοντας, παρακαλοῦντας, δυσωποῦντας ὑπὲρ ἐθνῶν, ὑπὲρ πόλεων, ὑπὲρ γενῶν καὶ δήμων, κατὰ λοιμῶν καὶ λιμῶν καὶ πολέμων καὶ αὐχμῶν καὶ σεισμῶν καὶ ὅσων οἷόν τε μάλιστα τὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ χεῖρα μόνην ὑπερέχειν τε καὶ ἀντιλαβέσθαι κραταιῶς.

Εἰκότως οὖν καὶ ἡ μεγάλη μάρτυς, ὡς μεγάλα τε δυναμένη καὶ ἐπὶ τοῦτο ταχθεῖσα παρὰ τοῦ κοινοῦ βασιλέως Χριστοῦ, πολλάκις καὶ λιμὸν ἔπαυσε, καὶ λοιμὸν ἔλυσε, καὶ αὐχμὸν ἔσβεσε, καὶ πόλεμον ἔθραυσε, καὶ πολεμίους παρέδωκε, καὶ πόλεις ἔσωσε, καὶ οἴκους ἐφύλαξε, καὶ κοινῇ τε πᾶσι καὶ τοῖς καθ’ ἕκαστον ἅπερ ἕκαστος ᾔτησεν ἀφθόνως ἔδωκε—μόνον εἰ συμφερόντως τις καὶ πρεπόντως ᾔτησεν, ἅμα καὶ τὸν βίον τοῦ πάντως τι λαβεῖν ἄξιον ἀεὶ παρεχόμενος, ὡς ὅ γε ῥυπῶν καὶ δυσαγὴς οὐδὲ προσιτός ἐστί ποτε τῇ ἁγίᾳ μεγαλομάρτυρι. Φέρε δὴ καὶ τῶν κατὰ μέρος καὶ εἴς τινας ὑπαρξάντων ἢ κοινῶς ἢ ἰδίως θαυμάτων μνημονεύσωμεν, ὥστε τοῖς παρ’ ἡμῶν λεγομένοις καὶ πίστιν ἀναμφίβολον ἐπακολουθεῖν τὰ πράγματα.


'So they gave and received hospitality from one another and welcomed the citizens of each other's city into their respective hometowns. Paul was a guest of the Seleukeians, and the virgin of the Tarsians, and great was the competition between the citizens: whether [our citizens] should flock to the apostle Paul on his feast day, or [the Tarsians] should likewise come from there to our apostle Thekla on the day of her festival. The rivalry over this issue has become great among all of us and is very beneficial and appropriate for Christian children and communities.

Such were the miracles performed by the martyr with regard to the demons, miracles which even those who very much want to disbelieve find it impossible to deny entirely or tell and relate to others. For who could contradict events which have taken place in plain sight of everyone, claiming that they do not occur or that they did not happen in this way? For the overpowering of demons of such a great age, who could defend themselves with the great strength of their worshippers (these were whole cities and nations), belongs to God alone and to the martyrs appointed by God for this purpose. Just as Christ apportioned some cities and lands to certain saints and others to others - so that he cleansed the land thoroughly - he thus assigned our land to Thekla, as he did Judea to Peter, and to Paul the nations [i.e., the Gentiles].

But we must move on to the remaining miracles of the martyr, though with necessary addition of one last point. Namely, it is not a light or easy matter for every person to encounter God - since his power is so lofty and sublime and unattainable even to angels and archangels. How much more so then for men, whether it was their lifestyle or character, or both, that prevented them from perceiving that divine voice (especially since the human race is always fond of danger and always entangled in many and various griefs and sorrows). But God, being a friend of mankind, very disposed to act mercifully, and supremely generous, sowed his saints over the land, as if parceling out the inhabited world among certain excellent doctors, so that, on the one hand, they could work miracles without effort, somehow because they are nearer to those who entreat them and can immediately react and bring healing. On the other hand, they could accomplish through God's grace and power such great miracles as may require his special assistance, through intercession, consolation, and entreaty on behalf of nations, cities, races, peoples, against plagues, famines, wars, droughts, earthquakes, and as many disasters as the hand of God alone can mightily subdue and alleviate.

Appropriately, also, the great martyr - since she can accomplish great things and was appointed for this purpose by our common king Christ - often halted famine, put an end to plague, quenched drought, terminated war, handed over enemies, saved cities, protected houses, and gave out bountifully, to the collective and to each individual, the very things which each asked for, as long as one made an expedient and appropriate request and, at the same time, offered in return a lifestyle entirely worthy to receive [the gift], since one who is defiled and impious will never be able to approach the holy megalomartyr. Come now and let us call to mind the miracles that occurred in turn to certain people, either in a group or individually, so that an unwavering faith in her deeds might follow upon my words.'

Text: Dagron 1978. Translation: Johnson 2012. Summary: J. Doroszewska.

History

Evidence ID

E05371

Saint Name

Thekla, follower of the Apostle Paul : S00092 Paul, the Apostle : S00008

Saint Name in Source

Θέκλα Παῦλος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

470

Evidence not after

476

Activity not after

476

Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Seleucia ad Calycadnum

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Seleucia ad Calycadnum Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Power over elements (fire, earthquakes, floods, weather) Miraculous protection - of people and their property Miraculous interventions in war Other miracles with demons and demonic creatures

Source

The anonymous text known under the title of The Life and Miracles of Thekla was written in the city of Seleucia-on-the-Calycadnum in the province of Isauria in southern Asia Minor around 470. It was certainly written before c. 476, which is approximately when Thekla's shrine outside Seleucia (modern Meriamlik/Ayatekla in Turkey) was monumentalised by the emperor Zeno (r. 474-491), since this activity is not mentioned in the text. The text consists of two parts: the first half is a paraphrased version of the second-century Acts of Paul and Thekla, a text which was widely known in Late Antiquity and translated into every early Christian language; this early text was rendered by our author into Attic Greek, and contains many minor changes to the original story, with one major change at the end: instead of dying at the age of 19 years, Thekla descends into the earth and performs miracles in and around the city of Seleucia in a spiritual state. The second half, from which this passage is drawn, comprises a collection of forty-six miracles, preceded by a preface and followed by an epilogue. It is written in a high literary style which distinguishes it among other hagiographical texts, which were typically composed in a low style of Greek. The text was for a long time attributed to a 5th century bishop, Basil of Seleucia (fl. c. 448-468); but in 1974 Dagron demonstrated conclusively that the Miracles could not have been authored by Basil, since there is an invective directed against him in chapter 12. The anonymous author is himself the subject of a few miracles, including miraculous interventions on his behalf in ecclesiastical disputes.

Bibliography

Edition: Dagron, G., Vie et miracles de sainte Thècle (Subsidia hagiographica 62; Brussels: Société des Bollandistes, 1978), with French translation. Translations: Johnson, S.F., Miracles of Saint Thekla, in : S.F. Johnson and A.-M. Talbot, Miracle Tales from Byzantium (Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library 12; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), 1-201. Festugière, A.-J., Collections grecques de Miracles: sainte Thècle, saints Côme et Damien, saints Cyr et Jean (extraits), saint Georges (Paris: Éditions A. et J. Picard, 1971). Further reading: Barrier, J., et al., Thecla: Paul's Disciple and Saint in the East and West (Leuven: Peeters, 2017). Constantinou, S., “Thekla the Virgin: Women's Sacrifice and the Generic Martyr,” in: A. Korangi and L. Rouhi (eds.), The ‘Other’ Martyrs: Women and the Poetics of Sexuality, Sacrifice, and Death in World Literatures (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2019). Dagron, G., “L'auteur des Actes et des Miracles de Sainte Thècle,” Analecta Bollandiana, 92 (1974), 5–11. Davis, S., The Cult of Saint Thecla: A Tradition of Women's Piety in Late Antiquity, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001). Honey, L., “Topography in the Miracles of Thecla: Reconfiguring Rough Cilicia,” in: M.C. Hoff and R.F. Townsend (eds), Rough Cilicia: New Historical and Archaeological Approaches, Proceedings on an International Conference held at Lincoln, Nebraska, October 2007 (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2013), 252–59. Johnson, S.F., “The Life and Miracles of Thecla, a literary study” (University of Oxford, doctoral thesis, 2005). Kristensen, T.M., "Landscape, Space and Presence in the Cult of Thekla in Meriamlik," Journal of Early Christian Studies 24:2 (2016), 229-263.

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