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E05398: The Miracles of Saint Thekla recounts how *Thekla (follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092) saved Dexianos, bishop of Seleucia, from a demon who attacked him. She commanded him to use the perfumed oil from her sanctuary which delivered Dexianos from the demon in three days. Written in Greek at Seleucia ad Calycadnum (southern Asia Minor) in the 470s.

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posted on 03.05.2018, 00:00 by julia
Miracles of Saint Thekla, 7

Dexianos, bishop of Seleucia ad Calycadnum, a holy man and attendant of the martyr, was once attacked by a demon who was envious of his universally good reputation. One night, the demon appeared to Dexianos, while he was on the privy, looking wild, panting, leering and making insane noises, so the bishop was stupefied and completely overwhelmed with dread. Out of great fear, his head was dislocated and shook. His miserable state caused a common grief among those who saw him.

The martyr recognised the demon who had done this to Dexianos and delivered the bishop from his suffering so that his great affliction ceased immediately and disappeared through the miracle.

νύκτωρ γὰρ ἐπιφοιτήσασα αὐτῷ κελεύει μηδαμῶς μὲν ἀθυμεῖν μήτε δεδιέναι μήτε ὀλιγοπιστίας πρᾶγμα ὑπομένειν, χρήσασθαι δὲ πρὸς θεραπείαν ἐλαίῳ τῷ τὸ νυκτιαῖον ἀεὶ φυλάττοντι φῶς κατὰ τὸν αὐτῆς χῶρον καὶ τὸ βῆμα τὸ ἱερόν. Τοῦτο ἀκούσας ὁ Δεξιανὸς καὶ ὑπὸ μόνης μὲν τῆς θαυμαστῆς ὄψεως καὶ περιχαρείας ἰάθη, διαναστὰς δὲ τῆς κλίνης καὶ τῷ ἐλαίῳ μυρωθέντι χρισάμενος, αὐτῆς δήπουθεν καὶ τοῦτο ἐργασαμένης, εἰς δευτέραν ἔτι καὶ ἑτέραν ἡμέραν οὐκ ἐδεήθη τοῦ φαρμάκου, πλήν γε ὅσον ἐπιγαυρούμενος τῷ βοηθήματι κατεχρήσατο τῷ δώρῳ. Τοσαύτην δὲ καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα τὴν ἰσχὺν ἔσχε τοῦτο τὸ προσταχθέν, ὥστε αὐτῷ καὶ ἐν ἑτέρῳ πάλιν κινδυνεύσαντι καιρῷ κατὰ δαίμονος καὶ τότε προσβολὴν ἐπαρκέσαι.

'For, visiting him during the night, she commanded him never to lose heart, nor to be afraid, nor to abide any deed of weak faith, but to use as a remedy the oil that perpetually maintains a nocturnal light at her place and in the holy sanctuary. Hearing this, Dexianos was healed by the miraculous vision alone and his extreme joy: he rose from his bed and anointed himself with the oil which had become fragrant – this was apparently her working as well – for two days, and required the remedy no more, but he was so excited by the assistance [he had received] that he overused the gift. This prescription continued to be so effective thereafter that, for Dexianos, it sufficed to ward off a subsequent assault, when on another occasion he was again endangered by a demon.'

Text: Dagron 1978. Translation (lightly modified): Johnson 2012. Summary: J. Doroszewska.

History

Evidence ID

E05398

Saint Name

Thekla, follower of the Apostle Paul : S00092

Saint Name in Source

Θέκλα

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 - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Other miracles with demons and demonic creatures Miraculous protection - other

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Demons

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - oil

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Oil lamps/candles

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.

Discussion

'For visiting him during the night, she commanded him never to lose heart, nor to be afraid, nor to abide any deed of weak faith, but to use as a remedy the oil that perpetually maintains a nocturnal light at her place and in the sanctuary'. This probably refers to lamps burning perpetually at the saint's special place of veneration and at the altar space (two sacred foci of her shrine). 'Hearing this, Dexianos was healed by the miraculous vision alone and his extreme joy: he rose from his bed and anointed himself with the oil which had become fragrant – this was apparently her working as well – for two days, and required the remedy no more, but he was so excited with the assistance that he overused the gift.' Here we have an additional miracle taking place within the story: the bishop takes oil from the burning lamps, which, extraordinarily, has become fragrant, denoting the presence of the saint's grace in it.

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). 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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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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