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E05424: The Miracles of Saint Thekla recounts how *Thekla (follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092) twice miraculously saved Menodoros, the bishop of Aigai in Cilicia: from the intrigue of an imperial eunuch, Eutropios; and from a fire in Constantinople, where afterwards a church was built and probably dedicated to Thekla. Written in Greek at Seleucia ad Calycadnum (southern Asia Minor) in the 470s.

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posted on 14.05.2018, 00:00 by julia
Miracles of Saint Thekla, 9

There was certain Menodoros, bishop of Aigai in Cilicia, a man of superlative excellence, who was believed to perform miracles. It was even said that through prayer he restored to life a person who had died. Once, this man was appointed by a faithful, respected and faithful woman to be the heir of her personal estate, since she hoped that he would manage well the wealth which was bequeathed and would not appropriate anything from it for his personal gain.

One of the eunuchs dwelling in the household of the emperor [Arkadios], Eutropios by name, who was very powerful, but was a malicious and greedy individual, when he learned that the woman had died and that Menodoros inherited her wealth, was immediately filled with envy. He attempted to divest Menodoros of the inheritance and gain the wealth for himself in the following way. He appealed to the emperor and arranged for him to decree that at no time could a woman make a cleric her heir, if he was not related to her. On such a basis Menodoros could be prosecuted. Eutropios sent soldiers from the capital [i.e. Constantinople] to arrest the bishop under the pretence that he had broken the law and stolen the wealth of the woman. Menodoros was led away, while Eutropios was exerting pressure on him and exacting money from him.

Λύει μὲν οὖν ὅμως τὸν οὕτω χαλεπὸν καὶ βαρὺν πόλεμον ἡ μάρτυς εὐνοίᾳ καὶ μνήμῃ τῶν ποτε ὑπαρξάντων αὐτῇ παρὰ τοῦ Μηνοδώρου, πρεσβυτέρου τε ὄντος καὶ παρεδρεύοντος καὶ βιοῦντος τῶν ἐκείνης ἐπαξίως ὀφθαλμῶν πάντοτε. Λύει δὲ οὕτως· κατηφιῶντι γὰρ αὐτῷ καὶ ποτνιωμένῳ καὶ προσευχομένῳ καὶ τήν γε αὐτῆς μετὰ Χριστὸν ἐπιβοωμένῳ βοήθειαν ἐπιφοιτήσασα ἡ μάρτυς εἶπε μὴ ἂν ἄλλως ἀπαλλαγήσεσθαι τῆς ταραχῆς ταύτης καὶ ζάλης καὶ τρικυμίας ἐξ οὕτω μεγάλης ἀνακυκηθείσης δυναστείας εἰ μὴ τὸν δεῖνα διδάξοι τῶν συνηγόρων, τοῦτον δὲ εἶναι τὸν ἅμα τῇ ἕῳ πρὸς ταῖς ἱεραῖς θύραις τῆς ἐκκλησίας ἀπαντήσοντα, καὶ τοιόνδε καὶ τοιόνδε ὄντα τῷ σχήματι—καὶ γὰρ ὅστις ἦν, ὑπέγραψεν αὐτῷ τῷ λόγῳ τὸν ἄνδρα—· ὡς διαναστάντα τῆς κλίνης αὐτὸν καὶ δραμόντα πρὸς ταῖς θύραις τῆς ἐκκλησίας εὑρεῖν ἐκεῖνον ὕπαρ, ὃν ὄναρ ἐδόκει θεᾶσθαι. Ἀταλάντιος δὲ ἦν ὄνομα τούτῳ, τότε μὲν ἐν τοῖς ῥήτορσι, τελευταῖον δὲ καὶ ἐν ἐπισκόποις ἐκλάμψαντι.

'The martyr, nevertheless, put an end to such a harsh and grievous battle in gratitude and remembrance of the acts which, at one time or another, were devoted to her by Menodoros, while he was her presbyter and attendant and lived in a manner that was entirely dignified in her eyes. She put an end to it in this way. The martyr visited this man while ha was downcast, crying aloud, praying, and invoking her help, after that of Christ. She told him that he would not be delivered from the disturbance of the stormy waves stirred up by such a great power, unless he should explain [his case] to a certain lawyer. This lawyer would meet him at dawn before the holy doors of the church, and he would be such and such in appearance, and she described for him in words what this man looked like. So, Menodoros rose up from his bed and rushed to the doors of the church, where he found in actuality that man, who had before seemed to appear as a dream. Atalantios was the man's name; he was at that time a well-known rhetor, but became in the end a distinguished bishop.'

Atalantios instructed Menodoros what to do in the battle with his enemy Eutropios. Armed by him with arguments, Menodors said to Eutropios that the law of the emperor sought to forbid women from making clerics their heirs, but he himself was not a cleric, but a chief of the clerics; the bishop was someone different from the clerics.

τῆς μάρτυρος δηλονότι καὶ παρούσης καὶ παρομαρτούσης τοῖς γενομένοις καὶ πάντα ταῦτα ποιούσης ἰσχυρά τε καὶ ἀκαταγώνιστα, ὡς τὸν ἐκ νεφῶν ποθεν δοκοῦντα βροντᾶν Εὐτρόπιον ἀράχνης εὐχερέστερον διαλυθῆναι, καὶ ἀγαπητῶς τῆς ἀθεμίτου ταύτης ἀπαλλαγῆναι δίκης.

'But clearly the martyr was present and fought alongside him in these events, and she made sure all his arguments were strong and invincible, so that Eutropios, who had once appeared to thunder from the clouds on high, was easier to crush than a spider's web, and Menodoros was happily delivered from this unlawful judgement.'

The martyr Thekla also performed another miracle for the sake of Menodoros, which happened before the one described above. Menodoros, when still attached to the church of Thekla in Seleucia, was once sent to Constantinople on some business by Symposios, the bishop of Seleucia. As he was a stranger, he took up lodgings, but Thekla warned him that the house was about to burn down and instructed him to change lodgings. Right after she uttered her warning and Menodors made the move, the house caught fire and was burnt to ashes.

ἡ μάρτυς δὲ ᾔδετο, ὑμνεῖτο, εὐφημεῖτο κατὰ τὴν μεγίστην καὶ βασιλίζουσαν πόλιν. Τῆς δὲ τοιαύτης προφητείας καὶ ἆθλον ὁ Μηνόδωρος ἐκομίσατο παρὰ βασιλέως τὴν νῦν μὲν ἐκκλησίαν οὖσαν, πάλαι δὲ δίκης καὶ θέμιδος ὂν χωρίον, δι’ ὃ καί—ὥς φασιν— ἔσταλτο παρὰ βασιλέα.

'The martyr was praised, celebrated, and honoured throughout the supreme imperial city. For this prophecy Menodoros received a prize from the emperor: the church that is there today, but which formerly was a place of law and justice. This was the reason for which, so they say, he had been sent to the emperor [in the first place].'

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

History

Evidence ID

E05424

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 before

395

Activity not after

425

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 Juridical interventions Miraculous protection - of people and their property

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Eunuchs Officials Monarchs and their family

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

The somewhat obscure final sentence of this miracle story, in which a church is apparently granted to Menodoros in Constantinople, perhaps refers to the rededication of former law courts as a church to Thekla.

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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