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E05479: The Miracles of Saint Thekla recounts how *Thekla (follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092) did not allow an Arian bishop Symposios to remove an inscription proclaiming the consubstantiality of the Holy Trinity from the wall of her shrine at Seleucia, which caused his conversion from the heresy. We are also told that Thekla's power reaches every place on earth, helping those who invoke her, wherever they are. Written in Greek at Seleucia ad Calycadnum (southern Asia Minor) in the 470s.

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posted on 21.05.2018, 00:00 by julia
Miracles of Saint Thekla, 10

Ἐπεὶ δὲ ὁ Συμπόσιος ἧκεν ἡμῖν εἰς μνήμην, καλὸν μηδὲ ἐκεῖνο σιωπῇ παραδραμεῖν μέγιστόν τε ὂν σφόδρα καὶ τῆς μάρτυρος ἐπάξιον ἔργον. Κατά τινα τῶν τοίχων αὐτοῦ τοῦ νεὼ τῆς μάρτυρος, τὸν καὶ ἀντιπρόσωπον τῆς ἔνδον καὶ δευτέρας πύλης τῶν ἱερῶν περιβόλων, τῆς καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν νεὼν αὐτὸν καὶ τὰ σεμνὰ καὶ τοὺς παρθενῶνας ἀπαγούσης, ἐμπέπηγε γράμματα διὰ ψηφῖδος λεπτῆς καὶ χρυσῆς, τῆς ἁγίας καὶ ὑπερτάτης Τριάδος κηρύττοντα πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις τὸ ὁμοούσιον. Ταῦτα τὰ γράμματα ὁ Συμπόσιος, ὡς ἅτε ἀρειανός τε ὢν ἔτι καὶ παρ’ ὁμοδόξων ἐπισκόπων χειροτονηθεὶς ἐπίσκοπος, ἐκκολαφθῆναι κελεύει ὡς ἂν μὴ συνᾴδοντα τῇ τούτων βδελυρίᾳ.

Ὁ δὲ τοῦτο ἐπιταχθεὶς σφῦραν τε καὶ κολαπτῆρα λαβὼν καὶ διὰ πάσης ἐγκαρτερήσας ἡμέρας παίων καὶ κολάπτων, πάντα τρόπον ἀνορύττειν αὐτὰ πειρώμενος, τὰ μὲν γράμματα τῆς μακαρίας ἐκείνης ὁμολογίας οὐδ’ ὅλως ἐκίνησεν, ἀλλ' οὐδ’ ἐπεχάραξεν, οὐδ’—ὅ φησιν Ὅμηρος—ἐπέγραψε, σκεπούσης αὐτὰ δηλονότι καὶ φυλαττούσης τῆς ἀχράντου καὶ ἀκηράτου καὶ παρθενικῆς ἐκείνης χειρὸς ὡς βασιλικὰ σήμαντρα, ὡς θεμέλια καὶ φυλακτήρια τῆς ὅλης πίστεως καὶ αὐτοῦ τοῦ νεὼ καὶ αὐτῆς τῆς ἀνθρωπίνης φύσεως. Τελευταῖον δὲ καὶ αὐτὸς ἐκεῖνος ὁ τοῖς θείοις γράμμασι πολεμῶν ἀποπεσὼν τῆς κλίμακος συνετρίβη τε εὖ μάλα καὶ παρὰ πόδας ὧν ἐτόλμησε τὴν δίκην ἔδωκε. Καὶ ὁ Συμπόσιος δὲ τοῦ κακοῦ φρονήματος εὐθὺς τότε μεταθέμενος ἐκεῖνα ἔλεγεν, ἐκεῖνα ἀπέπνει, ἐκεῖνα ἀνωμολόγει, ἐκεῖνα δημοσίᾳ τε καὶ ἀναφανδὸν ἐκήρυττεν ἃ τὰ πρότερον πολεμούμενα γράμματα ἐδίδασκεν· ἡ Τριὰς ὁμοούσιος.

Ἀλλ’ ἄγε δὴ μετάβηθι, τοῦτό φησι μὲν Ὅμηρος, ἐμοὶ δὲ ποιητέον, καὶ πρὸς ἕτερα θαύματα μεταβητέον λοιπόν· οὐκ εἰς ἅπαντα μέν, ὅσα δὲ δυνατὸν ἐμοί. Καὶ γὰρ τῶν ἀμηχάνων εὑρεῖν τε πάντα καὶ εὑρόντα εἰπεῖν· ὥσπερ γὰρ ὅτε νιφάδες ἐπὶ γῆς φέρονται πολλάκις ὕοντος τοῦ Θεοῦ τῶν ἀμηχάνων ἐστὶ φράσαι πόσας ταύτας ἀφίησιν ὁ Θεός, οὕτω καὶ τῶν Θέκλας θαυμάτων ἀνεξερεύνητος ὁ ἀριθμός· οὔτε γὰρ ἔληξεν, οὔτε μὴν λήξει ποτὲ τοῦ θαυματουργεῖν, ἀγαθή τε οὖσα καὶ πρὸς ἕκαστον ἀεὶ τῶν αἰτούντων ἐπικαμπτομένη. Οὗτοι δέ εἰσι πάντες ἄνθρωποι· ὅσα γὰρ ἔθνη, ὅσα γένη, ὅσαι πόλεις, ὅσαι κῶμαι, ὅσοι ἀγροὶ καὶ οἶκοι, πάντες τῆς μάρτυρος δέονται, μεθ’ ὧν τε ἔχουσι μαρτύρων καὶ πρό γε πάντων ταύτην ἐπιβοώμενοι.

Καὶ γὰρ οἷς οὐκ ἔστι δύναμις τοῦ παραγενέσθαι καὶ τὸν νεὼν τοῦτον καταλαβεῖν, ἐν οἷσπερ καὶ εἰσὶ τόποις ἐπικαλεσάμενοι, ὡς παρούσης αὐτῆς καὶ πυνθανομένης οὕτω τυγχάνουσι ἑτοίμως τῆς βοηθείας. Οὔτε γὰρ εἴργει τὴν χάριν αὐτῆς καὶ δύναμιν οὐδὲν μὴ οὐκ ἐπὶ πάντα φοιτᾶν καὶ πάντων ἀκούειν, οὐκ ὄρη, οὐ πεδία, οὐ θάλαττα, οὐχ ὁδοῦ σταθμοὶ τόσοι καὶ τόσοι, οὐ ποταμοὶ πελαγίζοντες, οὐ λίμναι ἐπὶ πολὺ τῆς γῆς ἡπλωμέναι, οὐχ ἡ Μαιῶτις, οὐχ Ἡράκλειοι στῆλαι, οὐδ’ αὐτὸς ὁ μέγιστος Ὠκεανὸς ὁ τὴν καθ’ ἡμᾶς τε καὶ ὑπὲρ ἡμᾶς ὁριζόμενος γῆν. Ἰτέον οὖν ἡμῖν ἐφ’ ἅ τε δυνατὸν καὶ ὅσα δυνατόν· αὐτὴν δὲ οἶμαι συλλήψεσθαί μοι πάλιν τὴν καὶ ἐπ’ αὐτό με τοῦτο κεκινηκυῖαν μάρτυρα.


'Since we have just made mention of Symposios [bishop of Seleucia, see E05424], it will be good that we also not pass by in silence the following miracle, a significant one and very much worthy of the martyr. On one of the walls of the martyr's church [near Seleucia], the one which faces the second interior door of the holy enclosures – this interior door leads into the church proper, to the sacred area and the area of the virgins – an inscription is affixed, made with fine golden tesserae, proclaiming to all men the consubstantiality of the holy and sublime Trinity. Inasmuch as Symposios was still at that time an Arian and had been ordained to the episcopate by bishops of his same confession, he ordered this inscription be obliterated, since it did not agree with their abomination.

The one appointed for this task took up a hammer and chisel and struck and chiselled away at the inscription, persevering through the whole day. He tried in every way to dig out this inscription, but did not budge in the least the letters of that blessed confession of faith, nor did he chip it, nor did he (as Homer says) scratch the surface. Clearly it was that immaculate and undefiled hand of that virgin [Thekla] which was shielding and preserving the inscription like an imperial seal, an inscription which is the foundation and safeguard of the whole faith, of this very church, and of human nature itself. In the end, the man who was waging battle with the divine letters fell off his ladder, shattered his bones, and immediately paid the penalty for his brazen actions. As for Symposios, he immediately turned from his wicked thoughts and recounted, expressed, confessed, and proclaimed publicly and openly the very words of the inscription against which he had previously battled: the Trinity is consubstantial.

But come, let us move on to something else. This is what Homer says, and I should do so too, for it is time to pass to other miracles: not to all of them, but only to as many as I can recount. It would be an impossible feat to discover all the miracles and, once they have been recovered, to recount them. In the same way, when snowflakes fall thickly upon the earth, since God sent the storm, it is impossible to say how many of them God lets fall. So also the number of Thekla's miracles in incalculable. For she did not cease working miracles in the past, nor will she ever cease doing so, since she is good and always inclined to mercy toward each person who supplicates her. This means everyone: all nations, all races, all cities, all towns, all fields and houses, all who make supplication to the martyr. Along with the other martyrs whom they have, they call out to her before any of them.

Those who cannot come here and arrive at this church invoke her in the places where they are, and readily attain her assistance just as if she were present beside them and perceived their needs. For there is nothing which restricts her grace and power from reaching every place and hearing every request: neither mountains, nor plains, nor sea, nor stops along a route (however numerous they may be), nor overflowing rivers, nor lakes which cover a great part of the earth, neither the Maeotis, nor the Pillars of Herakles, and not even the immense [encircling] Ocean itself, which delimits the earth above and below us. Now, I should broach the miracles which I am able to tell, and as many as I can. For I think the martyr who has urged me toward this very task will assist me once more.'

Text: Dagron 1978. Translation: Johnson 2012.

History

Evidence ID

E05479

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

360

Activity not after

380

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

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Miracles causing conversion Miraculous intervention in issues of doctrine Other specified miracle

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Other lay individuals/ people Heretics

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

There is a letter of Basil of Caesarea to Symposios dating to 374 (letter 190), which lends credence to Symposios being an Arian (Dagron 1978, 311 n. 2). The Maeotis is the modern Sea of Azov.

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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Keywords

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