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E05495: The Miracles of Saint Thekla recounts how *Thekla (follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092) healed a certain Aurelios from the scrofula. 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, 11

There was a certain Aurelios, a fellow citizen and likely a relative of bishop Symposios [mentioned in E05479], who, being young and in the first phase of his life, fell ill with a disease called by physicians 'hog's back' or 'scrofula'. The scrofulous bumps appeared on the youth's neck and gradually swelling up, grew into an enormous tumour. Various remedies were applied by doctors to the disease, but none could help and cure him. Then, the boy's grandmother appealed to Sarpedonian Apollo, believed to be the most skilled of doctors. Yet this demon could not help either: he either remained silent, or deceived the woman and sent her unaided, or answered her with a riddle or a fable, or nothing at all.

Ἀλλ’ ἡ μάρτυς, ἡ ἀληθῶς ἀρωγός, ἡ ἐνεργὴς βοηθός, ἡ πάντοτε καὶ περὶ πάντα τὰ χρηστὰ πρόθυμος, τῆς μὲν γραὸς καταγελάσασα, τὸν δὲ νέον ὡς καὶ αὐτῆς τρόφιμον καὶ πιστῶν γονέων παιδίον οἰκτίζουσα, ὡς αὐτῇ ἔθος, ἐπείγεται μὲν ἐπὶ τὴν θεραπείαν, παραδραμοῦσα δὲ πάντας αὐτῇ φαίνεται τῇ πρεσβύτιδι, τοῦτο μὲν ὡς οἰκείᾳ τοῦ παιδός, τοῦτο δὲ καὶ ὡς ἐπιτωάζουσα οἶμαι αὐτὴν δι’ ὃν ἐπρέσβευε δαίμονα. Ἐπιφοιτήσασα δὲ καὶ τὴν θεραπείαν εὐθὺς ὑπέφηνε· «Λαβοῦσα γάρ—φησίν—, ὦ βέλτιστον γραΐδιον, ἔριον μαλακὸν καὶ πρὸς μέτρον τὸ ἀνεστηκὸς τοῦ παιδίου μηρυσαμένη τοῦτο, ὡς ἄρχεσθαι μὲν ἐκ κεφαλῆς, λήγειν δὲ ἄχρι ποδῶν, εἶτα τοῦτο καύσασα καὶ τὴν ἀπὸ τούτου τέφραν ἀναμίξασα τῷ φαρμάκῳ—ὃ πάλιν εἶπεν αὐτῇ—, κατὰ τὸ πεπονθὸς μέρος τοῦ αὐχένος τοῦτο ἔμπλασον, καὶ ἀπαλλάξεις τοῦ δεινοῦ πάθους τὸ παιδίον.» Καὶ ἡ μὲν εἰρηκυῖα ταῦτα ἀπέπτη ἠΰτε πέλεια—ποιητῶν ἄν τις εἶπεν—, ἐπανίσταται δὲ τοῖς ῥήμασι τούτοις ἡ πρεσβῦτις, καὶ ἀπὸ μόνου τοῦ προσχήματος ἐγνωκυῖα τίς ἡ ταῦτα φήνασά τε καὶ εἰποῦσα εἴη—καὶ γὰρ τῇ αὐτῆς μὲν θυγατρί, μητρὶ δὲ τοῦ νέου, Θέκλᾳ καὶ αὐτῇ καλουμένῃ, δέμας φυήν τ’ ἄγχιστα ἐῴκει.

'But the martyr, the true benefactor, the effective helper, who is always eager for every beneficial deed, ridiculed the old woman, while showing pity on the youth as if he were her own nursling and a child of believing parents, and she hastened on to the treatment, as is her custom. Bypassing all others, she appeared directly to the old woman, first because of her relationship to the child, but also, I think, to jeer at her for having sought the intercession of a demon. During her visit, Thekla immediately revealed the method of the cure: "My good little old lady, take some soft wool and draw it out to the height of the child while standing – start from his head and end at his feet – then, burn the wool, and mix its ashes with the medicine," (which she indicated to her). "Apply the mixture to the afflicted part of the neck and you will deliver the child from the terrible disease." Having said all of this Thekla flew away like a dove (as one of the poets would say), and at these words the old woman bestirred herself. She only recognized from outward appearance who it was that had shown and told her this remedy, since the stature of her daughter, the boy's mother, was very close to that of Thekla, and she was even called by the same name of Thekla.'

The grandmother was angered at the vision because she did not learn the remedy from her demon, but nevertheless she carried out the instructions given her by the martyr. But when the medicine was applied to the boy's neck, the tumour immediately moved to another part of his body. The situation kept repeating itself, since wherever the medicine was applied, it only made the bumps move to still another part. At last, a good doctor, inspired by the martyr, made a great quantity of the medicine and applied it all around the whole neck, which compelled the bumps to descend into the boy's belly and from there to flow out through his rear end. This story was recounted by the very person who was afflicted with the disease, and then delivered from it by Thekla.

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

History

Evidence ID

E05495

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 - 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

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics – unspecified Pagans Demons Family Physicians

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

'Thekla flew away like a dove (as one of the poets would say)': Iliad 2.58.

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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