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E05587: The Miracles of Saint Thekla recounts how *Thekla (follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092) delivered a certain pregnant woman Bassiane from sufferings caused by a great heat at Seleucia. Written in Greek at Seleucia ad Calycadnum (southern Asia Minor) in the 470s.

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posted on 29.05.2018, 00:00 by julia
Miracles of Saint Thekla, 19

There was a certain woman by the name Bassiane from Ketis [in Asia Minor] who was in Seleucia as a hostage, guaranteeing some agreements which promised peace from brigandage. Since she was a Christian, she spent most of her time in the church of Thekla, praying for release from this obligation. It was during the summer and the heat was great. She was pregnant and unaccustomed to the heat.

Once, when the night came, the heat intensified. The woman did not know what to do. She was having trouble breathing, and she was drenched in sweat. She tried to find some relief tossing on her bed and then leaning upon the marble which was cooler. In the end, she was completely defeated by the heat and went to the cistern nearby to plunge herself into the water and swim, but actually to drown, for that would be the result in her miserable state.

Παραφανεῖσα δὲ ἡ μάρτυς καὶ τοῦ ἱματίου αὐτῆς λαβομένη, τῆς μὲν ὁρμῆς ἔπαυσε, πολλὰ λοιδορησαμένη τῆς τόλμης αὐτήν· προσκαλεσαμένη δὲ κόρην, ὡς ἄν τινα παιδίσκην αὐτῇ παρομαρτοῦσαν, φησί· «Τὴν λεκάνην μοι προσάγαγε ταύτην», ἣν καὶ μετὰ χεῖρας ἐδόκει φέρειν ἡ κόρη. Ἡ δὲ προσήγαγεν· ὕδατος δὲ ἦν αὕτη μεστή· καὶ τὸν αὐτῆς ἡ πραοτάτη καθιμήσασα δάκτυλον καὶ ἀναδεύσασα τῷ ὕδατι, ἐπαλείφει τὸ μέτωπον τούτῳ καὶ τῶν κατακλείδων ἑκατέρτὸν, καὶ ἀπῆλθε, ζέφυρον—ὡς εἰπεῖν—αὐτῇ μόνον λιγυρὸν ἐπιπνέοντα καταλείψασα. Διεγένετο μὲν οὖν ὡς ἐν πᾶσιν ἐκφρυγομένοις τῷ καύσωνι αὐτὴ μόνη ὡς ἐν ἦρι καὶ ὡς ἐν Δάφνῃ τῷ πολυδένδρῳ καὶ πολυανέμῳ χωρίῳ διάγουσα. Καὶ ταῦτα δὲ ὕπαρ, οὐκ ὄναρ ἐδρᾶτο. Καὶ μάρτυς ὁ ἐκ ταύτης τότε γενόμενος παῖς, Μόδεστος δὲ ἦν οὗτος ὁ πάνυ, ἔτι τε καὶ νῦν ἐν ζῶσι τελῶν, καὶ τὴν εἰρήνης ἐπώνυμον πόλιν κοσμῶν, καὶ τὸ θαῦμα τοῦτο μετὰ πολλῶν καὶ ὅσων τῶν χαρίτων διηγούμενος· εὔθυμος δὲ ὁ ἀνήρ, καὶ πολλῆς γέμων τῆς εὐμουσίας.

'The martyr appeared and, seizing her himation, stopped the woman's headlong rush [for the cistern] and rebuked her for her recklessness. She then summoned a young girl, who was accompanying her as a maidservant, saying, "Bring me this basin," the very thing which the girl seemed to be holding in her hands. She brought it, and it was full of water. This most gentle of women [Thekla] dipped her finger into it and soaked it in the water. She then applied it to Bassiane's forehead and to each of her shoulders, and then she went away, leaving only the sweet west wind blowing on her (as it were). Among all those parched by the summer heat, this woman alone felt as if she were enjoying springtime in the wooded, breezy suburb of Daphne. These events comprised a vision, not a dream. And a witness to this is the child born from the woman, the very famous Modestos, who is still alive and adorns the city that is called "peace" [= Eirenoupolis in Isauria], and he recounts this miracle with every possible grace. He is a kind man and filled with fine artistic sense.'

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

History

Evidence ID

E05587

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

425

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

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Miraculous protection - of people and their property Other specified miracle Apparition, vision, dream, revelation

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Foreigners (including Barbarians)

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 reference to 'the wooded, breezy suburb of Daphne' indicates Daphne, the suburb of Antioch, a literary trope of a paradisiacal place or landscape (Dagron 1987: 343, n. 7). 'The city that is called "peace"' is Eirenoupolis in Isauria in Asia Minor.

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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