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E05615: The Miracles of Saint Thekla recounts how *Thekla (follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092) delivered the entire city of Seleucia from an epidemic of eye disease, with healing water at her shrine. Written in Greek at Seleucia ad Calycadnum (southern Asia Minor) in the 470s.

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posted on 30.05.2018, 00:00 by julia
Miracles of Saint Thekla, 25

A terrible eye epidemic afflicted the city of Seleucia [ad Calcadnum, Asia Minor], when the calendar year and summer were coming to an end [i.e. the end of August]. None of the inhabitants was spared by the disease and the healers were helpless.

ἀλλ’ ἡ μάρτυς, τὸ τῆς ἀνθρωπίνης φύσεως ἀλεξητήριον, ἐλεήσασα τὸ πολυάνθρωπον οὕτω καὶ ἀπάνθρωπον πάθος, ἀνοίγει μὲν ἐν τῷ αὐτῆς τεμένει τὸ ἰατρεῖον, προσκαλεῖται δὲ κοινῇ πάντας ὡς αὐτήν, ἑνὶ μὲν τῶν πασχόντων τοῦτο νύκτωρ διακελευσαμένη, πᾶσι δὲ δι’ ἐκείνου κηρύξασα, ὥστε τῷ αὐτῆς χρήσασθαι λουτρῷ πάντας τοὺς τῷ πάθει τούτῳ περιπεπτωκότας. Τοῦτο γὰρ ἦν τὸ ἰατρεῖον, ὃ τῷ μὲν νοσήματι τῆς ὀφθαλμίας πολέμιον ἦν ὡς ἂν καὶ ἄρτι ἀρξαμένης, ἀνακραθὲν δὲ ὅμως τῇ ἐνεργείᾳ τῆς μάρτυρος, ἄκος μέγιστον ὁμοῦ πάσῃ τῇ πόλει γεγένηται· ὡς τὴν ἐπέκεινα λεωφόρον μηδὲ ἀρκεῖν τοῖς ἀνιοῦσι μὲν μετ’ οἰμωγῆς καὶ δακρύων, κατιοῦσι δὲ μεθ’ ἡδονῆς καὶ δοξολογίας· καὶ ἀνιοῦσι μὲν νῦν συμμεμυκόσιν ὀφθαλμοῖς, κατιοῦσι δὲ ἀναπεπταμένοις τοῖς βλεφάροις. Οὔτε γὰρ τῆς πτωχῆς ἐκείνης καὶ πενιχρᾶς κολυμβήθρας ἡ χάρις ἦν, τῆς ἕνα—καὶ μόλις τοῦτον—σῳζούσης ἄνθρωπον, ἀλλὰ τῆς πλουσίας καὶ ἀφθονωτάτης πηγῆς. Ἀπειρήκει μὲν γὰρ ἅπας ὁ δῆμος συνθέων· ἀπειρήκει δὲ τὰ ταῖς κολυμβήθραις ἐπαντλούμενα νάματα· οὐκ ἐνεδίδου δὲ ἡ τῆς μάρτυρος χάρις, τοὺς μὲν δεχομένη καὶ ἰωμένη καὶ ἀποπέμπουσα, τοὺς δὲ αὖθις ὑποδεχομένη τε πάλιν καὶ ἰωμένη, καὶ πάντας μεθ’ ὁμοίας ἀποπέμπουσα τῆς θεραπείας· ὡς ἐν τρισὶν ὅλαις ἢ τέτρασιν ἡμέραις εἰς ἄγαν εὐαριθμήτους περιστῆναι τὴν νόσον, ἀπιστίας οἶμαι κἀκείνους ἢ καὶ βίου κακίας ἄλλης ἕνεκεν, διαμαρτεῖν παρασκευαζούσης τῆς κοινῆς βοηθείας, ἢ τάχα ἵνα καὶ μάθοιμεν ὅσον ἦν τὸ κακόν. Οἷς γὰρ ἐπέμεινε, τούτοις καὶ τύφλωσιν ἐπήγαγεν· ἢ γὰρ καὶ τῶν δύο ἅμα, ἤγουν τὸν ἕτερον τοῖν ὀφθαλμοῖν πάντως ἐξέκοψεν. Οὕτω δεινότατον ἦν τὸ κακὸν καί τι δαιμόνιον ἐπιβούλευμα· ἡττηθὲν δὲ ὅμως τοῦ θαύματος, ὡσεὶ μηδὲ γεγονὸς τὴν ἀρχὴν οὕτως ἀϊστώθη τε καὶ ἐκ ποδῶν γέγονεν.

'But the martyr, the true healer of human nature, considered with pity this inhuman affliction that affected so many, and she opened the healing shrine in her sanctuary and summoned all together to herself. She gave the instruction during the night to one of the afflicted people and then proclaimed it to everyone through him, that all who had fallen victim to this affliction should make use of her bath. For this bath was the place of healing which was able to combat the eye disease, from the very beginning, but when stirred up by the power of the martyr it became the greatest remedy to the entire city together. From then on, the highway overflowed with those who went up [to the shrine] with lamentations and tears, and those who came down full of joy and praise: for they ascended with their eyes shut, but descended with their eyelids opened again.

For it was not the grace of that poor and miserable pool [of Bethseda], which could save only one person - and hardly that – but the grace of an abundant and exceedingly generous fount. When all the assemblage of people grew weary and when the flow of the water into the pools slowed down, the grace of the martyr did not cease: she had hardly welcomed, healed, and sent the afflicted on their way when once more she was welcoming and healing again, sending everyone on their way with the same cure. The outcome was that, in three or four days total, the illness still affected only a very small number of people. I think they remained afflicted because of their lack of faith or because of some other evil in their life – [the martyr] having arranged for them to miss out on her general assistance or, perhaps, in order for us to understand the gravity of the affliction. For it resulted in blindness among those in whom it persisted: it removed sight either from both eyes at the same time or, at the least, from one eye. So terrible was the affliction, truly a demonic machination! Nevertheless, once vanquished by the miracle, it was destroyed and stamped out as it had never existed.'

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

History

Evidence ID

E05615

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

Holy spring/well/river

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Crowds

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.

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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