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E05718: The Miracles of Saint Thekla recounts how *Thekla (follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092) provided a miraculous spring at Seleucia to heal livestock affected with a mortal sickness. Written in Greek at Seleucia ad Calycadnum (southern Asia Minor) in the 470s.

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posted on 13.06.2018, 00:00 by julia
Miracles of Saint Thekla, 36

There was a summertime heat wave in Seleucia. A severe sickness began to spread among livestock, affecting mules, horses, cows, donkeys and sheep. The people were helpless, since they did not know the cause of the sickness. But the martyr Thekla took pity and revealed the remedy to the people.

Τὴν γὰρ μὴ οὖσάν ποτε πηγήν, μήτε παρά τινος ἡμῶν ἢ καὶ τῶν παλαιοτέρων ὀφθεῖσαν, ἀθρόον ἀναβλύσαι παρασκευάζει· παρασκευάζει δὲ οὔτε πόρρω, οὔτε ἐν ἀλλοτρίῳ χώρῳ, ἀλλ’ ἐν ᾧπερ τόπῳ πάλιν αὐτῆς ἐστι τὸ τέμενος. Τοῦτο δέ ἐστιν ἄντρον πρὸς ἑσπέραν αὐτοῦ τοῦ νεὼ καὶ καταντικρὺ κείμενον, χαριέστατον δὲ καὶ ἐπιτερπέστατον, καὶ πολλὴν ἔχον τὴν ἡδονὴν βαδίσαι τε ἐπ’ αὐτῷ καὶ ἐμφιλοχωρῆσαι, καὶ καθ’ ἡσυχίαν πολλὴν εὔξασθαί τε καὶ οὗ βούλεταί τις τυχεῖν δι’ εὐχῆς παρὰ τῆς μάρτυρος. Πᾶς γοῦν ὁ εἰς τὸν νεὼν βαδίζων τε καὶ εὐχόμενος, εὐθὺς καὶ ἐπ’ ἐκεῖνο τρέχει τὸ ἄντρον, ὡς ἂν καὶ ἐπί τινα κοιτωνίσκον λοιπὸν καὶ θάλαμον ἔνδον ἔχοντα ὴν παρθένον. Φασὶ γάρ τινες τὰ πλεῖστα καὶ ἐν τούτῳ διατρίβειν αὐτήν, ὡς ἂν ἡσυχίας τε ἐρῶσαν καὶ φιλέρημον οὖσαν. Καὶ γὰρ τοῦτο μάλιστα τῶν ἁγίων ἴδιον, τὸ ἠρεμίαις τε χαίρειν καὶ ταύταις ὡς τὰ πολλὰ ἐναυλίζεσθαι.

Ἐκ ταύτης οὖν τῆς οὕτω σχεδιασθείσης πηγῆς πᾶσι τοῖς νοσοῦσι ζῴοις τὴν θεραπείαν ἡ μάρτυς ἐπήντλησεν. Ἦν γοῦν ἰδεῖν πᾶσαν μὲν ἀτραπόν, πᾶσαν δὲ λεωφόρον, ἐκ τῶν ὑπτίων καὶ ὑπερτέρων τόπων ὧδέ τε βλέπουσαν καὶ ὧδε ἄγουσαν, καὶ πλήθουσαν ἵππων, ὀρέων, βοῶν, προβάτων, αἰγῶν, ὄνων, ἤδη δὲ καὶ κυνῶν καὶ συῶν καὶ πρὸς ἓν τουτὶ τὸ χωρίον ἐπειγομένων, τὸ θεραπείας τότε μᾶλλον καὶ ἰάσεις ἤπερ ὕδωρ ἐκβλύζον. Οὐδὲν τοιγαροῦν τῶν γευσαμένων τότε ζῴων τοῦ ὕδατος ἀπῆλθεν ἔτι νοσοῦν, ἀλλ’ ὥσπερ ὑγιείας μᾶλλον ἢ ὕδατος ἀρυσάμενον, οὕτως ἀνερρώση τε αὖθις καὶ ἀνεσκίρτησε, καὶ πρὸς τὸν οἰκεῖον ἕκαστον καὶ ἀγρὸν καὶ οἶκον ἀπέδραμε, μάλα τε ἐρρωμένον καὶ τῶν συνήθων ἔργων ἁπτόμενον.

Λέγεται δέ τις τότε καὶ τῶν ἐν τῇ πόλει λαμπρῶν νοσοῦντα ἵππον καὶ κακῶς ἄγαν ἔχοντα, τοῦ νώτου συνελκομένου κατὰ τὸ ὄπισθεν μέρος, καὶ τὸ λοιπὸν σῶμα ἀντισπῶντος, καὶ ταῖς τῶν νεύρων—ὥς φασι—συνολκαῖς τὴν πρόσω πορείαν κωλύοντος, κατὰ πεῖραν μᾶλλον ἢ πίστιν ἐπ’ ἐκεῖνο πέμψαι τὸ ὕδωρ, εἰ ἄρα ἱκανὸν γένοιτο τὸν οὕτω πρόδηλον περιελεῖν κίνδυνον, τὴν δὲ μάρτυρα μήτε ἀγνοῆσαι τὴν πεῖραν, καὶ σῶον ἀποπέμψαι τὸν ἵππον πρὸς τὸν Μαριανόν. Ἀγνοεῖ δὲ τοῦτον, οἶμαι, οὐδεὶς καὶ τῆς αὐτοῦ γνώμης ἐξειπεῖν τὸ ἀπόρρητον, καὶ τοῦ ἵππου τὴν ἀπροσδόκητον θεραπείαν, καὶ τῆς μάρτυρος τὴν οὕτως ὀξυτάτην ὑπεραγασθῆναι ῥοπήν.


'She arranged for the sudden gushing forth of a spring, which had not formerly existed, and had not been noticed either by any of us or by the inhabitants of old. And she did not arrange this far off, in a strange land, but in the very location of her own sanctuary. This is a cave to the west of her church, lying just opposite it, which is quite delightful and charming and offers a very pleasant spot to walk and spend time, where one can pray in absolute tranquility and obtain from the martyr through prayer whatever one desires. Anyone who comes to pray at the church straight away also heads to this cave, as if to a bedroom and chamber where the virgin martyr resides. For some say that she spends most of her time in this cave, because she loves the quiet and solitude. For this quality is distinctive of the saints, that they enjoy quiet places and spend as much time as possible in them.

From this spring that had appeared in this manner, the martyr poured out the healing remedy for all the infected animals. One could see that every path, as well as every highway, leading to this spot from the flatlands and the high places alike, was filled with horses, mules, cows, sheep, goats, donkeys, and even dogs and pigs. All were hastening to this one spot, where at that time not water gushed forth, but remedies and healing cures. None of the animals that tasted the water at that time went away still infected, but just as if they had drunk health instead of water from the spring, they regained their strength and bounded away, each running back to its own field or dwelling, fully recovered and ready to return to its accustomed chores.

It is said that at that time a distinguished inhabitant of the city had a horse that was ailing and doing very poorly – its spine was contracting toward its rear and was pulling the rest of its body in a contrary direction, and it was hindering his forward motion because of the spasms of the nerves, as they call them. And seeking proof rather than out of faith, the owner sent the horse to this [miraculous] water, to see if it might be capable of removing such a manifest danger. However, the martyr was not unaware that she was being put to the test, and returned the horse to Marianos delivered of its affliction. Everyone, I think, knows that he then declared his secret thoughts and that he was highly impressed with the horse's unexpected healing and with the martyr's exceedingly swift intervention.'

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

History

Evidence ID

E05718

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

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities Miracle with animals and plants

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people Animals

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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