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E06029: Sophronius of Jerusalem, in his Miracles of the Saints Cyrus and John, recounts how *Kyros and Ioannes/Cyrus and John (physician and soldier, martyrs of Egypt, S00406) healed a certain Ammonios from scrofula and a stomach disease at their shrine at Menouthis (near Alexandria, Lower Egypt). Written in Greek in Alexandria, 610/615.

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posted on 19.07.2018, 00:00 by julia
Sophronius of Jerusalem, The Miracles of Saints Cyrus and John, 1


There was a certain Ammonios in Alexandria, who held the office of octavarius and was one of the first citizens of the city. He had a fortune and took pride in his father, Ioulianos, who had held for quite a long time an important office in the administration of the Church of Alexandria under bishop Eulogios [581-608].

This Ammonios was still young and handsome, but had his neck deformed by scrofula (choirades) which made him resemble a hog. His father took him to various physicians offering them in advance a great sum of money to cure his son. The doctors, who held Ioulianos in high esteem, promised to cure Ammonios. They mobilised all the means of their art and did whatever they could, but without any effect.

Thus the father took his son and presented him to the true physicians (hoi ontos iatroi), that is to the martyrs Cyrus and John. Sprinkling with tears their precious tomb (soros) he begged the saints to deliver his son from the disease. The martyrs listened to Ioulianos and healed the young man.

But the healing did not concern only his body. Having seen that Ammonios was haughty and prone to be too proud because of his richness, the saints also healed his soul. They told him to sweep the area around their tomb so that he did not form too flattering an opinion of himself and, bent forward towards the earth, learnt where he had come from. Thus, when the saints had mortified the swelling in the young man's soul, they applied a remedy to his physical neck. It was a plaster of the all-powerful salve mixed with some bread (kerote he panalkes emplastros, arto michtheisa) that they ordered to be applied around his neck.

Ὅθεν ἐπιτεθέντος αὐταῖς τοῦ βοηθήματος, οὕτως ὀξέως ὥσπερ τινὸς μαστίζοντος αὐτὰς ἢ διώκοντος ἔφυγον· καὶ ἄφνω διαρρήξασαι τὸ περιέχον αὐτὰς τοῦ αὐχένος δερμάτιον πρὸ τοῦ τῶν ἁγίων ἔπεσαν μνήματος· ἑξήκοντα δὲ ἦσαν καὶ ἑπτὰ τὸν ἀριθμόν, ὡς ἔλεγον αὐτὰς οἱ μετρήσαντες· ἃς οἱ τότε τῷ νεῷ διακονούμενοι ἐπὶ πολλὰς ἡμέρας πρὸ τοῦ τῶν ἁγίων ᾐώρησαν μνήματος, τὴν τῶν μαρτύρων ἰσχὺν ἐνδεικνύμενοι, καὶ πάντας κινοῦντες πρὸς θεάρεστον αἴνεσιν. Καὶ Ἀμμώνιος μὲν ἐπὶ διπλῷ τῷ νοσήματι διπλῆν λαβὼν καὶ ἴασιν, ὑγιὴς ἀποδίδοται.

'In effect, after the application of this remedy, [the scrofula] fled as quickly as if someone flogged and chased them. Out of a sudden they burst on the skin of his neck which enveloped them and fell down in front of the saints' tomb. They were sixty seven in number, as said those who counted them. Those who were serving in the shrine that time hang them for many days by the saints' tomb, demonstrating the martyrs' power and encouraging everybody to a praise pleasing to God. Ammonios, having obtained a double cure for a double disease, is rendered healthy.'

Shortly afterwards, however, Ammonios forgot the lesson and became haughty again. So a bodily illness corrected him once more: he was punished by the martyrs with a dangerous disease of the stomach. The physicians who were taking care of him did not treat him in the right way. Thus everything he received, he immediately regurgitated through his mouth. Even though the medics tried hard, in order to get their payment, they were helpless.

So Ammonios went to revisit Cyrus and John, confessing that after God they were his only physicians. He was healed and received a remuneration for his faith from the saints. This time, the remedy for his stomach was composed of the oil and the salve (kerote, from the lamps) that were illuminating the martyrs' tomb. The saints made the vain glory of Ammonios' soul go away with the proper remedy.

One night they came to find Ammonios and bade him cast off his soft clothing and take on a rougher garment, called sakkos, such as is worn by the poorest. Then they ordered him to bring water to his ill brothers, having charged with jars both of his shoulders, and not only one. They said they would not heal him until he complied with the order.

Ammonios executed the order. He went in rough clothing to carry water, and afterwards he regained health. So he praised Cyrus and John and then departed from their shrine.

Text: Fernández Marcos 1976, lightly modified in the light of Gascou 2007. Summary: J. Doroszewska


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Kyros and Iōannēs/Cyrus and John, physician and soldier, martyrs of Egypt : S00406

Saint Name in Source

Κῦρος καὶ Ἰωάννης

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Alexandria Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Officials Physicians

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - oil Contact relic - wax

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Oil lamps/candles


Sophronius (c. 560-c. 637) was born to a Chalcedonian family in Damascus, and was probably familiar with both Greek and Syriac culture. He was educated as a teacher of rhetoric, but in c. 580 became an ascetic while in Egypt, and entered the monastery of St. Theodosios near Bethlehem. He travelled widely to monastic centres in Egypt, the Near East, Aegean, and North Africa, accompanying his friend, the monk and writer John Moschus, who dedicated to him his treatise on the religious life, the Spiritual Meadow (Leimon pneumatikos). In 633-634, Sophronius travelled to Alexandria and to Constantinople in order to persuade the patriarchs to renounce Monoenergism. In 634, he was elected patriarch of Jerusalem. He is venerated as a saint in the catholic and orthodox churches; in the Byzantine rite he shares with John Moschus a feast day on 11 March. He died in Jerusalem in about 637. His extant doctrinal writings include a Letter to Arcadius of Cyprus and the Synodical Letter against Monenergism. Other works have also been preserved, such as an encomium on the Alexandrian martyrs Cyrus and John (in gratitude for healing his vision), The Miracles of the Saints Cyrus and John, a collection of 23 Anacreontic poems, and several patriarchal sermons on such themes as the Muslim siege of Jerusalem and on various liturgical celebrations. The Miracles of the Saints Cyrus and John comprise 70 stories; this number, as explained by the author in the Preface, consists either of 7 decades or 10 heptades, both of which refer to biblical and pagan (Pythagorean) arithmetic, where 7 is a mystic number and 10 is a perfect number. References to the number 7 and its multiple (14) recurs in the work several times (Miracles 5, 15, 23, 39, 43; Gascou 2006: 11 with notes). The significance of other numbers has also been noted: for the number 3, see Fernández Marcos 1975: 42, n. 15; for the number 67 (Miracle 1), see Nissen 1939: 377, n. 2.  All 70 stories concern miraculous healings performed by the two martyrs, considered saints of the first rank by Sophronius (Miracle 29), in their sanctuary at Menouthis, near Alexandria. The first 35 miracles concern Alexandrians, the next 15 Egyptians and Libyans, mostly of the Alexandrian region, and the last 20 foreigners of whom some were settled in Alexandria. Sophronius wanted to flatter in this way the self-esteem of the Alexandrians who were the possessors of the saints' relics. He also argued that the miracles of Alexandria were particularly credible, since they delivered plenty of verifiable facts. For the same reason, the miracles selected by him were limited to those of his own times and concerned persons who were still alive and could testify to the events. Sophronius seems also to have had at his disposal earlier and parallel collections. A powerful feature of the miracle stories is a disdain for secular doctors, but not medicine per se, who are seen as ineffective in comparison to the power of the saintly healing of Cyrus and John. The collection is also notable for Sophronius’ polemic against Miaphysites, who evidently attended the shrine. The most recent edition of Sophronius' text is Fernandez Marcos 1976, but Gascou in his translation of 2007 includes several textual emendations which we have followed when they occur.


The octavarius was an official responsible for collecting a tax (octava) on imported goods (Gascou 2006, 25, n. 86; Delmaire 1989, 307-309). Since this tax usually concerned goods which were exotic and hence expensive, officials like Ammonios had occasion to accumulate a fortune (Gascou 2005, 25, n. 86). Eulogios held the bishopric of Alexandria in 580-608 which enables us to date the miracle to c. 600-615, since we are told that Ioulianos, the father, held his office under Eulogios, but the story concerns his son Ammonios, so must have occurred late in the episcopate of Eulogios, or even after his death in 608.


Text: Fernández Marcos, N., Los thaumata de Sofronio. Contribución al estudio de la "Incubatio" cristiana, Manuales y anejos de "Emérita" 31 (Madrid, 1975), 243-400. Translations: Gascou, J., Sophrone de Jérusalem, Miracles des saints Cyr et Jean (BHGI 477-479) (Paris, 2006). French translation and commentary. Peltier, D., "Sophrone de Jérusalem, Récit des miracles des saints Cyr et Jean" (unpublished dissertation; Paris 1978). Further reading: Delmaire, R., Largesses sacrées et res privata (Rome, 1989). Duffy, J., “Observations on Sophronius' Miracles of Cyrus and John,” Journal of Theological Studies 35 (1984), 71-90. Duffy, J., “The Miracles of Cyrus and John: New Old Readings from the Manuscript,” Illinois Classical Studies 12:1 (1987), 169-177. Gascou, J., “Religion et identité communautaire à Alexandrie à la fin de l'époque byzantine, d'après les Miracles des saints Cyr et Jean,” in: J.-Y. Empereur and C. Décobert (eds.), Alexandrie médiévale, 3 (Cairo, 2008), 69-88. Gascou, J., Les origines du culte des saints Cyr et Jean (2006); online document: Le Coz, R., “Les Pères de l'Eglise grecque et la médecine,” Bulletin de Littérature Ecclésiastique 98 (1997), 137-154. Maraval, P., “Fonction pédagogique de la littérature hagiographique d'un lieu de pèlerinage: l'exemple des Miracles de Cyr et Jean,” in: Hagiographie, culture et sociétés (IVe-XIIe siècles), Actes du Colloque organisé à Nanterre et à Paris (2-5 mai 1979) (Paris, 1981), 383-397. Nissen, T., “Sophronios-Studien III, Medizin und Magie bei Sophronios,” Byzantinische Zeitschrift 39 (1939), 349–81. Papaconstantinou, A., Le culte des saints en Égypte des Byzantins aux Abbassides. L'apport des inscriptions et des papyrus grecs et coptes (Paris, 2001). Sansterre, J.-M., "Apparitions et miracles à Ménouthis: de l'incubation païenne à l'incubation chrétienne," in E. Dierkens (ed.), Apparitions et miracles (Brussels, 1991), 69-83. Schönborn, C., Sophrone de Jérusalem. Vie monastique et confession dogmatique (Paris, 1972).

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