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E06938: 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) saved the life of a certain little girl after she had fallen out of a window of her house by their shrine at Menouthis (near Alexandria, Lower Egypt) and tells a symbolic dream of a certain deacon Ioannes which predicted this miracle. Written in Greek in Alexandria, 610/615.

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posted on 18.10.2018, 00:00 by julia
Sophronius of Jerusalem, The Miracles of Saints Cyrus and John, 11

Ἑτέρας παιδὸς μνημονεύσωμεν, ὁμωνύμου τε καὶ ὁμήλικος, ἑτέρου δηλονότι θαύματος μνημονεύοντες, εἰ καὶ τοῦτο μεῖζον τοῦ προλαβόντος ἐστὶν καὶ ἀσύγκριτον. Ἐκεῖνο μὲν γὰρ καὶ ἰατρὸς ἴσως ἂν ἔπραξεν ἄριστος, εἰ καὶ μὴ οὕτω ταχέως, μηδὲ τοιούτῳ φαρμάκῳ χρησάμενος· τοῦτο δὲ οὔτε τις ἰατρῶν ποιήσειεν, ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ πάντες ἄνθρωποι πρὸς τὴν αὐτοῦ ποίησιν ἀθροιζόμενοι, ἕως ἂν καὶ νεκροὺς ἐκ τάφων ἐγείρωσιν, καὶ τοὺς θνητοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἀθανάτους ἐργάσαιντο· εἰ δὲ καὶ τὸ κόριον ἕτερον καὶ πάλιν ἕτερον θαῦμα καθέστηκεν, ἀλλ’ οἱ τοῦτο κἀκεῖνο ποιήσαντες οἱ αὐτοὶ καὶ οὐχ ἕτεροι, Κῦρος οὗτος ὁ θειότατος καὶ Ἰωάννης ὁ Κύρου συνόμιλος, οἱ τὰ μικρὰ καὶ τὰ μέγιστα πρὸς τὰς νόσους ποιούμενοι τέρατα, καὶ παντοίως εὐεργετοῦντες τοὺς πάσχοντας, καὶ σώζοντες τοὺς ἀρωγῆς εἴτε μικρᾶς εἴτε μείζονος χρῄζοντας.

'Let us mention another child of the same name and the same age [like Marou in the previous chapter of the Miracles, E06903] obviously recounting another miracle, even though it is greater than the previous one and surpassing it. Since the previous one could have been perhaps performed by an excellent physician, even though not that quickly and not with the use of the same remedy. This one, however, may not be performed by any physician, even if all the people would gather to do it, unless they raise the dead from the graves and render mortal people immortal. And even though the girl is different and the miracle is different as well, those who performed it are the same and not different, the holiest Cyrus and John, Cyrus' companion. They perform the small and the great wonders against diseases and in all kinds of ways do good services to those who suffer, and save those who need aid, be it small or big.'

The girl's name was Maria; she was a daughter of the deacon (diakonos) in the shrine of the saints. Her mother used to seat her without any surveillance by the window of their house, loosing a spindle charged with linen thread. Once, being occupied as usual, she left her daughter alone by the window and went out of the room. The girl, deprived of the maternal attention, and naturally lacking the ability of discerning the bad from the good, fell out of the window from a great height. The mother heard a loud sound caused by the fall of the girl's body on the ground. When she realised what happened, she alarmed the entire neighbourhood, including the shrine of the martyrs which was very close to her house. Accompanied by a crowd who joined her to go and take the body of the girl to the grave in the belief that she was dead, the mother found her daughter seated on the ground and being safe and sound. She was playing with pigs that were there. So they all took the girl and put her by the tomb of the saints glorifying them for saving the baby and singing hymns about them as protectors of those who believe in them in Christ.

However, another miracle happened the night which preceded this day; it concerned a deacon Ioannes, but not the father of the girl, but the one who came from Byzantium seeking the martyrs' aid for his leg disease. The disease was called a 'cooling of the knees' (psyxis gonaton); even the imperial physicians who were more experienced than others could not cure it. After having been healed by the martyrs, he decided to devote his life to the service in their shrine. So he left the secular life, even though he came from a good and ascetic milieu and was nominated a deacon by the order of the martyrs and the ordination of John, the actual bishop of the Alexandrian church [610-619].

οὗτ<ος>, ὡς ἔφη<ν> τότε κοιμώμενος, ὅτε τῇ αὔριον τὸ θαῦμα τὸ λεχθὲν ἔμελλε γίνεσθαι, Κῦρον ὁρᾶν καὶ Ἰωάννην τοὺς μάρτυρας, καὶ σὺν αὐτοῖς πολλὴν λευχειμονοῦσαν ἁγίων ὁμήγυριν, οἳ ταῦτα πρὸς τὸν θεώμενον ἔλεγον· Ἐλθὲ σὺν ἡμῖν, καὶ τῆς ἐσομένης εὐφροσύνης ἀπόλαυσον. Ἰωάννης δὲ ποῦ πορεύεσθαι καὶ πρὸς ποίαν εὐωχίαν τοὺς ἁγίους ἠρώτησεν. Οἱ δέ, Ἰωάννης, φασίν, ὁ διάκονος εἰς δεῖπνον ἡμᾶς ἐκάλεσεν σήμερον, καὶ παρ’ αὐτῷ πάντες ἡμεῖς ἑστιώμεθα· καὶ ταῦτα φήσαντος, τοῦ λαμπροῦ τῶν ἁγίων ἤγουν τοῦ συντάγματος ἕπεσθαι καὶ αὐτὸν μετὰ τούτους κελεύσαντος.

'So this [man Ioannes] whom I mentioned before was sleeping when the aforementioned miracle was about to happen on the following day. He saw the martyrs Cyrus and John and with them an assembly of many other saints dressed in white garments who said to the one who was looking at them: "Come with us and take benefit of the good cheer which is approaching." Ioannes asked the saints where they were going and to what feast. They responded: "Ioannes the deacon invited us for a banquet today and were are all his guests." Having said this, the radiant troop of saints commanded him to follow them.'

Thus they went to his house and he shared the meal with them and relaxed with them afterwards, being amazed at their ranks (axiomata) and garments (stolismata), as well as at the costliness of the banquet itself. When the vision disappeared, he recounted everything to the deacon Ioannes, not knowing the symbolic significance of it. The latter told him that he was happy and privileged that he came to such a dignity to receive in his house such splendid saints as guests at dinner. So the dream remained totally obscure until the realisation of the miracle which explained it.

The explanation is that the saints assimilated the miracle to the dinner, i.e. the nourishment to the salvation of the girl, in accordance with that what Christ said to his disciples in Samaria when they invited him to eat: "I have food to eat that you know nothing about" [Jn. 4:32] and "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work" [Jn. 4:34].

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

Martyr shrine (martyrion, bet sāhedwātā, etc.)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Miraculous protection - of people and their property Revelation of hidden knowledge (past, present and future)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Children Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Ecclesiastics - bishops


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.


οὗτ<ος>, ὡς ἔφη<ν> τότε: this is a conjecture of Duffy (1987, ad loc.) from the original οὕτως ἔφη τότε. John, the actual bishop of the Alexandrian church - probably the same John as in Miracle 8 (E06263), i.e. John the Merciful, bishop of Alexandria 610-619, a friend of Sophronios.


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: 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). Wipszycka, E., “Les confréries dans la vie religieuse de l'Egypte chrétienne,” in: E. Wipszycka, Études sur le christianisme dans l'Égypte de l'antiquité tardive (Rome, 1996), 257-278.

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