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E07022: 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 Elias of leprosy at their shrine at Menouthis (near Alexandria, Lower Egypt), even though he also sought aid from *Metras (martyr of Alexandria, S00045) at his shrine in Alexandria. Written in Greek in Alexandria, 610/615.

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posted on 30.10.2018, 00:00 by julia
Sophronius of Jerusalem, The Miracles of Saints Cyrus and John, 13

There was a certain Elias who had leprosy. He had the syndromes of the disease for a long time and the stigmas of it were on his entire body,

οὐχ ἅπερ ἔχων ὁ Παῦλος ἐπ’ αὐτοῖς ἐσεμνύνετο· ἀρεταὶ γὰρ ἐκεῖναι καὶ πράξεις οὐράνιοι, ἐν Παύλῳ τὸν Χριστὸν εἰκονίζουσαι, καὶ ἀκτῖνες οἷόν τινες τοῦ τῆς δικαιοσύνης Ἡλίου τυγχάνουσαι, καὶ τέκνα φωτὸς καὶ υἱοὺς ἡμέρας ποιοῦσαι τοὺς ἔχοντας· ἀλλ’ ἐκεῖνα ἃ κατὰ νόμον Μωσαϊκὸν βδελυρά τε ἦν καὶ ἀκάθαρτα, καὶ [τὸν γεννώμενον ἄνθρωπον ἔξω παρεμβολῆς καὶ ἀκάθαρτα, καὶ τὸν γεννώμενον] ἄνθρωπον ἔξω παρεμβολῆς καὶ πόλεως ἤλαυνεν, ὡς βδελυρὸν καὶ ἀκάθαρτον τῶν λοιπῶν ὁμοφύλων ἀπείργοντα.

'... which were not like those which Peter had and thanks to which he was magnified; since those ones were virtues and celestial achievements reflecting Christ in Paul and they were like rays of the Sun of justice which make those who have them children of the light and sons of day; but those [of Elias] were according to the Mosaic law disgusting and impure and [text corrupt] they expelled the man from the encampment and his city separating him as being disgusting and impure from the rest of his kin.'

Thus Elias carried those stigmas which are symbols of sin and he did not obtain any aid from anybody, since in these circumstances neither Hippocrates, nor Galen, nor Democritus who is a bastard brother of Nature (ho nothos ho adelphos tes physeos) can be efficacious. So he turned to the martyrs Cyrus and John, desiring to obtain healing and absolutely believing in obtaining it.

However, for a long time he did not obtain anything and was already despondent (because the saints dispense healing according to certain plans). He suffered this manifestly (delonoti) due to an evil will which was preventing his healing and the compassion of the saints toward him. He could not stay longer at the martyrs' shrine. For the state of accidie (akedia) is hard and very dangerous for the pious souls, since it can make them sin a lot if it is not expelled immediately when still fresh, like the hallucinations sent by the noonday demon (to daimonion mesembrinon). Being in such a condition Elias left the shrine and the martyrs' divine graces (theia charismata).

After some time the martyrs, seeing that he became object of envy [of a demon] because of his strengthening, took pity and did not make any case of his attitude towards them. Whereas he turned in the meantime to the martyr shrine of Saint Metras [in Alexandria]. The martyrs appeared to him at noon in monastic garments. Simulating ignorance they asked him where he was going from and where to. He answered them in the way as if they really did not know and mentioned the names of the saints and talked about a shrine. But the martyrs asked him once again about the reason of his going there. So he replied that they knew the reason and there was no need to explain it. Yet they asked him why he left the shrine before he obtained healing. He told them how long he stayed there without obtaining any relief and showed them the white spots (leukades) as proofs. Saying this he did not accuse the martyrs of unwillingness, nor did he display a bad will, but bursting into tears he proclaimed himself to be unworthy of their grace. Hearing this, the martyrs took even more pity and told him to quickly return to their shrine. They instructed him to go there and find four camels near the spring (pege). Then he should carefully collect the dung of the forth camel and mix it with water from the spring. Then he was to apply this remedy on his entire body without leaving any part not covered by it; otherwise the disease might have not receded from this particular part.

Καὶ ταῦτα κατὰ πρόσωπον λέξαντες, ἀφανεῖς ἀθρόως ἐγένοντο.

'Having said this face to face with him, they suddenly disappeared.'

Elias immediately realised that this vision was of divine origin and that they were the martyrs themselves. Thus he rushed to their sanctuary and found there the four camels. He took the dung of the last one as he was instructed, mixed it with the water from the spring and applied it to his entire body. And here again he became a victim of a demon's envy. For he did not apply the ointment to his eyes, feeling disgust at that which was to purify him (to kathairon auton mysattomenos). In consequence, his entire body was delivered from the disease, but his face remained spotted during his life. It was a proof of his disobedience which could not have been hidden, but also a never silent herald of the power of the martyrs and of their order that was neglected. Elias blamed himself very much for his disobedience but did not have any profit of it like Esau who with tears sought out his firstborn status.

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


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Kyros and Ioannes/Cyrus and John, physician and soldier, martyrs of Egypt : S00406 Metras, martyr of Egypt : S00045

Saint Name in Source

Κῦρος καὶ Ἰωάννης Μητρᾶς

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 - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs



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.


'syndromes... which were not like those which Peter had and thanks to which he was magnified' - in Gal. 4.13 Paul evokes some weakness of his body during his first journey through Galatia, saying: You know how through infirmity of the flesh (διʼ ἀσθένειαν τῆς σαρκός) I preached the gospel to you at the first. This 'weakness' might have caused disgust to his audience (Gascou 2006: 62, n. 345). The shrine of Metras was situated by the Sun Gate in Alexandria, on the east of the city (Festugière 1974: 390).


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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