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E07360: 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) punished a certain Theodoros for his blasphemy, by depriving him of his sight, and later restored it; all at their shrine at Menouthis (near Alexandria, Lower Egypt). Written in Greek in Alexandria, 610/615.

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posted on 10.01.2019, 00:00 by julia
Sophronius of Jerusalem, The Miracles of Saints Cyrus and John, 31

Summary:

There was a certain young man, Theodoros. Once, he entered the martyrs’ sanctuary and took communion. Afterwards, for some unknown reason he unexpectedly became inflamed with extreme fury, and not only cast simple blasphemies against God, but also produced through his nostrils a terrible noise, similar to that of a thunderbolt, which made the people gathered in the sanctuary tremble. This noise also resembled the sound produced by pagans offering sacrifices to their idols; it was a hymn in honour of the demons venerated by the pagans, as Porphyry says in his work.

Thus, when Theodoros, after having eaten the bread of the immaculate communion, produced this accursed and sacrilegious sound, he was at once deprived of his sight. Terror overpowered all the people present, since they used to indulge in the same fault, and did not consider it to be a fault. They were thus frightened that they would also be punished in a similar way to Theodoros. They turned with tears, everyone on their own behalf, to Christ and the martyrs, supplicating them and asking for mercy towards the young man.

The martyrs appeared to Theodoros and rebuked him that he had perpetrated such an abominable deed, a practice agreeable to demons. Then they revealed to him that if in three days he saw the charcoal in the incense-burner (thymiaterion) kept by the manager of the sanctuary (oikonomos) passing by, and the smoke going up to the ceiling, he would be entirely delivered from his misery and would regain his sight. If, however, in three days he did not see anything like that, he would remain blind for the rest of his life.

When Theodoros awoke, he lamented over the loss of his sight and in terror calculated the days to the predicted hour. He spent this time praying incessantly to God and the martyrs. Along with him, others prayed on his behalf. This prayer was accepted and Theodoros regained his sight.

Indeed, on the third day, when Christodoros, the oikonomos, burnt incense and was passing near Theodoros who was still blind, the latter suddenly saw the charcoal and the smoke rising up. He gave a scream in praise of God and the martyrs, which aroused among the people joy at the miraculous healing, mixed with fear of the martyrs who were there and could have punished all sins. Christodoros, who was unaware what was happening, was amazed. When he learnt, however, the importance of the miracle, he began praising Christ and the martyrs along with the others.

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

History

Evidence ID

E07360

Saint Name

Kyros and Ioannes/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

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

610

Evidence not after

615

Activity not after

615

Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Alexandria

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

Alexandria Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Censing

Cult activities - Places

Martyr shrine (martyrion, bet sāhedwātā, etc.)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Punishing miracle Healing diseases and disabilities Apparition, vision, dream, revelation

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Chalices, censers and other liturgical vessels

Source

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.

Discussion

On the practice of producing a noise or roar while offering a sacrifice to pagan gods, see Bonner 1942. The extant work of Porphyry does not include a passage on this practice (Gascou 2007: 108: n. 620).

Bibliography

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: Bonner, C., “A Tarsian Peculiarity,” Harvard Theological Review, 35 (1942), 1-11. 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: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00009140/ 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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