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E07363: 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, at their shrine at Menouthis (near Alexandria, Lower Egypt), a boy, Kallinikos, from a terrible pain in the stomach caused by a serpent that he had swallowed. Written in Greek in Alexandria, 610/615.

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posted on 14.01.2019, 00:00 by julia
Sophronius of Jerusalem, The Miracles of Saints Cyrus and John, 34

Summary:

There was a certain Dorothea who had two sons, Kallinikos and Epimachos; the former was around twelve, whereas the latter was nine years old. The three of them set off on the road to the sanctuary of Cyrus and John to pray and venerate their relics. They travelled on foot, and on their way to Menouthis they got tired, so sat down under a tree. The Origin of Evil (archekakos) saw them under the tree and immediately recalled his ancient plots against the human race, through which it is subject to death. Thus he showed the two boys the egg of a serpent – the serpent by which he always plots our destruction. This egg was neither good to eat, nor good to look at, even though it seemed so both to Eve and to the boys, especially as they were too young to be able to discern good from evil. So they fell upon the egg thinking it was that of a bird.

Kallinikos grabbed it first as he was the elder, which made the younger Epimachos burst into tears. The mother told Kallinikos to give the egg to his brother to stop his cries, but the boy quickly put it into his mouth and swallowed it. Inside the egg there was a little serpent, already formed and complete in the image of its mother. Kallinikos had thus harvested death as the fruit of his disobedience, had not the martyrs Cyrus and John ensured that he escape this death.

The family at last came to the sanctuary and offered prayers to God and venerated the tomb of the martyrs. Shortly after, Kallinikos began to suffer in his intestines, since the egg opened in his stomach and emitted its fatal content. The pains grew ever greater, resembling tortures caused by a demon rather than colic or any disease. The serpent began to move inside the boy and bite him, as he could not find his mother after leaving the egg. Kallinikos suffered so much that he fell down and was rolling on the ground. His mother addressed the martyrs, supplicating them, complaining about her misery as a mother who was about to lose her beloved child, and begged them for mercy.

Then she fell asleep, since she wanted the martyrs to visit her in a dream. They appeared to her and told her to take the boy from the sanctuary around the third hour and place him in the middle of the external atrium, so that nobody, including his own mother, approached him. She was, however, to stay away at a small distance and watch the prodigy to be accomplished by God.

Dorothea thus did what she was told, and took her son outside the sanctuary, while he incessantly cried and rolled from one side to the other. Everybody thought he was going to die; only his mother knew he would survive. A big crowd gathered, desiring to see what was going to happen.

After half an hour, the mother serpent arrived, crawling and hissing in her misery, as she was looking for her lost baby. She approached the boy and began to mumble in his ear and mouth, calling her baby son. Then the little serpent came out through the boy’s mouth, hearing its mother voice or rather the martyrs’ order. The two serpents were reunited and they left for their den.

When the serpent left her son’s intestines, Dorothea sang in honour of the martyrs and in joy returned with her children to the city, while the crowd which also witnessed the miracle, praised God and the martyrs.

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

History

Evidence ID

E07363

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 - Places

Martyr shrine (martyrion, bet sāhedwātā, etc.)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult Activities - Miracles

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

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Children Crowds

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.

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: 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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