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E07545: 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 from blindness and converted a certain Stephanos, an heretical follower of Theodosius and Severus, at their shrine at Menouthis (near Alexandria, Lower Egypt). Written in Greek in Alexandria, 610/615.

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posted on 28.04.2019, 00:00 by julia
Sophronius of Jerusalem, The Miracles of Saints Cyrus and John, 38


There was a certain Stephanos from the city of Nikiou [in Lower Egypt] who had leucomas on his eyes. This man belonged to the sect of Theodosius and Severus. Since he lost his sight, he sought to regain it and went in search of the martyrs’ help. They, however, first left him for four months without examination in order to soften his stubbornness and prepare him to convert to the better doctrine. Then they appeared to him in a dream. They stood in the hierateion of the sanctuary, dressed in monastic garments and called Stephanos who was outside to approach. When he came to the holy space (he hieratike aule), they offered him a 'eulogy', that is white bread with a cross stamped on it. He took it unwillingly and dropped it on the ground. Immediately Kyros picked it up and put in the young man’s hand again, but it again fell to the ground. Yet Kyros repeated his action and a third time picked the bread up and gave it to Stephanos, saying that he would love to see Stephanos approaching the sanctuary and repeating ‘Amen, amen, oh Lord’. Stephanos realised that these are the words of participants in the mysteries of Christ, because they are spoken in response to the priests, at the moment when they distribute the flesh and blood of Christ: they are a testimony and confession of the truth of what the priests give us as our spiritual nourishment and for the remission of our sins. Stephanos, however, said that he took this spiritual nourishment of immortality every Sunday. But the saints told him that he had not taken communion even one time since he had come to the sanctuary.

Stephanos awoke, he ran to communion with the Catholic Church and regained his sight in both eyes. As a result, his servant (ho touto diakonoumenos) also joined the Catholic Church. However, the Malevolent One who always envies those who are saved, deprived them of half of their gift. The servant asked Stephanos whether they would remain members of the Catholic Church even when they returned to their country; Stephanos replied that they would follow the martyrs’ will as long as they stayed in their sanctuary, but when they returned home, they would switch to their former belief, that had been transmitted to them by their fathers.

That same night, however, the martyrs appeared to Stephanos and punished him for his ingratitude. They commanded him to take a bath, after which he suffered from insomnia for many nights and lost his sight anew. Yet he did not recognise the cause of his miserable state. But the merciful martyrs revealed the cause to him in a vision. When he learnt it, he repented.

The martyrs appeared to him in the form of the governor of the city of Nikiou. They reproached him for violating his union with Cyrus and John and commanded him to respect his pact with them, warning him against making another violation. When the young man understood the cause of his misery, he swore not to make any other violation and asked for forgiveness for what he had done.

The martyrs thus reappeared to him in a dream, staying by the altar of Christ (to thysiasterion Christou) and offering a bloodless sacrifice (he anaimaktos thysia). They offered it to him afterwards. When he took it, they showed him the Church, the bride of the Saviour, who shone in white garments with unparalleled beauty. She approached to the altar, took part in the mysteries of Christ herself, and gave them also to Stephanos. She hung round his neck a golden cross studded with precious gems, which covered his chest and was to serve as a guardian of his illumination. When he left the sacred place after these mysteries, a certain Egyptian who was ugly, and also profane, wanted to strip it off, since he was outside the church. Yet, although he tried, he did not manage to grab it and instead fell down into a bottomless hole. With no doubt it was thanks to the cross that Stephanos was protected and given power to defeat the enemy. Shortly afterwards, Stephanos regained his sight, having used the juice of endive to cure himself, as the martyrs had commanded in a vision.

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


Evidence ID


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



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

Visiting graves and shrines

Cult Activities - Miracles

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

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives


Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects



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 sect of Theodosius and Severos – Theodosios, patriarch of Alexandria under the reign of the emperor Justinian, and Severos, patriarch of Antioch (both fl. 6th c.) upheld a moderate path of monophysitism (Gascou 2006: 137, n. 797). The hierateion – it is uncertain what this term means in this context; it appears to be a part of the sanctuary reserved for the clergy (Gascou 2006: 139, n. 808).


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: Déroche, V., "Représentations de l'Eucharistie dans la haute époque byzantine", Mélanges Gilbert Dagron, Travaux et Mémoires 14 (2002), 167-180. 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 her Études sur le christianisme dans l'Égypte de l'antiquité tardive (Roma, 1996), 257-278.

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