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E07853: The Miracles of Saint Thekla extoll the prophetic and healing power of the saints, particularly that of *Thekla (follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092), who is omnipresent and ready both to help and to punish. Written in Greek at Seleucia ad Calycadnum (southern Asia Minor) in the 470s.

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posted on 11.02.2020, 00:00 by julia
Miracles of Saint Thekla, Preface


After a long section of his Preface dedicated to a learned demolition of the supposed oracular powers of the pagan gods, the author continues with a eulogy on the clarity of saintly power, particularly the power of Thekla:


Τὰ δὲ τῶν ἁγίων ἄρα λοιπὸν ἰάματα καὶ θεσπίσματα ποῖα; Σαφῆ, ἀληθῆ, ἁπλᾶ, ἅγια, ὁλόκληρα καὶ τοῦ δεδωκότος θεοῦ ἀληθῶς ἐπάξια. Καὶ γὰρ οὐδ’ ἄλλως οἷόν τε χρηματίζειν ἡμῖν τοὺς ἁγίους ἢ διὰ μόνης γε τῆς τοῦ Χριστοῦ χάριτος. Καὶ γὰρ αὐτοὶ ταύτης τυγχάνοντες πρότερον, οὕτω καὶ αὐτοὶ τοῖς αἰτοῦσιν ἀντιδιδόασιν, ὥσπερ ὑδρορρόαι τινὲς ἔκ τινος ὑπερτάτης καὶ θειοτάτης πηγῆς ἕλκουσαί τε καὶ ἐπαντλοῦσαι πάλιν τοῖς διψῶσι τὰ ἱερὰ νάματα.

Τούτων τῶν ἁγίων καὶ ἡ μεγίστη μάρτυς ἐστὶ Θέκλα, ἀεὶ παροῦσα, ἀεὶ φοιτῶσα, τῶν δεομένων ἐπαΐουσα πάντοτε, καὶ πάντας ἀφθόνως ἐφορῶσα, ὑγιαίνοντας, ἀρρωστοῦντας, εὐθυμοῦντας, ἀθυμοῦντας, πλέοντας, ὁδοιποροῦντας, κινδυνεύοντας, μὴ κινδυνεύοντας, κατὰ ἕνα, κατὰ πολλούς, κατὰ οἴκους, κατὰ γένη, κατὰ πόλεις, κατὰ δήμους, ξένους ὁμοίως καὶ πολίτας, ἐγχωρίους καὶ ὑπερορίους, ἄνδρας καὶ γυναῖκας, δεσπότας καὶ οἰκέτας, ἀφηλικεστέρους καὶ νέους, πλουσίους καὶ πένητας, τοὺς ἐν ἀρχαῖς, τοὺς ἐν στρατείαις, τοὺς ἐν δίκαις, τοὺς ἐν πολέμοις, τοὺς ἐν εἰρήνῃ. Ἤδη δὲ καὶ ἰουδαίοις καὶ ἕλλησιν ὤφθη τε πολλάκις καὶ τὴν αὐτὴν ἐπεδείξατο δύναμιν, ἀντὶ συμβουλῆς, ἀντὶ νουθεσίας προσάγουσα τὴν θεραπείαν.

Καὶ ἵνα συνελὼν εἴπω, εἰς πάντας ἀνθρώπους φοιτῶσα, διὰ πάντων χαρισμάτων ἐνεργεῖ τὰ θαύματα, καὶ τοὐναντίον κατὰ πάντων αὖ πάλιν τῶν ἁμαρτανόντων καὶ παροξυνόντων αὐτὴν κινεῖ τὴν ἰσχὺν αὐτῆς ἀεὶ καὶ ὀργήν, οὔτε τῶν ὅσια βιούντων ἀμελοῦσά ποτε, οὔτε τῶν ἀνόσια πραττόντων ἀφειδοῦσα, ἐναργέστερον δὲ ποτὲ μὲν ταῦτα, ποτὲ δὲ ἐκεῖνα πράττουσα, καὶ δι’ ἑκατέρων τό τε ἐμβριθές, τό τε φιλάνθρωπον ἀεὶ τοῖς ἔργοις ἐπισημαίνουσα. Καὶ γὰρ οὐχ ἡνίκα ἦν τε ἐν σώματι καὶ συνῆν ἀνθρώποις ὡρίσατο τὰς θεραπείας, μεταστᾶσα δὲ ἡσύχασεν· ἀλλὰ γὰρ ἀνεμίχθη μὲν ἀγγέλοις, οὐκ ἀπέστη δὲ οὔτε νῦν ἡμῶν, ἀλλ’ ἐν ἀμείνονι μὲν λήξει, μετὰ μείζονος δὲ τῆς βοηθείας κήδεταί τε καὶ ἐπιμελεῖται ἡμῶν.

Καὶ ἵνα ἐκ πάνυ πολλῶν ἄγαν ὀλίγα εἴπωμεν, φέρε εἴπωμεν ἅ τε ἡμεῖς ἴσμεν τέως, ἅ τε συνομολογεῖται τοῖς πολλοῖς, καὶ ὧν πάντες ἵστορές τε καὶ ἐν πείρᾳ καθεστήκαμεν, οἱ μὲν καὶ αὐτῷ τῷ εὖ παθεῖν, οἱ δὲ καὶ παρ’ αὐτῶν τῶν εὖ πεπονθότων ἀκηκοότες. Ἄρξομαι δὲ ἀφ’ ὧν ὑπὲρ αὐτῆς τε μάλιστα καὶ κατὰ δαιμόνων διεπράξατο.


'But of what nature, then, are healings and oracular sayings of the saints? Clear, true, simple, holy, complete and truly worthy of the God who has granted them. For the saints cannot prophesy to us except through the grace of Christ alone. And because they have attained this grace beforehand, they give it in their turn to those who ask, just as flowing waters springing from a very high and most divine source pour out holy streams for the thirsty.

Of these saints the greatest witness is Thekla, always present, always making visitation, continually hearkening to those who make entreaty, watching over all people bountifully - those who are physically sound, those who are unwell, those who are of good cheer, those who are despondent, sailors, wayfarers, those in danger, those safe from danger, individually or in groups, house by house, people by people, city by city, district by district, foreigners and citizens alike, locals and aliens, men and women, masters and servants, the elderly and the young, the wealthy and the poor, those in power, those in the military, those in the courts, those at war, and those in peace. In our time [lit. now] she often appeared to both Jewish and Greek and demonstrated the same power , applying her remedy in place of their counsel and admonition.

Briefly put, by her visitation to all people, she works her miracles through all kinds of gracious gifts. On the other hand, she always unleashes her might and her anger against everyone in turn who commits sin and provokes her. Never neglectful of those who live piously, nor sparing those committing impious acts, she acts transparently in both ways, and in both cases all the time demonstrating in her deeds her seriousness and her love for humanity. She did not limit her cures to the time she was in the body and living among men and then, after her death, fall silent. But, although she joined the company of angels, she does not even today stand aloof from us; but rather, in a better lot and with greater assistance she cares for us and watches over us.

In order that we may relate a very few of all these many miracles, let me recount those which we have known hitherto, which are commonly acknowledged by many, and which we all know and have experienced, some of us to our own personal benefit, while others have heard tell from those who themselves benefited. I shall begin from the miracles Thekla accomplished particularly for herself and against the demons.'


Text: Dagron 1978. Translation: Johnson 2012.

History

Evidence ID

E07853

Saint Name

Thekla, follower of the Apostle Paul : S00092

Saint Name in Source

Θέκλα

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

470

Evidence not after

476

Activity not before

450

Activity not after

476

Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Seleucia ad Calycadnum

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

Seleucia ad Calycadnum Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult Activities - Miracles

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

Source

The anonymous text known under the title of The Life and Miracles of Thekla was written in the city of Seleucia-on-the-Calycadnum in the province of Isauria in southern Asia Minor around 470. It was certainly written before c. 476, which is approximately when Thekla's shrine outside Seleucia (modern Meriamlik/Ayatekla in Turkey) was monumentalised by the emperor Zeno (r. 474-491), since this activity is not mentioned in the text. The text consists of two parts: the first half is a paraphrased version of the second-century Acts of Paul and Thekla, a text which was widely known in Late Antiquity and translated into every early Christian language; this early text was rendered by our author into Attic Greek, and contains many minor changes to the original story, with one major change at the end: instead of dying at the age of 19 years, Thekla descends into the earth and performs miracles in and around the city of Seleucia in a spiritual state. The second half, from which this passage is drawn, comprises a collection of forty-six miracles, preceded by a preface and followed by an epilogue. It is written in a high literary style which distinguishes it among other hagiographical texts, which were typically composed in a low style of Greek. The text was for a long time attributed to a 5th century bishop, Basil of Seleucia (fl. c. 448-468); but in 1974 Dagron demonstrated conclusively that the Miracles could not have been authored by Basil, since there is an invective directed against him in chapter 12. The anonymous author is himself the subject of a few miracles, including miraculous interventions on his behalf in ecclesiastical disputes.

Bibliography

Edition: Dagron, G., Vie et miracles de sainte Thècle (Subsidia hagiographica 62; Brussels: Société des Bollandistes, 1978), with French translation. Translations: Johnson, S.F., Miracles of Saint Thekla, in : S.F. Johnson and A.-M. Talbot, Miracle Tales from Byzantium (Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library 12; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), 1-201. Festugière, A.-J., Collections grecques de Miracles: sainte Thècle, saints Côme et Damien, saints Cyr et Jean (extraits), saint Georges (Paris: Éditions A. et J. Picard, 1971). Further reading: Barrier, J., et al., Thecla: Paul's Disciple and Saint in the East and West (Leuven: Peeters, 2017). Dagron, G., “L'auteur des Actes et des Miracles de Sainte Thècle,” Analecta Bollandiana, 92 (1974), 5–11. Davis, S., The Cult of Saint Thecla: A Tradition of Women's Piety in Late Antiquity, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001). Honey, L., “Topography in the Miracles of Thecla: Reconfiguring Rough Cilicia,” in: M.C. Hoff and R.F. Townsend (eds), Rough Cilicia: New Historical and Archaeological Approaches, Proceedings on an International Conference held at Lincoln, Nebraska, October 2007 (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2013), 252–59. Johnson, S.F., “The Life and Miracles of Thecla, a literary study” (University of Oxford, doctoral thesis, 2005). Kaster, R., Guardians of Language: The Grammarian and Society in Late Antiquity," (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1988). Kristensen, T.M., "Landscape, Space and Presence in the Cult of Thekla in Meriamlik," Journal of Early Christian Studies 24:2 (2016), 229-263.

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