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E03563: Three fragmentary Greek homilies of the 5th or 6th centuries, attributed to Cyril of Alexandria, refer to the translation of the relics of *Kyros and Ioannes/Cyrus and John (physician and soldier, martyrs of Egypt, S00406) from the shrine of *Mark (the Evangelist, S00293) in Alexandria to the church of the Evangelists at the monastery of Metanoia, between Kanopos and Menuthis (Lower Egypt). The author refers to the story of the martyrs and the identification of their relics. The new shrine (martyrion) aims at preventing the locals from visiting pagan shrines for healing.

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posted on 2017-08-14, 00:00 authored by erizos
Cyril of Alexandria, Homily 18, Fragments of three homilies on the Translation of the Relics of Kyros and Ioannes (CPG 5262, BHG 0472-0474).

Ἐπίφη β' Tοῦ Μακαρίου Κυρίλλου προσφώνησις τοῖς Ταβεννησιώταις μοναχοῖς τοῖς ἐν τῷ Κανώβῳ ἐν τῇ Μετανοίᾳ καλουμένῃ περὶ τῶν ἁγίων μαρτύρων Κύρου καὶ Ἰωάννου

Ἀνδρεία καὶ ὑπομονὴ, καλὴ καὶ εὐειδεστάτη δυὰς ἀρετῶν, καὶ τοῖς ἁγίοις μάλιστα πρεπωδεστάτη· οἷς ὁ μακάριος προσεφώνει Δαβὶδ, «Ἀνδρίζου, καὶ κραταιούσθω ἡ καρδία σου, καὶ ὑπόμεινον τὸν Κύριον·» ὁ δὲ τοῦ Σωτῆρος μαθητής· «Ὑπομονῆς ἔχετε χρείαν, ἵνα, τὸ θέλημα τοῦ Θεοῦ ποιήσαντες, κομιεῖσθε τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν.» Χρὴ γὰρ ἡμᾶς ὡς ἐν ἀρχῇ γενέσθαι τῶν ἀγαθῶν, καὶ τὸ τέλος ἐπιζητεῖν, ἵνα καὶ βασιλείαν οὐρανῶν κληρονομήσωμεν, ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τῷ Κυρίῳ ἡμῶν, ᾧ ἡ δόξα καὶ τὸ κράτος εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας. Ἀμήν.

'1. 2 Epip (= 9 July) Address of the blessed Cyril to the Tabennesiot monks of Canopus, at the so-called Metanoia, on the holy martyrs Kyros and Ioannes.

Bravery and perseverance: a lovely and most beautiful pair of virtues, most fitting for the saints! To them the blessed David proclaimed "Be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord." [Ps. 27:14] And the Saviour's disciple said: "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised." [Heb. 10:36] For we need indeed to be like at the beginning of good things, and to pursue their end, in order to inherit the kingdom of heaven, in Christ Jesus, our Lord, to Whom be glory and power forever. Amen.'

Βʹ. Ἐπίφη ζʹ· Τοῦ αὐτοῦ ἐξήγησις πρώτη εἰς τοὺς ἁγίους μάρτυρας Κῦρον καὶ Ἰωάννην τοὺς κειμένους ἐνταῦθα, δι’ ὧν σημαίνει ὁ Πατὴρ καὶ τὸ τίμιον αὐτῶν πάθος, καὶ τὴν ἐνταῦθα κατάθεσιν τῶν ἁγίων αὐτῶν λειψάνων. Ἐῤῥήθη δὲ ἡ παροῦσα ἐξήγησις πρώτη ἐν τῇ Μετανοίᾳ, ἤτοι ἐν τῇ τῶν Ἁγίων Ἀποστόλων.

Οὐκ ὀκνηροὶ γεγόναμεν περὶ τὸν συνήθη λόγον, ἀλλ’ ὡς εἴρηκεν ὁ Σωτὴρ, «τὸ μὲν πνεῦμα πρόθυμον, ἡ δὲ σὰρξ ἀσθενής.» Πιστεύομεν δὲ ὅτι διὰ τὰς ὑμῶν εὐχὰς ἐλέῳ Θεοῦ ῥαΐσει τὸ πάθος. Ὃ δὲ καὶ ἐβουλευσάμεθα καὶ πεπράχαμεν ὑπὲρ τοῦ χρησίμου, πάλιν εἰπεῖν ὑμῖν ἀναγκαῖον συνείδομεν. Ὅτι τὰ μέρη ταῦτα ἔχρῃζεν ἰατρῶν θεραπευόντων διὰ Θεοῦ. Ἵνα τοίνυν πάντας ὠφελήσωμεν τοὺς τόπους, καὶ μάλιστα τοὺς περικειμένους τῇ τῶν Ἁγίων Εὐαγγελιστῶν ἐκκλησίᾳ, ἀπῄεισαν γὰρ οὐκ ἔχοντες μαρτύριον εἰς ἑτέρους τινὰς τόπους, καὶ Χριστιανοὶ ὄντες ἐσφάλλοντο, διὰ τοῦτο ἀναγκαίως ἐζητήσαμεν ἁγίων μαρτύρων λείψανα. Εὕρομεν τοίνυν, καὶ μεμαθήκαμεν ἀκριβῶς, ὅτι κατὰ τὸν καιρὸν καθ’ ὃν μεμαρτυρήκασιν αἱ ἅγιαι παρθένοι, ὧν τὴν θείαν πηγὴν ἔχομεν ἐν τοῖς τοῦ ἁγίου εὐαγγελιστοῦ Μάρκου, δύο τινὲς, ὧν ὁ μὲν εἷς μονάζων ἦν ἀσκητὴς, καὶ ἕτερος στρατιώτης, παρῆσαν αὐτὰς παροτρύνοντες καὶ ἐπαλείφοντες αὐτὰς πρὸς τὸν ἀγῶνα τῆς ἀθλήσεως· ὥστε μετὰ γενναίου φρονήματος ὑπὲρ τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν ὑποστῆναι κίνδυνον· κέκληνται δὲ καὶ αὐτοὶ σὺν ἐκείναις εἰς τὸ μαρτύριον· καὶ εἰσῆλθον γενναίως καὶ μεμαρτυρήκασιν ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ, καὶ τεθείκασιν δι’ αὐτὸν τὰς ἰδίας ψυχάς. Ἦν οὖν ὁμοῦ τὰ λείψανα τῶν ἁγίων μαρτύρων ἐν ἑνὶ τόπῳ κείμενα· ἐπεὶ δὲ ἀδιάκριτα ἦν τὰ λείψανα, οὐ γὰρ ἦν διεγνωσμένα σαφῶς τίς μὲν οὗτος, τίς δὲ ἐκεῖνος, ἀναγκαίως ἀμφότερα συλλαβόντες μετηγάγομεν καὶ τεθείκαμεν ἐν τῇ τῶν Εὐαγγελιστῶν ἐκκλησίᾳ, ποιήσαντες τὸ σύνηθες, ὡς μαρτυροῦσιν, μνημεῖον. Συναγώμεθα τοίνυν, ἐθέλοντος τοῦ Χριστοῦ, αὔριον ὁμοῦ, καὶ τοὺς ἁγίους τιμῶντες εὐαγγελιστὰς καὶ τοὺς μακαρίους μάρτυρας· καλοῦνται δὲ Κῦρος καὶ Ἰωάννης.

'1. 7 Epip (14 July) By the same, first explanation concerning the holy martyrs Kyros and Ioannes who rest here. The father announces both their noble suffering and the deposition of their holy relics here. This was the first address given at Metanoia, namely at the church of the Holy Apostles.

We are not being lazy to talk about the customary subject, but, as the Saviour said, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak [Mt. 26:41; Mk. 14:38]. Yet we are confident that by your prayers God will relieve our malady. Now we deem it necessary to talk to you again about the usefulness of our decision and act. Namely that this region was in need of doctors that heal by the power of God. Indeed, we did this in order to benefit all the areas, but especially the parts around the church of the Holy Evangelists, because, since they had no shrine of martyrs (martyrion), people used to go to other places, and, although they were Christians, they fell into error. For this reason, we urgently sought for relics of holy martyrs. We thus discovered and ascertained that, at the same time when the holy virgins were martyred, whose sacred well we have at the shrine of the Holy Evangelist Mark, two men, the first of whom was a monk and ascetic and the other a soldier, stood by them encouraging and preparing them for the contest of their martyrdom, so that they might go through the ordeal for the sake of our Saviour in brave spirits. These men then were also called into the contest alongside them, and they entered it bravely and suffered martyrdom for Christ, and gave for Him their lives. Now the relics of the holy martyrs rested together at the same place, but, since the remains were not separated and it was not clearly known who was the one and who was the other, we collected them by necessity all together, and took and placed them at the church of the Evangelists, having made for them an appropriate monument, as befits martyrs. Therefore, Christ willing, let us gather together tomorrow, in order to honour both the Holy Evangelists and the blessed martyrs. Their names are Kyros and Ioannes.'

Γʹ. Ἐπίφη ηʹ, τοῦ αὐτοῦ ἐξήγησις ἑτέρα ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τῶν εὐαγγελιστῶν, ἔνθα καὶ κατέθηκεν ἐν μνημείῳ τὰ λείψανα τῶν ἁγίων μαρτύρων Κύρου καὶ Ἰωάννου, πρὸ δύο σημείων κατὰ ἀνατολὰς τοῦ Κανώβου, πλησίον τῆς Μενούθεος.

Συνεπορεύοντο δὲ αὐτῷ ὄχλοι πολλοὶ, καὶ στραφεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· «Εἴ τις ἔρχεται πρός με, καὶ οὐ μισεῖ τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ καὶ τὰ τέκνα καὶ τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς αὐτοῦ, ἔτι δὲ καὶ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ ψυχὴν, οὐ δύναταί μου εἶναι μαθητής· ὅστις οὐ βαστάζει τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἔρχεται ὀπίσω μου, οὐ δύναταί μου εἶναι μαθητής.» Θερμοὺς ἡμᾶς εἰς εὐλάβειαν οἱ τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἀπαιτοῦσιν λόγοι· καὶ τοὺς ἀγαπᾷν θέλοντας αὐτὸν, οὐδὲν ἡγεῖσθαι ἄμεινον αὐτοῦ ἀναπείθουσιν, οὐ φιλοστοργίαν σωμάτων, οὐκ ἀγάπησιν εἰς πατέρας, οὐκ αἰδὼ τὴν εἰς μητέρας καὶ ἀδελφούς· οἶδεν γὰρ ὅτι ταῦτα καταπεφρονηκότες μεγάλην εὑρίσκουσιν καὶ λαμπρὰν τὴν ἀντιμισθίαν· ἵνα δὲ καί τι πρὸς τούτοις ἕτερον εἴπω, γνωρίζων ὅσην ἔσχεν εἰς ἡμᾶς ἀγάπησιν, οὐδὲ αὐτὸς τὰ καθ’ ἑαυτὸν κρείττονα τῶν ἡμετέρων ἐποιήσατο πραγμάτων· οὐ προτετίμηκεν τὰ καθ’ ἑαυτὸν τῆς ἁπάντων σωτηρίας καὶ ζωῆς. Θεὸς ὢν, δι’ ἡμᾶς γέγονεν ἄνθρωπος καὶ ὑπέμεινεν σταυρὸν, αἰσχύνης καταφρονήσας· ἀλλ’ οἱ συμπάσχοντες καὶ συμβασιλεύσουσιν· οἱ συνατιμασθέντες, πάντως καὶ συνδοξασθήσονται.

Οὕτως εὐδοκιμῆσαι πιστεύομεν καὶ τοὺς ἁγίους μάρτυρας Κῦρον καὶ Ἰωάννην· πρόθυμοι γὰρ εἰσῆλθον εἰς τοὺς ὑπὲρ τῆς εἰς Χριστὸν εὐσεβείας ἀγῶνας. Καὶ τὸ πάντων αὐτοῖς δεινότατον ἐπιπηδᾷ θηρίον, φημὶ δὲ ὁ θάνατος· ἀλλ’ ἐμέμνηντο τοῦ ἰδίου Δεσπότου λέγοντος· «Ὃς οὐ λαμβάνει τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἀκολουθεῖ ὀπίσω μου, οὐ δύναταί μου εἶναι μαθητής.» Πεπληρώκασιν τὴν ἐντολὴν, ἔλαβον καὶ αὐτοὶ τὸν σταυρὸν, ἠκολούθησαν τῷ ἰδίῳ Δεσπότῃ. Ἤγοντο δὲ οὐ μόνοι πρὸς τοὺς ἀγῶνας, ἀλλ’ ἦν καὶ χορὸς ἁγίων παρθένων· καὶ γυναῖκες μὲν ἦσαν, ἄθραυστοι δὲ τὴν διάνοιαν· τετελείωται τοίνυν σὺν αὐταῖς καὶ ἡ καλὴ τούτων τῶν ἀθλητῶν δυάς· καὶ μισθὸν ἔχουσι τῆς εἰς Χριστὸν ἀγάπης, τοῦ πατῆσαι τὸν Σατανᾶν καὶ ἐλαύνειν τὰ πονηρὰ δαιμόνια· ἡκέτωσαν τοίνυν οἱ πάλαι πλανώμενοι· ἐρχέσθωσαν εἰς ἀληθινὸν καὶ ἀκαπήλευτον ἰατρεῖον· οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἡμῖν ὀνείρατα πλάττεται· οὐδεὶς λέγει τοῖς ἐρχομένοις· Εἴρηκεν ἡ Κυρά· Ποίησον τὸ καὶ τό· ὅλως Κυρὰ καὶ Θεὸς εἶναι δυνατὸς, καὶ προσκυνεῖσθαι θέλει; Ἐν τοῖς δαίμοσιν οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδὲν ἄῤῥεν οὐδὲ θῆλυ. Καὶ βλέπετε ποίαν ἔχουσιν προαίρεσιν· ὀνόμασιν γυναικῶν καλεῖσθαι βούλονται πατήσαντες τοίνυν τὰ γραώδη μυθάρια καὶ τὰ πάλαι τῶν γοήτων ἐμπαίγματα, ἐρχέσθωσαν ἐπὶ τοὺς ἀληθινοὺς καὶ ἄνωθεν ἰατρούς· οἷς ὁ πάντα ἰσχύων Θεὸς, τοῦ θεραπεύειν δύνασθαι τὴν ἐξουσίαν ἐχαρίσατο λέγων· «Ἀσθενοῦντας θεραπεύετε· δωρεὰν ἐλάβετε, δωρεὰν δότε.» Πάσης τοίνυν θεραπείας τῆς παρὰ τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἀπολαύσαντες, ὑμνολογοῦσιν τὸν ἑαυτῶν Δεσπότην, ἵνα καὶ βασιλείας οὐρανῶν καταξιωθῶσιν, ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τῷ Κυρίῳ ἡμῶν, δι’ οὗ τῷ Θεῷ καὶ Πατρὶ σὺν τῷ παναγίῳ Πνεύματι δόξα, τιμὴ, κράτος, νῦν καὶ ἀεὶ καὶ εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. Ἀμήν.

'1. 8 Epip (15 July) By the same author, second address at the church of the Evangelists where he deposited in a monument the relics (en mnemeio ta leipsana) of the holy martyrs Kyros and Ioannes, two miles east of Kanopos, near Menuthis.

Great crowds were walking with Him and He turned and told them: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple." [Lk. 14:26] The Saviour's words demand of us to be fervent for the true faith. They instruct those willing to love Him to regard nothing as better than Him ― not the care of their bodies, not the affection for their fathers, not the respect for their mothers and brothers. For He knows that, if they disdain these things, they will find a great and splendid reward. And, in order to add something to these, let me say that, knowing how much love He had for us, He did not hold His interests higher than ours either. He did not put His interests above the salvation and life of all. Although He was God, He became man for our sake and suffered the cross, disregarding the shame. But those who share in His suffering will also share in His kingdom. Those who shared in His humiliation will certainly also share in His glorification.

We are confident that this was how the holy martyrs Kyros and Ioannes excelled, for they readily entered the struggles of the true faith in Christ. And the most dreadful of beasts assaulted them ― I mean death ― but they kept in mind the word


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Kyros and Iōannēs, physician martyrs in Egypt, ob. early 4th c. : S00406 Mark the Evangelist : S00293 Luke, the Apostle : S00442 Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist : S00791 John, Apostle and Evangelist : S00042

Saint Name in Source

Κῦρος, Ἰωάννης Μᾶρκος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies


  • Greek

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)

Kanopos Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Major author/Major anonymous work

Cyril of Alexandria

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Condemnation of other activity associated with cult

Cult Activities - Miracles

Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Ecclesiastics - bishops Pagans Physicians

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - unspecified Discovering, finding, invention and gathering of relics Transfer, translation and deposition of relics Construction of cult building to contain relics


These three texts are fragments or very brief addresses given by a bishop during the translation of the relics of Kyros and Ioannes at the church of the Evangelists, in the monastery of Metanoia, near the great pagan shrines of Kanopos and Menuthis, east of Alexandria. Alongside the two versions of the Life of Kyros and Ioannes (BHG 469, 470), and their Miracles Collection by Sophronius of Jerusalem, these sermonettes appear as a part of the hagiographical dossier of the two saints in two 10th century manuscripts, on which see:


These three sermonettes reflect the establishment of one of the most successful healing shrines of Christian Egypt. Their inscriptions (titles) inform us that they were delivered at the Tabennesiot (Pachomian) monastery of Metanoia at Kanopos, which had been built after the Christian take-over of the shrine of Kanopos (see E03503). The author states that the purpose was to provide a Christian alternative to the pagan healing and oracular shrines functioning in the area. It is unclear if these were the great shrines of Kanopos and Menuthis, or informal, private shrines, where the old pagan cults were practised against the Christian prohibitions. The author and his flock seem to have regarded Christian martyria as the equivalent of pagan healing and oracular shrines. Although the main church of the region was apparently dedicated to the Evangelists, it seems that it was not regarded as a healing shrine by the locals, and did not count as a martyrion, very probably because it did not possess any relics. In search of relics, the bishop searches the tombs of martyrs at the shrine of the Evangelist Mark. Like the Koimeterion of Antioch or the Crypt of the Popes in Rome, this shrine was probably an ancient Christian cemetery containing the remains of the revered founder of the church of Alexandria, Mark, and several martyrs and bishops. Cyril finds some remains which he associates with figures known from the legend of a group of female martyrs. These two figures were probably hitherto unknown, and the bishop introduces them to the community by their names, Kyros and Ioannes. The attribution of the texts to Cyril of Alexandria has been questioned by Jean Gascou (2007) who has argued that there is not sufficient evidence to suggest that the cult of Kyros and Ioannes had been established before the 6th century. Even if the ascription is indeed inaccurate, the texts appear to be genuine transcripts of brief sermons given on the occasion of the shrine's foundation.


Text: Migne, J.-P. Patrologiae cursus completus: series Graeca 77 (Paris, 1864), 1100-1105. Further reading: Gascou, J., "Les origines du culte des Saints Cyr et Jean," Analecta Bollandiana 125 (2007), 241-281, esp. 251-257 (French translation). Delehaye, H., Les origines du culte des martyrs (Brussels: Société des Bollandistes, 1912), 223-224.

Continued Description

s of their Master: "Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." [Mt. 10:38] They fulfilled the commandment. They took up the cross themselves. They followed their Master. And they were not led alone to their divine contest, but there was also a chorus of holy virgins. These were women, but unbreakable in their determination. And alongside them was this beautiful pair of champions. The reward they have for their love for Christ is that they stepped over Satan and drive the demons away. Now let those once deceived come here. Let them come to the true and unforged surgery. For nobody will pretend to you that they have visions. No one will tell visitors: "The Mistress said: Do this and that". Does she really want to be both a mistress and a powerful god and to be venerated? Demons are neither male nor female, and yet look at their conduct: they like to be called by the names of women! Therefore, let those people trample down these silly cronish myths and the old frauds of the charlatans, and come to the true heavenly doctors, to whom the almighty God has granted the power of healing, saying: "Heal the sick. Freely you have received; freely give." [Mt. 10:8] Having enjoyed every honour from the Saviour, they sing praises to their Master, so that they may also be granted the Kingdom of Heaven, in Christ Jesus, our Lord, through Whom be glory, honour and power to God the Father together with the All-Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.'Text: Migne 1864.Translation: E. Rizos.

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