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E05220: John Moschus, in his Spiritual Meadow, recounts how a soldier who was about to die in battle with the Mauritanians in Africa, invoked God, citing the delivery of *Thekla (the follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092), and was miraculously spared from death. Written in Greek, probably in Rome, in the 620s or 630s.

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posted on 2018-03-19, 00:00 authored by julia
John Moschus, The Spiritual Meadow, 20

In this chapter Moschus retells the story of the conversion of a soldier that he had heard. This soldier, who was a military standard-bearer, took part in a battle with the Mauritanians in the African provinces. The barbarians defeated his army and slew many of his fellow-soldiers. Then the moment came when his own life was in danger, since one of the barbarians caught up with him and raised his spear to strike him. The soldier began calling on God and said:

Κύριε ὁ Θεὸς, ὁ φανεὶς τῇ δούλῃ σῇ Θέκλῃ, καὶ ῥυσάμενος αὐτὴν ἐκ τῶν ἀνόμων χειρῶν, ῥῦσαί με ἐκ τῆς ἀνάγκης ταύτης, καὶ σῶσόν με ἀπὸ τοῦ πικροῦ θανάτου τούτου, καὶ ὑπάγω εἰς τὴν ἔρημον, καὶ ἡσυχάζω.

'Oh Lord God, who appeared to your servant Thecla and delivered her from impious hands: deliver me from this calamity and save me from this bitter death. Then I will go and lead a life of solitude in the desert.'

When he turned round, the barbarian had disappeared. The soldier went straight to the Lavra of Kopratha and spent thirty years in this cave.

Text: Migne 1865 (PG 87.3). Translation: J. Wortley. Summary: J. Doroszewska.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Thekla, follower of the Apostle Paul : S00092

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Monastic collections (apophthegmata, etc.)


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Rome and region Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Rome Rome Rome Roma Ῥώμη Rhōmē Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Major author/Major anonymous work

John Moschus

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracles causing conversion Miraculous protection - other

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Foreigners (including Barbarians) Soldiers


John Moschus (c. 540/550–634) was a monk and spiritual writer. He lived successively with the monks of the monastery of St. Theodosios, south-east of Jerusalem, among the hermits of the Jordan Valley, and at the Lavra of Pharan in the Judaean Desert, where he spent ten years. About the year 578 he went to Egypt with Sophronius, his close friend to whom he was to dedicate the Spiritual Meadow. After 583 he perhaps came to Mount Sinai where he spent about ten years. In around 604 he went to Antioch but returned to Egypt later in the same decade. In around 614-619 he went to Cyprus, then to North Africa, and then to Rome, where he died before ‘the beginning of the eighth indiction’ (i.e. September 634). He wrote the Spiritual Meadow and co-authored with Sophronius a Life of John the Almoner. The Spiritual Meadow (Gr. Leimōn pneumatikos; Lat. Pratum spirituale) was written in the 620s or 30s, very probably in Rome. The work narrates Moschus' personal experiences with many of the ascetics whom he met during his extensive travels, mainly through Palestine, Sinai and Egypt, but also Cilicia and Syria, and recounts the edifying stories and sayings that he received from them. The title of the work is explained as an analogy between picking flowers in a springtime meadow and picking edifying stories and sayings from the lives of holy men and women. The number of chapters varies depending on the manuscript.


The Lavra of Kopratha was situated on the Jordan plain, but its precise location is unknown.


Edition: Migne, J.P, Patrologia Graeca, vol. 87.3 (Paris, 1865), 2851-3116. Translations: Maisano, R., Giovanni Mosco, Il prato (Naples, 2002). Rouët de Journel, M.-J., Jean Moschus, Le Pré Spirituel (Sources chrétiennes 12; Paris, 1946, repr. 2006). Wortley, J., John Moschos, The Spiritual Meadow (Cistercian Studies Series 139; Kalamazoo, 1992). Further reading: Baynes, N.H., "The Pratum spirituale," Orientalia Christiana Periodica 13 (1947), 404-414; repr. in Baynes, Byzantine Studies and Other Essays (London, 1955), 261-270. Binggeli, A. “Collections of Edifying Stories,” in: S. Efthymiadis (ed.), The Ashgate Research Companion to Byzantine Hagiography II: Genres and Contexts (Farnham, 2014), 143-160, esp. 146-147. Chadwick, H.J., "John Moschus and his friend Sophroonios the Sophist," Journal of Theological Studies 25 (1974), 41-74. Follieri, E., "Dove e quando mori Giovanni Mosco?," Rivista di Studi Bizantini e Neoellenici 25 (1988), 3-39. Mioni, E., "Il Pratum Spirituale di Giovanni Mosco: gli episodi inediti del Cod. Marciano greco II.21," Orientalia Christiana Periodica (1951), 61-94. Mioni, E., "Jean Moschus, Moine," Dictionnaire de Spiritualité 7 (1973), cols. 632-640. Nissen, T., "Unbekannte Erzählungen aus dem Pratum Spirituale," Byzantinische Zeitschrift 38 (1938), 351-376. Pattenden, P., "The text of the Pratum Spirituale," Journal of Theological Studies 26 (1975), 38-54.

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