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E05262: John Moschus, in his Spiritual Meadow, recounts the story of Abba *Kosmas (later 6th c. monk of Palestine, S01976), from the monastery of the Byzantines in Jerusalem. After his death, a beggar is healed from paralysis at his tomb at Antioch. Calling from his tomb, he reveals that a bishop, who was buried near him in the cemetery, was a heretic. Written in Greek, probably in Rome, in the 620s or 630s.

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posted on 2018-03-26, 00:00 authored by julia
John Moschus, The Spiritual Meadow, 40

In this chapter Moschus quotes a story which he received from Abba Basil, priest of the monastery of the Byzantines. When Abba Basil was with Abba Gregory the Patriarch of Theoupolis [Antioch], there came there from Jerusalem Abba Kosmas the Eunuch, of the Lavra of Pharon. He was very pious and a true monk, with no small knowledge of Holy Scripture. However, since he was an aged man, after a few days he died. Wishing to honour him, the Patriarch ordered that he be buried at a spot in the cemetery [in Antioch] where a bishop lay. Two days later Abba Basil went to this spot to kiss the elder's grave. There he met a poor man stricken with paralysis who was lying on top of the tomb and begging. When the beggar saw Abba Basil praying and prostrating himself, he said to him that the elder who was buried three days before was indeed a great elder. To Abba Basil who asked how he knew this, he replied:

Ἐγὼ παραλυτικὸς ἤμην ἔτη δώδεκα, καὶ δι’ αὐτοῦ με ἐθεράπευσεν ὁ Κύριος· καὶ ὅτε ἐν θλίψει γίνομαι, ἔρχεται παραμυθούμενός με, καὶ παρέχει μοι ἀνάπαυσιν.

'I was paralyzed for twelve years and, through this elder, the Lord cured me. When I am afflicted, he comes and comforts me, granting me relief.'

He added also that he heard the elder's voice from the tomb, saying to the bishop buried nearby:

'Touch me not; stay away! Come not near, thou heretic and enemy of the truth and of the holy catholic Church of God!'

When Abba Basil learnt this story, he went to the patriarch and besought him to bury the elder in another tomb. But the patriarch said that Abba Kosmas would suffer no harm from the bishop and that all this came about so that the virtue and zeal of Abba Kosmas might become known to them and the doctrine of the bishop might be revealed, so that he would not be held as one of the orthodox.

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


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Kosmas, later 6th c. monk of Palestine : S01976

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

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities Revelation of hidden knowledge (past, present and future)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - abbots The socially marginal (beggars, prostitutes, thieves) Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Ecclesiastics - bishops

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


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 Monastery of the Byzantines was in Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives; it was an early 6th century foundation. Theoupolis (Gr. "The city of God") is the name given by the emperor Justinian (r. 527-565) to the city of Antioch on the Orontes in Syria. Gregory was the patriarch of Antioch/Theoupolis 569-584. The miraculous healing of the beggar does not seem to be complete. He himself assures us that he was cured by the Lord, but apparently his illness did not recede when Abba Kosmas the narrator met him, since the latter describes him as a man stricken with paralysis. Although speaking from the grave, fingering heretics, and curing people (if only partially) are all very saint-like activities, there is no evidence that our Kosmas attracted cult.


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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