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E05298: John Moschus, in his Spiritual Meadow, recounts how the intact corpse of an ascetic, *Ioannes/John (anchorite of Cilicia, S01990), was found seven years after his death in a cave on a mountain, by elders living on a nearby estate, six miles from the city of Rhosos (Cilicia, south-east Asia Minor). Written in Greek, probably in Rome, in the 620s or 630s.

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posted on 2018-04-09, 00:00 authored by julia
John Moschus, The Spiritual Meadow, 87


In this chapter Moschus recounts a story that he heard from elders living on an estate located six miles from the city of Rhosos [Cilicia]. They showed him a grave in the church at the estate and said that a great anchorite lay in this tomb. When he asked how they knew about this, they related the following story. Seven years ago they saw a great light on the summit of the mountain, at the foot of which the estate was situated. Since they saw it for many days, one day they climbed the mountain but found no signs of fire or anything else at the top. Then they saw the same light again, which lasted for three months. So one night they took some men armed with weapons against wild animals and climbed the mountain again. At daybreak they noticed a little cave where the light had appeared and found there the anchorite dead. He was wearing a hair-shirt and a tunic of sackcloth, and was holding a gospel book with a silver cross. They found there also writing tables with an inscription reading: "I, the unworthy John, died in the fifteenth indiction". They calculated the time and discovered that he had been dead for seven years, but his body looked as if he had died that very day. They carried the corpse down and buried it in the church.

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


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John the Anchorite in Syria/Cilicia Secunda : S01990

Saint Name in Source

Ἰωάννης ὁ ἀναχωρητής

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 - independent (church)

Cult Activities - Miracles

Bodily incorruptibility Miraculous sound, smell, light

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits

Cult Activities - Relics

Transfer, translation and deposition of relics


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.


Moschus locates Rhosos (Rossos) in Cilicia (in ch. 80), while Trismegistos gives the name of this city as Rhosus and locates it in Syria (; it was in fact situated on the very border of those two provinces (on the seashore). Although John's incorrupt body, revealed by divine light and buried in a church, strongly suggests he was a 'saint'; there is no evidence in Moschus' account (or elsewhere) that his grave attracted active 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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