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E05332: The Life of *Theodoros (abbot of Sykeon, ob. 613, S01619), by Eleusios-Georgios of Sykeon, mentions a pilgrimage of its hero in c. 600 to the shrine of an icon of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033) at Sozopolis of Pisidia (west central Anatolia), which produced a miraculous flow of myrrh. Written in Greek at Sykeon (central Asia Minor), in the 640s.

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posted on 2018-04-12, 00:00 authored by erizos
Georgios of Sykeon, Life of Theodoros, abbot of Sykeon and bishop of Anastasiopolis (CPG 7973 = BHG 1748), 106, 108.

106. 1-9. Ἄλλῃ δὲ ὀμματοποινικῇ συμφορᾷ καθ’ ἕκαστον χρόνον συνεχόμενος ἐπὶ ἕνα καὶ ἥμισυ μῆνα ἡμερῶν κατὰ τὸν τοῦ θέρους καιρόν, εὐχαρίστει μὲν καὶ ἐπὶ τούτῳ τῷ πάθει ὑπερβαλλόντως, ἀλλ’ εἰς τὴν τῶν ὄχλων ὑποδοχὴν οὐκ ἐπήρκει. Ταύτης οὖν ἕνεκα τῆς συμφορᾶς, θεόθεν κινηθεὶς ἐξῆλθε πορεύεσθαι ἐπὶ τὸν ναὸν τῆς δεσποίνης ἡμῶν τῆς Θεοτόκου, τὸν ὄντα ἐν Σωζοπόλει. Ἦν γὰρ ἔκπαλαι πόθον ἔχων θεατὴς γενέσθαι τῆς θεϊκῆς δωρεᾶς τῆς ἐκεῖσε· ἔπρεπε γὰρ αὐτὸν ἀληθῶς καὶ ὑπὸ τῆς ἐκεῖσε θεϊκῆς μαρτυρίας μαρτυρηθῆναι, καί τινας ἀπὸ κινδύνων ῥύσασθαι.

‘He used to be afflicted by a painful infection of the eyes every year for one and a half month during the summer season. Even for this suffering he was profusely thankful to God, but it made him unfit to receive the multitudes. On account of this adversity, then, and driven by God, he set off to visit the church of our Lady the Mother of God, which is in Sozopolis. He had indeed for long desired to view the divine gift which manifests itself at that place. It was indeed truly fitting that he should receive a testimony also by the divine manifestation of that place, and rescue some people from dangers.’

108. 13-20. Καὶ εἰσελθὼν ἐν τῷ σεβασμίῳ ναῷ τῆς παναγίας παρθένου καὶ θεοτόκου Μαρίας, ἔνθα τὸ θεοδώρητον μύρον ἐξέρχεται, ἐξεπέτασε τὰς χεῖρας αὐτοῦ καὶ ἔστη σταυροειδῶς εὐχόμενος καὶ τῇ κατέναντι αὐτοῦ παραδόξῳ εἰκόνι τοῦ μύρου ἐνατενίζων. Ἐνεργείᾳ δὲ θείᾳ, ὥσπερ πομφόλυξ συστραφὲν τὸ μύρον, ἐπὶ πολὺ ἐράντισεν εἰς τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ καὶ τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ὅλον ἔχρισεν, ὡς πάντας τοὺς ἰδόντας τὴν θεϊκὴν ταύτην μαρτυρίαν λέγειν ὅτι «ὄντως ἄξιος δοῦλος ἐστι τοῦ θεοῦ.»

‘He entered the venerable church of the all holy virgin and Mother of God Mary, where the God-given myrrh comes forth, and he stretched out his arms and stood praying in the form of a cross, contemplating the wondrous icon of the myrrh before him. By divine working, the myrrh gathered like a bubble and sprinkled his eyes profusely, anointing his whole face. Thus everyone who saw that divine testimony said that “He is indeed a worthy servant of God.”'

Text: Festugière 1970.
Translation: Efthymios Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033

Saint Name in Source

Θεοτόκος Μαρία

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Other saint-related texts


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Sykeon Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Praying before an image

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miraculous behaviour of relics/images Healing diseases and disabilities Miraculous behaviour of relics/images

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - abbots

Cult Activities - Relics

Myrrh and other miraculous effluents of relics


The text is preserved in three manuscripts of the 10th and 11th centuries (Biblioteca Marciana 359; Patmos Monastery Library 254; Athens National Library 1014). The extant text is no earlier than the death of Heraclius in 641, since the author records the fulfilment of Theodoros’ prophecy about the emperor’s thirty-year reign (166. 30-36). The author, however, also tells us that he started composing the text shortly before Theodoros’ death in 613, when he was still a teenager (165). Indeed, in his first appearance in the narrative (2. 21-27), the author requests his audience’s prayers on account of his young age. The twenty chapters which refer to the childhood of Theodoros (3-22) form a separate section with its own epilogue (22) where the author states that he wrote this part as a form of special teaching for the young. This might suggest that the whole childhood section, or at least its epilogue, were composed, when the author was at an advanced age. This is also suggested by the fact that the author introduces himself and talks about his sources in both the epilogue of the childhood section (22), and the final epilogue (170).


This passage attests to the existence of a major shrine of the Virgin in Sozopolis of Pisidia, where the cult centred on the veneration of a wonder-working image, associated with a miraculous appearance of myrrh. It is one of the earliest, if not the earliest, reference to such a myrrh-producing icon, a type of miracle which was more widely attested in the Byzantine Church after Iconoclasm.


Text: Festugière, A.-J. Vie de Théodore de Sykéon. 2 vols. (Subsidia Hagiographica 48; Brussels, 1970), with French translation and commentary. Translation: Dawes, E., and Baynes, N.H., Three Byzantine Saints: Contemporary Biographies (London, 1948) (partial translation). Further reading: Brown, P.R.L., "The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity," Journal of Roman Studies 61 (1971), 80-101. Kaplan, M., "Les sanctuaires de Théodore de Sykéôn," in : C. Jolivet-Lévy, M. Kaplan, and J.-P. Sodini (eds.), Les saints et leur sanctuaire à Byzance. Textes, images et monuments (Byzantina Sorbonensia 11; Paris, 1993), 81-94. Kaplan, M. Pouvoirs, église et sainteté. Essais sur la société byzantine (Classiques de la Sorbonne 3; Paris, 2011). Mitchell, S., Anatolia: Land, Men, and Gods in Asia Minor. Volume Ii: The Rise of the Church (Oxford: Clarendon, 1993), 122-150. Rosenquist, O., Studien zur Syntax und Bemerkungen zum Text der Vita Theodori Syceotae (Uppsala, 1981).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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