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E05343: John Moschus, in his Spiritual Meadow, recounts that in Syrian Antioch, at the 'Place of the Cherubim', there was an icon of Jesus Christ. One day, Christ appeared in a dream to the supervisor of a charity; he came down out of the icon and admonished the man to be open-handed when distributing garments to the poor, even if they came many times. Written in Greek, probably in Rome, in the 620s or 630s.

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posted on 2018-04-17, 00:00 authored by CSLA Admin
John Moschus, The Spiritual Meadow, 230

In this chapter Moschus recounts that in Antioch the Great in Syria there were different kinds of charitable services. There was a man, who was in charge of providing linen garments to the poor. It happened that a poor man came to him and received a garment, not only once, but a second and a third time. When he came a fourth time, the supervisor of the charity told him not to come any more, for there were other people in need of garments like him. So the poor man withdrew, ashamed.

τῇ ἐπιούσῃ νυκτὶ ὁρᾷ ἑαυτὸν ὁ προεστὼς τῆς διακονίας ἐν τῷ Χερουβὶμ οὕτω καλουμένῳ τόπῳ ἱστάμενον·
ἐστὶν δὲ ὁ τόπος πάνυ σεβάσμιος, ἐν ᾧ τόπῳ λέγουσιν οἱ εἰδότες εἰκόνα ἵστασθαι φοβερωτάτην τὸ ἐκτύπωμα τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἔχουσαν. ὡς δὲ ἐκεῖ σύννους ἵστατο, ὁρᾷ τὸν σωτῆρα ἐκ τῆς εἰκόνος πρὸς αὐτὸν κατελθόντα καὶ ψέγοντα αὐτὸν πάντως διὰ τὰ τέσσαρα ἱμάτια, ἅπερ ὁ πτωχὸς ἔλαβεν. τοῦ δὲ πάλιν ὁμοίως σιωπῶντος ἀνακαλύψας τὸν χιτῶνα, ὃν ἐφόρει, δείκνυσιν αὐτῷ τὰ ἐντὸς ἀριθμῶν ἅμα καὶ λέγων· „ἰδοὺ ἕν, ἰδοὺ δύο, ἰδοὺ τρία, ἰδοὺ τέτταρα. μηδὲν οὖν λυπηθῇς· πίστευε γάρ, ἐξότε τῷ πτωχῷ ταῦτα παρέσχες, ἐμοὶ ἔνδυμα ἐγένετο.“ ἐπιγνοὺς οὖν τὰ ἱμάτια προσπίπτει τοῖς ποσὶν αὐτοῦ λέγων. „συγχώρησον τῇ ὀλιγοψυχίᾳ μου, δέσποτα, ὅτι ὡς ἄνθρωπος τοῦτο ἐλογισάμην.“

'The following night, the supervisor of the charity [in a dream] saw himself standing in what is called the Place of Cherubim. It is a very sacred place and those who know say that in that place there is a very awesome icon bearing the likeness of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. As he stood there in deep thought, he saw the Saviour coming down to him out of the icon and censuring him especially on account of the four garments which the poor man received. Then, falling silent again, [Christ] removed the tunic he was wearing and showed him the number of his undergarments while saying: "Behold, one; behold, two; behold, three; behold, four. Do not be dismayed; inasmuch [cf. Matthew 26:40] as you provided those things for the poor man, they became my raiment" '

The man, since he recognised the garments, fell down at his feet and begged God to forgive him his faint-heartedness, as he had reckoned this matter in human terms. When he woke up he thanked God who had shown him this revelation.

Text: Nissen 1938. Translation: Wortley 1992, lightly modified. Summary: J. Doroszewska.


Evidence ID


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

Palestine with Sinai Rome and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

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

Major author/Major anonymous work

John Moschus

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Other forms of veneration of an image


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.


Although not a saint-related vision, we have included this text as one that illustrates the role that icons had assumed in the Christian East by around 600, a role that Moschus mentions in several of his stories.


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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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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