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E05396: The Miracles of Saint Thekla recounts how *Thekla (follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092) rescued the city of Seleucia (southern Asia Minor) from an attack of bandits by appearing atop the walls and rousing the inhabitants to the ramparts. Written in Greek at Seleucia ad Calycadnum (southern Asia Minor) in the 470s.

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posted on 2018-05-03, 00:00 authored by julia
Miracles of Saint Thekla, 5

Once some bandits, the Hagarenes, sought to attack Seleucia. They were about to assault the city, and found no obstacles in their way, since the inhabitants disbelieved the rumours circulating at that time and were spending their time at spectacles and banquets, not suspecting at all the imminent danger.

Ὅτε οὖν ὁ λόχος ἐξήρτυτο καὶ ἦν ἤδη πλησίον, καὶ προσεῖρπε τοῖς τείχεσι τὸ κακόν, καὶ ἡ νύξ—καιρὸς συνᾴδων τῷ τολμήματι τῆς ἐπιχειρήσεως—οὐ πόρρω, καὶ αὕτη δὲ ἀσέληνος καὶ ἀφεγγὴς καὶ γνοφώδης, καὶ ὕπνος βαθὺς κατὰ τῶν δῆθεν φυλαττόντων ἐκέχυτο, καὶ τὰ μηχανήματα τῶν τειχῶν ἤδη που πλησίον ἦν, ὡς καὶ προσπνεῖν τοῖς οἰκοῦσι λοιπὸν τὰ τῆς ἁλώσεως κακά, καὶ τὸ λεῖπον ἦν οὐδὲν τοῦ τὴν πόλιν ἤδη ληΐζεσθαι, ἡ μάρτυς ὑπερφανεῖσα μόνον τῶν τειχῶν καὶ ἐπαστράψασα καὶ μονονουχὶ ἐπαλαλάξασα κατὰ τῶν πολεμίων, ἐκείνους τε τῆς ἐπιχειρήσεως ἀπέστησε καὶ τοὺς οἰκοῦντας πάντας ἐπὶ τῶν ἐπάλξεων ἔστησε·

καὶ πολὺ μὲν τούτοις τὸ θάρσος ἐνέπνευσε, πολὺ δὲ ἐκείνοις τὸ δέος ἐπέσεισεν, ὥστε ἀπροσδοκήτως πάντοθεν τὴν ὑπὸ τοῖς πολεμίοις οὖσαν ἤδη περισωθῆναι πόλιν, ὡς τοὺς πολεμίους αὐτοὺς μεγάλα μὲν ἐλπίσαντας, μεγίστων δὲ ἀποτυχόντας, οὔτε δὲ τῆς ἀποτυχίας τὸν τρόπον καὶ τὸ αἴτιον ἀγνοήσαντας, πολὺ καὶ μέχρι τοῦ παρόντος ἔχειν παρ’ ἑαυτοῖς ἔτι τὸ θαῦμα τῆς μάρτυρος. Καὶ γὰρ ἐξ ἐκείνης τῆς μιαρᾶς φάλαγγος εἰσὶν ἔτι τινὲς ὑπερυμνοῦντες ἐπὶ τούτοις τὴν μάρτυρα καὶ τὴν οὐδαμόθεν αὐτοῖς ἐλπισθεῖσαν ὁμολογοῦντες ἧτταν.

'When their armed band equipped itself and was already nearby, and calamity was creeping towards the walls, at a time when the night - a time appropriate for such a bold attack - was not far off, being moonless, without light, and dark, and once a deep sleep had fallen over those who were supposedly mounting guard, and the engines were already near the walls, so that the woes of conquest were already breathing hard upon the inhabitants, and there was no option except for the city to be plundered, the martyr Thekla appeared alone atop the walls, in brilliant radiance, all but raising the war cry against the enemies, so that she repelled them from their attack and roused all the inhabitants to the ramparts.

Great was the courage she inspired in them; great was the fear with which she shook the attackers, so that, contrary to every expectation, the city which was already under the control of the enemy was saved, and so that the enemy itself, which had great expectations, was disappointed to an even greater degree. Nor did they understand the manner and the source of their misfortune, but even up to the present the miracle of the martyr still has a reputation among them. For from that abominable troop there are still some alive who glorify the martyr exceedingly for these events and acknowledge the defeat that was for them unexpected in every way.'

Text: Dagron 1978. Translation: Johnson 2012. Summary: J. Doroszewska.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Thekla, follower of the Apostle Paul : S00092

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Seleucia ad Calycadnum

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

Seleucia ad Calycadnum Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Miraculous protection - of communities, towns, armies Miraculous interventions in war

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people The socially marginal (beggars, prostitutes, thieves) Foreigners (including Barbarians)


The anonymous text known under the title of The Life and Miracles of Thekla was written in the city of Seleucia-on-the-Calycadnum in the province of Isauria in southern Asia Minor around 470. It was certainly written before c. 476, which is approximately when Thekla's shrine outside Seleucia (modern Meriamlik/Ayatekla in Turkey) was monumentalised by the emperor Zeno (r. 474-491), since this activity is not mentioned in the text. The text consists of two parts: the first half is a paraphrased version of the second-century Acts of Paul and Thekla, a text which was widely known in Late Antiquity and translated into every early Christian language; this early text was rendered by our author into Attic Greek, and contains many minor changes to the original story, with one major change at the end: instead of dying at the age of 19 years, Thekla descends into the earth and performs miracles in and around the city of Seleucia in a spiritual state. The second half, from which this passage is drawn, comprises a collection of forty-six miracles, preceded by a preface and followed by an epilogue. It is written in a high literary style which distinguishes it among other hagiographical texts, which were typically composed in a low style of Greek. The text was for a long time attributed to a 5th century bishop, Basil of Seleucia (fl. c. 448-468); but in 1974 Dagron demonstrated conclusively that the Miracles could not have been authored by Basil, since there is an invective directed against him in chapter 12. The anonymous author is himself the subject of a few miracles, including miraculous interventions on his behalf in ecclesiastical disputes.


The Hagarenes probably denote the Arabs and it is almost certainly a later interpolation; perhaps it is a substitution of 'the Saracens' which was a more ancient title; both were used interchangeably in Byzantium.


Edition: Dagron, G., Vie et miracles de sainte Thècle (Subsidia hagiographica 62; Brussels: Société des Bollandistes, 1978), with French translation. Translations: Johnson, S.F., Miracles of Saint Thekla, in : S.F. Johnson and A.-M. Talbot, Miracle Tales from Byzantium (Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library 12; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), 1-201. Festugière, A.-J., Collections grecques de Miracles: sainte Thècle, saints Côme et Damien, saints Cyr et Jean (extraits), saint Georges (Paris: Éditions A. et J. Picard, 1971). Further reading: Barrier, J., et al., Thecla: Paul's Disciple and Saint in the East and West (Leuven: Peeters, 2017). Dagron, G., “L'auteur des Actes et des Miracles de Sainte Thècle,” Analecta Bollandiana, 92 (1974), 5–11. Davis, S., The Cult of Saint Thecla: A Tradition of Women's Piety in Late Antiquity, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001). Honey, L., “Topography in the Miracles of Thecla: Reconfiguring Rough Cilicia,” in: M.C. Hoff and R.F. Townsend (eds), Rough Cilicia: New Historical and Archaeological Approaches, Proceedings on an International Conference held at Lincoln, Nebraska, October 2007 (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2013), 252–59. Johnson, S.F., “The Life and Miracles of Thecla, a literary study” (University of Oxford, doctoral thesis, 2005). Kristensen, T.M., "Landscape, Space and Presence in the Cult of Thekla in Meriamlik," Journal of Early Christian Studies 24:2 (2016), 229-263.

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