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E05516: The Miracles of Saint Thekla recounts how *Thekla (follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092) saved a boat with two boys on board by grabbing the rudder and and quieting the storm on the sea; this happened during her festival at Seleucia. Written in Greek at Seleucia ad Calycadnum (southern Asia Minor) in the 470s.

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posted on 2018-05-23, 00:00 authored by julia
Miracles of Saint Thekla, 15

There was a man from Cyprus, of a noble and believing family, who once embarked on a merchant vessel with his wife, children, and servants and went to Seleucia [in Isauria], since he desired to pray to the martyr Thekla and witness her festival, which was organised every year in the city. When the man with his family landed at the Isaurian shore, they immediately hastened to the martyr's shrine, also accompanied by most of the sailors. Only two young boys remained on the ship to keep guard on it, as the weather conditions appeared very secure. However, all of a sudden a great wind blew in and raised waves up. The ship was thrown out into the middle of the sea along with the two boys. They were hopelessly lamenting and awaiting death.

Ἐν τούτοις δὲ τούτων ὄντων καὶ τοῦ χειμῶνος ἔτι καταδουποῦντος τὴν θάλασσαν, ἰδοὺ καὶ ἡ παρθένος ἐπὶ τῆς χειμαζομένης καὶ ἤδη καταδύεσθαι μελλούσης νεὼς φαίνεται, τοῖς τε παισὶν ἤδη λειποθυμοῦσι θαρρεῖν ἐπικελευομένη καὶ οἰάκων ἁπτομένη καὶ κάλως ἀνασείουσα καὶ τὸ ἱστίον ἀνατείνουσα καὶ τῷ χειμῶνι ἐπιτιμῶσα καὶ πάντα ποιοῦσα ὅσα τε ναύταις καὶ ὅσα κυβερνήταις πρέπει καὶ ὅσα αὖ πάλιν ἀποστόλῳ καὶ μάρτυρι καὶ πάντοθεν ἐχούσῃ τὸ δύνασθαι, καὶ οὕτω τήν τε ζάλην κατευνάσασα, τήν τε ναῦν διευθύνασα, ἐκείνοις τε προσορμίζει τοῖς τόποις ἀφ’ ὧνπερ καὶ ἀνήχθη τὴν ἀρχὴν ὁ πιστὸς ἐκεῖνος καὶ θαυμάσιος ἀνήρ, ὡς καί τινας τῶν ἐπὶ τὴν πανήγυριν σταλέντων οἰκείους καὶ ἰδεῖν τὴν ναῦν καὶ καταπλαγῆναι καὶ ἔρεσθαι τὰ μειράκια καὶ μαθεῖν πάντα ἃ γεγένητο παρά τε τοῦ χειμῶνος καὶ τῆς μάρτυρος, καὶ ὡς αὖθις ἐκεῖθεν ἀναλαβοῦσα τὴν αὐτὴν ἵεται καὶ πάλιν ἐκείνοις ἐγκαθορμίζει τοῖς τόποις ἀφ’ ὧνπερ αὐτὴν καὶ ἀπέρρηξεν ὁ χειμὼν ἀγκυρῶν τε καὶ πεισμάτων κρείττων γενόμενος· ὥστε τήν τε νῆσον τὴν Κύπρον πληρωθῆναι τοῦδε τοῦ θαύματος, τήν τε Σελεύκου ταύτην μὴ ἀγνοῆσαι τὸ παράδοξον, τῶν μειρακίων ὧδέ τε κἀκεῖσε πάντα διηγησαμένων, ἔτι γε μὴν καὶ τοὺς πανηγυρίζοντας ἐκείνους, ὃ καὶ πλήρωμα τῆς ὁλκάδος ἦν, ἐν ἀγνοίᾳ μὲν γενέσθαι τοῦ τοσούτου καὶ ᾗ θέμις πανηγυρίσαι σὺν ἡδονῇ, κατελθόντας δὲ τήν τε ναῦν εὑρεῖν καὶ τὸ θαῦμα ἀκοῦσαι καὶ ἀποσωθῆναι οἴκαδε μάλα ἀσμένως ταῦτα διηγουμένους, ταῦτα ἀκούοντας, ἐπὶ τούτοις πᾶσι τὴν μάρτυρα θαυμάζοντας καὶ δοξάζοντας. Ἀλλ’ οὐ τοῖς μὲν κατὰ θάλασσαν χειμαζομένοις οὕτως ἑτοίμως ἐπήμυνεν ἡ μάρτυς, τοῖς δὲ κατὰ γῆν ὁδοιποροῦσι καὶ κινδυνεύουσιν ἀργοτέραν πως τὴν αὐτῆς παρέχεται δύναμιν, ἥ γέ τι καὶ τοιοῦτο φαίνεται πεποιηκυῖα.

'While they were in this situation, and while the storm continued to crash upon the sea, the virgin appeared on the storm-tossed boat, which was on the verge of sinking, and she ordered the children, who had already lost heart, to take courage, and she grabbed the rudder, swinging it back and forth with skill, she hoisted the sail, she rebuked the storm, and did everything fitting for an apostle and female martyr whose ability is limitless. Thus she quieted the squall, kept the boat on a straight course, and brought it to anchor at the very spot where that faithful and admirable man had docked it to begin with. As a result, when some of his household who had been sent to the festival saw the boat, they were stupefied, they questioned the boys, and they learned all of what happened regarding the storm and the martyr. They also learned that, having brought the boat back from there, she let it go and anchored it again at precisely the spot where the storm had ripped it away, being stronger than the anchors and moorings. The result was that the island of Cyprus was completely filled with the story of this miracle, and our town of Seleucia was not ignorant of the prodigy either, since the boys recounted all of their story here and there. Those who had gone to the festival, that is to say, the passengers on the boat, were still unaware of the story, having been enjoying the festival, as is right. But when they came back down [to the harbour], they found the ship and heard about the miracle and returned safely home, telling and hearing the story with great pleasure, and admiring and glorifying the martyr for all these events. The martyr not only came to the ready aid of those storm-tossed on the sea, but she has also exhibited her power with no less zeal in service of those who meet danger while traveling over land. She has accomplished a miracle of this sort as well.'

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 - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Miraculous protection - of people and their property

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

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.


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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