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E05614: The Miracles of Saint Thekla recounts how *Thekla (follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092), at her shrine at Seleucia, restored the sight of a little boy with the help of one of the birds living by her church. Written in Greek at Seleucia ad Calycadnum (southern Asia Minor) in the 470s.

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posted on 2018-05-30, 00:00 authored by julia
Miracles of Saint Thekla, 24

In the city of Olba [Asia Minor] there was a little boy who was just weaned. He was in danger of losing one of his eyes due to excessive weeping. Since the physicians were unable to cure him, his wet nurse took him to the neighbouring city of Seleucia and presented him to the martyr Thekla in her church, with lamentations, tears and prayers for his healing.

Ἐπὶ τούτοις εἶπε μὲν ἡ μάρτυς οὐδέν, οὐδὲ τὸ καὶ τὸ ποιῆσαι προσέταξε· παιδιᾶς δὲ μᾶλλον ἢ σπουδῆς ποιεῖται τὸ θαῦμα. Καὶ γάρ τι συμβαίνει τοιοῦτο κατὰ τὴν αὐλὴν αὐτοῦ τοῦ νεώ. Καταρρίπτει τις ἀεὶ καὶ διαρραίνει σπέρματα σίτων, ἤτοι κριθὰς ἢ καὶ ὀρόβους, ὡς εἶναι ταῦτα τροφὴν ταῖς αὐτόθι νεμομέναις περιστεραῖς, ἢ καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις ὄρνισι· πολλὰ γὰρ δὴ καὶ ποικίλα τὰ νεμόμενα, κύκνοι, γέρανοι, χῆνες, περιστεραί, ἤδη δὲ καὶ τὰ ἐξ Αἰγύπτου καὶ Φάσιδος, ἃ κατὰ πόθον ἢ λόγον εὐχῆς κομίζοντες ἀνατιθέασιν οἱ ἐπιδημοῦντες τῇ μάρτυρι. Ἐνταῦθα καὶ τὸ παιδίον τοῦτό ποτε ἀθύρον καὶ τερπόμενον ἦν, ποτὲ μὲν διῶκον ὄρνιν μετὰ γέλωτος, ποτὲ δὲ καὶ διωκόμενον ὑπό τινος τῶν ὀρνίθων, ὡς καὶ τέρψιν εἶναι τοῦτο τοῖς θεωμένοις καὶ γέλωτος ἀφορμήν. Καὶ δὴ μία τῶν γεράνων, ὡς ἅτε δὴ παρὰ τοῦ παιδίου κωλυομένη φαγεῖν, μᾶλλον δὲ ὡς προσταχθεῖσα τοῦτο παρὰ τῆς μάρτυρος, ἐμπηδᾷ τῷ παιδίῳ, καὶ τῷ ῥάμφει τὸν ὀφθαλμὸν ἐκεῖνον ἐγκολάπτει τὸν καὶ ἤδη πεπονθότα καὶ ἀποσβεσθέντα λοιπόν. Καὶ ἀνωλόλυξε μὲν τὸ παιδίον ὑπὸ τῆς πληγῆς, συνεξεβόησαν δὲ καὶ αἱ παροῦσαι γυναῖκες, ὡς ἂν καὶ ἀτόπου μεγάλου τινὸς γεγονότος. Ἡ δὲ πρεσβῦτις ἡ τίτθη—συμπαρῆν γάρ— μικροῦ καὶ ἀφῆκε τὴν ψυχήν, ὡς καὶ πρὸς τὸ χεῖρον ἔτι τοῦ πάθους ἐλάσαντος καὶ τὸ λεῖπον ἐκκόψαντος τῆς ἐλπίδος. Τόδε ἄρα θεραπεία ἦν τοῦ πάθους καὶ ἄκος· τοῦ γὰρ ὀφθαλμοῦ, καθάπερ ὑπὸ ἰατροῦ καὶ σιδηρίου τρηθέντος καὶ σὺν ἐπιστήμῃ τρωθέντος, ἐκρεῖ μὲν ἅπαν τὸ παχὺ ῥεῦμα καὶ ἀχλυῶδες τὴν κόρην ἐπισκοτοῦν—ἣν καὶ ὀφθαλμὸν εἴποι τις ἂν ὀφθαλμοῦ—, τούτου δὲ ἀποκενωθέντος, ἀναβλέπει τότε πρῶτον τὸ παιδίον, καὶ ἀπολαμβάνει τὸ ἐπιλεῖπον τοῖν ὀφθαλμοῖν φῶς· ὡς κατὰ μηδὲν ἐπιχωλεύειν τὴν ὄψιν, ἀπελθεῖν δὲ ἄρτιον καὶ ὁλόκληρον, πολὺ τῇ τε πόλει τῷ τε πατρὶ καὶ πάππῳ τὸ θαῦμα παρασχόν, ὧν ὁ μὲν καλεῖται Παρδάμιος, ὁ δὲ Ἀνατόλιος ὁ πάππος, ὁ καὶ ἱερεὺς ὢν τῆς ἐκκλησίας ἐκείνης.

'To these entreaties the martyr responded not at all, nor did she prescribe doing this or that. Rather, the miracle was accomplished more through childish play than through a serious endeavor. This is what happened in the forecourt of the church. [Visitors] are always tossing and spreading about seeds of grain (either barley or vetch) to feed the pigeons that inhabit the place, and the other birds as well. For many different birds live there: swans, cranes, geese, pigeons, even birds from Egypt and Phasis [in Colchis] – these are the birds which the pilgrims, out of simple desire or in fulfillment of a vow, bring as an offering to the martyr.

One day this child was playing here and having fun, sometimes chasing a bird with peals of laughter and, the next moment, being chased by one of the birds, which resulted in great entertainment for the onlookers and gave them cause for laughter. One of the cranes, apparently because it was being hindered by the boy from its feeding, but rather acting upon the martyr's instructions, jumped at the boy and pecked with its beak that eye which was already afflicted and had now lost its light. The child started wailing at the attack, and all the women who where there also cried out, as if something terrible had happened. The elderly wet nurse – for she was present too – all but gave up the ghost because his malady had taken a turn for the worse and any hope for the future had been extinguished.

In reality, this event was the remedy and the cure of his suffering. For the eye, as if it had been pierced by a physician's scalpel and incised with skill, was flushed of all the thick discharge and haziness obscuring the pupil – which is, one might say, the eye within the eye. Once the eye was drained, the child regained his sight for the first time and recovered the light that had been lost to both his eyes. With his appearance in no way disfigured, he went back [home] sound in body and completely recovered, causing great astonishment to his city [Olba], his father, and his grandfather, the former is called Pardamios, the latter, the grandfather, Anatolios, who is the priest of that church [in Olba].'

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 - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Miracle with animals and plants Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Children Other lay individuals/ people


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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