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E05646: The Miracles of Saint Thekla recounts how *Thekla (follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092) punished with death pillagers who had robbed treasures from her church at Seleucia. Written in Greek at Seleucia ad Calycadnum (southern Asia Minor) in the 470s.

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posted on 2018-06-05, 00:00 authored by julia
Miracles of Saint Thekla, 28

Isauria, the land in Asia Minor where the church of Thekla was, was from time to time invaded by neighbouring pillagers who seized and plundered everything. Once, they attacked the very church and robbed the gold and countless treasures which adorned it. Then they hastened to their homeland of Laistrygonia, being full of joy because they had bested the martyr and because they had suddenly become rich. But the martyr punished them in the following way. She let the robbers get into her temple and steal the treasures, then to carry them away, and escape. Then she confused their eyes and brains, and turned their course back toward the East, to the plain that lies beneath her shrine. There, they met death in a massacre prepared by the troops who, filled with anger, waited for them at the plain and slew all of them in a single day. Then they restored the stolen treasures back to the shrine and praised the martyr, danced, chanted hymns and sang the victory song.

Ὅτι δέ, μεθ’ ἧς ἔχει χάριτος καὶ δυνάμεως εἰς τὸ βοηθεῖν οἷς ἂν δέῃ βοηθεῖν, οἶδε καὶ τοὺς λυποῦντας ἀντιλυπεῖν, καὶ λυπεῖν οὐ μέτρια, καὶ μάλιστα οὓς ἂν αἴσθηται οὐ μέτρια πλημμεοῦντας καὶ δυσσεβοῦντας καὶ εἴς τι τῶν αὐτῆς ἐμπαροινοῦντας κειμηλίων, ἤτοι ψυχικῶν ἤτοι καὶ λειτουργικῶν, οὐ μικρὰ μὲν ἀπόδειξις καὶ τὰ ἄρτι ῥηθέντα· ὅπως ἐπέστησαν οἱ πολέμιοι, καὶ ὅπως ἀπήλλαξαν, μηδὲ τὸν ἐροῦντα ἢ μηνύσοντα τοῖς οἰκείοις τὸ πάθος καταλεῖψαι συγχωρηθέντες. Ἐπισταμένη γὰρ εὖ ποιεῖν ἡ μάρτυς τοὺς εὖ τι δρῶντας κατὰ τὸν βίον, ἐπίσταται καὶ κολάζειν τοὺς ἀσεβεῖς καὶ ἀνόσια τολμῶντας, τὸ τοῦ Χριστοῦ βασιλέως, οἶμαι, μιμουμένη, παρ’ οὗ πολλά τε φιλανθρωπίας ἔργα καὶ ὀργῆς τεκμήρια εἰς ἀνθρώπους πάλαι τε γεγένηται, καὶ νῦν ἔστιν εὑρεῖν ἔτι γινόμενα· καὶ φιλανθρωπίας μὲν τὴν Νινευὴ πόλιν ὅλην καὶ πολυάνθρωπον ἐξ ὀλίγων δακρύων μετανοίας σωθεῖσάν τε καὶ ὑψωθεῖσαν, ὀργῆς δ’ αὖ πάλιν τὰς Σοδομιτῶν καὶ Γομορρητῶν πόλεις, ὅλον ἔθνος, πανωλεθρίᾳ καταδικασθὲν δι’ ἀνουθέτητον καὶ ἀμετάβλητον πονηρίαν.

'She, with all the grace and power to help those she must help, knows how to afflict those who cause affliction, and in no small measure, particularly those whom she perceives to have immoderately offended her, been impious, or acted recklessly toward any of her treasures, whether ex voto gifts or liturgical objects. No small demonstration of this is the story I just told: how the enemies attacked, how they were wiped out, without even the possibility of leaving anyone behind to tell and inform their people of their bad end. Therefore, if the martyr knows how to treat well those who do some good in their life, she knows also how to chasten the ungodly and those who commit profane acts with boldness, imitating in this, I believe, Christ the King, from whom numerous acts of love as well as signs of his wrath toward men came long ago and can be found to happen still today. He showed his love for humankind when he saved and glorified the entire populous city of Nineveh because of a few tears of repentance. But he showed his wrath in the complete destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, a whole people condemned for their stubborn and incorrigible wickedness.'

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 - Activities Accompanying Cult

  • Feasting (eating, drinking, dancing, singing, bathing)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Soldiers Foreigners (including Barbarians) The socially marginal (beggars, prostitutes, thieves)

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Precious material objects Ex-votos


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.


Laistrygonia – a mythical land inhabited by anthropophagic people in Homer's Odyssey (10.80-141). Dagron (1978, 121-122)argues that here this land may be identified with the Lamotis, the are north of Anemourion and south of Eirenoupolis on the river Calycadnus, on the basis that in the Odyssey the Laistrygons were described as sons of Poseidon by king Lamos.


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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