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E05726: The Miracles of Saint Thekla recounts how *Thekla (follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092) healed at her shrine at Seleucia a grammarian Alypios from a grave illness through a miraculous pebble. Written in Greek at Seleucia ad Calycadnum (southern Asia Minor) in the 470s.

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posted on 2018-06-14, 00:00 authored by julia
Miracles of Saint Thekla, 38

There was certain Alypios, a grammarian, who was the father of Olympios, a well-known grammarian in Seleucia. Once Alypios fell very gravely ill and the doctors were not able to cure him.

[αὐτὸς] καταφεύγει πρὸς τὸ μόνον κρησφύγετον τῶν τοιούτων κακῶν, τὴν μάρτυρα, καὶ τὸν νεὼν καταλαβὼν τῆς ἐκεῖθεν ὅλως λοιπὸν ἐξήρτητο σωτηρίας. Ὅθεν καὶ ἡ μάρτυς ἐπιταχύνουσα—φιλόλογος γὰρ καὶ φιλόμουσος, καὶ ἀεὶ χαίρουσα τοῖς λογικώτερον εὐφημοῦσιν αὐτήν—, ἀπαλλάττει τοῦ κινδύνου τὸν ἄνθρωπον. Ἀπαλλάττει δὲ οὕτως·

ἐπιφοιτήσασα νύκτωρ αὐτῷ καὶ ᾗ ἔθος αὐτῇ πρὸς τοὺς ἀρρώστους ἀεὶ ποιεῖν, παραδείξασά τε ἑαυτὴν ἥτις εἴη τῷ σχήματι, εὐθὺς ἤρετο ὅ τί τε πάσχοι καὶ ὅ τί βούλοιτο. Ὁ δὲ ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη· «Οἶσθα· τί ἤ τοι ταῦτ’ ἰδυίῃ πάντ’ ἀγορεύω;» Ὅ ἐστι μὲν ἐξ Ὁμήρου, ὁ δὲ λαβὼν εὐστοχώτατα—μᾶλλον ἤπερ Ἀχιλλεὺς τότε πρὸς τὴν ἑαυτοῦ μητέρα τὴν Θέτιν—εἶπεν, ἵν’ ἅμα καὶ πρεσβεύῃ τὴν αὐτὸς αὐτοῦ τέχνην, καὶ δυσωπήσῃ τὴν παρθένον τῷ καλλίστῳ τούτῳ καὶ ἁρμοδιωτάτῳ.

Ἐπιμειδιάσασα γοῦν ἡ μάρτυς καὶ ἡσθεῖσα ἐπί τε τῷ ἀνδρί, ἐπί τε τῷ ἔπει, θαυμάσασα δὲ καὶ ὡς μάλα ἁρμοδίως ἀπεκρίνατο, ψηφῖδά τινα, ἣν καὶ μετὰ χεῖρας τότε φέρουσα ἔτυχε, καλλίστην τε δοκοῦσαν εἶναι καὶ ποικίλην καὶ τῆς κατεχούσης χειρὸς οὐ μάλα ἀπᾴδουσαν, ὀρέγει τε ταύτην αὐτῷ, καὶ ἐνάψαι τῷ τραχήλῳ παρεκελεύσατο, ὡς καὶ φυγαδεῦσαι τὴν νόσον δυναμένην, καὶ χαρίσασθαι τὴν σωτηρίαν.

Δέχεται ταύτην ὁ Ἀλύπιος, καὶ ἔτι μὲν τῷ ὕπνῳ κατεχόμενος ἐδόκει τε ἔχειν, καὶ μάλα ἀκριβῶς περισφίγγειν τῇ χειρί, ὡς καὶ ζωῆς καὶ ὑγιείας ἐνέχυρον ὄν· ὡς δὲ καὶ ἀπηλλάγη μὲν τοῦ ὕπνου, ἀναπτύξας δὲ τὴν χεῖρα εὗρεν οὐδέν, ἠπατῆσθαί τε ἔδοξε καὶ ἀληθῶς ὄναρ εἶναι τὸ ὄναρ, ὡς μετὰ τῆς ἀρρωστίας καὶ λύπην προσλαβεῖν· πᾶν γὰρ τὸ ἐλπισθὲν μὲν χρηστὸν ὡς πάντως ἐσόμενον, μὴ γενόμενον δέ, δριμυτέραν πως ἔχει τὴν ἀλγηδόνα, καὶ μᾶλλον κεντεῖ τε καὶ εἰσδύνει τὴν ψυχὴν τοῦ πεπονθότος. Ἀλλὰ γὰρ τὴν ὀδύνην ταύτην καὶ τὴν λύπην ἔλυσεν ὁ παῖς ὁ Σολύμιος, μετὰ μικρὸν ὅσον ἐπιφανεὶς καὶ τὴν ψηφῖδα ἐκείνην ἐπὶ τῆς χειρὸς ἔχων, ἣν καὶ ἡ παρθένος ἐδόκει νύκτωρ κατέχειν καὶ δεδωκέναι τῷ νοσοῦντι.

'He then sought refuge for such [incurable] maladies, the martyr. After arriving at her church, from then on he relied completely on deliverance by her. Hence the martyr acted speedily – for she is a friend of literature and the arts, and she always takes pleasure in those who praise her in an eloquent manner – and she delivered Alypios from danger.

She delivered him in the following way. Visiting him at night, as is always her custom with the sick, she revealed herself to him in her true guise and immediately asked what ailed him and what he desired. He responded by saying, "You know; since you know, why must I tell you all of this?" This a quotation from Homer which Alypios used most aptly, even more so than Achilles addressing his mother Thetis, so that he might promote his art, while also entreating the virgin with this exceptionally lovely and appropriate phrase.

The martyr smiled and was pleased with the man and with his verse, admiring his fitting response. She offered him a small pebble, which she happened to be holding in her hand. It was very beautiful in appearance and multicoloured, and was thus not unbecoming to the hand that held it. She held it out to him and ordered him to tie it around his neck, that it might expel the virulent disease, and grant him deliverance from it.

Alypios took it: as long as he continued to sleep, he seemed to hold it and grasp it tightly in his hand, as a pledge of his survival and health. But when he awoke from sleep and opened his hand, he found nothing. He felt he had been deceived and that the dream was truly just a dream, so that disappointment compounded his illness. For whenever one hopes for improvement in the future, and it does not occur, this makes one's suffering all the more keen, and it stings and pierces the sufferer's soul to an even greater extent. But his son Solymios put an end to this distress and disappointment when, a little while later, he appeared holding the pebble in his hand, the very pebble which the virgin had seemed to be holding during the night and had given to the sick man.'

This Solymios, who both loved his father and loved literature, used to spend all mornings on his literary studies and at noon he went to his father's house to care for him. One day after the martyr appeared to Alypios at night, the son, Solymios, found this pebble on the road leading to his father's house. He took it, because of its beauty and played with it when he walked to visit his father. As he stood by the father's bed, the father saw the pebble in his hand and recognised it as the martyr's gift. The father grabbed it quickly and clutched in his hands, and was immediately healed form the disease.

Δοκεῖ δέ μοι καὶ ἧφθαι τῆς ψηφῖδος ἐκείνης ἡ μάρτυς, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο εἶναι καλόν τε οὕτω χρῆμα καὶ χαρίεν, ἤδη δὲ καὶ θανάτου φανῆναι δυνατώτερον.

'In my opinion the martyr had touched that pebble, and because of this it had become such a beautiful and pleasing object, and appeared thereafter to have power even over death.'

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 - Miracles

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - other


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.


It appears as if Alypios had two sons – Olympios, a well-known grammarian who is mentioned in the begining of the narrative, and Solymios, the loving son who cares about his father. However, Kaster (1983) argues that Solymios is a scribal error for Olympios. Both Alypios and Olympios are included in the prosopography by Kaster (1988). Scott Fitzgerald Johnson (2012: 426, n. 134) wonders whether that pebble was being used in a superstitious ways which the author of the Miracles of Saint Thekla tries to correct by linking it directly with Thekla.


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). Kaster, R., “Vie et miracles de Sainte Thècle II.38: The Son(s) of Alypius,” Analecta Bollandiana 101 (1983), 301-303. Kaster, R., Guardians of Language: The Grammarian and Society in Late Antiquity," (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1988). 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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