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E05766: The Miracles of Saint Thekla recounts how *Thekla (follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092) healed a pagan sophist Aretarchos from a severe disease of the kidneys with oil from a lamp at her shrine at Seleucia. Written in Greek at Seleucia ad Calycadnum (southern Asia Minor) in the 470s.

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posted on 2018-06-18, 00:00 authored by julia
Miracles of Saint Thekla, 40

Ἀρέταρχος δὲ ὁ παρ’ ἡμῖν οὗτος σοφιστής, ὃς εἴτε ἄσοφός ἐστι μᾶλλον εἴτε ἄπιστος εἰπεῖν οὐκ ἔχω—καὶ γὰρ ὁμοίως ἑκάτερον ἀκμάζει τε παρ’ αὐτῷ καὶ τέθηλεν, ὡς καὶ δύσκριτον εἶναι τὴν θατέρου τούτοιν ὑπεροχήν—, δοκεῖ δὲ ὅμως εἶναι σοφιστής, οὗτος βαρυτάτῳ μάλιστα πάθει τῷ τῶν νεφρῶν περιπεσών, ὡς καὶ θάνατον ἐλπίσαι πολλάκις ἐκ τῆς ἄγαν ὀδύνης καὶ θανάτου ἐρασθῆναι δι’ ὑπερβολὴν τῆς ὀδύνης, ἔτυχε δὲ ὅμως βοηθείας καὶ σωτηρίας παρὰ τῆς μάρτυρος, εἰπούσης ἔσεσθαι φάρμακον αὐτῷ καὶ ἄκος τοῦ πάθους ἀψευδέστατον ἄλλο μὲν οὐδέν, τὸ δὲ νυκτιαῖον τοῦ φωτὸς τοῦ καὶ τὸν αὐτῆς καταλάμποντος ἀεὶ χῶρον ἔλαιον. Ὅπερ καὶ αἰτήσας οὗτος, καὶ ἐπαλειψάμενος οὗ καὶ τὸ πάθος ὑπέσμυχε, τῆς μὲν ἰάσεως ἔτυχε, τῆς δὲ ἀσεβείας οὐκ ἀπηλλάγη· ὑπὸ γὰρ ἀγχινοίας πολλῆς καὶ βαθείας φρενὸς εἰπὼν καὶ ὁμολογήσας τὴν παρεσχηκυῖαν τὸ φάρμακον, ἑτέρῳ τὴν χάριν ἀνατίθησι τῆς θεραπείας. «Ὁ γὰρ Σαρπηδόνιός μοι, φησί, τὸ ζητῆσαί τε παρ’ αὐτῆς καὶ λαβεῖν προσέταξεν.»

'I cannot say whether Aretarchos, the sophist from our town [Seleucia ad Calycadnum], is famous more for his lack of wisdom or for being a nonbeliever – for both qualities flourish and throve in such equal measure in him that it is difficult to tell which of the two is his dominant trait – but nevertheless he passes for a sophist. This man once contracted an exceedingly severe disease of the kidneys, so that often he expected death on account of the intense pain, and even longed for death because of the excessive nature of the pain. Even so, he obtained assistance and deliverance through the martyr, who told him that the remedy and cure of his suffering would be nothing other than the oil from the lamp that through the night constantly illuminates her sanctuary. He asked for it and smeared it on the spot where the illness was smoldering. He obtained healing, but was not delivered from his impiety. For, although with much wisdom and a profound mind he confessed that the martyr had provided the remedy, he rendered thanks for the healing to another.

"Sarpedonios instructed me," he said, "to ask the martyr for the cure and receive it from her."

The author then mocks the protagonist Aretarchos' explanation, saying that if the Sarpedonian Apollo could have had the remedy for the supplicant, he would not have sent him to the martyr who was his enemy at that.

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



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). 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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