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E05837: The Miracles of Saint Thekla recounts how *Thekla (follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092), at her shrine at Seleucia, strengthened a certain woman's ascetic rigour by spending a night in the same bed with her. Written in Greek at Seleucia ad Calycadnum (southern Asia Minor) in the 470s.

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posted on 2018-06-20, 00:00 authored by julia
Miracles of Saint Thekla, 46

Τῇ δὲ Διονυσίᾳ ὥς φασιν ἀρξαμένῃ τοῦ ἀποτάττεσθαι καὶ ἀνδρὶ καὶ παισὶ καὶ οἴκῳ καὶ πᾶσιν ἁπλῶς, καὶ ἐπ’ αὐτῷ τούτῳ καταλαβούσῃ τὸν νεών, συγκαθευδῆσαί τε τὴν νύκτα ἐκείνην ὅλην τὴν μάρτυρα καὶ περιδεδρᾶχθαι αὐτὴν ταῖς ἀγκάλαις, ὡς τὴν τότε σύγκοιτον τῆς Διονυσίας—Σωσάννα δὲ ἦν αὕτη, ἡ καὶ νῦν ὅτε ταῦτα ἔγραφον ἔτι τε περιοῦσα καὶ πάσας τῷ βίῳ παριοῦσα καὶ αὐτὰ ταῦτά μοι διηγουμένη—θαυμάζειν τε ταύτην τότε καὶ πολλάκις ἐπανισταμένην τῆς κοίτης καὶ ἐπωθουμένην τῷ ἀγκῶνι ἐνορᾶν τε τὴν μάρτυρα καὶ καταπεπλῆχθαι τῷ δέει καὶ πρὸς ἑαυτὴν ἀναλογίζεσθαι πῶς μὲν δύο ἤστην τὴν ἀρχήν, νυνὶ δὲ καὶ τρίτη καὶ μέση τις αὐταῖς συγκαθεύδει. Ὡς δὲ πρὸς τούτοις ἦν τοῖς λογισμοῖς, ὁρᾷ τὴν αὐτήν—καὶ γὰρ ἐπιμελὲς ἐπεποίητο τὸ φυλάττειν αὐτήν, ἥτις ἦν—ἀποπτᾶσαν ἐκ μέσου, ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἀναστᾶσαν ᾗ νόμος τοὺς καθεύδοντας· καὶ δὴ καὶ ὑποδραμοῦσαν ὁρᾷ πάλιν τὸν αὐτῆς θάλαμον, εἰς ὃν καὶ καταδῦναι λέγεται.

Τοιγάρτοι μετὰ τὴν νύκτα ἐκείνην εἰς τοσοῦτον ἐπέδωκεν ἀρετῆς καὶ ἀσκήσεως ἡ Διονυσία, ὡς θαῦμα γενέσθαι τῇ πάσῃ γῇ τὸ γύναιον ἐκεῖνο, ὡς ἂν καὶ ὑπὲρ γύναιον πολιτευσάμενον. Καὶ ἀπελθοῦσα δὲ ἐκ τῆς γῆς οὐκ ἀπῆλθε, τὸ θυγάτριον ἡμῖν καταλείψασα, τὴν Διονυσίαν, ἴσα βιοῦσαν, ἴσα φρονοῦσαν, ἴσα βαίνουσαν, ἔχουσαν δέ τι καὶ περιττότερον τῆς μητρός, τὴν παρθενίαν ἁγνὴν καὶ ἀμόλυντον.

'It is said that Dionysia had begun to renounce her husband, children, and home, simply everything, and for this reason she had taken herself to the church [of Thekla in Seleucia]. There the martyr spent the whole night with her and embraced her in her arms, so that Dionysia's bedmate (Sosanna was her name, who even now as I write this is still alive and surpasses all women in her lifestyle; it is who told me this story) marveled at her and, after raising herself up in the bed several times and leaning on her elbow, she observed the martyr, while shaking in fear; and she thought to herself how there were originally [just] the two of them, but now some third woman was sleeping between them. While Sosanna was absorbed in these thoughts, she watched the martyr – for she was keeping a careful watch over this woman, whoever she was – fly up from between them, without getting up [from the bed] like most sleepers. Sosanna saw the martyr slip back into her bedchamber, where it is said that she sank down [into the earth].

Therefore, after that night, Dionysia dedicated herself to such a high degree of virtue and ascetic rigor, that this woman became herself a marvel to the whole land, and someone whose mode of life was superior to that of a woman. And when she departed from earth, she did not truly depart, since she left us a daughter, [also named] Dionysia, who led the same life, thought the same thoughts, and conducted herself in the same manner, but surpassed her mother in one respect: her virginity, pure an undefiled.'

Text: Dagron 1978. Translation: Johnson 2012.


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

Saint as patron - of an individual

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Apparition, vision, dream, revelation

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.


Both Dionysia and Sosanna are mentioned in ch. 43 of the Miracles of Saint Thekla, E05795.


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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