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E06263: Sophronius of Jerusalem, in his Miracles of the Saints Cyrus and John, recounts how *Kyros and Ioannes/Cyrus and John (physician and soldier, martyrs of Egypt, S00406) saved from shipwreck a certain Christodoros of Alexandria, and later, summoned by *Theodore (soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita, S00480), also cure him of buboes. Written in Greek in Alexandria, 610/615.

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posted on 2018-08-29, 00:00 authored by Bryan, dlambert
Sophronius of Jerusalem, The Miracles of Saints Cyrus and John, 8

There was a certain Christodoros, a virtuous, pious and educated man who manifested his reverence toward the saints. His case is a good occasion to tell the readers of the miracles performed by Cyrus and John, when and how they had been written, in accordance with the will of God and with the co-operation of the martyrs themselves.

For Eulogos, bishop of Alexandria [581-608], appointed this Christodoros to manage the treasure of the saints. [He thus administered the church of Eirene dedicated to?] John the Forerunner [text corrupt]. Eulogos' successor, Theodoros [bishop 608-609], delegated him to the herd [text corrupt]. John [the Merciful, bishop 610-619] in turn, who took Theodoros' place by the divine will, was a devoted friend of the poor. It was he who decided that Christodoros would manage the temple of the martyrs [in Menouthis]. Under this bishop the miracles accomplished by the martyrs were written down and transmitted.

Christodoros thus sailed on the Mareia lake intending to get to Mareotis to inspect the properties of the saints. Since it was wintertime, suddenly a storm arose and raised big waves on the lake. They tossed the boat here and there, so that it could no longer be controlled, and Christodoros was in danger. He thought that he was going to die and that his body would feed the fish and crocodiles.

So before it happened, he turned to the saints with a prayer. Knowing that they can save from death those whom they want to help, he begged them for rescue, since it was because of them that he was in danger.

Οἱ δὲ τῆς ἱκετείας ἀκούσαντες, θᾶττον ἐπέστησαν· εἴργει γὰρ αὐτῶν τὴν ἀρωγὴν καὶ τὴν ἀνεξίκακον ἄφιξιν τόπος οὐδείς, οὐ χερσαῖος, οὐ λιμναῖος, οὐδὲ πάλιν θαλάττιος, οὐ πλησίον συγκείμενος, οὐ μακρὰν ἀφεστὼς διαστήμασιν, ἀλλ’ εἰς ὅπουπερ ἂν αὐτούς τις πρὸς συμμαχίαν καλέσειεν εὐθέως ἐφίστανται, καὶ βοηθοῦσιν αὐτῷ καὶ σώζουσιν καὶ φυλάττουσιν· καὶ κἂν ἐχθρῶν ᾖ νοητῶν ἡ ἐπέλευσις, συμπολεμοῦσιν αὐτῷ· καὶ τὸν πρὸς τούτοις αὐτοῦ νικήσαντες πόλεμον, ἐκείνους μὲν μετ’ αἰσχύνης διώκουσιν, νικηφόρον δὲ δεικνύουσι τὸν καλέσαντα.

Κἂν ἀνθρώπων ᾖ κακοπραγῶν ἡ ἐπήρεια, εὐμαρῶς αὐτὴν διαλύουσιν· κἂν θηρίων ᾖ κακοτρόπων ἡ ἔφοδος, τὴν σωτηρίαν βραβεύουσιν· κἂν παθῶν ᾖ δριμεῖα καὶ ἄστεκτος βάσανος, κατευνάζουσιν καὶ ὡς προσηνεῖς ἰατροὶ θεραπεύουσιν· ἢ ἂν ἐν ὕδασιν ᾖ λιμναίοις ἢ θαλαττίοις ὁ κίνδυνος, γαλήνην χαρίζονται καὶ λυτροῦνται τοὺς σέβοντας.

'They heard his supplication and rushed to assist him, since there is no obstacle to their aid and salutary appearance, be it on land, or on the sea or the lake, be it close or distant in space. Thus, whenever anyone calls on them as allies, they arrive at once, and help him and deliver him and protect him. If there is an attack of mental enemies, they support him in the battle. When they win the battle against those enemies, they chase them to their dishonour, appointing as the winner the one who had invoked them.

If the insult comes from evil people, they dismiss it easily. If the attack comes from mischievous beasts, they decide on the means of salvation. If the suffering [of an illness] is a fierce and insufferable torture, they calm it and heal it as gentle physicians. If there is a danger in the water of a sea or a lake, they bring stillness and rescue their worshippers.'

Thus they saved Christodoros, calming the waves on the lake and made the boat sail safely. He escaped death, but, due to these dramatic circumstances on the lake and the perturbation of the air and sea, fell incurably ill. His temperament became unbalanced, which resulted in an excretion of the internal humours out of the skin of his body, and so he was in danger again. The best Asclepiades [= pagan doctors] who were summoned were helpless and contented themselves predicting that he was to die and would not wake up the following day. When he heard this sentence, he recalled the aid of the saints that he had received just a bit earlier.

ἐκάλει δὲ πρὸς ἐπίσκεψιν σὺν Ἰωάννῃ καὶ Κύρῳ τοῖς μάρτυσιν, καὶ τὸν ἐν μάρτυσι στρατοπεδάρχην Θεόδωρον· φιλοθεόδωρος γὰρ ἦν ὁ Χριστόδωρος, καὶ ἐκ φίλτρου πολλοῦ συχνότερον αὐτὸν προσεκαλεῖτο πρὸς ἄμυναν.

Ὁ δὲ τὰς ἐπικλήσεις ὡς παρὰ φίλου δεξάμενος, καὶ ἐπικαμφθεὶς πρὸς μεγίστην συμπάθειαν, καθ’ ὕπνους αὐτῷ παραγίνεται ἐκ πολλοῦ διαστήματος, πρὸς τὴν αὐτοῦ ποθουμένην βοήθειαν· εἶχεν δὲ καὶ σημεῖον τῇ δεξιᾷ χειρὶ βασταζόμενον, ἔχων καὶ σταυρὸν ὑπερκείμενον, φανερὰν ἐκποιῶν αὐτῷ τὴν λυσίπονον ἄφιξιν· οἶδας, φησίν, ὦ Χριστόδωρε, τίνος ἕνεκα παραγέγονα; Κἀκείνου τὴν ἄγνοιαν ἀπαγγείλαντος, <σοῦ> χάριν τοῖς ἐνθάδε προσέδραμον, εἴρηκεν, παρακαλέσαι Κῦρον ὑπὲρ σοῦ τὸν ἡγούμενον.

Καὶ ταῦτα, φησίν, Θεοδώρου τοῦ μάρτυρος φήσαντος, Κῦρος εὐθὺς ἀναφαίνεται, Ἰωάννην σὺν αὐτῷ τὸν ἀδελφὸν ἐπαγόμενος· καὶ τῇ κλίνῃ κοινῇ τῇ σπουδῇ πλησιάσαντες, τὸν ἐπ’ αὐτῇ κατακλίμενον
ἐπεσκέπτοντο, ταῖς χερσὶν ἐπαφῶντες τὰ τραύματα, καὶ οἷον νίτρῳ τὸν τῶν ἐκβρασμάτων θυμὸν κατευνάζοντες· καὶ τοῦτο προσηνῶς ἐκτελέσαντες, πάλιν οἱ τρεῖς ἀνεχώρησαν.

'Along with the martyrs John and Cyrus he also invoked Theodore, a commander (stratopedarchēs) among the martyrs, to pay him a visit; for Christodoros was an admirer of Theodore and often used to call him and ask for protection out of this great affection to him.

He [Theodore] received his prayers as if they were coming from a friend, and moved to the greatest compassion, appeared to Christodoros in a dream arriving from afar to bring him the desired aid. He had a sign lifted up in his right hand and a raised cross, making it clear that he was coming to release him. He said: "Christodoros, do you know why I have come here?" When the latter stated his ignorance, the former said: "It is for you that I rushed here to call my principal Cyrus on behalf of you."

When the martyr Theodore said this, Cyrus manifested himself at once, accompanied by his brother John. They approached the bed with a common zeal. They examined the one lying on it, touching his wounds with their hands, and calm as with a nitron the perturbation of the excretions [of his body]. And having accomplished this gently, all the three withdrew.'

But it happened in a dream. Thus, when he woke up in reality, his disease receded with the sunshine. In effect, the buboes on his skin (anthrakes) flaked off and remained on the bed resembling the scales of fish. But after five days, when all the buboes were removed from his body, the saints reappeared to him. They commanded him to take a bath and anoint himself entirely with some boiled peas (epsethes pissarion). This remedy was to remove all the defilement and the rest of the eruption of the buboes. Thus, when he was entering the bath, he still had the scars of the buboes on his body, but when he went left it, there was no single trace of them any more and he was as if new-born. Having obtained healing, he venerated and honoured the martyrs.

Text: Fernández Marcos 1976, lightly modified in the light of Gascou 2007. Summary and translation: J. Doroszewska.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Kyros and Iōannēs/Cyrus and John, physician and soldier, martyrs of Egypt : S00406 Theodore, soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita : S00480 Theodore 'Stratelates', general and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita : S00136

Saint Name in Source

Κῦρος καὶ Ἰωάννης Θεόδωρος Θεόδωρος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Alexandria Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places

Martyr shrine (martyrion, bet sāhedwātā, etc.)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities Power over elements (fire, earthquakes, floods, weather) Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Specialised miracle-working

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics – unspecified

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects



Sophronius (c. 560-c. 637) was born to a Chalcedonian family in Damascus, and was probably familiar with both Greek and Syriac culture. He was educated as a teacher of rhetoric, but in c. 580 became an ascetic while in Egypt, and entered the monastery of St. Theodosios near Bethlehem. He travelled widely to monastic centres in Egypt, the Near East, Aegean, and North Africa, accompanying his friend, the monk and writer John Moschus, who dedicated to him his treatise on the religious life, the Spiritual Meadow (Leimon pneumatikos). In 633-634, Sophronius travelled to Alexandria and to Constantinople in order to persuade the patriarchs to renounce Monoenergism. In 634, he was elected patriarch of Jerusalem. He is venerated as a saint in the catholic and orthodox churches; in the Byzantine rite he shares with John Moschus a feast day on 11 March. He died in Jerusalem in about 637. His extant doctrinal writings include a Letter to Arcadius of Cyprus and the Synodical Letter against Monenergism. Other works have also been preserved, such as an encomium on the Alexandrian martyrs Cyrus and John (in gratitude for healing his vision), The Miracles of the Saints Cyrus and John, a collection of 23 Anacreontic poems, and several patriarchal sermons on such themes as the Muslim siege of Jerusalem and on various liturgical celebrations. The Miracles of the Saints Cyrus and John comprise 70 stories; this number, as explained by the author in the Preface, consists either of 7 decades or 10 heptades, both of which refer to biblical and pagan (Pythagorean) arithmetic, where 7 is a mystic number and 10 is a perfect number. References to the number 7 and its multiple (14) recurs in the work several times (Miracles 5, 15, 23, 39, 43; Gascou 2006: 11 with notes). The significance of other numbers has also been noted: for the number 3, see Fernández Marcos 1975: 42, n. 15; for the number 67 (Miracle 1), see Nissen 1939: 377, n. 2.  All 70 stories concern miraculous healings performed by the two martyrs, considered saints of the first rank by Sophronius (Miracle 29), in their sanctuary at Menouthis, near Alexandria. The first 35 miracles concern Alexandrians, the next 15 Egyptians and Libyans, mostly of the Alexandrian region, and the last 20 foreigners of whom some were settled in Alexandria. Sophronius wanted to flatter in this way the self-esteem of the Alexandrians who were the possessors of the saints' relics. He also argued that the miracles of Alexandria were particularly credible, since they delivered plenty of verifiable facts. For the same reason, the miracles selected by him were limited to those of his own times and concerned persons who were still alive and could testify to the events. Sophronius seems also to have had at his disposal earlier and parallel collections. A powerful feature of the miracle stories is a disdain for secular doctors, but not medicine per se, who are seen as ineffective in comparison to the power of the saintly healing of Cyrus and John. The collection is also notable for Sophronius’ polemic against Miaphysites, who evidently attended the shrine. The most recent edition of Sophronius' text is Fernandez Marcos 1976, but Gascou in his translation of 2007 includes several textual emendations which we have followed when they occur.


With some boiled peas: the word pissarion rendered here as 'pea' must mean a kind of a pulse, since the text in this passage explains it further as εἶδος ὀσπρίου τοῦτο παρὰ πᾶσιν οὕτω καλούμενον = a universal name for a species of pulse.


Text: Fernández Marcos, N., Los thaumata de Sofronio. Contribución al estudio de la "Incubatio" cristiana, Manuales y anejos de "Emérita" 31 (Madrid, 1975), 243-400. Translations: Gascou, J., Sophrone de Jérusalem, Miracles des saints Cyr et Jean (BHGI 477-479) (Paris, 2006). French translation and commentary. Peltier, D., "Sophrone de Jérusalem, Récit des miracles des saints Cyr et Jean" (unpublished dissertation; Paris 1978). Further reading: Duffy, J., “Observations on Sophronius' Miracles of Cyrus and John,” Journal of Theological Studies 35 (1984), 71-90. Duffy, J., “The Miracles of Cyrus and John: New Old Readings from the Manuscript,” Illinois Classical Studies 12:1 (1987), 169-177. Gascou, J., “Religion et identité communautaire à Alexandrie à la fin de l'époque byzantine, d'après les Miracles des saints Cyr et Jean,” in: J.-Y. Empereur and C. Décobert (eds.), Alexandrie médiévale, 3 (Cairo, 2008), 69-88. Gascou, J., Les origines du culte des saints Cyr et Jean (2006); online document: Le Coz, R., “Les Pères de l'Eglise grecque et la médecine,” Bulletin de Littérature Ecclésiastique 98 (1997), 137-154. Maraval, P., “Fonction pédagogique de la littérature hagiographique d'un lieu de pèlerinage: l'exemple des Miracles de Cyr et Jean,” in: Hagiographie, culture et sociétés (IVe-XIIe siècles), Actes du Colloque organisé à Nanterre et à Paris (2-5 mai 1979) (Paris, 1981), 383-397. Nissen, T., “Sophronios-Studien III, Medizin und Magie bei Sophronios,” Byzantinische Zeitschrift 39 (1939), 349–81. Papaconstantinou, A., Le culte des saints en Égypte des Byzantins aux Abbassides. L'apport des inscriptions et des papyrus grecs et coptes (Paris, 2001). Sansterre, J.-M., "Apparitions et miracles à Ménouthis: de l'incubation païenne à l'incubation chrétienne," in E. Dierkens (ed.), Apparitions et miracles (Brussels, 1991), 69-83. Schönborn, C., Sophrone de Jérusalem. Vie monastique et confession dogmatique (Paris, 1972). Wipszycka, E., “Les confréries dans la vie religieuse de l'Egypte chrétienne,” in: E. Wipszycka, Études sur le christianisme dans l'Égypte de l'antiquité tardive (Rome, 1996), 257-278.

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