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E06903: 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) healed a certain girl Marou from both teeth and ear diseases at their shrine at Menouthis (near Alexandria, Lower Egypt). Written in Greek in Alexandria, 610/615.

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posted on 2018-10-16, 00:00 authored by julia
Sophronius of Jerusalem, The Miracles of Saints Cyrus and John, 10

This miracle was performed by the martyrs Cyrus and John on behalf of Marou, a daughter of Theodora and Christodoros whose miraculous healing was described in the preceding chapters of the Miracles (E06263; E06839). Marou was at that time still a little baby and suffered great pains and fevers because she was cutting her first teeth. Finally, after the appearance of teeth, the pains and fevers ceased, but the teeth suppurated and smelled bad and the ears of the girl remained obstructed by humours which accumulated there. Thus the mother, Theodora, decided to go to Alexandria and show her daughter to physicians there, since she lived at Menouthis at the martyrs' shrine.

At the night just before her departure she saw in a dream a desolate house of a physician and found a monk who was sitting there.

Κῦρος ἦν οὗτος ὁ φανεὶς καθεζόμενος· μοναστὴς γὰρ ἐγένετο, καὶ μοναστῶν ἀεὶ ὀφείλεται φαίνεσθαι σχήματι. Πυργίσκος δὲ ἔμπροσθεν ἑστήκει τοῦ μάρτυρος, ἵνα τὸ τῶν ἰατρῶν, φησίν, σχῆμα κἀκεῖ διασώζοιτο, ὡς ἰατρεῖον τοῦτο φαίνεται ... Πρὸς ἣν ὁ ἅγιος ὁ δῆθεν ἐπὶ θρόνου καθήμενος ἔλεξεν· Ἐνθάδε, ὦ γύναι, τί παραγέγονας; Ἡ δέ, Ἰατρεῖον ζητοῦσα, πρὸς αὐτὸν ἀπεκρίνατο· καὶ τοιοῦτον μὲν ἐγὼ τόνδε τὸν οἰκίσκον νενόμικα· ἐν αὐτῷ δὲ οὐδὲν τῶν ἐν τοῖς ἰατροῖς πρὸς περιοδείαν ὄντων ὁρῶ παρακείμενον· ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ ἔνδον τι τῶν τοιούτων ἔχει σου τὸ ἀρμάριον.

Ὁ δὲ πρὸς αὐτὴν ἀκριβῶς ἀπεκρίνατο· Ἐρεύνησον, καὶ ὅπερ ἂν εὕροις, ὠσὶ τοῖς πάσχουσιν ἔμβαλε, καὶ ἰαθήσεταί σου τὸ θυγάτριον. Ἡ δὲ τὸν οἶκον ἅπαντα περινοστήσασα, θυρίδα μικρὰν ἐθεάσατο, καὶ μέλιτος ἐν αὐτῇ ποτήριον κείμενον. Ὡς οἶμαι γὰρ τὸ ἀρμάριον φαρμακοθήκη μειζόνων νοσημάτων ἐτύγχανεν. Ἀναστᾶσα δὲ θᾶττον τοῦ σκίμποδος, τὸ λεχθὲν αὐτῇ διεπράξατο, καὶ βραχὺ τοῦ μέλιτος τοῖς ὠσὶ τοῦ βρέφους ἐγχέασα, σκωληκόμεστον ἀνήγαγεν θύλακα, δακτύλων τὸ μῆκος τεττάρων, καὶ πλάτος ἀνάλογον ἔχοντα· καὶ τούτου λυτρωθεῖσα παραχρῆμα τὸ κόριον οὗπερ αὐτῇ τῶν ἀλγηδόνων ταμεῖον ἐγένετο, καὶ τῶν ἀπλέτων τικτομένων δεινῶν ἐλυτροῦτο κολάσεων.

'It was Cyrus who appeared sitting there, because he was a monk and he should always appear with the attributes of monks. A cupboard stood in front of the martyr; it all had the appearance of a surgery, so that the attributes of doctors are preserved there as well. The saint said to her sitting on a chair. Why did you come here, woman?" She replied to him: "I was looking for a surgery. And I thought that this house was one. But I cannot see here anything appropriate for a medical practice. Nor is there anything like that inside your chest."

He responded to her this way: "Search for that; and whatever you find, introduce to the ill ears of you daughter and she will be healed." She inspected the entire house and noticed a little niche and inside there was a jar of honey. Since as I think this cabinet was a pharmacy for major diseases. She quickly woke up from her bed and executed what was told her. She shortly put some honey into the ears of her baby and took out a sack full of worms, four fingers long and of the same width. The little girl, delivered of that which was for her a storehouse of pains, was immediately freed from the terrible and immense sufferings caused by it.'

Thus the martyrs healed the girl only with honey. There was also another woman, pious and a good Christian, whose name was also Mariam (because Marou is a diminutive of Maria) who was neither of the same age like Marou, nor even her contemporary who suffered from an identical disease but of different origin. She was treated by physicians without any effect and therefore she turned to the martyrs. They healed her with a salve (kerote) and mulberry (sykaminon). They prescribed her in a dream a mixture of these two ingredients which was to be introduced into her ears.

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

Saint Name in Source

Κῦρος καὶ Ἰωάννης

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)

Menouthis Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places

Martyr shrine (martyrion, bet sāhedwātā, etc.)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities Apparition, vision, dream, revelation

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Children


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.


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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