University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E06978: 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 Ioulianos in body and soul by making him renounce the heresy of the Gaianites and join the Catholic Church in the church of Theonas in Alexandria (Lower Egypt) dedicated to *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033). Written in Greek in Alexandria, 610/615.

online resource
posted on 2018-10-23, 00:00 authored by julia
Sophronius of Jerusalem, The Miracles of Saints Cyrus and John, 12

There was a certain Ioulianos, who was a noble man and very rich and he was also not deprived of virtue. However, being at that time at full strength of his youth. His youth drove him to intemperance and indulgence in pleasures that his opulence allowed to nourish. Thus he obtained a double healing for both his too ardent body and his soul against his richness. The martyrs imprisoned his soul and forced him to obey their hard orders.

Ioulianos became a slave of his vicious passions, among which was his illegitimate relationship with a girl whom he fell in love with, even though he was engaged with another girl whom he was to legally marry later. Yet, since he realised the damage caused by this illegitimate liaison, he broke up with the lady. She did not accept the rupture and wanted to take revenge on her lover by poisoning him. However, she did not manage to kill him, even though the poison made him resemble the dead, since all his members, both hands and legs, were paralysed through the poison.

He looked miserably to his parents and his new wife. Not any of the physicians could cure him, neither by diets, nor by antidotes, nor by ointment, nor by remedies. Thus his parents turned to God and the martyrs. The most holy martyrs took pity on Ioulianos and agreed to reduce his sufferings and made his hand move a bit and his legs stretch. But the complete healing was prevented because Ioulianos was a disciple of Ioulianos the Ancient of Halicarnassus who was an Apollinarist, and shared the latter's feelings and opinions. Keeping these dogmas in his soul, the young Ioulianos approached the martyrs not because of them, but because of his malady.

Οἱ δὲ μακάριοι μάρτυρες πολλάκις αὐτῷ νύκτωρ ἐπιφερόμενοι, τοῦ τοιούτου δόγματος παρῄνουν ἀπέχεσθαι, καὶ τῆς καθολικῆς Ἐκκλησίας τὴν κοινωνίαν ἀσπάσασθαι. Πολλάκις δὲ καὶ τὸ ποτήριον ἐβάσταζον ἁγίου σώματος Δεσποτικοῦ πεπληρωμένον καὶ αἵματος, καὶ προσελθεῖν αὐτῷ προετρέποντο, αὐτοί τὸ δοκεῖν μεταλαμβάνοντες, καὶ συμμεταλαβεῖν αὐτοῖς τὸν Ἰουλιανὸν προσκαλούμενοι. Ἔσθ’ ὅτε δὲ καὶ δογματικῶς αὐτῷ διελέγοντο διασαφοῦντες τὴν ἐν Ἐκκλησίᾳ κηρυττομένην ἀλήθειαν, καὶ οὕτως ἔχειν τὸ περὶ τῆς σωτηριώδους Χριστοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν ἑνώσεως ὤμνυον κήρυγμα.

'The blessed martyrs frequently attacked him at night, advising him to refrain from that doctrine and eagerly follow the community of the Catholic church. They also often raised a chalice filled full with the holy body and blood of the Lord and urged him to approach it. They also seemed to commune themselves and invited him to commune with them. Sometimes they disputed with him about doctrine and explained him the truth proclaimed in the Church and confirmed the dogma concerning the redemptive unity of Christ our God.'

Despite all these and some other means, Ioulianos remained unconvinced. Thus the martyrs decided to fully restore his previous sufferings and even to augment them. This brave young man who disregarded such great visions and testimonies was not able to bear such modest sufferings. He cried and addressed the martyrs with supplications and invocations. But there was nobody who would deliver them and save him, since it was a punishment of the saints.

At last, however, they were appeased by his capitulation and obeisance and appeared to him smiling and joyful (mediontes kai prospaizontes) and asked him why he was screaming and crying. He recounted his misery to them as if they were unaware of it and invited them to help him. But the martyrs recalled again the defined faith (he oristheisa pistis) and told him that his sufferings were to cause his refusal of the heresy and communion with the Catholic church.

Ὡς δὲ προϊέμενον αὐτοῖς τὸν νέον εἶδον οἱ μάρτυρες, καὶ ταῦτά οἱ πρὸς μείζονα πληροφορίαν ἀπήγγελλον. Χεῖρας γὰρ εἰς οὐρανὸν ἀνατείναντες μεγίστους ὅρκους καὶ φρικώδεις διώμνυντο, ὡς οὐ Γαϊανίτας, οὐ Θεοδοσιανούς, ἐν μέτρῳ πιστῶν ἢ εὐσεβῶν ἀριθμῷ ἔχει Χριστὸς ἢ λογίζεται· τούτων Ἰουλιανὸς ἐνωμότως πρὸς τῶν ἁγίων πυθόμενος, καὶ πληγαῖς καὶ ὅρκοις παιδευθεὶς τὴν ἀλήθειαν, ἀμφοτέρων αὐτῶν ἀπηλλάττετο, ὑγείαν ψυχῆς καὶ ῥῶσιν σώματος προσλαβὼν διὰ πίστεως.

'When the martyrs saw that the young man yielded to them, they revealed also this to him for a fuller reassurance. Raising their hands to the sky they took great and terrible oaths that neither the Gaianites, nor the Theodosians are considered as the faithful and counted in the number of the pious by Christ. Having learnt this from the martyrs by their oaths and being persuaded about the truth by the trials and oaths, he renounced both of them [the heresies], regaining health of the soul and strength of the body thanks to his faith.'

When the martyrs saw that on the one hand he renounced the heresy and made the confession to Saviour, but on the other was ashamed of participating in the holy mysteries (ta hagia mysteria), they plotted something marvellous.

Φανέντες γὰρ καθ’ ὕπνους αὐτῷ, ὥσπερ εἰώθασιν, Ἰδού, φασίν, ἐγγύς ἐστιν τὸ τοῦ Σωτῆρος γενέθλιον, ὅτε τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ Πατρὸς ὁ μονογενὴς Υἱὸς σαρκωθεὶς ἐνηνθρώπησεν. Ταύτην Ἀλεξανδρεῖς τὴν ἱερὰν καὶ σεβασμίαν πανήγυριν, οἱ τῆς καθολικῆς Ἐκκλησίας υἱοί τε καὶ τρόφιμοι ἐν τῇ ἐπωνύμῳ Θεωνᾷ τῆς ἁγίας Παρθένου Μαρίας καὶ Θεομήτορος ἄγουσιν.

Εἰς ταύτην οὖν καὶ αὐτὸς ἀφικνούμενος, καὶ εἷς τῶν τὴν γενέθλιον ἑορτὴν εὐσεβῶς γεραιρόντων γενόμενος, κἀν τῇ τῶν πιστῶν Ἐκκλησίᾳ συναριθμούμενος, τῇ ψαλμῳδίᾳ κοινώνησον, καὶ τῶν ἀποστολικῶν ἀναγνωσμάτων ἀκρόασαι, καὶ τῆς τῶν ἱερῶν Εὐαγγελίων ἄκουσον σάλπιγγος· μέχρι γὰρ τῆς τούτων ἀκροάσεως παραμένουσιν· καὶ μετὰ τὴν τῶν εὐαγγελικῶν ἀκουσμάτων ἀπόλυσιν, κατὰ τὴν παλαιάν σου συνήθειαν ἔξιθι, τὸ ἀνύποπτον σαυτῷ προμηθούμενος· καὶ τοῦ τεμένους ἐξιών, ἐν τῷ δρόμῳ παράμεινον· τόπος οὗτος ἐπίσημος τῆς Ἀλεξανδρέων καθέστηκεν πόλεως, ἐκ λεωφόρου σχήματος κείμενος, ἐμβόλοις μὲν δυσὶν μεσούμενος, καὶ κίοσι καὶ μαρμάροις κοσμούμενος, λεῷ τε στενοχωρούμενος πλείονι, καὶ τοῖς ἐν ἀγοραῖς παντοδαποῖς πρατηρίοις βριθόμενος.

'Appearing to him in a dream, as is their custom, they said to him: "Behold, the Nativity of the Savior is approaching, when the only-begotten Son of God and the Father, having become incarnate, became man. This holy and venerable festival is celebrated by the Alexandrians, the sons and pupils of the Catholic church, in [the church] named after Theonas and dedicated to the Virgin Mary the Mother of God. So go there also you yourself, become a part of those who piously celebrate the festival of Nativity and be counted among the faithful in the Church, take part in psalmody, hear the apostolic readings, and listen to the call of the holy Gospels." '

Then they advise Ioulianos to go at Dromos, that is an avenue in Alexandria which is bordered by two porticos decorated with columns and marble and which is a commercial market, and to walk there until the end of the festival (synaxis). When he sees that all the people have returned home, he should discretely slip into the church unnoticed by anybody, and partake of the sacred mysteries (ta septa mysteria metalambanein). Then he would go back home in peace. Ioulianos accepted this advice and executed everything the saints told him. When the festival of Nativity came, he appeared in the church of Theonas, listened to the gospels, and went out from the church to go and walk at Dromos. He waited until people returned home and went back in secret to the church and took part in the mysteries. However, when he was receiving the Body of the Lord (Despotikon soma), bowing and bending, the clerics (klerikoi) of the heresy of Gaianus (he ton Gaianiton hairesis) in the number of around one hundred came to the church to prey; some of them usually do it after the service to venerate the sacredness of the place and to honour the Mother of God with the customary salutation. When they saw Ioulianos receiving communion, they were amazed by his conversion and told the others about it, who had not seen it on their own eyes. Ioulianos raised his head and saw these people; then he began to blush because he realised that the martyrs made an object of a scandal out of him. So he told them how the martyrs planned all this and how they exposed him receiving the communion in the eyes of everybody. This is how Ioulianos joined the Catholic church. This miraculous event fully shows the sweetness of the martyrs and their grace, since along with the conversion of his soul, the young man obtained also healing [of his body].

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


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Kyros and Ioannes/Cyrus and John, physician and soldier, martyrs of Egypt : S00406 Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033

Saint Name in Source

Κῦρος καὶ Ἰωάννης ἡ ἁγία Παρθένος Μαρία καὶ θεομήτωρ

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 - Liturgical Activity

  • Eucharist associated with cult

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

Cult Activities - Miracles

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

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives



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.


Theodosians and Gaianites, as characterized by Isidore of Seville (Etymologies, 6.67), were named for Theodosius and Gaianus who were ordained bishops in Alexandria in the time of Justinian. They rejected the errors of Eutyches and Dioscorus, and followed the Council of Chalcedon. They asserted there was one nature from two in Christ. The Theodosians contended it was corrupt, and the Gaianites, incorrupt. Thus, the Gaianites were a Monophysite Alexandrian milieu generally assimilated with the Julianists, particularly by Sophronios himself in his Synodical Letter of 634 (Gascou 2006: 59, n. 330).


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.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager