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E07070: 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 Martyria from a stomach disease at their shrine at Menouthis (near Alexandria, Lower Egypt). Written in Greek in Alexandria, 610/615.

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posted on 2018-11-07, 00:00 authored by julia
Sophronius of Jerusalem, The Miracles of Saints Cyrus and John, 21

There was a certain Martyria who was very seriously ill. Her illness, however, was not natural, but it was caused by malicious powers and malignant persons; yet it is unknown precisely, if there were some poisons, or demonic operations in action. The woman terribly suffered in her intestines and used to say with moans that she felt as if they were devoured and torn apart. She did not say anything else to those who asked her about the cause of her pains. The physicians could not find neither the cause, nor the remedy for the disease.

Ὃ μαθόντες οἱ τῷ γυναίῳ προσήκοντες, θᾶττον αὐτὴν πρὸς Κῦρον καὶ Ἰωάννην τοὺς μάρτυρας ἄγουσιν, οὐκ ἀγνοηταὶ τῆς θείας αὐτῶν ὄντες δυνάμεως, δι’ ἧς τὰς ἰάσεις τοῖς προσιοῦσιν ὀρέγουσιν καὶ δρῶσιν ἔργα θαυμάσια, ἃ μηδὲ λόγος δύναται διηγήσασθαι μηδὲ νοῆσαι σαφῶς ἀνθρώπων ἰσχύει διάνοια, πάντας εὐεργετοῦντες καὶ σώζοντες, καὶ κινδύνων ἀλλεπαλλήλων λυτρούμενοι· ὡς διὰ τοῦτο δωρηθέντες τοῖς ἀνθρώποις οἱ ἅγιοι, καὶ δόσις ἀγαθὴ καὶ δώρημα τέλειον Θεοῦ τοῦ φιλανθρώπου πρὸς ἀνθρώπους ὑπάρχοντες, καὶ μιμούμενοι τὸ τοῦ δωρησαμένου φιλάνθρωπον, καὶ σπεύδοντες ἄξιον μᾶλλον τοῦ δεδωκότος χαρίζεσθαι, ἤπερ ποιεῖν αὐτοῦ τὸ δῶρον ἀνόνητον.

'The woman's relatives, having realised this, quickly take her to the martyrs Cyrus and John, being aware of their divine power, through which they give healing to those who approach them and perform miraculous deeds which neither can be recounted by words, nor aptly understood by the human mind; they are benefactors to all, they heal all and relieve them from multiform dangers. Since this is what the saints were given for to humans. They are a gift of good and a perfect present from the merciful God for the human kind; they imitate the mercy of the one who sent them and care to give their grace in the manner worth of the one who gives [=God].'

The martyrs thus made the woman fall asleep and prepared her to see a vision. Those who appeared to her in the vision were the same who sent it. So she saw men of radiant appearance, in monastic garments, who looked at her gently. They asked her why she cried so loudly and disturb those who, being ill as well, were sleeping around her. She responded that she suffered from pain in her intestines.

Καὶ τοῦτο φήσαντες, τὴν κεφαλὴν τοῦ γυναίου κρατοῦσιν ἀμφότεροι· καὶ τὸ στόμα διανοίξαντες, ὁ τῶν δύο πρεσβύτερος (Κῦρος οὗτος ἦν ὁ θεσπέσιος) τούτῳ τρὶς ἐνεφύσησεν· καὶ τοῦτο ποιήσαντες, αὐτοὶ μέν, φησίν, ἀνεχώρησαν.

'Having said this, they both caught the woman's head and opened her mouth. The elder one (that is the divine Kyros) blew in it thrice. When they did it, they withdraw.'

The woman woke up from the dream and from the vision. She was somewhat better but felt an urgent need to go the latrine. She sat there and released from her stomach a very long worm (skolex) which was devouring her intestines from inside. Thus the martyrs commanded the worm to exit in the form of excrement. Maria was entirely delivered from the pains and sang hymns for the martyrs.

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


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Kyros and Ioannes/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)

Alexandria 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



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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