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E07439: 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 from blindness and converted a certain Ioannes, an heretical follower of Theodosius and Severus, at their shrine at Menouthis (near Alexandria, Lower Egypt). Written in Greek in Alexandria, 610/615.

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posted on 2019-03-09, 00:00 authored by julia
Sophronius of Jerusalem, The Miracles of Saints Cyrus and John, 37


There was a certain Ioannes from the city of Kyno [Cynopolis] in Egypt. He had leucomas in both his eyes, because of which he was totally deprived of light and could see absolutely nothing. Guided by other people, he came to the sanctuary of the martyrs Cyrus and John to seek their aid.

When he was there and was sleeping on his bed, in a dream he saw himself by the martyrs’ tomb, beseeching them for the restoration of his sight. He also saw the martyrs in the form and garments of presbyters (presbyteron morphais kai schemasin), sitting in front of their tomb (emprosthen tes oikeias sorou). They stood up, took Ioannes by the hand and led him to the divine altar (to theion thysiasterion). They gave him communion in the form of the holy life-giving bread which changed into Christ’s body (hagios zoopoios artos Christou soma genomenos) and the divine milk (theion gala). Afterwards the martyrs made the man go, and said that he was now on the way of the true life, and should take communion in the mysteries of Christ. Ioannes had the views of a heretic, as he held the position of subdeacon (hypodiakonos) in the sect of Theodosios and Severos.

When Ioannes woke up, he followed the instructions of the saints, as he believed they were of divine origin. He abandoned his previous beliefs and after three days he saw light with his own eyes again, which was also the enlightenment of his soul.

Yet, the Destroyer of Good out of jealousy then meddled in the course of events. Theodoros, Ioannes’ father, who was a deacon of the above mentioned sect, died. The followers of the heresy therefore came to Ioannes and persuaded him to take the position left by his father. Ioannes forgot the orders of the martyrs and went with them to Kyno to take up the position of deacon.

They were thus on their way, and were almost approaching Kyno which was only a mile away. The martyrs, however, came to meet him and in public struck his eyes and once again deprived him of the sight that had previously been restored to him. Ioannes realised what the cause of his misery was and repented; he was forgiven by the martyrs, and thanks to their miraculous aid he eventually regained his sight. He refused to return to Kyno and instead began serving the martyrs and was received among the clergy.

It all happened in the following way. He was sleeping that night and in his dream he heard a command calling him to return and calm the martyrs who were angered. He thus went to their shrine. Christodoros, the manager of the sanctuary (oikonomos) did not want to see him and place him between the sick, because Ioannes had previously left the shrine without his permission. So Ioannes lay in the holy hierateion (to septon hierateion) of the shrine, where guests stayed who had not found another place, because of the crowd of sick people. He stayed there for three days. Then he saw in a dream a deacon standing by the pulpit (ambon) who was holding the books of the holy Gospels in his hand and was reading them aloud. The reading was from the Gospel according Matthew (11:3-5), which recorded that when John the Baptist heard in prison about the deeds of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him: "Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?" And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.”

When Ioannes heard this, he woke up, being immediately delivered from his blindness and he saw the sunlight which illuminated his soul. However, he did not regain his health entirely, but carried in his eyes a mark as a reminder of his infidelity, so that when others saw it, they cared the more for their safety.

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 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 - 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 Miracles causing conversion 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.


'The sect of Theodosius and Severos – Theodosios, patriarch of Alexandria under the reign of the emperor Justinian, and Severos, patriarch of Antioch (both fl. 6th c.) upheld a moderate path of monophysitism (Gascou 2006: 137, n. 797). 'The holy hierateion' – it is uncertain what this term means in this context; it appears to be a part of the sanctuary reserved for the clergy (Gascou 2006: 139, n. 808).


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: Déroche, V., "Représentations de l'Eucharistie dans la haute époque byzantine", Mélanges Gilbert Dagron, Travaux et Mémoires 14 (2002), 167-180. 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 her Études sur le christianisme dans l'Égypte de l'antiquité tardive (Roma, 1996), 257-278.

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