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E07448: The late 4th to 6th century collection of Miracles of *Menas (soldier martyr of Egypt, S00073), ascribed to Timothy of Alexandria, recounts the story of the miraculous uncovering of the theft of a sheep, committed by a rich pagan man against a poor Christian widow. The former’s perjury is punished by paralysis. Written in Greek in Alexandria.

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posted on 2019-03-10, 00:00 authored by erizos
Timothy of Alexandria, Miracles of Menas (CPG 2527, BHG 1256-1269)

Miracle 8. The rich man and the widow (BHG 1264)


There was a very rich pagan man from the village of Constantiana in the district of Marmarica. Under his house, there lived a poor old woman whose only possession was a sheep. At Menas’ feast, he proposes to her that they visit the shrine together, but she refuses to go with him, unless he accepts baptism. He promises to follow her instructions. Rejoicing at his decision, the widow instructs him to slaughter a fat sheep from his flock, in order to have provisions for their journey. Inspired by the devil, the rich pagan secretly has the widow’s sheep slaughtered and cooked. Unable to find it, the widow despairs, but the rich man’s wife visits and consoles her, saying that the thief will be revealed, if they visit Menas’ shrine and take oaths. In the meantime, some neighbours inform them that the sheep was stolen by the rich man’s servant. Next day, they go to the shrine, and the rich man’s wife informs her husband that the widow is accusing him of the theft and asks that they take oaths. Although advised by both the old woman and his wife to simply confess his act and avoid the consequences of perjury, the pagan is enraged and accepts the challenge of the oath, assuming that the perjury will not harm him, while he is still unbaptised. They go down to the saint’s sarcophagus and he vows by the saint’s relics that neither he nor his servant stole the sheep. As he comes out of the crypt his legs and arms are suddenly paralysed. Terrified, he confesses his crime and promises to restore four sheep to the widow, but the saint’s voice is heard asking him to shut his mouth. The chief presbyter (archipresbyteros) and the crowd tie him onto one of the columns of the saint’s ciborium (kibourion), where he spends the rest of his life begging for forgiveness and being served by his wife. After his death [apparently he was not healed], his wife dedicates all of his fortune to the shrine and spends the rest of her life there.

Text: Pomialovskii 1900.
Summary: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Menas, soldier and martyr buried at Abu Mena : S00073

Saint Name in Source


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 Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Alexandria Abu Mina

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

Alexandria Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis Abu Mina Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Punishing miracle Miraculous protection - of people and their property Miraculous sound, smell, light

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Pagans Aristocrats Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy


The collection is preserved, not always intact, in 69 manuscripts, on which see:


For the context of this story, see E07440.


Text: Pomialovskii, I., Житие преподобного Паисия Великого и Тимофея патриарха Александрийского повествование о чудесах св. великомученика Мины (St Petersburg, 1900), 61-89. Further reading: Delehaye, H., "Les recueils antiques de miracles des saints," Analecta Bollandiana 43 (1925), 5-85, 305-325. Efthymiadis, S., "Collections of Miracles (Fifth-Fifteenth Centuries)," in: S. Efthymiadis (ed.), The Ashgate Research Companion to Byzantine Hagiography II: Genres and Contexts (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014), 106.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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