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E07694: 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) punished two thieves who appropriated offerings dedicated to them at their sanctuary at Menouthis (near Alexandria, Lower Egypt). Written in Greek in Alexandria, 610/615.

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posted on 2019-07-10, 00:00 authored by julia
Sophronius of Jerusalem, The Miracles of Saints Cyrus and John, 49


There was a certain Egyptian, Piamoth, who was an 'atherophage' [gruel-eater]. Such people, with their coarse nature, do not differ much from wild beasts. There was also another man, Georgios, from the village of Metellis in the neighbourhood of the city of Sais. Coming from different parts, they both set off on the road to the sanctuary of the martyrs to venerate them. On their way, each of them met two different women, coming from different parts as well, both of whom were also heading to the sanctuary. The women were bearing offerings that they had promised to the saints. Since, as they said, they could not offer them themselves, because there were obstacles to their further travel to the sanctuary, they asked the men to offer the sacrifices in their name, as this was an obligation, not a gift. And the one handed to Piamoth two trimessia [gold coins of the value of a third of a solidus], the other Georgios gave a pig.

Both men accepted the request and took the offerings, because they were thieves and they reckoned on profit. They intended to keep for themselves what they had been given, in the hope that the saints would not learn about it. Thus they arrived at the sanctuary, presented themselves at prayer, and left without offering to the martyrs what they had received.

The saints awaited until both men reached their homes and then severely punished them. They struck Piamoth with a very painful paralysis, whereas into Georgios, who had devoured the pig himself, they introduced a very malicious demon. Both men very quickly understood who were the authors of their misery, and confessed their sins. They begged them for mercy and forgiveness, and promised to become better in the future.

The martyrs let Piamoth suffer for six months. Then they released him in the following way. He was sleeping on his bed when he seemed to see the saints approaching, and asking if he wanted to obtain healing. Since he nodded, they commanded him to give back the two trimessia. He immediately returned the money and offered it to the saints, and he was delivered from his sickness.

As for Georgios, the martyrs decided that he did not merit deliverance from the demon and kept him in their sanctuary for some time until he learnt a lesson. They commanded him to clean their sanctuary two times a day, having his eyes directed toward the ground like the pig that he had taken. At last, he recalled his fault and repented of it.

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 - Places

Martyr shrine (martyrion, bet sāhedwātā, etc.)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Punishing miracle Apparition, vision, dream, revelation

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

The socially marginal (beggars, prostitutes, thieves) Women


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 narrative emphasizes the coarse nature of the two thieves. The first one's name is Piamoth which is a simple transliteration of the Coptic form, which underscores his barbarity as a member of an isolated people which remained outside the process of hellenisation (Gascou 2006: 173, n. 1030). The other protagonist is described as an 'atherophage' (ἀθηροφάγος), i.e. a gruel-eater, which is probably intended to brand him as a barbarian whose food is coarse and savage (from the word 'athera', which means a gruel of cereals). This term is attested only in Sophronius (Gascou 2006, 173, n. 1033). The two trimessia: one trimession (τριμήσσιον) or trimission (τριμίσσιον) was a coin worth 1/3 of the golden aureus.


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. Translation: Sophrone de Jérusalem, Miracles des saints Cyr et Jean (BHGI 477-479), trans. and comm. J. Gascou (Paris, 2006). Collections grecques de Miracles, sainte Thècle, saints Côme et Damien, saints Cyr et Jean (extraits), saint Georges, trans. and comm. A.-J. Festugière (Paris, 1971). Sophrone de Jérusalem, Récit des miracles des saints Cyr et Jean, trans. and comm. D. Peltier (Paris, 1978, unpublished). 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 Manuscript,” Illinois Classical Studies, 12 (1987), 169-177. Gascou, J., "Recherches de topographie alexandrine: le Grand Tétrapyle," Ktema 27 (2002), 337-343. 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, C. Décobert (eds.), Alexandrie médiévale, 3 (Cairo, 2008), 69-88. Gascou, J., Les origines du culte des saints Cyr et Jean, electronic version at Le Coz, R., “Les Pères de l'Eglise grecque et la médecine,” Le 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, p. 383-397. Nissen, Th., “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 (Bruxelles: Éditions de l'Université de Bruxelles, 1991), 69-83. Schönborn, Ch., 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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