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E07696: 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 Georgios from a cataract and delivered him from death during a pestilence, all at their sanctuary at Menouthis (near Alexandria, Lower Egypt). He also mentions veneration of *Paul (the Apostle, S00008) and *Menas (soldier and martyr buried at Abu Mena, S00073). Written in Greek in Alexandria, 610/615.

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posted on 2019-07-15, 00:00 authored by julia
Sophronius of Jerusalem, The Miracles of Saints Cyrus and John, 51

There was a certain presbyter [presbyteros] Georgios who, having completed all the orders of the clergy, for some time administered wonderfully the sanctuary of the martyrs. He was originally from Tarsus in Cilicia and called Paul [the Apostle] his defender, proud of this fellow citizen and the city. He spent his childhood in Tarsus, but then left it with his parents. The family decided to go and venerate saint Menas of the Mareotis. They arrived thus in Alexandria and venerated the martyr. The winter hindered their return, and shortly afterwards Georgios’ father died. The young man became an orphan, and soon lost his sight as he developed a cataract.

The physicians could not help him, so he was advised to go to the martyrs Cyrus and John. They delivered him from the disease and he regained his sight. They commanded him to apply on his eyes a mixture made of cheese from Bithynia with the salve (kerote). Georgios executed this order and was healed.

The saints decided not to send him back to his mother but kept him in their sanctuary, having made themselves his parents. They raised him in their sanctuary like Samuel, promoted his career in the clergy and entrusted him with the management (oikonomia) of their shrine. They also saved his life twice.

Λοιμὸς ἦν, καὶ οἱ τότε νοσοῦντες πρὶν ἢ διαγνωσθῆναι τὴν νόσον ἀπέθνησκον. Ἐνόσησε καὶ Γεώργιος, καὶ τῶν ὅρων τῆς ζωῆς πληρωθέντων, τῆς παρούσης ζωῆς ἐκδεδήμηκεν· καὶ τοὺς ἀγγέλους ὁρᾷ λαβόντας αὐτὸν καὶ ἀπάγοντας, καὶ Κῦρον αὐτοῖς καὶ Ἰωάννην συναντῶντας τοὺς μάρτυρας, καὶ χαρίζεσθαι αὐτοῖς τὸν πρεσβύτην πρεσβεύοντας, ὅπερ ποιεῖν ἔλεγον αἱ δυνάμεις μὴ δύνασθαι, θείῳ δὲ θεσπίσματι κατὰ τρόπον δουλεύουσαι· μένειν δ’ αὐτῶν τὴν πρὸς Θεὸν ἱκετείαν ἀπήγγελλον, καὶ δευτέραν αὐτοῦ προσδέχεσθαι κέλευσιν.

Ταύτην λαβόντες οἱ μάρτυρες τὴν ἀπόκρισιν, πρὸς ἱκετείαν ἐτρέποντο, καὶ πρὸς Θεὸν τὰ γόνατα κλίναντες, δωρηθῆναι αὐτοῖς τὸν λάτρην ἐδέοντο· καὶ τοῦτο ποιούντων, ἀπ’ οὐρανοῦ φωνὴ κατεφέρετο, διδόναι προστάττουσα τοῖς μάρτυσι τὸν πρεσβύτερον, καὶ χρόνους εἴκοσι ἐν σαρκὶ διορίζουσα. Καὶ οὕτω μὲν οὗτος ὁ θαυμάσιος τὸν τότε διέφυγε θάνατον, Ἐζεκίου πλέον ἔτη πέντε ζωῆς κομισάμενος, μαρτύρων σπουδῇ καὶ θείῳ δωρήματι.

‘There was a pestilence and those who were then sick died before the disease was recognised. Georgios too was affected, and, since the limits of his life were achieved, he was departing from this life. He saw angels who came to take and lead him away, and Cyrus and John the martyrs went to meet them, and negotiated with them that the presbyter be given to them. The powers said they could not do this, as they are normally subject to divine decree. However, they announced that they would await supplication to God, and to receive another command of His.

Having received this answer, the martyrs turned to supplication and, kneeling before God, begged that their worshipper be given to them. And while they were doing this, from the sky a voice descended which commanded that the presbyter be given to them and that his mortal [existence] be limited to twenty years [more]. And in this way this admirable man escaped death on that occasion, having completed five years more of life than Hezekiah, thanks to the martyrs’ zeal and the divine gift.’

When he completed the twenty years, he died again; the angels came and took him, but he again met the martyrs and received, with immortal life, deliverance once more from death, thanks to their grace and power, and their familiarity with God.

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 Paul, the Apostle : S00008 Menas, soldier and martyr buried at Abu Mena : S00073

Saint Name in Source

Παῦλος Κῦρος καὶ Ἰωάννης Μηνᾶς

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 - Miracles

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities Power over life and death

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics – unspecified


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.


An 'old man' or a 'presbyter': there is a confusion as to Sophronius' meaning. In the entire narrative he mutually seems to use two cognate terms as synonyms to descibe the protagonist Georgios, i.e. 'presbyteros' (πρεσβύτερος) which means either 'an elder' or 'a higher member of the clergy', and 'presbytes' (πρεσβύτης) - 'an old man', 'an elder'. The confusion is due to the fact that in the text there is an emphasis on both: Georgios being old, and also one of the clergy (Gascou 2006, 178, n. 1063).


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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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity