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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

from its origins to circa AD 700, across the entire Christian world

The Miracles of *Artemios (37) recount how *Artemios (martyr of Antioch under Julian, S01128), at his shrine in Constantinople, healed Andrew, a monk of the Pege Monastery, from a hernia. Artemios also punished a sceptic, Peter, who accompanied Andrew, with a hernia, before healing him. Written in Greek in Constantinople, 582/668; assembled as a collection, 658/668.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles

Major author/Major anonymous work


Miracles of Artemios (BHG 173), 37

There was a certain 40-year-old man named Andrew who had been raised from earliest childhood under the guidance of John, abbot of the church of Mary at the Spring (Pege). Andrew suddenly developed a hernia to a great dismay of John for whom Andrew was indispensable. John had heard already about Artemios, from Alexander, a deacon and apokrisiarios at the Pege, who as a child experienced miracles performed on him by the saint. Thus the abbot told Andrew to go to St. Artemios. Andrew said that he did not know the way, so John sent with him Peter, his nephew, who was also an apokrisiarios and deacon at Pege. But Peter was sceptical about the entire matter. They came to the church of the Forerunner.

ἦν δὲ ἡμέρα τῆς ἀθλήσεως τοῦ ἁγίου καὶ θαυματουργοῦ Ἀρτεμίου. ποιοῦσιν τὰ ἐν ἔθει γινόμενα τῷ τόπῳ. τίθησιν τὴν στρωμνὴν αὑτοῦ ἐν τῷ βαπτιστηρίῳ, ὄχλου ὄντος ἐν τῷ ναῷ. καὶ ὁ μὲν ῥηθεὶς Πέτρος τὴν παννύχιον νύκτα ἀγρύπνως
διετέλεσεν, ὁ δὲ νοσῶν Ἀνδρέας ἐν τῇ ἰδίᾳ στρωμνῇ ἀνακείμε
νος ἐτράπη εἰς ὕπνον καὶ ὁρᾷ τὸν ἅγιον κατ’ ὄναρ ἐν σχήματι συγκλητικοῦ, ὡς τοῦ παλατίου, ὃν ἐδόκει ἀγαπητὸν εἶναι φίλον τοῦ ἡγουμένου αὐτοῦ, λέγοντα οὕτως αὐτῷ· “Σὺ ὧδε τί ποιεῖς; εἴασας τὴν τοιαύτην θεόρρυτον πηγὴν καὶ τὴν ἐν αὐτῇ πηγάζουσαν πάντων τὰς ἰάσεις Θεομήτορα καὶ ὧδε κοιμᾶσαι”; ὁ δὲ ἐν αὐτῷ τῷ ὕπνῳ ἐδόκει ἀπολογεῖσθαι αὐτῷ καὶ λέγειν· “Ὁ φίλος σου, δέσποτα, ὁ ἡγούμενος, αὐτός με ἔπεμψεν ὧδε, ἵνα παραμείνω εἰς τὸν ἅγιον Ἀρτέμιον, ὅτι κινδυνεύω εἰς τὰ αἰδοῖά μου”. καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ ἅγιος· “Κούφισον τὰ ἱμάτιά σου ἄνω· ἄφες ἴδω ὁποῖοί εἰσιν οἱ δίδυμοί σου”. τοῦ δὲ ποιήσαντος οὕτως, ἥψατο αὐτῶν
ὁ ἅγιος τῇ ἰδίᾳ χειρὶ εἰπών· “Ὁ ἐκ τῆς Θεοτόκου τεχθεὶς Χριστὸς ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν, αὐτὸς ἰάσεταί σε”. καὶ σὺν τῷ λόγῳ διυπνίσθη. ὁ οὖν Πέτρος ὁ σὺν αὐτῷ, μετὰ τὸ πληρῶσαι τὴν πάννυχον ὑμνῳδίαν, ἔθηκεν ἑαυτὸν πλησίον αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀπεκοιμήθη. ὁ οὖν Ἀνδρέας πρὸς τὴν ὀπτασίαν, ἣν εἶδεν, συνέβαλλεν ἑαυτῷ ἀνακρίνων τὰ τοῦ ὁράματος, καὶ ἐν τῷ λογίζεσθαι αὐτὸν ἐπιρρίπτει τὴν χεῖρα αὑτοῦ καὶ εὑρίσκει αὐτὰ ὑγιῆ.

'It was the feastday of the martyrdom of the holy and wonderworking Artemios. They accomplished what was customarily done in [that] place. He positioned his mattress in the Baptistery since there was a crowd in the church. The aforementioned Peter remained sleepless through the whole night but in contrast the injured Andrew reclining on his own mattress fell asleep and in a dream saw the saint speaking thus to him in the guise of a senator (apparently belonging to the palace whom he took to be the beloved friend of his abbot): "What are YOU doing here? Did you forsake the divinely flowing Spring and the Mother of God who therein so abundantly produces cures for everything and are sleeping here?" But in his sleep Andrew seemed to be defending himself and saying: "Sir, your friend the abbot himself sent me here that I might wait upon St. Artemios because I have problems with my genitals." The saint replied to him: "Lift up your clothes; let me see what condition your testicles are in." After he did so, the saint touched them with his own hand saying: "Christ our God Who was born of the Virgin Mary will cure you Himself." And at that word he woke up. Now Peter the one with him, after finishing the singing of the all-night office, positioned himself near him and went to sleep. Now in response to the vision which he saw, Andrew was conferring with himself reviewing the [details] of the dream, and while considering, he placed his hand upon [his genitals] and found them healthy.'

He began to glorify God. Then Peter woke up groaning from pain in his genitals. Andrew related him his vision and the miracle that was performed upon him. Peter told Andrew to show him his testicles and to his astonishment saw that they were healthy, whereas his own were swollen. He realised that his miserable condition was a result of his scepticism. He immediately got up, went to the tomb of the martyr, stretched himself on the floor and begged Artemios for forgiveness of his sins and deliverance from his miserable condition.

ἐπὶ ἱκανὴν οὖν ὥραν κείμενος καὶ αἰτῶν τὸν ἅγιον, ἀναστὰς ἐκ θείας τινὸς προνοίας ἤλειψεν τὰ αἰδοῖα αὑτοῦ ἐκ τῶν ἁπτουσῶν ἐν τῇ σορῷ κανδηλῶν, καὶ παραυτίκα ἐδραπέτευσεν ἢ πᾶσα τῶν διδύμων αὐτοῦ φλεγμονὴ καὶ ἀπεκατέστη ὑγιής.

'So lying there and beseeching the saint for a considerable time, he got up at some prompting of Divine Providence and anointed his genitals [with oil] from the lamps burning on the coffin and immediately all inflammation of his testicles disappeared and he was restored to health.'

Text: Papadopoulos-Kerameus 1909. Translation: Crisafulli and Nesbitt 1997, 192-97. Summary: J. Doroszewska

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)
Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave
Burial site of a saint - sarcophagus/coffin

Non Liturgical Activity

Saint as patron - of a community
Visiting graves and shrines


Miracle after death
Punishing miracle
Healing diseases and disabilities
Apparition, vision, dream, revelation

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy
Ecclesiastics - abbots
Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits


The Miracles of Artemios is a collection of 45 miracle-stories, effected by the saint at and around his burial and cult site in the church of St. John the Baptist in the Oxeia quarter of Constantinople. Artemios was an Alexandrian dux and martyr of the reign of Julian, who has an independent Martyrdom (E06781). The Miracles does not include this passio, although the stories on occasion show some acquaintance with it. Nothing is known of the cult before the period described in the Miracles.

Miracles’ vignettes stretch from (at least) the reign of Maurice (582-602) to that of Constans II (641-668). The current text was compiled in the period 658-668: the terminus post quem is provided by the last datable event mentioned within the text (Mir. 41: 4 October 658) and the terminus ante quem by the fact that Constans is there described as still alive (as he is too in Mir. 23).

The text is not, however, the product of a single pen, but seems instead to be a compilation of several parts. Those narratives at the beginning and end of the collection (Mir.
1-14, 42-45) are short, somewhat unembellished, healing narratives of a more-or-less standardised kind; while those of the central section are far more elaborate and varied, and seem to fall into rough thematic doublets or groups. One such group is conspicuous because all of its miracles (24-31) conclude with some sermonettes on secular medicine. The most obvious explanation for this basic dissonance is that the collection as we have it has been composed from at least three different parts: first, an earlier, more simple collection which opens the text; second, an original composition in the central section (where the addition of the sermonettes to some miracles perhaps indicates the exploitation of another, pre-existent collection of miracles); and third, a final addition of the four concluding miracles.

Besides pre-existent collections of written material preserved within the shrine itself, the text also draws, no doubt, on the oral traditions then circulating amongst the shrine’s clientele. The text itself describes in vivid terms the community of clerics and lay devotees who gathered around the shrine, in particular for its weekend vigil, and several such persons are the protagonists of individual miracles. One such person is an anonymous devotee of the saint’s vigil who features in two long and detailed miracles (Mir. 18, 22); another is George, a cleric and devotee of Artemios, who features as protagonist in three different miracles (Mir.
38-40). It seems clear, then, that the compiler draws from the oral accounts, or perhaps even written records, which the saint’s clerics and devotees produced, and which provide these central miracles with their vivid detail and insight. Indeed, although the compiler of the collection is anonymous, it is reasonable to suppose that he is also a lay devotee of the saint, and perhaps even one of those persons who feature prominently in the text.

Through descriptions of this vigil, and other scattered details, we are offered an unparalleled perspective both on the layout of the church of St. John—which can be reconstructed in some detail—and on the practices of Artemios’s devotees. The saint’s cult was an incubatory healing cult, in which the sick came to the shrine and slept overnight, in the hope of a miraculous cure. The collection underlines the importance of performing ‘the customary rites’ in advance of a cure, which seems to mean the dedication of a votive lamp and other offerings. The weekly vigil is also presented as especially efficacious, for on this night it was possible to sleep in and around the crypt where the tomb which contained the saint’s relics was sited (see e.g. Mir. 17).

Almost all of the cures occur within the church of St John itself, or else upon those who have spent some time there and then withdrawn. The principal mode of healing is a miraculous dream, sometimes in combination with the application of holy oil taken from the tomb’s lamps, or a wax-salve imprinted with the image of the saint. Almost all of the miracles concern healing, but also of a particular kind. For Artemios was a specialist in diseases of the male genitals and groin, which dominate the entire collection. Sick women at the shrine could expect a vision of the martyr *Phebronia, who appears in several places as Artemios’ female equivalent (Mir. 6, 23, 24, 38, 45).

In contrast to equivalent collections, Artemios does not collaborate with secular doctors, or depend on quasi-Hippocratic cures. Indeed, one of the most striking features of the text is the series of sermonettes which punctuate the central miracles and denounce in virulent terms the inadequacies of contemporaneous Hippocratic medicine (Mir. 24-31).

The text was compiled at a moment of high drama for the eastern Roman Empire, in which its territorial holdings, and revenues, had been dramatically reduced through the Arab conquests. This context is however strikingly absent from the collection, which instead paints a picture of vivid and thriving urban life, in particular amongst the capital’s middle classes, who make up the vast majority of the saint’s devotees. Nevertheless, it has been suggested the text offers a powerful political metaphor related to the perceived disease of the body politic: that the cure for all ailments, whether derived from sin or from natural causes, is not to turn to other men, but rather to propitiate and to trust in God.


This miracle belongs to the central section of the collection of Artemios' miracles that consists of elaborate and varied narratives (Mir. 15-41; see above, Source).

It is linked with Mir.36 which speaks of a boy named Alexander who is healed of a hernia by the martyr. Here we see him as a monk, a deacon and
apokrisiarios of the abbot in the Pege Monastery.

The Monastery of the Mother of God at the Spring (Pege) was situated immediately outside the Theodosian walls of Constantinople. According to Procopius, the church was first erected by the emperor Justinian in the last years of his reign (559-560), near a fountain of water from a holy well. It is possible, however, that, before Justinian's building was erected, a small monastery had already existed there (Janin 1953, 232).

apokrisiarios was a representative of the higher members of clergy in dealings with authorities.


Papadopoulos-Kerameus, A., Miracula xlv sancti Artemii, in idem, Varia graeca sacra [Subsidia Byzantina 6] (St. Petersburg: Kirschbaum, 1909): 1-75.

Crisafulli, V.S., and J.W. Nesbitt,
The Miracles of St. Artemios. A Collection of Miracle Stories by an Anonymous Author of Seventh Century Byzantium (Leiden, New York, Köln: Brill, 1997).

Further reading:
Alwis, A., “Men in Pain: Masculinity, Medicine and the Miracles of St. Artemios,”
Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 36. (2012), 1–19.

Busine, A.,“The Dux and the Nun. Hagiography and the Cult of Artemios and Febronia in Constantinople,”
Dumbarton Oaks Papers 72 (2018), 93–111.

Déroche, V., "Pourquoi écrivait-on des recueils de miracles? L’exemple des miracles de saint Artémios," in C. Jolivet-Lévy, M. Kaplan, J.-P. Sodini, (eds),
Les saints et leur sanctuaire à Byzance: textes, images, monuments (Paris, 1993), 95-116.

Deubner, L.,
De incubatione capita quattuor scripsit Ludovicus Deubner. Accedit Laudatio in miracula Sancti Hieromartyris Therapontis e codice Messanensi denuo edita. (Lipsiae: Teubner, 1900).

Efthymiadis, S., "A Day and Ten Months in the Life of a Lonely Bachelor: The Other Byzantium in Miracula S. Artemii 18 and 22,"
Dumbarton Oaks Papers 58 (2004), 1-26.

Grosdidier de Matons, J., “Les Miracula Sancti Artemii: Note sur quelques questions de vocabulaire,” in E. Lucchesi and H.D. Saffrey (eds),
Mémorial André-Jean Festugière: Antiquité, Paienne et Chrétienne (Geneva: Cramer, 1984), 263-266.

Haldon, J., “Supplementary Essay: The Miracles of Artemios and Contemporary Attitudes: Context and Significance,” in Crisafulli and Nesbitt,
Miracles of Artemios 33-75.

Kaplan, M., “Une hôtesse importante de l’église Saint-Jean-Baptiste de l’Oxeia à Constantinople : Fébronie,” in D. Sullivan, E.A. Fisher, S. Papaioannou (eds),
Byzantine Religious Culture: Studies in Honor of Alice-Mary Talbot (Leiden: Brill, 2011), 31–52.

Krueger, D.,
Writing and Holiness: The Practice of Authorship in the Early Christian East (Phildelphia, PA, 2004), 63-70.

Mango, C., “History of the Templon and the Martyrion of St. Artemios at Constantinople,”
Zograf 10 (1979), 40–43.

Rydén, L. “Gaza, Emesa and Constantinople: Late Ancient Cities in the Light of Historiography”, in L. Rydén, J.O. Rosenqvist (eds),
Aspects of Late Antiquity and Early Byzantium (Uppsala: Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul, 1993).

Rydén, L., “Kyrkan som sjukhus: om den helige Artemios' mirakler,”
Religion och Bibel 44 (1987), 3-16.

Simon, J., “Note sur l’original de la passion de Sainte Fébronie,”
Analecta Bollandiana 42 (1924), 69–76.

Record Created By

Julia Doroszewska, Phil Booth

Date Last Modified


Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristCertain
S01128Artemios, martyr of Antioch under the emperor JulianἈρτέμιοςCertain

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