The Miracles of Saint Thekla (14) recounts how *Thekla (follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092) made a certain Hypsistios convert to the Christian faith at the entreaty of his wife's prayers, by first striking him with illness and then curing him. Written in Greek at Seleucia ad Calycadnum (southern Asia Minor) in the 470s.
Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles
Miracles of Saint Thekla, 14
There was a well-born and illustrious man by name of Hypsistios from the city of Claudius [Claudiopolis in Isauria], located nearby Seleucia, who was an enemy of Christ and conducted life full of profane and blasphemous deeds. His wife, from a similarly noble family, was, however, a pious Christian. Even though they lived in wealth and comfort, she was always cast down and upset because of her husband's lack of faith. Therefore, she visited unceasingly the martyr's temple, begging and praying Thekla for Hypsistios' conversion.
Ἐπήκουσε τούτων ἡ μάρτυς καί, θαυμάσασα μὲν αὐτὴν τῆς πίστεως ἤπερ ἐλεήσασα, στρατηγικώτερον μὲν αὐτῷ ὡς ἂν καὶ ἀναιδεστέρῳ πολεμίῳ πρόσεισιν, ἀπαλλάττει δὲ ὅμως αὐτὸν τῆς ἀπιστίας καὶ εἰδωλομανίας. Νόσῳ γὰρ αὐτὸν ἰσχυρᾷ περιβαλοῦσα πρότερον, καὶ τὸ ἀγεννὲς καὶ ἀμείλικτον τῆς ψυχῆς αὐτοῦ καταμαλάξασα, τότε προσάγει τὴν θεραπείαν. Προσάγει δὲ οὕτως, ὃ καὶ λίαν τοὺς ἀκούοντας καταπλήξειε· τῶν γὰρ προλαβόντων θαυμάτων ἔχει τι καὶ παραδοξότερον· ὡς γὰρ ὁ μὲν προσήλωτο κλίνῃ, πολλοῖς τε ἄλλοις πάθεσι μαχόμενος καὶ τῷ παρὰ τῆς ἀσεβείας ἐκβρασθέντι πυρὶ συμφλεγόμενος, πολὺς δὲ καὶ ὁ χρόνος ἦν ἤδη τῆς ἀρρωστίας, ἀπειρήκει δὲ πᾶς ἰατρὸς καὶ πᾶς οἰκέτης, ἐτετρύχωτο δὲ καὶ αὐτὸ τὸ γύναιον ὑπό τε ἀγρυπνίας πολλῆς καὶ χαμευνίας καὶ τῆς τοῦ νοσοῦντος μελαγχολίας—νόσου γὰρ μακρᾶς ὡς τὰ πολλὰ μελαγχολία τὸ πέρας—, ἐλπὶς δὲ ἦν πάντοθεν ἀπωλείας, τί συμβαίνει καὶ τί γίνεται; Σταθερᾶς ἤδη μεσημβρίας οὔσης καὶ ἡλίου τὸ μέσον οὐρανοῦ καθιππεύοντος, πεισέρχεται τῷ νοσοῦντι ἡ μάρτυς, ὕπαρ οὐκ ὄναρ, αὐτοπροσώπως ἀλλ’ οὐ δι’ ἑτέρας μορφῆς, εὐσταλής τις καὶ μικρὸν ἀνεστηκυῖα κόρη, εὐπρόσωπος, ἐμβριθής, εὐσταθής, εὔχαρις, ὕπωχρος μετ’ ἐρυθήματος—τοῖς γὰρ τῆς ἀρετῆς ἔτι ἐμφαίνεσθαι καὶ τὰ τοῦ σώματος ἐφιλονείκει χρώματα—, πολὺ δὲ ἔτι καὶ παντὸς ἄλλου τὸ τῆς σωφροσύνης ἐπήνθει κάλλος αὐτῇ μετ’ αἰδοῦς, μετὰ χαρίτων, μετὰ ὀφθαλμῶν ἀγλαΐας καὶ τῆς τοῦ λοιποῦ σώματος αἴγλης, ὃ τοῖς φαιοῖς μὲν ὑπέστιλβεν ἱματίοις, ἐδόκει δὲ ὥσπερ ἔκ τινος ἁλουργοῦ τε καὶ λεπτοῦ παραπετάσματος ὑπαυγάζειν ἥλιος· καὶ γὰρ ἔσταλτο μὲν παρθενικῶς καὶ ᾗ νόμος ταῖς ἱεραῖς τοῦ Χριστοῦ θεραπαινίσιν, οὐράνιον δέ τι καὶ θεῖον ἀπήστραπτε φῶς, ὡς δοκεῖν ἀγγέλου τε ἅμα καὶ ἀνθρώπου φύσιν ἀνακεκρᾶσθαι καὶ δι’ ἀμφοῖν ἄγαλμά τι συγκεῖσθαι θεοειδὲς καὶ ἀκήρατον καὶ
Οὕτω δὲ ἔχουσα σχήματος καὶ παρελθοῦσα εἴσω τοῦ δωματίου, τῇ κλίνῃ τῇ τοῦτον ἄρρωστον ἐχούσῃ παρεκαθέσθη, μικρὸν δὲ καὶ ὑποψοφήσασα τῷ ποδί, ὡς τὸν Ὑψίστιον αἰσθόμενόν τε καὶ ὑποτοπήσαντα τῶν συνήθων εἶναι γυναικῶν καταβοῆσαί τε καὶ ἔρεσθαι τίς τε εἴη καὶ τί βούλοιτο νῦν διενοχλεῖν αὐτῷ—δυσάρεστοι γὰρ οἱ νοσοῦντες ἀπορίας ὕπο—, τὴν δὲ ὑπολαβοῦσαν εὐθὺς εἰπεῖν· «Ἐγώ, φησίν, εἰμὶ μὲν Θέκλα ἡ μάρτυς τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἡ παρὰ σοῦ πάντοτε ὑβριζομένη καὶ λοιδορουμένη, παραγέγονα δὲ νῦν ἵνα ὁμοῦ σε καὶ τῆς ἀπιστίας ἀπαλλάξω καὶ τῆς ἀρρωστίας· τοιούτοις γὰρ ἐγὼ τοὺς ὑβριστὰς ἀμείβεσθαι πέφυκα δώροις. Τοιγαροῦν ἐπειδὴ τίς μέν εἰμι ἐγὼ μεμάθηκας, ἱκανὴν δὲ καὶ τῆς ἀπιστίας ἤδη δέδωκας δίκην, ἀνάστηθι, ἄπιθι, βαπτίσθητι, πρόσιθι τοῖς μυστηρίοις, προσκύνησον, ὁμολόγησον τὸν Πατέρα, τὸν Υἱόν, τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον, τὴν ἄκτιστον καὶ ὁμοούσιον Τριάδα τὴν πάντα ταῦτα δημιουργήσασαν, εἴτε νοητά, εἴτε αἰσθητά, εἴτε ὁρατά, εἴτε ἀόρατα, τὴν πάντα φέρουσαν καὶ ἡνιοχοῦσαν, τὴν πάντα οἰκονομοῦσαν καὶ διακρατοῦσαν. Συνομολόγησον πρὸς τούτοις τὴν μετὰ σαρκὸς παρουσίαν καὶ ἐπιδημίαν τοῦ μονογενοῦς, τὴν ἀπὸ τῆς παρθένου λέγω καὶ θεοτόκου Μαρίας σάρκωσίν τε καὶ γέννησιν, τὸν σταυρόν, τὸν θάνατον, τὴν ἀνάστασιν, τὴν ἀνάληψιν· καὶ παραχρῆμα ὑγιανεῖς καὶ τὸ σῶμα καὶ τὴν ψυχήν, καὶ εὖ μὲν οἰκήσεις τὴν γῆν ταύτην, εὖ δὲ βιώσεις, εὖ δὲ καὶ μεταστήσει πρὸς τὸν οὐρανόν, καὶ σὺν πολλῇ τῇ παρρησίᾳ ὄψει τότε λοιπὸν τὸν βασιλέα Χριστόν.»
Καὶ ἡ μὲν ταῦτα εἰποῦσα πρὸς τὸν αὐτῇ πρέποντα χῶρον ἀπεχώρησε πάλιν, ἐμπνεύσασά τι καὶ λεληθότως αὐτῷ σωτηρίας τε καὶ ἰσχύος καὶ χάριτος· πάντα δὲ ἅμα κατὰ ταὐτὸν ἀθρόα συνέβη, ἡ πίστις, ἡ άρις, ἡ μύησις, τὸ ἐπὶ πᾶσι τούτοις ἐρρῶσθαί τε καὶ ὑγιαίνειν καὶ ἐν αἰσθήσει τῶν καλῶν ἀπολαύειν τῶν ἀληθῶς ἀγαθῶν, ὧν τὸ κρατιστεῦον τὸ χριστιανόν τε γενέσθαι καὶ μήκιστον ἐπιβιώσαντα χρόνον τῇ πίστει μεταστῆναι οὕτως ἀπὸ τοῦ βίου μετὰ καὶ τῆς ἐπὶ τῇ ἀναστάσει πᾶσιν ἡμῖν ὑπαρχούσης ἐλπίδος.
'The martyr heard these prayers and, marveling at the woman's faith or taking pity on her, she attacked the husband strategically, as if he were a more shameless enemy, but she nevertheless delivered him from his lack of faith and idol mania. First she afflicted him with a terrible disease, and softened the base and the cruel part of his soul, and then she applied the cure. And she applied it in a following way, which is likely to shock my listeners, for it is more extraordinary than the miracles previously reported. This man was bedridden, contending with many different torments and being consumed by the fire that spewed forth as a result of his impiety. Already the illness had lasted for some time, and every doctor and every attendant had given up, and his wife was worn out by sleeplessness, from lying on the floor, and from her sick husband's depression – since a long illness often produces depression – and the universal expectation was imminent death. But what happened, what came to pass?
Already it was high noon, and the sun had reached midcourse in its ride across the sky, when the martyr came to visit the sick man, in a waking vision and not a dream, in her own person and not in another's guise: a trim girl and not too tall, fair of face, dignified, steady, graceful, pale with some redness of cheek – for the colors of her body contended still with those of her virtue for the privilege of being exhibited – even more and above all, the beauty of discretion bloomed in her with dignity, with grace, with splendor in her eyes, and splendor in the rest of her body, which sparkled under her somber clothes, and she seemed to gleam like a sun through a thin curtain of purple. In short, she was dressed like a virgin and in a way which is customary for the holy handmaidens of Christ, but she shone with a heavenly and divine light, so that angelic and human natures seemed to be mingled together and, through the two, produced something like a godlike, pure, and living statue.
It is with such an appearance that she entered the house and sat at the side of the bed that held the sick man. She then made a slight noise with her foot, so that Hypsistios, noticing her and suspecting she was one of the women of the household, shouted at her and asked who she was and why she wished at that moment to disturb him – for sick people tend to be disagreeable due to their helplessness – and she immediately answered by saying, "I am Thekla, the martyr of Christ, the one whom you constantly insult and abuse, but I have come to your side now so that I may deliver you from both your unbelief and your sickness. It is with gifts such as these that I customarily repay abusive men. Therefore, now that you have learned who I am, and you have already paid a sufficient penalty for your lack of faith, arise, go out, be baptized, approach the mysteries, bow in worship, confess the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the uncreated and consubstantial Trinity, who wrought all these things – everything spiritual or perceived, seen or unseen – who carries all things and drives all things, who administers all things and support all things. Go confess in addition the advent in the flesh and the coming of the Only Begotten – I am speaking of the incarnation and birth from the virgin Mary, the Theotokos – the cross, the death, the resurrection, the ascension. And immediately you will heal both body and soul, and happily will you also ascend to heaven, where with great intimacy you will thereafter gaze upon Christ the king."
And after saying these words to him, she returned again to the region fitting for her [i.e., Seleucia], having breathed into Hypsistios imperceptibly the makings of salvation, strength, and grace. All these events happened all at once to the same man: faith, grace, initiation, and on top of all these, recovery of his strength and health, and, with his recognition of the moral good, the enjoyment of true blessings. The most important of these were becoming a Christian and, after living a long life in faith, departing from life with the hope of resurrection which belongs to all of us.'
Text: Dagron 1978. Translation: Johnson 2012. Summary: J. Doroszewska.
Cult building - independent (church)Non Liturgical Activity
Saint as patron - of a communityMiracles
Visiting graves and shrines
Miracle after deathProtagonists in Cult and Narratives
Healing diseases and disabilities
Miracles causing conversion
Apparition, vision, dream, revelation
SourceThe anonymous text known under the title of The Life and Miracles of Thekla was written in the city of Seleucia-on-the-Calycadnum in the province of Isauria in southern Asia Minor around 470. It was certainly written before c. 476, which is approximately when Thekla's shrine outside Seleucia (modern Meriamlik/Ayatekla in Turkey) was monumentalised by the emperor Zeno (r. 474-491), since this activity is not mentioned in the text.
The text consists of two parts: the first half is a paraphrased version of the second-century Acts of Paul and Thekla, a text which was widely known in Late Antiquity and translated into every early Christian language; this early text was rendered by our author into Attic Greek, and contains many minor changes to the original story, with one major change at the end: instead of dying at the age of 19 years, Thekla descends into the earth and performs miracles in and around the city of Seleucia in a spiritual state. The second half, from which this passage is drawn, comprises a collection of forty-six miracles, preceded by a preface and followed by an epilogue. It is written in a high literary style which distinguishes it among other hagiographical texts, which were typically composed in a low style of Greek.
The text was for a long time attributed to a 5th century bishop, Basil of Seleucia (fl. c. 448-468); but in 1974 Dagron demonstrated conclusively that the Miracles could not have been authored by Basil, since there is an invective directed against him in chapter 12. The anonymous author is himself the subject of a few miracles, including miraculous interventions on his behalf in ecclesiastical disputes.
DiscussionClaudiopolis was located c. 80 km from Seleucia; it is identified with the modern city of Mut in Turkey.
Dagron, G., Vie et miracles de sainte Thècle (Subsidia hagiographica 62; Brussels: Société des Bollandistes, 1978), with French translation.
Johnson, S.F., Miracles of Saint Thekla, in : S.F. Johnson and A.-M. Talbot, Miracle Tales from Byzantium (Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library 12; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), 1-201.
Festugière, A.-J., Collections grecques de Miracles: sainte Thècle, saints Côme et Damien, saints Cyr et Jean (extraits), saint Georges (Paris: Éditions A. et J. Picard, 1971).
Barrier, J., et al., Thecla: Paul's Disciple and Saint in the East and West (Leuven: Peeters, 2017).
Dagron, G., “L'auteur des Actes et des Miracles de Sainte Thècle,” Analecta Bollandiana, 92 (1974), 5–11.
Davis, S., The Cult of Saint Thecla: A Tradition of Women's Piety in Late Antiquity, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).
Honey, L., “Topography in the Miracles of Thecla: Reconfiguring Rough Cilicia,” in: M.C. Hoff and R.F. Townsend (eds), Rough Cilicia: New Historical and Archaeological Approaches, Proceedings on an International Conference held at Lincoln,
Nebraska, October 2007 (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2013), 252–59.
Johnson, S.F., “The Life and Miracles of Thecla, a literary study” (University of Oxford, doctoral thesis, 2005).
Kristensen, T.M., "Landscape, Space and Presence in the Cult of Thekla in Meriamlik," Journal of Early Christian Studies 24:2 (2016), 229-263.
|ID||Name||Name in Source||Identity||S00033||Mary, Mother of Christ||Θεοτόκος Μαρία||Certain||S00092||Thekla, follower of the Apostle Paul||Θέκλα||Certain|
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Julia Doroszewska, Cult of Saints, E05503 - http://csla.history.ox.ac.uk/record.php?recid=E05503