January 31, 2019

A Miracle of Saints Cyrus and John for the Physician Gesios

The Miracles of Saints Cyrus and John

Miracle 30

On Gesios, the Physician-Philosopher

By St. Sophronios of Jerusalem

Gesios was not famous because he wore a philosophers garment, but primarily because he was distinguished in the art of medicine, and he was also recognized as an excellent teacher of medicine for all those who wanted to learn the art in his time. Gesios, however, although great in wisdom and of an excellent reputation, which he received from the physicians of Alexandria, was not free of the error of idolatry, as those who knew him closely have said, but he spread everywhere that he accepted baptism for fear of sanctions. Indeed, when he came out of the baptistry it is said that he spoke a blasphemous phrase from the Homeric epics concerning the drowning of Ajax.*

This impiety was concealed within him, even though he received baptism, and because of this he sneered and ridiculed the Christians, that they erroneously revere Christ, and he ridiculed Saints Cyrus and John, claiming that they healed with the art of medicine those who were ill and not by some divine and supreme power. Inquiring about the medicine the Saints suggested for the sick to use in order to receive healing, he argued that these were exactly taught by the ancient physicians, saying this was from Galen, that was from Hippocrates, and this patch was from Democrates, and he generally claimed that all these were from the healing wisdom of famous physicians, and he referred to their writings where it said what he referred to, and that, in a natural way the sick were healed who hastened to the martyrs.

But that this was all chatter and nonsense from Gesios is proved both by the facts, as well as by Gesios himself who made them up, because the mad Gesios himself became sick in his scapula, shoulders and neck, which became paralyzed and could not move at all. Ignoring the cause of the pain, he vainly struggled to heal himself, as he had healed others, using all kinds of ointments and various clean and warm foods with difficult diets, because he believed he was suffering from diaplasis and that he had supposedly gathered water.

So he tried everything he learned from Galen and Hippocrates and other physicians, and having considered and reconsidered that he was not able to heal himself, he invited physicians from the city, who, when they had advised him, he assured them that he had already applied what they advised himself, so they had nothing else to say and confessed that only God could make him well. Therefore they kindly advised him to flee to the martyrs Cyrus and John.

When Gesios, insisting on his error, told them that the Saints do everything in a medical way and that there is nothing new, but all the recipes of the holy martyrs could be found in the ancient books, the wise physicians then reported cases of healings and the corresponding medicines which were unrelated to classical medicine, and being unable to explain this they silenced him.

Nevertheless, though he was not completely persuaded, he was finally persuaded by the strong pains that had plagued him, and so he eventually went to the martyrs and he fervently pleaded with them to heal him.

The Saints appeared in his sleep and they gave him medicine for his illness, which operated not only to heal his sickness, but also served as a means of punishment for the sufferer, because, although he considered himself wise, he proved to be a fool and completely senseless. "Bring," they said to him, "a saddle and wear it over your shoulders, neck and throat where you suffer and have problems, and at noon go around the sacred ground of the church, crying out: 'Oh! how foolish I am and completely senseless!', and your health will immediately be restored." He however believed this was a figment of his imagination, so he did not do what the Saints ordered him to do.

However, when he once again began to call upon the martyrs, they advised him to do something worse, for having come again to him in his sleep, they ordered him that, together with the saddle, to hang from his neck a large bell, and with these to go around the church, crying out: "I am a fool!" But he considered this also to be of his imagination, because he could not explain the relationship between the saddle and the bell and the method of healing his illness, so he asked Christ to heal him of his sickness and at the same time save him from his fantasies.

Then the Saints once again appeared and they insisted that he do what they had previously told him, but with the addition of wearing a bridle like a horse, and a servant was to drag him by the bridle while he clearly recited the phrase: "I am a fool!" The Saints did not of course add the bridle and the bell to correct themselves, but to make apparent the senselessness of Gesios with the greatest shame and the most terrible ridicule, in order to strike his folly and help him recover by bringing him to his right mind.

This time Gesios hesitated to again consider this a figment of his imagination, and in order to not provoke the wrath of the Saints, he decided with a heavy heart to obey the order. He therefore placed the saddle on his shoulders, hung a bell from his neck, and put a bridle over his mouth, then he had a servant pull him into the church through the ten galleries, while he continuously cried out: "I am a fool!" Having fulfilled the command of the Saints, he was healed and received back his health, which always loves to obey the orders of the Saints.

When night came the martyrs once again appeared in his sleep, saying to him: "Because you think the medicines we give to the sick are the inventions of physicians, tell us in which manuscript do Galen or Hippocrates, whom you admire, write of these aides for your illness, and where does Democrates or another physician refer to them? If you find what they say about it, then you are verified in your other claims, but because it is certain that they said none of these things, know that for everything else you say, you are in falsehood!"

In this way the holy martyrs, having scolded the slanderer, ended the dream. Even in his dreams he was not able to oppose the martyrs, so he woke up stunned by the most wise rebuke of the Saints, and after praising their power that merely by their grace and not by medicine do they heal those who flee to them, he went away from the church healed.

* "Ajax perished, when he had drunk the salt water." (Odyssey 4, 511)