Euphemia and the Goth

The narrative concerning Euphemia and the Goth, set in Edessa of 395/6, belongs to the genre of miracle stories connected with a shrine (in this case, the shrine of the local martyrs, Gurya, Shmona, and Ḥabib). It is transmitted in two Syriac hagiographical mss. (the older of which is of the 9th cent.), and is also to be found in Greek (ed. E. von Dobschütz, Texte und Untersuchungen, vol. 3 [1911], 37). The unknown author claims to have heard the story from the paramonarios ‘custodian’ of the shrine. At the time of an invasion of the region by Huns, a Goth in the Roman army in Edessa was billeted on a widow (Sophia) and her daughter (Euphemia). The Goth wants to marry Euphemia and eventually bullies Sophia into allowing this. When the time comes for the Goth to leave Edessa and take his new wife with him, Sophia takes them to the Shrine of the Confessors and gets him to swear that he will not harm her daughter. Once they have left Edessa, it emerges that the man already has a wife, and he treats Euphemia as a slave girl. When Euphemia gives birth to a child, the Goth’s wife, out of jealousy, poisons it, but Euphemia succeeds in poisoning her with the remains of the poison that had killed her son. The wife’s family shut her up in a tomb, intending to kill her; Euphemia in her desperation prays to the Confessors — and miraculously finds herself the next morning by their shrine, safe and sound. When the Goth is sent back to Edessa, Sophia manages, with the help of Bp. Eulogios (d. 387!), to get him arrested, and he is sentenced to death by the Military Governor, Addai (who is also attested in other sources). Whether or not the story has an actual historical basis, it no doubt reflects a not uncommon situation. It will have been put into writing (almost certainly in Syriac) by someone connected with the shrine of the Confessors, and probably around the mid 5th cent.


  • F. C. Burkitt, Euphemia and the Goth, with the Acts of Martyrdom of the Confessors of Edessa (1913).

| Euphemia and the Goth |


Front Matter A (73) B (53) C (26) D (36) E (27) F (5) G (30) H (22) I (31) J (15) K (11) L (12) M (56) N (19) O (3) P (28) Q (11) R (8) S (71) T (39) U (1) V (5) W (3) X (1) Y (41) Z (4) Back Matter
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