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THE MIRACLE OF SAINT MENAS IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM OR.MS.6805 – PART 2: ENGLISH TRANSLATION BY GERALD M. BROWNE

December 11, 2013

In SAINT MINA’S MIRACLE IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM OR.MS.6805 – PART 1, we spoke about the finding of MS. 6805 which was obtained by the British Museum in 1909, and in the same year published without translation by E. A. W. Budge. The reader will recall that the manuscript is written in Old Nubian dialect, and that it was first published into English in 1913 by F. Ll. Griffith, and that it was later, in 1983, revised by Gerald M. Browne under the title: Griffith’s Miracle of St. Menas. It is this revised translation which I will reproduce below for the benefit of my reader.

A miracle which Mena, the holy martyr of Christ, performed. In the peace of God. Amen.

Beloved! A woman lived in a village in the districts (?) of Alexandria, and she, being strangely barren, did not bear either son or daughter. And in wealth and glory she possessed much, but she had no heir. And when she spoke about this thing, she was afflicted in her heart. And also all who lived in her house were barren: the servant-girls, the cows, down to the hens. And one day that woman heard women of the Christians speaking of the miracles which Saint Mena performed in the church of Mareotis, and she said to herself: “Truly, if the God of Saint Mena causes one of my hens to give birth, I will offer up in his church the egg that it has first laid.”

And after many a day had passed, one of the hens became pregnant and laid its first egg. And that woman took up the egg and went down to the water, with a servant-girl, in order to find a boat and take that egg to the church of Saint Mena located in Mareotis.[1]

And finding a boat ready to go to Philoxenite,[2] the woman said to the skipper: “Greetings, father skipper!”

And he said: “Greetings to you too!”

And the woman said: “Truly, when you depart from here, where will you go?”

The skipper said: “Truly, if the Lord guide me, I am going to Philoxenite.”

And the woman said: “Well, do me a favor and take me with you to Philoxenite.”

The skipper said: “What do you want there?”

The woman said: “I am going to the church of Saint Mena.”

And the skipper said: “But since (?) you are a pagan, what will you do in the church?”

The woman said: “I will offer up this egg in that church, in order that the God of Saint Mena may give me the seed of conception. And truly, if I give birth, I will become Christian.”

The skipper said: “Woman, don’t you be insulted, but give me your egg, for I will offer it up, and you return to your house, so that your husband won’t be anxious.”

And the woman believed and placed the egg in his hand, and she returned to her house, with her servant-girl. And the skipper took the egg, placed it within the hold (?) and set it amongst the rest of the provisions, (to lie there) until he came to Philoxenite. And after many days had gone by, he reached the shore of Philoxenite, but the fellow forgot about the egg and went off again to another kingdom.

And one day, when the skipper saw that egg being amongst the rest of the provisions within the hold (?) of the ship–this one which he had deposited and forgotten–, he said to his son: “Boy, where was this egg?”

And he said: “Father, don’t you remember this, which a woman gave to us so that we might give it to the church of Saint Mena?”

And the father said to the boy: “Oh, that’s right! Cook it for me and bring it so that I may eat it.”

And when his son cooked it and placed it before him, he gobbled it up.

And after the days of three months had gone by, they reached a village, and at the harbor of that village they beached the ship. And, since it was Sunday, the skipper went up to the village to receive the sacrament. And in that village was situated a church of Mary, the Holy Virgin. And he entered it to receive the sacrament. And after the Tris-Hagion had come, all the people assembled at the font (?) to cross themselves with the water of the Saint. And the eyes of the skipper were opened, and he saw clearly Saint Mena coming riding upon a white horse and himself holding up a hunting spear. And when he saw, he went running (?) to the image of Mary Theotokos and said with a shout: “In your name, Mary Theotokos, save me, because I have committed sin.”

And again Saint Mena stood near and said to him: “What am I to do with you today, you who (?) have entered in the name of my Lord?”

And when the Saint took that man and kicked against his head, the egg–this one which he had eaten–suddenly became a living hen, came out from under him, stood up and immediately squawked. And Saint Mena, sitting on the horse, grasped the hen by its two wings, took it up and said: “For this have I come, this have I stated.”

And Saint Mena went to the house of that woman, knocked on the door and had her called. And that woman came running and opened the door. And the Saint said to her: “Woman, take this hen and let it out amongst your hens, that they may give birth for you. And also you, woman, who will bear a son, call his name Mena. Also all your slave-girls will give birth, and so will your cows. And you, woman, receive baptism for remission of your sins.” And when he finished saying this, suddenly the Saint vanished and disappeared.

And when the woman took the hen and let it out amongst her hens, suddenly all gave birth {, the servant-girls}, and so did the cows. And also the woman herself became pregnant and bore her first-born son, and she called his name Mena, according as the Saint had said to her. And also her slave-girls all became pregnant and gave birth to sons and daughters. And that woman, after the days of her confinement had been completed, went to the church of Saint Mena in Mareotis. And when she came to the holy church, she begged the priest to baptize them. And the priest took them, prayed for them and baptized her, her husband, her son and her servants in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.

And thus they continued to be Christians perfectly all the days of their life. And as there was an obligation toward the church of Saint Mena, they continued to make their offering to the church until their death.

And when all saw and heard of this great miracle, they gave glory to God and Saint Mena, whose is the glory and the power, Amen. Now and forever, unto the times of the ages.


[1] Mareotis is the area west of Lake Mareotis (Mariut), and south-west to Alexandrai, where St. Mena was buried.

[2] Philoxenite was a large town in the southern shores of Lake Mareotis which formed the port from which pilgrims to the shrine of St. Mena in Mareotis set off on road.

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