“The case of Sophronius, bishop of Tella (fifth century), is truly amazing, even though, as a supporter of Nestorius, he may be classified as a heretic. The magical experiments of this dignitary of the Church were described by two presbyters and two deacons before the “Robber Synod” of Ephesus in 449 and denounced by the assembled clergy. Someone had stolen a sum of money from the bishop. He gathered the suspects and first made them swear on the Gospel that they were innocent. Then he forced them to undergo the “cheese-sandwich oracle” (tyromanteia). The sandwiches were offered, and the bishop attached a conjuration to a tripod. In principle, the thief would have been unable to eat, but apparently all the suspects ate with a good appetite. So the bishop insisted on another oracle, the phialomanteia: he consulted a spirit that was supposed to appear in a dish into which water and oil had been poured. This method finally revealed the thief.”

George Luck, Arcana Mundi (2006)


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