Commemorated on February 5
The Holy Martyress
Theodoulia lived in the city of Anazarua (Asia Minor) during the reign of
the Roman emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (305-311). The governor of
the city, Pelagios, was a very cruel man. His servants sought out Christians
throughout the entire region and brought them to him for trial, at which they
had read to them the imperial edict, and were demanded to worship idols. One
time they brought to him a Christian woman named Theodoulia. (She feared not so
much the tortures, as that she might be defiled by the pagans, and so she had
offered them much gold. But the servants would not take the gold, and so they
led her off to trial before the governor). Pelagios asked her name and he
ordered her to worship the pagan gods; in case of her refusal he threatened her
with cruel tortures. Saint Theodoulia answered: "I am a Christian. My very
name means servant of the Eternal One, and so people call me Theodoulia. I
worship the One True God and will not worship a mere stone".
furious and he gave orders to begin the tortures. The Lord granted Theodoulia
His help, and she did not sense any pain. Pelagios however ascribed this to the
workings of the gods, which it seemed had spared Theodoulia in the hope, that
she would turn to them.
Saint Theodoulia said
to the governor: "Where art thine gods, which do spare me, show me them,
that I might offer up honour to them". They brought her into the temple of
the ["deified" deceased Roman emperor] Adrian, whom they esteemed as
a mighty god. The saint however, in praying to the One True God, only but blew
a breath at the idol, and it crumbled down into dust. Seeing this, Pelagios was
atremble with fright. If a report about the destruction of the idol were to
reach the emperor, he himself would be thrown for devouring by wild beasts. He
fell down sobbing at the feet of Saint Theodoulia, begging her to restore the
idol from its dust, and promising for this to accept Christianity.
The saint made
fervent prayer to the Lord Jesus Christ, and the idol, whole and intact, again
stood in its place. The governor Pelagios however not only did not fulfill his
promise to become a Christian, but with an even greater fury instead he began
anew to torture the martyress. At the time of these torments a certain fellow
named Helladios came up to the governor, and looking at the captives, he
asked to be given the maiden Theodoulia, promising to make her worship the
pagan gods, doing this because he wanted to ingratiate himself with the city
governor and receive honours.
Saint Theodoulia to harsh torments, exceeding in cruelty even Pelagios himself.
The saint however prayed to God, that He might send down on her the ability to
persevere. She immediately received help from God and was healed. The tormentor
was awestruck, and Saint Theodoulia turned to him with words of admonition.
"Become thou a Christian, – she said to him, – to attain instead to
honours eternal in the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who shalt judge both
the living and the dead and render to each according to his deeds". Thus
by her prayers and her precepts Saint Theodoulia led Helladios to the knowledge
of truth; he believed in Christ and confessed the True God in front of the
governor. For this he also accepted the crown of martyrdom. They cut off his
head with a sword, and threw his body into the sea.
Saint Theodoulia was
thrown into a blazing oven, but she remained unharmed. After this they
stretched her on a sort of frying-pan, they poured on boiling tar, wax and oil,
but the red-hot plate shattered into pieces, and the fire scorched many people,
including the city governor Pelagios, who indeed died a death of fright, but
Saint Theodoulia again remained unharmed.
In view of such a
miracle with such an extraordinary result, many of the people believed in
Christ, among which were the respected citizens Makarios and Euagrios.
The pagans all the more fiercely continued to torture Christians. They fired up
an oven and threw into it Saint Theodoulia, Makarios, Euagrios and many others
who believed in Christ. With prayer on their lips they all accepted a martyr's
death and were translated into life immortal.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.