The Holy Martyress Theodoulia

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".
      Pelagios became 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.
      Helladios subjected 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.