Sainted Theodore, Bishop of Edessa

Commemorated on July 9

      Sainted Theodore, Bishop of Edessa, was born in the Syrian city of Edessa. All his life the holy saint was a bright witness of the great deeds of God, glorified in His Saints.
      At twelve years of age, having lost his parents and given away his inheritance to the poor, he set out to Jerusalem, where at the Laura of the Monk Sava the Sanctified he took monastic tonsure. After 12 years of fervent monastic obedience and then another 24 years of full seclusion and great abstinence the Lord summoned the valiant ascetic to be bishop, so that he might bring light to the world. For after the death of the Edessa bishop, no more worthy a successor was found than Theodore, and through the mutual assent of the Antioch and Jerusalem Patriarchs, and likewise of both clergy and laity, this fine man was chosen bishop. It was not easy for Saint Theodore to forsake his quietude, but he submitted himself to the will of God and entered into the guidance of the Edessa Church. This occurred during the reign of the Greek emperor Michael and his mother Theodora (842-855). During the time of the episcopal imposition of hands over the Monk Theodore, there occurred a great miracle. The people beheld a dove white like snow, soaring about beneathe the cupola of the church, which then came down upon the head of the newly-made bishop. Setting about the governance of his flock, Saint Theodore devoted all his abilities to this service. He was a model for the faithful in word, in life, in love, and by the good example of his holy ascetic life he guided the flock, entrusted to him by God, onto the path of salvation. Theodore exerted much effort in the struggle with heretics, and with a firm hand he guarded the Church from temptations and errant thought. By his consolation and support for Saint Theodore, the perspicacious elder and pillar-dweller the Monk Theodosios likewise served the spiritual community, while asceticising not far from the city near the monastery of the holy GreatMartyr George.
      With the blessing of the elder, Saint Theodore undertook a journey to Baghdad to the caliph Mavi with a complaint about unjust measures against the Orthodox. Having come to Mavi, the saint found him seriously ill. Calling on the help of the Lord, the holy bishop threw into a vessel with water a bit of earth from the Sepulchre of the Lord and gave it to the caliph to drink, and the sick one was healed. The grateful Mavi, favourably disposed towards the saint, happily heard out his teachings and finally, together with three close associates he accepted holy Baptism with the name John.
      Shortly afterwards for his open confession of faith in Christ before the Mussulmans, the caliph John was killed with his three close associates. Having appeared in a dream simultaneously to Saint Theodore and to the Pillar-Dweller Theodosios, he reported that he had been granted to suffer for Christ, being numbered among the rank of the Martyrs, and he would soon meet the two of them in the Kingdom of Heaven. This was an indication to the saint of God, that his own end was approaching. Three years later, again in solitude at the Laura of Saint Sava the Sanctified, he peacefully expired to the Lord (IX). Saint Theodore has left to Christians his writings of edification. The Life of Saint Theodore of Edessa was a beloved reading in Rus' during the XVI-XVII Centuries and was preserved in many a manuscript.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.