Teaching Religion

Here are a few posts about saints.

The more obscure the better, but there is always something of interest!

SEPTEMBER

St Theodore- a gift from God

St Theodore is celebrated in The Catholic Church on September 5th but in Orthodoxy shares iconography and a small church in Serres (below) in Northern Greece with another Theodore, Tryron (the recruit), also a soldier, whose feast is on February 17th or the First Saturday of Lent. I cannot find eveidence for why one was kept and the other lost. In Orthodox Churches, the two saints are generally found together, called “the Great Martyrs” and celebrated as “agioi Theodoroi”. There are, of course, the more august Theodores of Nyssa and Mopsuestia, about whom no doubt more later!

St Theodore seems to be very good at finding things. There is a story from the Desert fathers about a silversmith whose home was robbed. Terribly depressed and distressed, he spent 5 days praying to St Theodore the Commander who appeared in a dream, saying “sorry I was out. I was helping the soul of Father Sabbas who died the other day, but now you have my full attendtion.” St Theodore told the silversmith to go to a specific site, taking friends with him and there he would find both the stolen silver and the thieves.St Cyril of Scythopolis records in the lives of the monks of Palestine, ” I went to the place announced by the saint, and we found it just as had been announced in the vision.”

St theodore commander.jpg

There is another story from the 6th Century life of St Nicholas of Sion:

A blind man turned for help to Nicholas who took oil from the lamp that stood before the icon of St Theodore and made the sign of the cross with the oil over the blind man’s eyes. “The following day the eyes of the blind man were opened , and he walked around seeing, and glorified God that he had recovered his sight through the prayer of the servant of God.”

Theodore came from Euchaita, currently modern day Beyözü in Çorum, a small town in Turkey which was being excavated until recently by teams from the University of Birmingham. It is from Theodore that we get much of the mythology of the fellow soldier-saint George, because it was Theodore who killed the irritating and village-threatening giant serpent. For his brave actions, Theodore was appointed commander of the city of Heraclea during the reign of the Emperor Licinius.  Heraclea is either in Konya or it is the island of Irakleia in the Cyclades (next to Naxos)- particularly good for cave-hunting…where there are fairly good rock paintings.

In response to the Emperor’s demand for pagan rituals, however, Theodore smashed the gold and silver statues and distributed all the money in the temples to the poor.He was subsequently arrested and tortured. After being repeatedly stabbed, beaten with iron rods, and burnt, his eyes were plucked out and he was crucified. In the morning, however, an angel had taken him off the cross and bandaged his wounds. His followers were baptised in their hundreds before Theodore surrendered to the local prison, releasing the other prisoners in the process. He was then beheaded, asking his servant St Varrus, that he should be remembered every year on the anniversary of his death, 8th February 319. That does not seem to have happened! He is commemorated however, but he merits a second feastday in June as a patron saint of soldiers.

 

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