The Passion of St Theodore the General and
St Theodore the Eastern
Translation by Winstedt (1910), 73-133
The following encomium is attributed to Theodore, archbishop of Antioch
c.AD750-773, but this cannot be taken too seriously since false attributions abound in
Coptic literature of this type. It is written in Bohairic dialect. The manuscript - Vat.
Copt. 65 (14th century)- consists of 120 vellum leaves and contains three works, a
homily of Mark, 49th patriarch of Antioch, on the burial of our Lord, the encomium on
the Theodores, and the life of Onuphrius the anchorite by Paphnutius the anchorite.
At the end of the latter is a colophon of the deacon Gabriel, son of Menas, giving the
date AD979.An encomium which the holy confessor of Christ who longed for the glory
of martyrdom, the holy abba Theodore, the archbishop of Antioch delivered. He
delivered it in honour of the martyrs of Christ and the brave victors, St. Theodore the
Eastern and St. Theodore the General, the son of John the Egyptian, who slew the
great dragon and saved the little son of the widow of the city Euchetos, and the
name of Christ was exalted. And when he delivered this encomium according to their
dignity in the sanctuary of St. Theodore the Oriental there was a vast concourse of
people assembled in the church celebrating the festival of Theodore the General on
the day of his honourable commemoration, that is the 20th of Epiphi. This was the
day too of the consecration of the sanctuary of St. Theodore the Eastern: since they
had not yet built the oratory of St. Theodore the General, but celebrated his holy
festival in the sanctuary of the hero, the Eastern. In the peace of God, amen.
Glorious indeed is the noble mother who cherishes two sons of the kingdom at one
time, my beloved: and the more so if those two children are of royal race. For this
reason their nurse is rightly honoured, because she brought them up and cherished
them well. And most of all if they show their boldness and valour to the king, and,
when they grow up, walk before the king rightly and slay all his enemies; then theron
the nurse glories in the children she has cherished well till they are valiant warriors
for the kingdom. And when they have grown a little, the king will honour them
because they show him their boldness and are warriors in the battle. Then the king
too gives them rank and honour, that the court may exalt them the higher. And when
after a time they go to war and do some little valiance in prportion to their strength,
the king rejoices in them, because they are sons of the kingdom: and he writes their
name in the register of the kingdom. And so he appoints them generals of the whole
army; and men honour them and glory in them, saying, "If these do such great
valiance in their childhood, how much the more when they grow up, will they be
mighty men and generals." Then the king and his great men honour those little
children because of their bravery, and cherish them well in the pleasure of the palace
and the feast, that their strength grow.
On this wise then, my beloved, these two heroes from their childhood were heroes,
and generals in their demeanour - I mean Theodore the general, whose feast we are
celebrating today in the sanctuary of  his comrade the Eastern. My beloved, they were
two valiant lions from their childhood in all things: they were mighty in their
babyhood: they were warlike generals and warriors. So they then are like the two
sons of Mouses the prophet, Jesou the son of Naue, and Chaleb the son of Jephone,
who won the battles before Mouses. And these two heroes, whose feast we celebrate
together today, St. Theodore the Eastern and St. Theodore the General, have names
worthy of glory abiding forever. They are the mighty ones who fight for Antioch and
scatter the wars that rise against her like Jerusalem, whose mighty men, Abenner the
son of Ner and Symei the son of Cirara fought for her and watched over her gates day
and night that no stranger might rise up against her.
Even so these two heroes fought for the city Antioch that the Persians might not
master her.
Behold then, my beloved, the valour of these saints, who are equal with one another:
the Eastern slew the dragon which was beneath the ladder, which troubled the angels
coming down from heaven and adjured them in the name of the Exalted. For this
reason when St. Theodore the Eastern trampled upon him, the angels rejoiced in
coming down upon the earth, because there was none to hinder them again. For this
reason the archangel Michael prayed for him while he did this valiance that his throne
might be placed before his own in the skies. This very saint it was, who trampled on
the great dragon that fought with the angels. Again this saint too whose festival we
are celebrating today, St. Theodore the General, slew the raging dragon, consoled the
orphans, removed the grief of the widows, set free those in bonds, abolished
unrighteous sacrifices, although none of his troop of soldiers fought with him, but he
alone in the strength of Christ slaughtered this so great dragon. For this reason,
when he saved the little child of the widow and slew the dragon, his sacrifice pleased
the Lord, and him gave him this great valour. And he gave him power to crush every
dragon upon the earth and those beneath the earth and those in hell: that, if they
even hear of him, they tremble. For he it is who slew their father first; and therefore
do his sons tremble before him. Again this true hero and mighty champion was not
content with these favours. God gave his soul in honour to the holy Archangel Michael
to take to the place of his fellow martyr and saint, Theodore the Eastern, that their
comradeship might abide for ever in the heavens.
I tell ye, ye godfearing people, that even to the dragons which are in the roads
causing fear to sinners and stinging them, these too even so, when they hear the
name of St. Theodore the Eastern and St. Theodore the General, know their valour
and that they are the foes of the dragons. Straghtway they hide themselves before
them: when they hear their name, they vanish. I tell you, my beloved, if a soul is in
the hands of a dragon that is stinging it for its sins, if one of these generals is
passing by the place, when the dragon recognises the footfall of his horse, he leaves
that soul and tortures it not for fear of the holy martyrs. Especially if it be a soul who
makes memorial of these saints upon the earth in any way, be it a book of memorial,
be it an offering, be it any good thing, then none of the tribe of dragons can approach
that soul to do it any harm whatever.
Truly, my beloved, my joy is double today: I rejoice over two martyrs, Theodore the
Eastern and Theodore the General; though they were both generals and their names
were equal with one another in honour. For the beginning of the name of both is in
one letter. For Theta is the beginning of their names. The interpretation of Theta is
Theos: Theos again is god, who gave strength to them that they might become
martyrs and their name endure. And when the name of God is reckoned with them,
they are three in one letter, and the Trinity is complete and inseparable, that is to
say the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. If I connect their names with the Trinity, this is
true: but not in honour nor in power nor in might, nor in godhead, nor in majesty; but
as it were the sons of God, and heirs of his Christ. When I look at the majesty of
their conduct   and their faces filled with joy and grace, I count them the sons of God,
even as a bunch hanging from the vine, whose branch covers the vineyard, which
rejoices in its shade and drinks of its water. Even so these two heroes, Theodore the
Eastern and Theodore the General, live from the glory of the Trinity, since they are
servants and jointheirs of Christ. And I too, the humble Theodore, feel a longing
towards these two mighty and valiant lions and warriors, my lord Theodore the
Eastern and my lord Theodore the General, the fame of whose might has filled the
whole world.
My lord Theodore the Eastern then resembled Abenner, against whom none ever
prevailed in any war he entered, either to take him on the point of his lance or to
endure the weight of his chariot. Against Abener none ever prevailed save the man of
wiles Joab. And none ever prevailed against this mighty man, the Eastern, in war: but
they who were in the battle would ask one another saying: "Cometh not Theodore the
Oriental to the battle this time ?" And when they knew the side of the battle where
he was, they would flee to the other side. If again the Oriental saw the battle afoot,
he would ride into their midst, and cry aloud sayin: "I am Theodore the Oriental."
Straightway when they heard his voice, they were afraid and trembled and fell down
from their horses, and were crushed. And none could sustain this great hero's chariot
nor his lance by reason of  their weight except himself; and in all these valiant deeds
none took him except the abominable unrighteous sinner Diocletian. Again I see my
lord Theodore the General himself inclining to listen to the halting words of my
humble self, the insignificant Theodore, and and rejoicing to hear his praise from my
mouth as I speak in his honour. And this other too, my lord Theodore the General,
resembles Simei the son of Cyrara, who had no fear before king David, but reviled him
in the midst of his people on the day when he met him in the way. He reviled him
because of the death of Ourias the Hittite and said to him in the midst of the whole
people that he was an unrighteous king .......... like thy father the Egyptian, who
strove against the god of thy mother and was banished by her to the land of Egypt.
Now grieve me not from this time forth, lest I be wroth with thee and send thee to
the barbarian land of Egypt, like thy father the Egyptian." St. Theodore answered and
said to Diocletian: "It is not just for you, Diocletian, to abuse the land of Egypt in
which you grew up in your orphanhood. No shame is it to me, sinner, that you call my
father an Egyptian, because that was the land of his fathers.
But great shame is it that a goatherd should sit upon the throne as king and drink
men's blood like a ravening beast. In truth, sinner, it were well for thee to be tending
sheep in the fields as in days gone by rather than to be king. [p. 80] Know Diocletian,
thy sceptre is a .... of the darkness of the air, thy crown is a crown of ...., thy beaker
a sword of double edge, thy wine blood of deceit, thy table destructive war, the
pledge of death thy feast, thy throne a grave and sepuchre, accursed one.
Ye see now, godfearing people, the valour of this mighty man, this general, this
victorious champion, this athlete, this martyr, this general, this hero, this good
warrior in the lists of his lord, my lord St. Theodore the general, how he spake these
words to the face of the king without fear. Now he is worthy to be exalted according
to the desert of his valour, which he revealed in the city of Antioch, whose children
are dwellers in heaven and in Sion.
And I will tell you too, my beloved, what this city Antioch resembles in its honour. It
is like a spring of sweet water springing forth from beneath trees laden with fruit of
sweet scent, the fame of whose scent fills the whole world. Even so then is it, my
beloved. A wicked tyrant came walking and found its water sweet, and its trees
covered with fruit. He abode by it in pride and drank of its water and ate of its fruit.
But in his pride he cut down the trees that men could not find them and live from
their fruit; and he destroyed the water of the spring Accordingly that tyrant sinned
against God and warred against man. But when God saw that he cut down the trees,
and began to cover the spring, he deceived him swiftly in his wicked pride. And the
spring appeared again and bubbled up, the roots of the trees which he had cut down,
flourished exceedingly, and grew greater and worked cures healing the sick in many
ways at one time. That spring is this city of Antioch abiding in the faith of our Lord
Jesus Christ. Those trees, which it caused to spring up, are the warlike generals, St.
Theodore the Eastern and Claudius and Apater and Apa Victor and Kyrios Justus and
Eusebius and Basilides and Susinius and Stephen and Apa Polius and Theodore the
General and many more. The tyrant who came upon them is Diocletian, who slew
them in the name of Christ. The spring which he hid and got dominion over, is the
glorious faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he despised. And these are the trees
which grew up a second time after the tyrant whom God smote and he died an evil
death. The spring which bubbled up again is the holy faith which is boldly revealed:
the trees which were cut down and whose roots grew up again are the bodies of
those saints which appeared upon the earth and performed signs and wonders, and
cured the sick. Verily the riddle of the Prophet is accomplished, which he spake about
Jerusalem; it fits with Antioch, when he says: "Their blood was shed round about
Jerusalem, and there was none to bury their bodies." Who are they who were slain
round about Jerusalem, prophet David, whose bodies were not buried ?
The prophets' bodies were buried; the Apostles were covered. Now, my father the
prophet, tell me of those who were slain in the neighbourhood of thy city save the
little children whom Herod slew among his children, for their bodies were many; the
soldiers took half of their bodies from their mothers who would not give them up. The
soldiers clave them in the middle and cast them on the dungheaps: while the other
half remained in the hands of their mothers who wept over them. And on my city
Antioch, fell this violence from the unrighteous king Diocletian, who strove with God
and laid hands on every one who believed on Christ, and slew them, so that the
streets of the town ran with blood, like a stream of water, shed in the name of
Christ: and the soldiers persecuted every one who buried their bodies, except those
who gave them money and gifts and took them in secret.
Now my city Antioch is glorious even as Jerusalem for the number of martyrs slain in
it. The little children of Jerusalem were slain against their own wish and that of their
parents: but the martyrs of my city of their own free will gave their heads to the
sword, leaving their parents and their servants and their goods; and gave their bodies
as a sacrifice to God. The wonder of my city Antioch surpasses that of Jerusalem, for
her great and mighty warriors and her rich men who left what was theirs and followed
after their conqueror, our Lord Jesus Christ, and were slain in his holy name. For this
reason my city glories even as Jerusalem. The martyrs of my city Antioch vowed great
gifts to the kingdom of heaven before they were slaughtered; the martyrs of my city
had abundance of wealth and honours, and the things which people desire to see and
see them not. The little children of Jerusalem were not granted the request of the
kingdom of heaven according to the word of Revelations: "Rest ye till your brethren,
who are killed as ye, be fulfilled". Wherefore they stand waiting before them.
Again I hear of the first martyr of the city of Jerusalem, Stephen the archdeacon, who
confessed Christ in the Synhedrim of the Jews, and was slain by them. The chief
commander and martyr too of my city was Stephen son of Nicomion, the brother of
Basilides. He too was the firstfruit of the confessors of Antioch; he too was the first
who set his hope on Christ, for lo, when the king wrote the abominable decree, he
stood and was troubled in his soul and said: "What is this new violence, king, which
you have revealed in this town ? What is this written anathema of Apollo ? for my
Lord Jesus Christ destroys every one who believes on him. Then Stephen got great
strength, he leaped upon the soldier in whose hand the decree was, tore it from his
hands and rent it in pieces, the king and all his great men looking on. And the king
said to him, "Stephen, what is this thou hast done ? Thou hast done this to thy
destruction and thy slaughter." Straightway the king unsheathed his sword with his
own hand, and clave him in twain in the middle. And the head of St. Stephen abode a
great while while before the king speaking to his destruction. It cried aloud
abundantly making mention of all the saints of my city Antioch. And so the fame of
the head of St. Stephen spread abroad in Antioch, so that great crowds assembled to
see the head speaking to the destruction of the king. And the king, when he saw the
head of the saint speaking to his destruction in the presence of the crowd, was
greatly ashamed and bade them bury it, while still speaking. And it came to pass
when it was buried in the ground, it spake again abundantly; for three days after its
burial every one heard it speaking and cursing the king like John the Baptist abusing
Herod. Then when Diocletian saw that the head of St. Stephen did not keep silent, he
had it cast into a vessel of lead with its mouth sealed, and thrown into the sea at
night. So did St. Stephen fulfill his martyrdom on the 13th of the month Phamenoth;
and his holy body was given to his mother.
After this let us return to the memorial of St. Theodore the General whose feast we
are celebrating today in the chapel of his comrade Theodore the Eastern, since their
honored festivals meet on one day, the 20th of Epiphi. This is the day of the
dedication of the shrine of Theodore the Eastern. His mother then called him the
Eastern after after the name of her father who was dead. And his mother called her
firstborn the Eastern and he died. Again she bore our lord Theodore the Eastern; and
his father Zotericus called him after the name of his father Theodore: and likewise
again his mother for the love she bore her firstborn called him too the Eastern after
the name of his elder brother who was dead and her father, the Eastern.
So the kindred of his father called him by this name, the Eastern. these two names
were connected with one another and were sweet in the mouth of everyone like
honey. The name of the father prevailed and had precedence, and he was called
Theodore. Likewise the name of his mother followed and he was called the Eastern.
Now I call upon you, martyrs of my lord Jesus Christ, that ye aid me in my
feebleness, because I have taken courage and come into your midst at the will of the
godfearing king Constantine and his officers and councillors. Ye asked me bout the
body of St. Theodore the General, why his body was not placed with the body of his
comrade the Eastern, but abode in the land of Egypt, - and our city of Antioch lacks it
- since he walked at all times with Theodore the Oriental.
And it is right that I should tell you why they took his body to Egypt; though it was
no foreign land, but the land of his fathers.
Now it happened, my beloved, that when the father of Claudius was king at Antioch,
and St. Kyrios Claudius was a little child with his sisters kyria Theognosta and
Thouasia, great wars arose: and he grew sick through fear at the wars and died. And
the court saw that St. kyrius Claudius was a child and so small that he could not
manage the affairs of the realm, as the barbarians were more than the Romans. They
took the brother of Ptolemy, the father of St. Claudius, whose name was Numerianus
and seated him upon the throne of the Romans. So the barbarians were not content
in heart because the son of the king had been taken captive and their cities spoiled.
But when they heard that king Ptolemy, the father of St. Claudius, was dead, they
rejoiced thinking there would be no king seated on the throne. They bribed seven
nations to join them in the war, saying: "In as much as they slew the son of the king
and laid waste our cities, we too will not spare them, till we have slain Claudius the
son of the king in retribution, and ravage their lands. But behold merchants came
from the Persians and told Numerianus their crafty trick: and they told him: "They
have bribed seven nations to join with them". And when Numerianus heard this, he
trembled greatly, and turned to flee in secret and leave his realm because of the
danger from the various barbarians. But they warned the king that he should enrol
recruits of Egypt for the war. And straightway he called a general, Anastasius, and
gave him a guard of soldiers to go to the south of all Egypt, saying to him: "Come,
raise thy hand above my head, and swear that of all the recruits thou findest in the
land of Egypt, thou wilt let none off, till we send them to the war." And Anastasius
went to the south of Egypt, and ceased not to sail on the river until he landed at a
port called Paphor of Pshot, which was the land of the father of St. Theodore the
General, whose festival we are celebrating today. When the general visited that
place, the governor of it, whose name was Cyrus, came out to meet him, and held a
great banquet for him and his soldiers. And the blessed John, the father of St.
Theodore the General, was the brother of the governor's wife: and he too came to
meet the general. Now this John was comely in person, freshfaced, and a
distinguished officer, and mighty to look upon.
When the general saw him, he rejoiced greatly thinking to make him a recruit; and he
set him before himself. And John was in distress and mourning; but the general gave
him a bag of gold and a royal robe and a fine horse and soldiers under him. And when
the blessed John saw the honour which the general gave him, he was very downcast
and wept, saying: "My lord, it is not meet that thy servant take anything from thee:
but it is right for us to give thee honours". And when the general saw that he wept,
he was afraid that he would flee and took him to a port and confined him.
The governor, who was the husband of John's sister, heard that he was confined and
weeping in sorrow, and besought the general for him: but the general would not let
him off because of his love for him. And it came to pass that while the blessed John
was confined, his sister Amphylia, the wife of the governor, was told that John her
brother was taken and that they were carrying him to the war: and she arose and
went to John her brother in the place where he was confined. She tore the hair of her
head and they wept together, John because he would be taken to a foreign land, and
his sister because she would be deprived of her brother. However there was much
weeping and groaning, and a great crowd gathered round them. Then the general
heard the voice of the crowd, and enquired what was happening. They told him that it
was the sister of John weeping for him. Straightway he bade them bring John forth
from the midst of  them, for he feared that they would take him away. And when they
brought him to the general, his sister came forth from the midst of the crowd before
the general, her head uncovered; she took half of the hair of her head and cast it on
her brother weeping. And Anastasius the general hid his face for her sake and said to
her: "My sister, spare your nobility. By the health of the king, he shall get no harm."
But Amphylia, the sister of the blessed John, said: "My lord, my honour and glory and
my nobility are my brother. My lord, if you separate me from my brother, my honour
and my nobility will fall below every one. I beg you, my lord general, by the health of
the king, if you desire money, my goods, my gold, my silver, my beasts, my gardens,
my man servants, my maid servants and any thing that is mine, they are my
brother's. Take them, and leave me my brother. If you desire men, here are my two
sons, whom I have nourished at my breast, take them and leave me my brother. Do
not cause my heart this great grief."
For all that the general did not leave him; but bound his hands till the morrow. And it
happened in the night as the blessed John was confined in chains and weeping for
sorrow, behold a light appeared to him, and he heard a voice saying: "John, John,
cease from weeping." John answered saying: "My lord, I weep because they entreat
me evilly and take me to a foreign land, and wish to robe me of the land of my
fathers." The voice said to him: "Weep not for the land of your fathers: your seed
shall inhabit it forever. The place in which you are confined shall be an abiding place
for his body for ever. He will guide the ships that sail; he will chase the demons and
dragons that are upon the earth. the place in which you are confined he will make a
wine-press and a lake shall be dug in its midst for the treading out of the vintage and
the blood of Christ. Now, John, weep not for the land of your fathers; nor have fear
for the war. The sword will not shed blood, nor will a wound touch thy body." The
blessed John's heart came to him; he ceased from weeping; but he marvelled how
"my seed shall inhabit my land. I have not taken wife, nor begotten child. but let the
will of the Lord come to pass for me".
After this those of the city and district made warlike preparations; and brought the
barbarians who dwelt in their district to slay the general, and take John from his
hands. But John was told of this plan, while he was confined, and was grieved at
heart greatly. He sent to Cyrus the governor, the husband of his sister, and to
Amphylia his sister, saying: "What is this thing ye wish to do ? Do ye wish to slay the
general ? Nay, my brethren, do not this violent deed in the presence of God, lest the
king be wroth and send and destroy our city. But give place to God: we trust he will
not desert us ever." He told them what he had heard in the prison.
But on the morrow they brought the blessed John out of the prison to go with him. A
number of those of his district, male and female, small and great, widow and orphan,
all went with him weeping and saying: "We salute thee, our beloved brother John. All
the good things thou hast done to us God pay back to thee. The fleece of thy sheep
is our clothing; the growth of thy fields our food; thy wine and thy oil comfort us".
Then his sister Amphylia threw herself upon his neck, weeping and saying: "I salute
thee, my beloved John, the light of my eyes: I salute thee, my brother who art
pleasant to me, because they part me from thy sight. I salute thee and the foreign
land to which they take thee. I am a woman, a weak vessel. I have not strength to
go thither. I salute thee, my beloved brother: I know not what land will be thine. I
gave my two children and all my wealth for thee; and they did not free thee for me.
Now take the hair of my head, that when thou beholdest it, thou mayst remember me
in the land to which thou goest. And may He that gave peace to Joseph in the
presence of Pharao king of Egypt aforetime, give grace to thee my brother. May Jesus
guide thee and his angels protect thee in every place to which thou goest." So spake
Amphylia the sister of John weeping: and the general himself wept at that hour. Then
she turned to Anastasius the general and said to him: "I adjure thee, thou who
takest my brother from me by violence, that thou show mercy to my brother in the
hour of his sorrow. O Anastasius the general, thou art like death the spoiler of souls.
Alack ! I gave thee money for my brother, and thou wouldst not let him free.
Remember thou hast separated brother from orphan sister. I adjure thee by the
health of the king, general, vex no more my brother in the road. I adjure thee,
general, send not my brother to the war: for I have watched over him always". So
spake his sister and embraced him and kissed him, weeping.
But the general took him to the capital and the good God gave him great grace in the
presence of the king and his great men, and they sent him not to the war. But the
general took him into his house and loved him greatly, seeing the great grace in his
face. He asked the king to command him to give his daughter in marriage to him: and
the king bade him give her. And one day the wife of John gave birth to this great light
St. Theodore the general, on the 11th of the month Choiak. And his mother Straticia
said to his father: "I will call my son Theodore, that he may receive the honour and
the might of Theodore the Eastern, the son of Sotericus, and that all the great men
of the court do him like honour. And the blessed John said: "This is the command of
God. We will call him by this name Theodore".

The Passion of St. Theodore the Recruit (BHL 8077)
1. During their time Maximianus and Maximinus sent throughout all the territory of
their empire an edict against all the followers of the true religion of Christ, that they
could  escape tortures and live by tasting food which had been offered in sacrifice,
and that those who spoke against this were to be surrendered to the judges and
subjected to many different punishments. At this time Theodore was conscripted for
military service, and together with him many other recruits, and was assigned to a
legion entitled the legio Marmaritarum under the command of the praepositus
Brincas. This legion was staying in the city of Amasea in the province of
Hellespontus, where all were being compelled to offer sacrifice to the idols in
accordance with the imperial edict.
2. When he spoke out against these things blessed Theodore was brought to the  
praepositus Brincas. Brincas said to him, "Why do you not obey the commands of the
emperors' and offer sacrifice to the immortal gods ?" Blessed Theodore, since he was
faithful to God and filled with the Holy Spirit, replied, stand- ing in the midst of the  
legion, "It is because I am a Christian that I have not accepted the command to offer
sacrifice to evil images; for I have as my king Christ in heaven." The praepositus
Brincas said to him, "Take your arms, Theodore, and accept military service; agree to
sacrifice to the immortal gods, and obey the victorious emperors." But saint Theodore
said in reply, "I serve my emperor and cannot serve another." The praepositus Brincas
said, "All these standing about are Christians, and they serve." Theodore said, "Each
knows how he serves. But I serve my lord and king of heaven, God, and his only son
Jesus Christ." The ducenarius Possidonius said, "So, your God has a son ?" Saint
Theodore replied, "He has a son who is the Truth through whom all things were
made." The praepositus said to him, "Can we know him ?" Saint Theodore replied, "I
wish that he would give such understanding to you as to recognise him." Possidonius
the ducinarius asked, "And if we recognise him, will we be able to leave the earthly
emperor and go to him ?" Saint Theodore replied, "There is nothing which prevents
you from deserting the darkness, and the trust which you hold in the house of your
temporal and mortal earthly king, and going over to the Lord, the living and eternal
heavenly king, in order to become soldiers like me." The praepositus Brincas said,
"Let us give him a truce for a few-days in order to take stock with himself and be
converted to what is best."
3. When he had received this time to think blessed Theodore remained in prayer. The
officials, troubled also about the other Christians, went about the city to capture
whoever else they found believing in Christ. When they had seized some they brought
them to jail. Blessed Theodore, sitting with them, taught them the way of salvation
and perseverance, saying, "Do not fear these tortures which are being inflicted upon
you in order for you to deny the heavenly king and lord, Jesus Christ." When he had
said these and similar things to those who had been locked-up, he waited for an
opportune time and entered by night the temple of the mother of the gods. He set
fire to it, and burned it. But he was seen by someone, and accused. The book-keeper
Cronides was terrified when he learned what had been done. He seized blessed
Theodore and brought him to the governor Publius, saying, "This pest, a recent con-
script, came into our city, set fire to the ancient temple of the mother of the gods,
and harmed our gods. Thus I seized him, and have brought him to your highness in
order for him to pay the penalty, in accordance with the command of our victorious
emperors, for his bold deeds against our gods." The judge, when he had listened to
the praepositus Brincas who had been summoned, said to him, "Did you give him
amnesty in order to set fire to the temple of our gods ?" In response he said, "I
exhorted him often, and gave him an amnesty in order for him to think matters over
with himself, and to compromise with us and make sacrificial offerings to the gods. If
he has done this, since you are the judge, charge him in accordance with your
authority as one who has con- tempt for the gods and despises the commands of our
victorious emperors." Thus, seated on his platform, the governor ordered blessed
Theodore to be brought to him."
4. When he had been brought the governor said to him, "Why have you set fire to and
burned our goddess instead of sacrificing to her with incense and libations ?" Blessed
Theodore said, "I do not deny what I have done. I have burned her with fire. Such is
your goddess, and her power, that fire can touch and burn her. I have burned wood in
order to set fire to stone." Then, filled with fury, the governor ordered that he be
beaten, saying, "Do not answer me with speeches. The most bitter tortures await you
in order to make you obey the commands of the emperors." Blessed Theodore said, "I
do not surrender to you, nor do I fear your punishments, even if they are extremely
fearful. So do what you want. For the expectation of good things calls me to be
confident on account of the hope which has been placed in me and the crown which
My Lord Jesus Christ has prepared for me." The judge said, "Sacrifice to the gods and
save yourself from the tortures which have been prepared for you." Saint Theodore
said, "Those tortures which you are bringing are not fearful to me. My Lord and king,
Jesus Christ, stands before my face, he who will rescue me from your punishments,
whom you do not see because you do not see with the eyes of your heart." Thus the
judge was angered, and roaring like a lion he ordered him to be thrown into prison,
that the door of the prison be sealed, and that he be left there to die of hunger.
5. But blessed Theodore was nourished by the Holy Spirit. Moreover that same night
there appeared to him the Lord, saying, "Take courage, my servant Theodore,
because I am with you. So do not accept either food or drink from those men. For
there is everlasting food for you in heaven." And when he had said these things he
left him. And when the Lord had ascended away from him blessed Theodore began to
rejoice and sing psalms to the Lord. Moreover there were many people listening to
him. When the prison-guards heard these things and saw that the door was closed
and the seal intact, they looked through the window and saw a great crowd dressed
in white singing together with saint Theodore. They went away in fear and reported
these things to thejudge. And when he heard these things the judge rose and ran
with haste. He reached the door of the prison, saw the prison was indeed locked, and
heard the voices of those singing with blessed Theodore. When he had heard these
the governor ordered that armed soldiers stand on guard in a circuit outside the
prison, thinking that some Christians were inside with blessed Theodore. He opened
it up, went inside and found no-one except only the holy servant of God Theodore
pushed-down on the wooden [floor]. And great fear seized him and those who were
with him. They went out bewildered and locking the prison again departed. Then the
governor ordered that a loaf of bread and a cup of water be given daily to blessed
Theodore. But Christ's faithful martyr, in accordance with scripture that the just man
lives on faith, did so and did not accept any food from them, but only said to himself,
"Christ, My Lord and King, nourishes me."
6. When it was morning the governor ordered blessed Theodore to be brought to him,
and said to him, "Acquiesce, Theodore, save yourself from the tortures and offer
sacrifice to the gods, so that I may quickly write to the emperors, lords of the world,
that Theodore has become a priest, receives great honours from us and will be our
companion." Blessed Theodore, looking up at Heaven and crossing himself, said to
the governor, "Even if you burn my flesh with fire, inflict various punishments and
surrender me to the sword until I breathe-out my last, I will not deny My Lord." Thus
the governor, when he had heard these things and taken counsel with the
praepositus, ordered the torturers to hang him up on a wooden frame and scrape his
sides with iron claws. These scraped him to such an extent that his ribs were laid
bare. However blessed Theodore made no answer to the governor, but recited the
psalms, saying, "I will bless the Lord for all time, his praise will be upon my lips
always." The governor, amazed at such great endurance by the blessed martyr, said
to him, "Are you not ashamed, you most wretched of all men, to hope in a man who
is called Christ, and who died so badly ? Are you surrendering yourself in this way,
without reason, to such punishments and tortures ?" But the holy martyr said, "This
madness of mine is that of all who call upon the name of My Lord Jesus Christ." The
crowds were shouting to take him down because he had already been killed, and then
the governor interogated him through a herald, saying, "Are you willing to offer
sacrifice or do you want to be tortured still further by me ?" In reply blessed Theodore
said confidently to the governor, "O you most wicked man, filled with every evil, you
son of the devil, truly worthy of Satan's work, do you not fear the Lord who gave you
this power, through whom kings rule and tyrants obtain land, but compel me to
desert the living God and worship lifeless stones ?" Then the judge, with much
shuffling of [papers], said to the holy martyr, "What do you want ? to be with us or
with your Christ ?" To which the holy martyr replied with great joy, "I have been, am,
and shall be with my Christ."
7. Seeing that he could not overcome the endurance of the holy martyr through
tortures [the governor] passed sentence against him, speaking thus, "I order that
Theodore, who does not obey the command of the victorious emperors and the power
of the gods, who believes in Jesus Christ who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, as I
hear from the Jews, be surrendered to fire." Immediately as he passed sentence the
instruction was performed simultaneously with his command. The torturers, who had
been continuously gathering wood from the traders and the baths, led him to the
place which had been prepared. When fire had been kindled, laying aside his clothes
and unloosing his belt, he wished also to undo his shoes, and each of the faithful
was hurrying to be the first to touch his perspiration. They were all coming and
touching him before his passion. They brought to him imnmediately those necessities
which had been gathered for the fire. To those who wished to pierce him the blessed
martyr said, "Support me; he who has given me endurance in my punishments will
him- self grant also that I endure untouched the force of the fire." They did not pierce
him then, but only tied him up and went away. But the holy martyr, speaking the
words of the sign of the cross, with his hands tied behind his back, like a ram chosen
from a great flock readied and accepted as a holocaust to God, looked up to heaven
and said, "Lord God Almighty, Father of your blessed Son Jesus Christ through whom
we received knowledge of you, God of virtues and of every creature and every nation
of just men who live in your presence, I bless you because you have made me worthy
of this day and hour that I may receive a part with the holy martyrs before Christ the
Saviour at the resurrection, and eternal life of body and soul through the preserving
gift of the Holy Spirit. I will be taken up among the martyrs into your sight today as a
rich and acceptable sacrifice which you have beforehand tested, tried and discovered
to be without fault. For you are the true God, and I praise you accordingly, asking and
beseeching you through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your beloved Son. Grant also, Lord,
that those who have been detained with me will reach this palm."
8. And watching with his eyes he saw Cleonicus, who had been conscripted with him,
standing and weeping in the crowd, and crying-out he said, "Cleonicus, I await you.
Hurry and join me. For we did not desert each other in this earthly life and let us not
be separated from each other in the heavenly life." And when he had finished talking
he prayed, saying, "Lord Jesus Christ, Mediator between God and men, you who have
shown me worthy to win this contest, I thank and praise and glorify the name of the
Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit throughout the ages. Amen." And when he had
finished praying the servants of the devil lit the great fire. But while a great flame
flickered we to whom it was granted to see saw a miracle, and we were preserved in
order to report to others the things which occurred. For the flame took the shape of
an arched roof, like a ship's sail filled by the wind, and surrounded the body of the
holy martyr. And it was not so much like a corpse burning but like bread being baked.
The Holy Spirit arrived, and the holy martyr, without harm in the midst of the flame,
praised and glorified God, and returned his spirit to Christ. He was taken into the
heavens on 9 November. We were all filled with the most pleasant fragrance.
Moreover a voice came down to him from the heavens, saying "Come, my beloved,
Theodore, enter into the joy of your Lord because you have faithfully completed the
course of your struggle." We who were standing about saw and heard all these
things, and we also saw the heavens opened above him.
9. A certain woman of noble birth by the name of Eusebia came and sought the body
of the holy martyr Theodore. Embalming his holy body with wine and pre- cious
ointments she wrapped it in clean cloth, placed it in a casket, and took it to her
estate which was one day's journey distant from the city of Amasea, into an area
called Euchaita. She decided to turn her estate into a church. She made her house
there perfect and holy. And she celebrated everyday there the commemoration of the
blessed martyr Theodore. In that place many were cleansed of evil spirits and various
infirmities through him, even to the present day, to the praise and glory of God the
Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit who lives and reigns now and forever and until
the end of time. Amen.
[1] 20 Epip.
[2] 12 Tobi.
Lives of the Saints