|SS Timothy and Mavra the Martyrs
During the Diocletian persecution of the Christians (AD 284-305), a governor, named
Arianus, was appointed to a province in Thebaid in Egypt. This man was renown for
his ruthlessness and cruelty in dealing with Christians, and his appointment aimed at
extermination of the Christian faith through fear, torture and death.
A group of Christians was arrested and brought before him. Among them was Timothy,
a church reader whose duties included, besides, the care of ecclesiastical books. He
was from a village called Perapi. He was a young man only recently wedded to a girl
called Mavra. Twenty days after wedding, Timothy was arrested by the idolaters and
brought to the ruler for interrogation.
“Who are you and what is your occupation?” was the first question of the governor.
“I am a Christian and am a reader in the church of God.” Answered Timothy.
“Are you the only one who have not heard of the emperor’s decree to put to torture,
even to death, all those who refuse to make offering to our great gods?”
“I believe with all my heart in my Lord Jesus Christ to whom I am wholly devoted.”
said Timothy, “Therefore I cannot sacrifice to your gods.”
“Don’t you see the instruments of torture that are set ready for you?’’
“Certainly you do not see the angles of God who strengthen me.” Answered the holy
“Give me your books, so that I might understand the magic power they contain.”
“Mindless and senseless man!” Answered Timothy, “Do you not know that no one ever
delivers his children to death? The books, which I copied, are my children. When I
read them, the angels of God stand before me.”
“Well, you do not want to sacrifice to our gods, nor you want to show your books”,
said the governor, “Beware, lest your disobedience become the cause of your torture.”
But St. Timothy gave him this reply, “I shall neither sacrifice to your gods nor shall I
show you my books, because I am a Christian.
At this point the incensed governor ordered his servants to bring two pointed iron rods
and, heating them hot red, pierce the ears of St.Timothy. From this horrible torment
the eyes of the martyr fell out and he became blind. The servants of Arianus then said
to him, “Since you refused to make an offering to our gods, behold you have lost your
sight.” But St. Timothy answered to them, “My physical eyes, that have seen much of
unseemly things, now have suffered by being blinded. But my inner sight, the eyes of
my soul, illumine me.”
When the saint said this, the governor ordered to tie his hands behind his back, put in
his mouth a piece of wood and hang him head down. To intensify his torment, Arianus
ordered to hang on his neck a heavy stone. When the servants commenced to carry
out this order, the holy man lifted his eyes towards heaven and said, “I believe that
there is God who dwells in the heaven, who can deliver me from these torments.”
The suffering of the martyr was so frightful that even his tormentors were moved with
compassion and begged the governor to convince Timothy to obey the emperor’s will
by mercy rather than by cruelty. “Besides” they said, aiming at softening the heart of
the ruler, “Timothy got married only twenty days ago and his wife is very young and
beautiful.” On hearing this, the ruler ordered to summon to him the wife of Timothy
and said to her,
“What is your name?”
“ I am called Mavra.”
“I feel strong compassion for your misfortune that you, at your young age, are about
to become a widow. I command you, therefore, go and array yourself in your best
clothes, arrange your hair in a splendid style, put make-up on your face and come
quickly to your husband. Convince him to make sacrifice to the gods, otherwise you
will surely become a widow at such young age. If you can manage to convince him, I
shall reward you with many presents, gold and silver.”
Mavra has done all that the governor ordered her to do. Donned in bright clothes, she
went to her husband and entreated him at length to obey the order of the governor at
least temporarily, so as to avoid many tortures. But her spouse could not utter a
word, because the chunk of wood sealed his mouth. Mavra then went to Arianus and
ardently begged him to give the command to remove the wood from the mouth of
Timothy, so that he may be able to speak. Arianus agreed and the wood was
removed. Mavra again went to her husband. The holy man, though being unable to
see, sensing the smell issued by Mavra’s clothes, exclaimed loudly, “Where is my
His father, who was among the crowd of people watching the suffering of his son,
came to him and said,
-“What is your need my beloved son?”
“I beg you, my father, do me a great favor, take some tatters and cover my face, that
I may not smell a soul-ruining odor issued by Mavra’s clothes. This fragrance is a
source of sensual desire, the companion of devil; it is disgusting and loathsome to
the holy and righteous men.”
When he ended, Mavra said to him,
“My beloved Timothy, why do you abase me so? I have not offended you by anything
yet. It is only twenty days since we were wedded, you have not become familiar with
my character, neither had I the time to learn the rules of your house. I am far from
the vice you accuse me of, I have promised myself to no other man. Seeing you
suffering so awfully, I bitterly cry and my heart aches, because you suffer for having
done nothing wrong. Your wounds pierce my soul, because they may make me a
widow. Perhaps you have borrowed money and, being unable to pay the lender back,
you suffer these torments? If this is the case, let us sell our best clothes and repay
the debt. Or if you suffer because you cannot pay the national taxes, behold, there
are all our belongings, our gold and clothes. Sell them and pay your tax to the king.”
St. Timothy said to her,
“My sister Mavra, when I saw you with the eyes of my soul leaving the house, I have
noticed the devil walking along with you at your right side. He held a key with which
he was turning your heart towards the worldly pleasures and attachments.”
“My brother Timothy” said Mavra, “It is you whom I am seeking for, later on where
shall I find you? There will come Saturday and Sunday and who is going to read your
“Leave the vanity of this world, Mavra, and come along with me to the valiant strife.
God will forgive us our sins because of this, and will make us worthy of the crowns of
His grace in His kingdom.”
Mavra then said, “When I was on my way to you, my heart indeed was preoccupied
with vain attachments. But as soon as you began to talk to me, the grace of God has
dawned on me. Be sure, my beloved brother, that I desire the same things. St.
Timothy said to her, “If this is true, then go to the governor and expose his profane
“I am afraid, my brother, that I may be intimidated at the sight of instruments of
torture, and by the wrathful face of the governor. I am afraid that I shall not be able
to endure the ferocity of torments because of my age; I am just seventeen years old.”
“Put your hope in the Lord and God Jesus Christ, and all your torments will seem to
you as if your body is being anointed with oil, or as if dew drops refresh your bones
and make your sufferings light.” St. Timothy then began to pray to God saying, “O God
and Father of every good, who gave help to the three youths who were cast in the
fiery furnace, who saved Daniel from the lions’ teeth, who sent food to the prophet
through the prophet Habakkuk. who rendered help not only in the den of lions, but
also in the fiery furnace and saved those who hoped in You, so as to testify before
everyone Your love of man that makes prophets and martyrs out of captives. Lord;
behold now this servant of yours, Mavra! You, O Lord, who united us by the wedlock,
do unite us also in this exploit, so that we may not be deprived of the choir of
martyrs. You, O Lord, give us the strength to valiantly endure all torments and even
death, so as to put to shame our opponents when they fail to divert us from our faith
in Jesus Christ our Lord. To Him, together with His Father and the Holy Spirit is due
every glory unto the ages. Amen.”
After St. Timothy prayed to God about Mavra his spouse, she became inspired by the
Holy Spirit and, having come up to the governor, said to him,
“O most profane ruler! You promised to give me silver and gold in order to bring my
soul to perdition. You wish nothing except bringing souls to perdition. However, you
will not prevail over me by any temptation, because I stand before you in the armor of
God our Lord.” Arianus said to his counselors and servants,
“Have I not told you that Timothy is a sorcerer? Behold, he has enchanted with his
magic his wife, suggesting to her to oppose our orders.” Then, turning towards Mavra,
he said, “So, you too, together with Timothy chose death instead of life? Think a little
so that you may realize that you deprive yourself of this sweet life and deliver
yourself to bitter torments. But may be it is with consideration of the death of your
husband and your early widowhood that you decided to die with him. In such a case
do not be troubled or grieved, because you will not be a widow; I shall give you into
marriage to one of my best and wealthiest centurions, so that you may enjoy your life
with him and become more glorious. Such husband will be more noble than the first
one.” To this St. Mavra answered, “I have renounced every worldly vanity, therefore, I
have no need of your centurion. I say to you in truth that I have betrothed myself to
the Heavenly Bridegroom Jesus Christ the Son of God. Having put my hope in Him, I
stand before you with courageous heart and fear not your unjust judgment.” The
enraged ruler then ordered to pull out Mavra’s hair till all were pulled out. Then he
said to her,
“See, all the hair of your head is plucked out. I advise you to make an offering to the
gods in order to avoid more and severe torments.”
“Now I have begun to realize, O ruler, that Christ Himself accepts me and forgives me
my sin committed in ignorance, namely that I, heeding your evil advice, adorned my
hair so as to seduce my husband. You have done well in pulling out my hair, because
by removing it, my great sin has been taken away and I shall not be a cause of
temptation to the people standing here and watching me.
On hearing such words the governor grew exceedingly wroth and ordered to cut off
Mavra’s fingers and cast them away. St. Mavra said to him, “Also by this you are doing
me good, for you deprive me of the fingers by which I adorned myself with vain
ornaments. You do not even realize that by cutting off my fingers you are cleansing
me from my second sin. I, therefore, gladly and joyfully stand before you, ready for all
torments.” Arianus marveled greatly at the remarkable patience of the holy martyr.
Presbyter Pigol, the father of Timothy stood nearby among the crowd watching the
trial of the saint. Being astonished at the courage of St. Mavra, he said to her gently,
“O Mavra, my honorable daughter, how could you bear the severing of your fingers?”
she answered, “Just as you, my father, watch in the vineyards the vines are dressed
by cutting off their branches. Likewise, I looked at the severing of my fingers feeling
Arianus gave orders to his twelve soldiers to fill a large cauldron with water, bring it
to boil and cast Mavra into it. When the water began to boil loudly, the martyr was
cast into it. But she stood in the middle of the cauldron without any harm and said to
the governor, “I thank you again for your order to wash me and cleanse me from my
sins. Now, I will approach my God with a pure heart and receive from Him the crown of
eternal life. The pains, you wish to inflict on me, bring me salvation in Christ our Lord.
However, it looks like you have flung me into the cauldron in haste, because it is not
hot yet, the water in it is rather cold. I feel no scalding, just as before I felt no pain
during the tortures”
The governor, filled with indignation, began to think that may be the soldiers, out of
compassion for the martyr, poured out the hot water and filled the cauldron with cold
water to keep her alive for their carnal desires later on. He immediately left his seat
and went to investigate the matter whether the water was cold or not. “Pour some
water in my hand.” He said to the martyr, “I want to know if it is cold.” “It is very
cold.” Said Mavra; “I feel no warmth in it at all. If you are short of fuel to heat the
cauldron, send one of your servants to my father who is a carpenter, he will give a
bundle of wood to warm it up." After saying this, she poured the boiling water from
the cauldron on the hand of the governor. Immediately, his hand was scalded so badly
that the skin peeled off. The governor cried loudly in pain and said in bewilderment,
“Blessed be the Lord God of Mavra, there is no other god, save Him alone, through
whom Mavra is now glorified.”
Saying this, he ordered to release the saint. But, before she left the place of
torments, the devil entered the heart of the governor again and incited him to oppose
all those who had the right faith and kept clean conscience. He called Mavra again and
said to her,
“Do not lay your trust or your hope in your Christ, Mavra. It is better to make offering
to our gods.”
“I shall not sacrifice to idols because I have Christ who will protect me.”
“I shall fill your mouth with burning coals, if you do not make offering to our gods.”
“You do not understand what you are about to do through your mindlessness. If you
fill my mouth with burning coals, I shall be cleansed from my sins committed with my
tongue and my mouth. Even so, my Lord, before revealing His glory to prophet Isaiah
and making him worthy to hear angelic chanting, sent him one of the Seraphim
holding in his hand a burning coal, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. This
Seraph touched the prophet’s mouth with the coal and said, ‘Behold, this has touched
your lips, your guilt is taken away and your sin is forgiven.’(Is 6:6,7). If the prophet
received remission of sins through the touching of the coal to his lips, then I entreat
you to fill with burning coals my mouth. Also, my face, my head and all around my
body, put burning coals to scorch it, that I may become a fragrant offering to Christ.
God, who in the past, cleansed the sins of the prophet, can cleanse my sins as well.”
At these words Arianus became inflamed still more and ordered to bring a lamp 
filled with pitch and brimstone in order to roast the martyr. At this moment, the crowd
shouted with loud voices to the ruler,
“How long will you be inventing more and more new torments for a young girl? Stop
your wrath, O governor, for we are very astounded by her patience.”
But, St. Mavra turned to the people and said, “Let each of you take care of his own
business, may the men attend to their duties and the women to theirs. Let no one be
concerned about me. I do not ask any of you to help or to defend me, because I have
my Defender, my God in whom I trust.”
While she was saying this, Arianus gave orders to start singing the saint. Looking at
the lamp, she said to him, “You fancy to intimidate me with this lamp, as if the earlier
trials were not sufficient to prove my patience. Have you not dipped me in your
frightful large cauldron of the boiling water that did not harm me, but was felt as if it
was filled with cold water? You yourself can testify that whereas that water scalded
your hands, I suffered not the least harm. Should I be afraid of this small lamp you
think? If you wish, O governor, heat a furnace and throw me in it and you will see the
power of my Christ whose servant I am. I believe that my God, who called me to this
exploit through my blessed husband Timothy, will not abandon me. As for the lamp,
by which you singe my body, I feel it as if it were the morning dew that descends on
the earth to facilitate the growth of trees and fruits.”
Being overcome by the words of the holy martyr substantiated by the very deeds, and
knowing not what other torments to invent for her, the governor became much
grieved. He, then, decreed to crucify Timothy and Mavra, setting their crosses face to
face with each other. When the holy martyrs were walking to the place of execution,
Mavra’s mother ran to them embraced her daughter and cried,
“My daughter Mavra, why are you leaving your mother who is seeking for you? Who
is going to wear your jewelry? Who shall have your silver and gold and precious
clothes if you, my daughter, will die?”
“Gold and silver will perish and moth will eat the clothes, mother. The beauty of a
young face will also fade away with time. But, the crown that Jesus Christ will grant
me, shall not fade unto ages.”
The mother could say nothing to this. The holy martyr tore herself away from the arms
of her mother and hurried to the place of execution, saying to her, “Why do you
impede me from the cross and let me not delight in the crown of my Lord, whom I
want to imitate in my death?”
The soldiers crucified the martyrs face to face. They remained on the crosses nine
days and night nights, exhorting and comforting one another. St. Timothy admonished
his spouse till the evening, while St. Mavra exhorted her co-sufferer till the morning.
Meanwhile, St. Mavra said to Timothy, “Let us not fall asleep, lest our Lord Jesus
Christ comes and finds us sleeping and become angry with us. In the house of a man
who keeps vigil at night, a burning candle staves off the thieves. But, when the
candle is quenched, a thief enters the house easily and robs it. Therefore, let us be
vigilant and pray continually, so that our Lord may find us patiently awaiting His
coming. Besides, the enemy will not dare to approach us nor have the audacity to
insult us while we are on the cross.”
After a while, St. Mavra said again to Timothy, “Be vigilant my brother, and keep the
drowsiness away. Be vigilant and comprehend what I saw. I was as if in a rapture and
saw before me a man holding a cup full of milk and honey. This man said to me, ‘Take
this and drink.’ But I said to him, ‘Who are you?’ He answered, ‘I am the angel of
God.’ I said to him, ‘Let us pray to the Lord.’ He then said to me, ‘I have come to you
to relieve your suffering. I saw that you were hungry and thirsty, because until this
time you did not partake of any food.’ I further asked him, ‘Who has incited you to do
me this charity? And what do my endurance and fasting have to do with you? Do you
not know that God is mighty enough to do what is not possible for men?’ Then I
began to pray and saw that the man was turning his face towards the west. I
understood thereby that this was a satanic delusion, that Satan wanted to tempt us
on the cross. Soon after, the vision vanished. Then, there came another man and, as
it appeared to me, brought me to a river flowing with milk and honey. He said to me,
‘Drink!’ But I answered, ‘I have already said to you that I shall not drink either water
or any other drink until I drink to the bottom the cup of death for the sake of Christ
my Lord, which He himself will mix with salvation and immortality of eternal life.’
While I was saying this, that man was drinking from the river. After that, I saw a third
man of most attractive countenance. His face shone like the sun. He took me by the
hand and ascended to the heaven where he showed me a throne covered with white
clothes, and a crown most beautiful to look at. I was surprised by such splendor and
asked my heavenly guide, ‘To whom these things belong, Master?’ ‘This is the reward
of your strife’ he said, ‘this throne, the white clothes and the crown are prepared for
you.’ Then he brought me a little higher up and showed another throne which was also
beautifully adorned, and on it white clothes and a crown. I again asked my guide, ‘And
to whom these things belong?’ He answered, ‘To your husband Timothy.’ I dared to
ask him, ‘Why these thrones are not side by side, but a long distance from each
other?’ He said to me, ‘Because there is a great difference between you and your
husband. Do you not remember that you took upon yourself the yoke of martyrdom
through his exhortation? Therefore, to a certain extent, he is the cause of your crown.
Now return to your body. In the morning, in the sixth hour, the angels of God will
come to take your souls and bring them up to heaven. However, continue your
vigilance, lest the foe starts to tempt you again.’
This vision St. Mavra related to her brother St. Timothy and they were comforted in
Finally, on the tenth day of their suffering on the crosses, at the sixth hour, the
angels of God came to take up the souls of the martyrs. At this moment, St. Mavra
turned to the people who were watching her suffering, and said with a loud voice,
“Brothers and sisters, remember that we lived in a human way when among humans;
but then we lived in a godly way, being the servants of God. Soon, we shall receive
the immortal crowns from our Lord Jesus Christ. And you, while doing all what human
nature demands, try to accomplish also that which is pleasing to God. Thus, you will
receive the forgiveness of your sins and the crowns from our common Master and
God.” When she ended her words, both saints delivered their honorable souls into the
hands of God. Thus, the sufferings of the holy martyrs Timothy and Mavra have ended
with the crown of truth from our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is the glory, together with
His Father and the Holy Spirit forever. Amen.
The end of the holy martyrs took place about AD 286. Their feast day is on the
sixteenth of May. Their memory was solemnly celebrated in Constantinople, at a
church dedicated to their name, built near the Justinian’s palaces. One can presume
from this fact that the relics of these saints (at least some portion of them) were
resting in this church.
As for the governor Arianus, he ended his life as a martyr in AD 286-287. About his
martyrdom, see the story of the holy martyrs Philemon and Apollonius.
"but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honor me I will honor, and
they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed."
Looking up to your unparalleled exploit for His glory,
From the fullness of a loving heart,
We glorify Christ through you by singing thus:
To SS. Timothy and Mavra
1. Hail, O ye inseparable in unity of martyrdom for Christ.
2. Hail, O ye indivisible couple betrothed to Christ our God.
3. Hail, O ye who shared in suffering and glory for the glory of God.
4. Hail, O ye who by joyful endurance of torments triumphed over the tormentor.
5. Hail, O ye who by the power of Christ overcame the tearing of the flesh.
6. Hail, O ye who through martyric testimony preached that Jesus Christ is the
God and the Lord.
7. Hail, O ye nine days and nine nights remained alive on the crosses.
8. Hail, O ye who by the death on the cross were likened to Him.
9. Hail, O ye who were clad in the garments of righteousness.
10. Hail, O ye who attained to the thrones and crowns prepared in the heaven.
11. Hail, O ye who by the outstanding martyrdom adorned the Church of Christ.
12. Hail, O most glorious martyrs Timothy and Mavra, inseparable in Christ and
Ask the Lord to fortify His servants for the endeavor of love and faith, in the likeness
of your cross.
To St. Timothy
1. Hail, O Timothy, the servant of the Church, true unto death, even the death
on a cross.
2. Hail, to thee, who exhorted and strengthened for the contest they young
wife, even this little maiden Mavra.
3. Hail to thee who shared with her nine-day long crucifixion.
4. Hail to thee who attained to the glory of God.
O St. Timothy the martyr, intercede God on our behalf.
To St. Mavra
1. Hail, O glorious Mavra, a maiden by age and the elderess by wisdom.
2. Hail, to thee who betrothed herself to the heavenly Bridegroom through
3. Hail, O tender one, who revealed the strength of a man in cruel torments.
4. Hail to thee who preached the word of God through manifold punishments.
5. Hail to thee who triumphed over the tormentor by the power of Christ.
6. Hail to thee who endured the nine-day long crucifixion, the thirst, the hunger
and the vigil.
7. Hail to thee who by tearing apart the schemes of Satan triumphed over him
on the cross.
8. Hail to thee who attained to wonderful vision of celestial reward.
9. Hail to thee, who fortified her co-martyr Timothy on the cross.
10. Hail, O marvelous Mavra, the jewel of the Church and of those who love
Intercede before God for those who remember thy glorious contest and splendid
Lives of the Saints