Friday, May 29, 2015

Saint Theodosia the Venerable Martyr of Constantinople

St. Theodosia of Constantinople (Feast Day - May 29)


On the same day [July 18]* we commemorate the martyrdom of the venerable martyr Theodosia. 

She was born and raised by pious parents from the God-protected Queen of Cities during the reign of Theodosios of Atramyttion [715-717]. Her father died when she was seven years old, and her mother took the child and had her tonsured in one of the convents of Byzantium.

Then her mother also died, bequeathing her entire fortune to the blessed Theodosia. After commissioning three holy icons of Christ, the most holy Theotokos, and the holy martyr Anastasia of gold and silver, she distributed the remainder of her inheritance to the poor and the orphaned.

After a certain period of time, the impious Leo [emperor from 717-741] deposed the most pious Theodosios and seized control of the empire. Immediately the wicked man deposed Germanos [patriarch of Constantinople from 715-730], great among patriarchs, from the patriarchate with cudgels and swords because he refused to obey his ungodly decrees. Leo then hastened to remove and commit to the flames the holy and sovereign icon of Christ our God, the one fixed above the gates among which was one called the Holy Chalke Gate because of this image [Chalke means "brazen," so named either for the gilded bronze tiles of its roof, or for its bronze portals]. When the emperor's orders were being carried out, and as the spatharios (lit. "sword-bearer," a member of the elite imperial guard] stood upon the ladder endeavoring to strike down the holy icon with an ax, the blessed Theodosia, together with other pious women, took hold of the ladder, cast the spatharios to the ground, and handed him over to death. Proceeding to the patriarchate, they threw stones at the impious Anastasios [patriarch of Constantinople from 730-754], the chief conspirator [he was an iconoclast and placed on the patriarchal throne by Leo III; the Greek text calls him the "fatriarch" instead of patriarch, which is a pun since "fatria" in Greek means "conspiracy", and this became a common name for iconoclast patriarchs]. As a result, the other women, with the exception of Theodosia, were immediately decapitated. The holy woman, however, was seized by a public executioner, savage and inhuman, who dragged her away to the Forum of the Ox and slew her with a horn [the Menologion of Basil II reports the Saint was tied to the end of a rope and dragged through the streets]. Having thus fought the good fight, they delivered their spirits into the hands of God.

The Synaxis of Saint Theodosia is celebrated in the Holy Monastery of the Savior, Christ the Evergetes.

* The feast of St. Theodosia was moved from July 18th to May 29th.

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