|St. Theodoti of Nicaea (Feast Day - September 17)|
God given grace makes Theodote,
Fervent and keenly eager for the sharp sword.
Theodote, the holy martyr,1 hailed from the region of Pontos. She lived during the reign of Emperor Alexander Severus (222-235). In 222, the emperor dispatched Simplicius to act as governor of Cappadocia. The new governor, as one of his notorious duties, launched a persecution against the Christians.
When Simplicius was informed about Theodote, he learned that she was exceedingly wealthy and notable. Thus, the holy woman was made to stand before Simplicius. Since she was unwilling to renounce the Faith of Christ, they suspended her from a high place and lacerated her sides for many hours. However, the holy Theodote in nowise sensed any pain. Instead, she glorified God, so it appeared as though another were suffering martyrdom not her.
Afterwards, they cast her into prison. Then, after eight days, the warders observed the prison doors opened of themselves. Astounded at this phenomenon, they hastened to announce this to Simplicius; yet he refused to believe them.
The following day, when Christ’s martyr stood before Simplicius, he beheld her completely healthy, without a sign of the wounds to her body. He said to her, “Who art thou?” The holy woman answered, “Thy mind is darkened O governor, and thou dost not see; because if thy mind were clean, thou wouldst know that it is I, Theodote.”
Hearing this response, Simplicius ordered the firing of a furnace. He then commanded that Theodote be cast inside the flames. As she entered that inferno, forthwith flames leaped out of the furnace and burned seventy men. Those who were not consumed, closed the door and departed.
The following day, the governor sent two priests of the idols with certain others. Their task was to find the ashes of the Christian woman and scatter them into the air, so no trace of her might remain. Indeed, this is what that mindless persecutor presumed became of the martyr. When the furnace was opened, flames darted out and consumed the priests. Others then viewed the Saint sitting in the midst of the flames with two youths, clad in white, chanting. All were amazed and became as dead men from their fear.
The holy Theodote, unscathed, then exited the furnace rejoicing and chanting. Nevertheless, after this extraordinary event, they cast the saint again into prison. At that time, Simplicius decided to go to Byzantium, and bid that the Christian woman accompany him in fetters.
When Simplicius arrived in Ancyra and sat upon his throne, the Saint was brought before him. He then said to her, “If thou wilt not be persuaded to sacrifice unto the gods, know that, upon this fiery brazier, I shall destroy thee without any pity.” As he said this, he pointed to the hearth. The Saint replied, “If the Officer Libellensis wilt accompany me into the furnace and master it, I shall sacrifice unto the gods.” Then Simplicius turned to Dorotheus Libellensis, for that was his name, and said, “Sir Dorotheus Libellensis, thou hast the assistance of the gods; enter the fire.” Straightaway, Libellensis entered the fire with the Saint. He was immediately consumed by the flames, but the holy Theodote remained unharmed.
Simplicius, puzzled, was at a loss how to proceed. Finally, he directed that the Saint again be bound and made to hasten behind him until he reached Bithynia. This being done, when he arrived in Nicaea, he commanded the Saint to enter the temple of the idols and pray. Christ’s all-round contestant gladly agreed. Then, O the wonder! simultaneous with her prayer, the idols fell to the earth and shattered. All that had assembled there were astonished when they beheld such a wonder. However, Simplicius, in a maniacal rage, ordered that the Saint’s arms and legs be stretched and that she be sawn asunder. However, the executioners were unable to put the saw to her. They became weak, their strength utterly failing. The hard-hearted governor was again baffled. The Saint then gave thanksgiving unto God.
At length, he ordered that the Saint’s head to be struck off. The year was 230. Thus, the brave martyr and long distance runner of Christ was translated unto the Lord and received the crown of the contest.
1. The account of this St. Theodote bears similarities with another St. Theodote of Pontus (commemorated the 21st of October). However, the latter martyred in Ancyra with the holy Presbyter Socrates, while our present martyr was slain in Nicaea. The accounts of both women martyrs, named Theodote, appear in The Great Synaxaristes and the synaxarion of the Menaion.
Source: The Lives of the Holy Women Martyrs, Holy Apostles Convent.