On the eighth of this month [February], we commemorate the Holy Great Martyr Theodore the Stratelates.
Theodore, having the rank of Commander,
Was beheaded, and came to be God's Commander.
On the eighth mighty Theodore was cut at the neck.
Saint Theodore lived during the reign of Emperor Licinius (308-324), and was from Euchaita, which is to be found in Galatia, and he lived in Heraclea which is near the Black Sea. He exceeded most, both in the beauty of his soul and the beauty of his physical form, as well as in the power of his words, which is why all desired to be honored with his friendship. For this reason Emperor Licinius, with much thought and attention, desired to converse with him, and all those who had heard, concerning the matter that he was a Christian, and that he abhorred and hated what he and the Greeks referred to as gods.
Wherefore he deceitfully sent from Nicomedia certain chosen officers, whom he ordered to bring back the Saint to him with honors. Saint Theodore responded to the Emperor through these same men that were sent to him, that it was better that he come to Heraclea, with the greatest of his gods, for other reasons, and for matters of public concern. Immediately the Emperor took his gold and silver gods, and went to Heraclea. In a vision of the night sent by God, Saint Theodore was informed beforehand and encouraged towards martyrdom. Thus when he heard that Licinius approached the walls of the city, he sat on a horse and welcomed him with great honor, as was proper.
When the Emperor entered the city, he requested of the Saint to sacrifice to the gods. The Martyr requested that he would rather at first take them to his home and worship them. Taking the gods, the Saint in the middle of the night smashed them up and distributed the pieces to the poor. In the morning, Maxentios the Notary said to the Emperor, that he saw the head of the great goddess Artemis in the possession of a poor man and he was carrying it through the streets. Then the guards immediately captured Saint Theodore, and first stripped him and bound him from the four parts of his body. Then with the sinews of oxen the back of the Athlete was struck seven hundred times, and fifty times on his stomach. The neck of the Saint was also struck with lead balls, then he was scraped and burned with torches. After this his wounded and burned flesh was scraped with bricks and potsherds. Then he was cast into prison, and had his feet secured with wooden stocks, and he was left there without being fed for seven days.
After this he was taken from prison, and was crucified on a cross by his hands and feet. Then (O the beastly inhumanity!) they passed through his genitals and hidden members of the Martyr an iron spike, which passed into his intestines. Around him stood certain children, who shot arrows at his face. By means of these arrows the pupils of his eyes came out. Others cut off his hidden members and testicles. Because the Saint remained on the cross throughout the night, the vile Licinius thought that he was dead, rather he was surprised to find that the Saint was unbound and taken down by a divine Angel, and he was completely healed, chanting and blessing God. For when morning arrived, Licinius had sent men to take the body of the Saint and throw it into the sea. When these men saw the Saint alive and healthy, they believed in Christ, all eighty-five men, and then another three hundred also believed, the first of which was the proconsul Kestes. For when they were sent to kill the eighty-five who came to believe, they also came to believe.
When Licinius saw that the city was in an uproar, he ordered that the Saint be decapitated. Many Christians were present, who were preventing the soldiers. But the Saint calmed down the Christians, and was beheaded, and so the blessed one received the crown of martyrdom. His relic was carried from Heraclea to Euchaita, and placed at his paternal home, just as the Martyr ordered his biographer Abgar. Being present at his martyrdom, he wrote down questions and the responses of the Saint, and his various torments that he underwent, as well as the help of God he was made worthy to receive in turn.*
* The translation of his relic is celebrated on the eighth of June.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
O trophy-bearer Theodore, by thy strategy thou wast a general of the heavenly King; armed with the weapons of faith thou didst annihilate hordes of demons and win the Athletes' contest. With faith we call thee blessed.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
With the word of God as a spear in thy hand, armed with faith and courage of soul, thou didst vanquish the enemy, Theodore glory of martyrs. With them pray to Christ our God for us all.