Thursday, May 18, 2017

Holy Martyr Theodotos and the Holy Seven Virgin Martyrs of Ancyra With Him

St. Theodotos and the Seven Virgins With Him (Feast Day - May 18)

On this day we commemorate the Holy Seven Virgins of Ancyra (Tekousa, Alexandria, Claudia, Phaine, Euphrasia, Matrona, Julia, Theodoti) and Theodotos the Martyr.

Verses

To the Seven.
The seven women are thrown into the lake,
Thrown into a life streaming with joy.

To Euphrasia.
Euphrasia fell into the depths of a whirlpool,
Glad to stand next to the throne of your Savior.

These Holy Seven Virgin Martyrs were from Ancyra in Galatia. Saint Theodotos, although he had a wife, it was through the care of his wife that he did not neglect piety and virtue. With diligence he would buy wheat and bake bread, and these he would first offer to God and then to the poor. He did this because the defiled governor of Ancyra, whose name was Theoteknos, ordered that the foods sold to the Christians be sprinkled with the wine sacrificed to the idols. Therefore the blessed one would go to the prisons, encouraging the imprisoned Christians there in their faith in Christ, and he would give them survival food. One time when he went to the prison, he saw the seven Virgins, one of whom, whose name was Tekousa, was his aunt.

These women were therefore brought before the governor, and because they refused to sacrifice to the idols, they were handed over to soldiers to be dishonored by them. By the grace of Christ, however, they were kept unharmed and without corruption. They then tied rocks to them, and threw them into a nearby lake. In this way the blessed ones received the crown of martyrdom on May 18th, in either the year 303 or 304.


The following night Saint Tekousa appeared to Saint Theodotos in a dream, asking him to take her body and give it a Christian burial. Saint Theodotos went to the lake, taking his friend Polychronios and several other Christians with him. It was dark, and a torch illumined their way. The Holy Martyr Sosander appeared in front of the guard who was posted by the pagans at the shore of the lake. The frightened guard ran off in terror.

For this reason Saint Theodotos was accused by certain pagans, and although he was sought he presented himself before his accusers willingly. Standing before Governor Theoteknos, he confessed Christ as God, and was thus hung up high and ripped at with iron claws. Then salt and vinegar was poured over his wounds, and finally he was beheaded on June 7th (when his feast is celebrated alone). The inhuman governor did not stop there, but he had the relics of the Seven Virgins removed from their graves and had them burned up.*

The account of the life and martyrdom of Saint Theodotos and the suffering of the Holy Virgins was compiled by Nilus, a contemporary and companion of Saint Theodotos. Nilus lived in the city of Ancyra during the persecution of Christians under the emperor Diocletian, and witnessed the Saint’s death.

Notes:

* It should be noted that we also commemorate seven virgins with the same names from Aminsus, Cappadocia who are celebrated on March 20th. There may be some confusion between the two sets of seven virgins, but they were martyred in different places by different means.


Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Your Martyrs, O Lord, for their sufferings, have received incorruptible crowns from You, our God. For strengthened by Your might, they overthrew tyrants and destroyed the powerless boldness of demons. Through their supplications save our souls.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
Suffering martyrdom worthily, with those who suffered with you, O Theodotos, you received crowns of honor with holy virgin martyrs. Therefore entreat Christ God unceasingly on behalf of us all.


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