August 28, 2010

The Tomb of St. Theodora Discovered in Thessaloniki

According to Elsa Spyridopoulos of the Greek newspaper "Μακεδονία" (Macedonia), the entire grave of St. Theodora of Thessaloniki has been discovered in Thessaloniki on Vasileos Hirakleiou Road. According to Melina Paisidou, head of the 9th Ephoriate of Byzantine Antiquities (EBA), the entire grave “was found in the proto-Byzantine layers and we have the first suspicions that it is the grave of St. Theodora”.

Archaeological excavations have been taking place here since 2009. According to Paisidiou: "We have the clues because precisely next to it, to the north, in the monastery, a large triple-naved basilica to Saint Theodora was uncovered and maintained in the basement. Until now the grave has not been found."

Saved in this exceptional discovery are the roof, a very beautiful arch, the four walls, the apenture of the descent, the marble flooring decor is perfect, "and towards the front there was an area which received some sort of liquid. We know that St. Theodora was a myrrh-gusher. We will examine this of course, since we are still making inquiries", said the archaeologist.

Excavations will continue until the end of October.

What Does the Synaxarion Say?

The Synaxarion offers us a number of women that bear the name of Theodora. Among them are:

1. St. Theodora, wife of Emperor Justinian (Nov. 15)
2. St. Theodora the Empress (Feb. 11)
3. St. Theodora the Martyr (Mar. 20)
4. St. Theodora the Martyr (Apr. 16)
5. St. Theodora the Martyr (Apr. 5)
6. St. Theodora the Righteous of Ceasarea (Dec. 30)
7. St. Theodora the Righteous of Alexandria (Sept. 11)
8. St. Theodora of Vasta (Sept. 11)
9. St. Theodora the Righteous of Thessaloniki (Apr. 5)
10. St. Theodora the Rightous of Thessaloniki (Aug. 29)
11. St. Theodora the Virgin-Martyr (Apr. 2)

So we see that there are two St. Theodora's from Thessaloniki, and when we read their biographies we discover that their graves play an important role.

The first St. Theodora the Righteous of Thessaloniki celebrated on April 5 was a nun who adorned her soul with the virtues. Not much else is known of her life, however years after her burial the abbess of the monastery to whom St. Theodora was obedient to passed away. When the nuns went to bury her, they came upon the body of St. Theodora. Suddenly, as if she was alive, her body moved to make room for the abbess. When those present witnessed this remarkable event they cried, "Lord, have mercy!" Many miracles were worked through St Theodora's holy relics. Those who came to venerate her were healed of all manner of diseases, or freed from the power of demons.

The second St. Theodora the Righteous of Thessaloniki celebrated on August 29 was a wealthy and devout woman who lived on the island of Aegina, but, when the Arabs over-ran the island, she moved to Thessalonika. There, she gave her only daughter to a monastery, where she received the monastic name Theopista. Her husband Theodorinus died very soon, and then Theodora became a nun. She was a great ascetic. She often heard angelic singing, and would say to her sisters: ‘Don’t you hear how wonderfully the angels are singing in heavenly light?’ She entered into rest in 892, and a healing myrrh flowed from her body, which gave healing to many.

It seems that the grave discovered was that of the latter Theodora. Regarding the myrrh-gushing relics and also holy oil that flowed in her tomb, read here.