January 30, 2017

Holy New Martyr Theodore the Hatzis of Mytilene (+ 1784)

St. Theodore the Hatzi of Mytilene (Feast Day - January 30)

By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite


Theodore was readily martyred,
And readily did he receive an unfading crown.

Blessed Theodore was from Mytilene. He was a family man with a wife and children. One day, he became angry over a turn of events, denied Christ, and became a Muslim. Alas for his rashness! Not long after, the darkness lifted, and Theodore came to his senses and repented. He left his home and sailed to Mount Athos, where he remained for a long time. Theodore confessed his sin and performed the prescribed penance. After he was anointed with the holy Chrism, received the immaculate Mysteries, and was cleansed, Theodore returned to his country.

Some time later, with the blessing and advice of his spiritual father, he was encouraged to appear before the judge, asking him the following: "If one were the victim of injustice, is it possible to receive justice again?" The judge replied: "Yes, it is possible." The holy man continued: "I had my faith, which was pure gold; then I was deceived and misled by the devil and denied it, accepting your religion as a better one. But now I have come to my senses and recognize that my faith truly is pure gold, while yours is not even lead." With these words, he took off his turban and tossed it at the feet of the judge. He then proceeded to put on a black skouphos (monastic cap), which he carried under his arm. The judge retorted: "O man, what are you doing? Have you taken leave of your senses?" Theodore replied: "No, I am in my right senses and have all my wits about me." The judge repeated himself many times, but the Martyr declared: "I am in control of my mind; I know what I am saying." As a result, the judge ordered his men to put him in jail. Later they brought him out, and the judge attempted in every way to make Theodore return to Islam.

The judge, perceiving that the Martyr was steadfast and adamant in Orthodoxy, decided to put him to death. So he sent him to the nazir (minister) named Omer Agha. who employed all forms of flattery and promises to make him yield. But the Martyr would give no answer except the following: "I was deceived and gave away my faith, which is pure gold, and I received yours, which is nothing but lead. Now I have come to my senses and perceive my folly, and that is why I confess that I am a Christian named Theodore." Those who were assigned to execute him, took Theodore and lashed him brutally. They also smote him on the thighs with a sword, which blows hurled him over the balcony railing of the palace. Seeing he survived the fall, they then led him to the place of execution. Theodore offered no resistance whatsoever; instead, his face was radiant and bright as he spoke to those who were about to execute him. It seemed that death was not death for him, but life. Then they said to him: "Behold, we are about to hang you." And he answered them joyfully: "Where is the rope?" The executioners handed it to him. He kissed it, put it around his neck, and remarked: "Now take me wheresoever you wish."

The executioners seized the Martyr and brought him to the place of execution named Parmak Kapi. Before them paraded the herald, proclaiming: "Whosoever denies his faith shall suffer in this manner." The Saint was saying his prayers. He also asked forgiveness of all the Christians that were present. Next, of his own accord, he ascended a high rock and surrendered himself to the executioners who hanged him. Thus, the blessed one received the crown of martyrdom in 1784. The Turks cast his sacred body into the sea, but within a few days it was washed ashore. Thereupon, the Christians received the judge's permission and buried the Martyr's relics with honor in the Church of Saint John the Forerunner, at a site called Mothona. But later, a search failed to reveal the relics, and no one knows their whereabouts till this day.*


* After 183 years, on 4 September 1967, the holy relic was found, based on the description of St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite and other sources. The relic is now kept in the Church of Zoodochos Pege in Vareia. On 3 September 1985, the priest of Pyrgos in Thermi, where the Saint was born, whose name was Fr. Michael Voulgarellis, received a portion of the relic of St. Theodore, thus translating his relic to the place of his birth. It was placed in a chapel that was built in 1980 to honor the Saint.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
The offspring of Pyrgos and in Mytilene specifically, you contested Theodore, on behalf of Christ, worthily were you glorified. Wherefore your relics, were found Neomartyr, and by them divine grace is provided for the faithful, glorifying the Lord, Who crowned you.