January 18, 2017

Synaxarion of Holy Martyr Theodouli of Cilicia

St. Theodouli the Martyr (Feast Day - January 18)

By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite


To Theodouli
Theodouli with her fellow-servants was not frightened by the fire,
Placing her hopes in God as a servant.

To Elladios and Boethos
Divine Boethos and Court Clerk,
You were made worthy of the glory of Christ by the sword.

To Evagrios and Makarios
Cast into the fire as pastilles,
You behold the Lord, Makarios and Evagrios.

In the days of Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (286-305), there was sent to Anazarbus, a city of Cilicia, a governor named Pelagius in order to punish the Christians there. Saint Theodouli was from this city of Anazarbus, which was later named Diocaesarea and Caesaraugusta, and now is called Ak Isar or Ak Serai by the Turks. This Saint was apprehended as a Christian, and stood before the judgement seat of Pelagius. Confessing Christ as the true God before everyone, she was suspended by the hair of her head on cypress wood. They then wounded her breasts with burning skewers. Because the Saint said to the governor, "Where are your gods? Show me them that I may honor them as much as I have the strength to," for this reason they took her down and sent her to the temple of the idol of Hadrian, which was very famous in that area.

The Saint entered the temple, prayed to the true God, and merely by her breath the statue of Hadrian immediately fell and was divided into three parts. Going outside, she said to the governor, "Enter within and help your god Hadrian, for he fell to the ground and was smashed." The governor ran and entered the temple, and seeing Hadrian divided into pieces on the ground, he mourned and was enraged. When this reached the ears of the emperor, he immediately sent the first commander, who was in the royal palace there in Anazarbus, that he might examine if this thing was true, so that Pelagius would be thrown to the beasts in order to be devoured. When Pelagius found out about this, he fell down before Saint Theodouli, and begged her with tears to pray to God for the smashed statue of his god to become whole again, and to put it back in place where it was, promising her that if this took place, he also would believe in Christ and become a Christian.

The Saint then prayed, and immediately the smashed idol became whole, and she restored it to its place. The commander sent by the emperor found it complete, and he returned to the emperor to deliver the news. The emperor ordered Pelagius through letters, that he was first to punish the Saint with various punishments, and then deliver her over to a bitter death. Pelagius therefore ordered to tear up the flesh of the Saint with burning skewers. Because the Saint did not completely regard the torments, the miserable and thrice-unhappy one became enraged, and did not know what to do. Then Elladios, a court clerk standing there, said to Pelagius: "Give me the authority, and if I can't persuade her to sacrifice to the idol of Hadrian, behead me." He was immediately given the authority to do as he wished.

He had five nails made, two of which were driven into the ears of the Saint, one was embedded into her forehead, and the other two were thrust into her breasts. Having been pierced by all of them, the Saint lifted the eyes of her intellect to heaven, and she prayed to God to be given patience, that she may suffer the insufferable torment. Shortly after this, the Saint was given the patience she asked for. When the court clerk saw the Saint's great patience and brave-heartedness, and how she considered that bitter torment as nothing, he reflected on the fact that if he was unable to persuade the Saint to deny Christ, his life would be in danger. He therefore invited the Saint to his house, and begged her to sacrifice with him to the idols. When the Saint beheld his fear, she prayed for him to God. She then taught him with her divine words, and persuaded him to become a Christian.

The next day the court clerk stood before Pelagius together with the Saint, and said to him: "I was not able to persuade the servant of the true God and change her from the straight and good path on which she walks. Instead she changed me, and liberated me from the darkness of ignorance in which I was found until now. She illumined the noetic eyes of my soul with her divine words, and brought me to my Lord Jesus Christ, the true God." When Pelagius heard this, he was inflamed with rage, and ordered that his head be cut off, and his body thrown into the sea. In this way the blessed Elladios completed his martyrdom, on the twenty-fourth of the month of January. It was then ordered for the Saint to be placed inside a burning furnace, in which she was preserved unharmed, and she prayed from within, and glorified God.

The bewildered governor then shouted aloud: "What shall I do with this woman who defies death!" One of those who stood nearby, whose name was Boethos, said: "Deliver her to me, O governor, for I am not senseless and ignorant like the court clerk, that I may persuade her." The ruler delivered the Saint to him. Boethos took the Martyr to his house, and he also received her words and teachings, and he was altered with a divine alteration, like the court clerk. Therefore the next day he stood before the governor with the Saint, and said to him: "I came to reveal to you, O governor, a matter concerning myself. Know that I also confess Christ as true God, and the hopes of my promises appear vain and empty to me. It is far better to appear untrue so that I may have a portion with Christ, rather than be true and gain the fire of gehenna. You also, O governor, should thank the true God, who redeemed you from death, and believe in Him, as you promised. Not only did you not do this, but you appear ungrateful, and your benefactor Theodouli you delivered to insufferable torments." When Boethos said these things, Pelagius ordered that his honorable head be cut off.

He then ordered for the Saint to be stretched upon a burning rack, on which was poured pitch, oil and wax in order to intensify the heat. And Boethos, having completed his martyrdom, departed to the Lord, while Theodouli prayed as she ascended onto the rack. When the rack received her, not a few coals scattered and burned most of those who stood nearby. Thus they put the Saint in prison. The next day a great furnace was lit, and the Saint was placed therein, together with Evagrios and Makarios and many other Saints. There they all together received a blessed martyric end, and unfading crowns from the Lord.