April 19, 2018

Holy Martyr Theodore of Perge in Pamphylia, with his mother Philippa, the two soldiers Socrates and Dionysios, and Dioscorus

Sts. Theodore of Perge, Pamphilla, Socrates, Dionysios and Dioscorus (Feast Day - April 19)


To Theodore.
You were seen to be a communicant of the passion, Theodore,
Having suffered beyond the passion.

To Philippa.
I kiss Philippa, as the mother of an athlete,
I kiss Philippa, as having contested by the sword.

To Socrates and Dionysios.
Of old a spear pierced the Highest when dead,
And now the two Martyrs were pierced while alive.

During the reign of the emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161), when they were conscripting robust and healthy young men for military service in Perge of Pamphylia, then they led the handsome and young Theodore with other young men to the governor Theodotus.

The governor ordered the youth to offer sacrifice to idols, but Theodore submitted neither to persuasion nor threats. Then the governor had him placed on a red-hot plate and poured liquid tar on him. Suddenly, there was an earthquake, and a torrent of water gushed forth from the ground and extinguished the fire.

The martyr Theodore remained unharmed, and gave praise to God. The governor ascribed his deliverance to sorcery, so Saint Theodore suggested to the governor that he test the power of his gods by putting the pagan priest Dioscorus through the same trials.

The governor told Dioscorus to lie upon the red-hot plate, and call on the help of Zeus. Dioscorus replied that no Christian is a sorcerer, and now he believed in Christ, and he was prepared to throw the idol of Zeus into the fire to see if Zeus can preserve himself. Again the governor commanded him to get on the heated plate. Dioscorus fell at the knees of Saint Theodore, asking that he pray for him. Then he got onto the plate, crying out: “I thank You, Lord Jesus Christ, that You have numbered me among Your servants. Accept my soul in peace.” Then he died, having been delivered from terrible torment, and Christians came and buried his body.

They continued to torture Saint Theodore. They tied him to wild horses, which began to run and dragged his body along the ground. But at the city walls the horses fell down and collapsed, and the martyr Theodore remained unharmed. Two soldiers, Socrates and Dionysios, then saw how a fiery chariot came down from the heavens to Saint Theodore, on which the martyr was carried off and deposited before the governor's judgment seat.

The astonished soldiers shouted: “Great is the God of the Christians!” They seized them and on the next day threw them into a fiery furnace with the martyr Theodore. But a heavenly dew cooled the furnace, and the Saints remained alive, singing hymns to God in the furnace.

In the morning, the governor ordered soldiers to look upon the burned bodies of the martyrs. The soldiers returned and reported that the three youths were unharmed. Saint Theodore’s mother, Philippa, came and encouraged the martyrs in their act.

The governor told Philippa to save her son, by urging him to offer sacrifice to the idols. Saint Philippa said that when her son was born it was revealed to her that he would be crucified for Christ. Hearing this, the governor commanded them to take Theodore out of the furnace and crucify him, and to leave Socrates and Dionysios in the furnace and have them pierced with spears. Saint Theodore hung on the cross for three days, offering prayers to God until he finally died, saying: "Abba, Father, receive my spirit." The mother of Theodore, Philippa, was beheaded by the sword.


By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

I serve one King and another I cannot,
I serve the Living Christ, Lord and God!
Thus said Theodore to the Roman governor,
The governor looked upon him as upon a beautiful picture,
And, at first, began to dissuade him quietly
But all dissuasions remained to no avail
In a fiery furnace, with companions two,
Theodore's mouth, all filled with Psalms.
God, with a cold dew, over the terrible fire, poured
In the midst of the fire, Theodore, to his Lord prays,
That, before his death, his mother once more to see.
According to Your mercy O God, do this for me!
And the mother [Philippa] in the furnace, appeared to her son,
To one another said what had to be said.
Philippa, the aged mother the governor summons,
The aged one obediently responded to him
I called you, said he, to counsel your son
To openly deny the Nazarene,
And to acknowledge the gods of the Roman Empire
If you wish that your son not die.
And Philippa said: before I gave birth to him
I prayed to God: Lord, have mercy!
And a reply I received, that I will live
To see my son crucified for Christ.
And now, that is why toward death I am indifferent
For the death of the both of us, to God I am grateful.