St. Theodore The General
St. Theodore lived
during the reign of emperor Licinius c. 320 AD, when St. Constantine was
emperor in Rome. He was born in Euphraita of Galatia (central Turkey),
but he spent most of his life in the city of Heraklia, near the Black
Sea. He surpassed most of his contemporaries in spiritual matters,
bodily beauty, and eloquence of speech. Consequently he won the
admiration of many, including that of emperor Licinius, who appointed
St. Theodore the chief commander of the area. St. Theodore worked hard
to teach Christianity to those around him. As a result, his enemies sent
messages to the emperor about this Christian life and activities. The
emperor sent some of his officers from Nicomedia ordering them to bring
the saint honorably to him so he could find out whether the rumors were
St. Theodore sent a reply to the emperor with his own messengers that
it was best if he came to Heraklia with his greater gods, both for other
reasons as well as for matters of public interest.
Licinius immediately went to Heraklia together with his golden and
silver gods. In the meantime, St. Theodore was encouraged for martyrdom
with dreams and vision, which were sent to him by God.
As soon as he heard that Licinius was approaching the city wall, he
mounted a horse and went out to meet the emperor honorably, as it was
fitting. The emperor entered the city with St. Theodore by his side and
immediately asked the saint to publicly sacrifice to the Roman gods.
Instead, the saint asked to do so in his home first. At midnight he
broke the statues to pieces and gave them to the poor. The next day,
Maxentius, one of Liciniusí key men, saw a poor man carry the head of
the goddess Diana through the streets of Heraklia. The emperor ordered
his spearmen to arrest St. Theodore. Then he had them strip the saint
naked and stretch him from his four limbs. Next, they whipped seven
hundred wounds on the saintís back, fifty wounds on this stomach; they
also hit his neck with balls of lead. Following this, they scraped him
and burnt him with candles. They also rubbed his wounded flesh with
bricks and tiles. Then they threw him in prison, securing his legs with
a punishing blank, and left him there without food for seven days.
After this severe punishment, they brought him out of prison and
nailed his hands and feet on a cross, inflicting even more painful
tortures. The saint remained on the cross all night long. The emperor
thought that after this inhumane punishment, the saint would have died.
But the foolish man was deceived, not knowing the power of God, for an
angel of the Lord freed the martyr from his bonds, and he was found
wholly cured, chanting and praising God.
At dawn, the emperor sent several soldiers to take St. Theodoreís
body and throw it into the Black Sea. But when the men saw the saint
alive and healthy, the all pledge their faith in Christ. When Licinius
saw that the city was in turmoil, he ordered the saint to be beheaded,
which the saint allowed. Thus he received the crown of martyrdom. His
holy body was delivered from Heraklia to his hometown Euphraita and was
placed in his fathers house, as he had instructed this scribe Augaros,
who was present at the martyrdom and wrote down the conversation between
the martyr and the emperor.
(This is a condensed version of the life of St. Theodore as it was
published by Saint Nikodemus of the Holy Mountain toward the end of the