Friday, 28 August 2015

Saints' Lives: Saint Theodore (of Amasea/Tyro)

Restored jamb statue
from Laon Cathedral
His feast day is November 9th and he is a patron of lost things.

The following account comes from The Golden Legend by Jacobus de Voragine, translated by William Granger Ryan (volume II). Princeton University Press, 1995. pp 291. 

Saint Theodore was a Roman soldier serving in the city of Marmanites during the reign of Diocletian and Maximian.  Theodore refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, claiming that he was a soldier in the service of his God and of his Son Jesus Christ.  The judge asked if it was possible to know the son of his god, he said yes and was given time to prepare to offer his sacrifice.

Theodore used the time to enter the temple of the Mother of the Gods at night and set fire to it, burning it to the ground.  A witness accused him and he was put in jail.

Temple on fire, detail of Laon Cathedral
jamb statue
Martyrdom of St Theodore as depicted on
a pillar at Chartres Cathedral (N. transept)

While in prison he was visited by “a throng of men in white robes”, even though the doors were all locked.  The guards saw this and ran away in fear.

When he was asked again to sacrifice, he said no.  The judge then had him hung from a limb and his flanks torn with iron hooks so that his ribs were exposed.  When asked if he’d rather be on Earth or with Christ, he said with Christ.  So they lit a fire under him and though the fire didn’t burn his body, he expired there.

A sweet odour spread from his body and a voice was heard that said, “Come, my beloved, enter into the joy of your Lord!” as the heavens opened to receive him.  This happened in AD 287.


Interestingly, his story is fairly different when looked up on Wikipedia and religious websites.  His death date is later (AD 306, under Emperor Galerius) and the location Amasea in modern Turkey.  The church he’s said to have burned is that of Cybele, who was the local mother-goddess, so that’s consistent.

He’s called Theodore of Amasea (for the place) or Theodore Tyro (also spelled Tyron, Tiron and Tiro) as ‘tiro’ is a classical Latin word that describes a soldier who has recently enlisted.  He is therefore also known as Theodore the Recruit.  His story and that of the slightly later Saint Theodore Stratelates are now considered to relate to the same person.

The Orthodox Church in America website also recounts a further story, that 50 years after Saint Theodore's death, the Emperor Julian ordered the commander of Constantinople to sprinkle all the food in the marketplace with blood offered to idols during the first week of Great Lent.  Saint Theodore appeared in a dream to Archbishop Eudoxius and told him to warn the people to only eat cooked wheat with honey and not buy anything from the market.

Because of this miracle, the Orthodox Church celebrates him on the first Saturday of Great Lent.

No comments: