St. Theodora of Caesarea


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Commemorated on December 30

Saint Theodora of Caesarea, living during the eighth century, was the daughter of the patrician Theophilus and his wife Theodora. Her parents had been childless, and grieved over this. They prayed and vowed that if a child were born to them, it would be dedicated to God. When their daughter was of age, her mother took her to the monastery of St. Anna in Caesarea, where the maiden entered under the guidance of an abbess. There she became familiar with spiritual literature.

Emperor Leo the Isaurian (716-741), an iconoclast heretic, wanted to give the maiden Theodora into marriage to one of his aides. They took her from the monastery against her will and brought her to Constantinople, where everything was already prepared for the wedding celebration.

During the wedding feast, the Scythians attacked the capital, and St. Theodora’s husband, sent to help beat back the attack of the enemy, perished in the very first skirmish. Taking advantage of the general confusion, St. Theodora got on a ship and returned to her convent. When an imperial emissary followed her there, he saw that she had already been tonsured a nun. Therefore, she could not be forced to leave the women’s monastery. She spent the remaining years of her life in fasting, vigil, and prayer. She wore heavy iron chains on her body, not removing them until death.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)