The Holy Martyrs Theodore, his mother Philippa, Dioscorus, Socrates and Dionysius suffered during the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius in the second century in Perge, Pamphylia. When healthy young men were being conscripted for military service, Theodore and the others were led to the military commander Theodotus.
The military commander ordered the youth to offer sacrifice to the idols, but Theodore submitted neither to persuasion nor threats. The military commander then had Theodore placed on a red-hot plate and had liquid tar poured on him. Suddenly, there was an earthquake, and a torrent of water gushed from the ground and put out the fire.
Theodore remained unharmed, and gave praise to God. The commander ascribed his deliverance to sorcery, so Theodore suggested that he test the power of his gods by putting the pagan priest Dioscorus through the same trials.
The commander told Dioscorus to lie upon the red-hot plate, and call on the help of Zeus. Dioscorus replied that he believed in Christ, and he was prepared to throw the idol of Zeus into the fire. Again the military commander commanded him to get on the red hot plate. Dioscorus fell at the knees of St. Theodore, asking that he pray for him. He then 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.” He died, having been delivered from terrible torment.
St. Theodore continued to be tortured. He was tied to wild horses, which drug him through the city. However, at the city walls, the horses fell down and collapsed, and Theodore remained unharmed. Two soldiers, Socrates and Dionysius, saw a fiery chariot coming down from the heavens, on which St. Theodore was carried off.
The astonished soldiers shouted: “Great is the God of the Christians!” These soldiers were seized and were thrown into a fiery furnace with Theodore. However, a heavenly dew cooled the furnace, and the saints remained alive.
In the morning, the military commander ordered the soldiers to look upon the burned bodies of the martyrs. The soldiers returned and reported that the three men were unharmed. St. Theodore’s mother, Philippa, encouraged the martyrs in their act.
The military commander ordered St. Philippa to save her son by urging him to offer sacrifice to the idols. St. Philippa said that when her son was born it was revealed to her that he would be crucified for Christ. Hearing this, the military commander commanded them to crucify St. Theodore, and to cut off the heads of the other martyrs. St. Theodore hung on the cross for three days, offering prayers to God until he finally died.
By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org )