Troparion to St. Thekla
by the hand of Nicholas Papas
St. Thekla Chapel at the Antiochian Village
Saint Thekla was born into a prosperous pagan family in the Lycaonian. When she was eighteen years old and was promised to a young man named Thamyris. This is when Saint Paul the Apostle and Saint Barnabas arrived in the city. Thekla’s mother Theokleia prohibited her from joining the crowds that gathered to hear Paul preach. But Thekla found that if she sat near her bedroom window she could hear every word.
While listening to his words, she was very touched by his call to chastity. As it became apparent that Thekla was becoming interested in the new Faith, Theokleia and Thamyris went to the governor of the city and complained about Paul and his preaching. The governor had Paul imprisoned to calm them.
When Thekla learned of Paul’s arrest, she secretly went to the prison, and using her gold bracelets to bribe the guard, she was able to see him in the cell. As soon as she entered, she knelt before him and kissed the chains that bound his hands and feet. She remained there for a long time listening to his message of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Theokleia and Thamyris were concerned of Thekla’s long absence and asked her servant if she knew where she was. The servant told them that Thekla had gone to visit an imprisoned stranger and they immediately knew she was with Paul. They went straight to the governor and demanded immediate judgment. After the governor scorned Paul for the disturbances he had caused in the city, he had him stoned and expelled from the city. The governor then cautioned Thekla for her foolishness and commanded her to return home with her mother and fiancé. When Thekla announced that she would vow to remain a virgin for the sake of Christ, her mother became very angry and asked the governor to threaten Thekla with severe punishment. The governor went along with her mother’s wishes and ruled that Thekla was to be burned at the stake unless she gave up her faith in Christ.
When Thekla refused, she was immediately punished. As she was tied to the stake, she saw a vision of Jesus Christ that gave her strength to face the flames. The fire was lit, but as the flames came near Thekla a thunderstorm suddenly hit and put the fire out. The governor was embarrassed and released Thekla by banishing her from the city.
Just outside of the city, she joined Paul and told him about her miraculous escape from punishment. Paul and Thekla left from that region and traveled to Antioch in Syria. As they entered the city, a young man tried to seduce Thekla because she was "beautiful". But Thekla fought him off and humiliated him in front of all his friends. He demanded that she is punished and the governor agreed. So he put her in an arena to face wild beasts. Thekla’s only reply was that she would be able to preserve her virginity until her death. When Thekla was taken to the arena, a lioness was set free to attack her. But in awe, the lioness approached Thekla and sat tamely at her feet. A bear was then released, but as it came closer to Thekla, the lioness killed it. A large lion was then released and the lioness protected her by giving up his own life. Much more happened, but as she departed Antioch, Tryphaena gave her gold and precious jewels. Tryphaena is the house Thekla stayed at for about a week speaking of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Thekla left to rejoin Paul and told him all that happened. She asked that she might be permitted to spend the remainder of her life as an ascetic. Paul blessed her and she left leaving the jewels with Paul to give to the poor.
Thekla traveled to Syria to live her life in solitude and prayer. A young man tried to harass her while she was in a canyon, but she prayed as always and believed in God. The mountain miraculously split open allowing her to escape through a narrow passage.
Thekla continued her life of asceticism and peacefully fell asleep in Christ at the age of 90. Shortly after her death a community of virgins went to live in her mountain cell, building a small chapel to enshrine her body. Because of her many sufferings for the Faith, the Church counts her as a
"Protomartyr". And because she converted so many people to Christianity, she is also known as an "Equal-to-the-Apostles."
" I am often reminded of Saint Thekla when I scared, which is way too often. I am very paranoid of dark forest, scary situations of any sort, and of just too many thing. I fail to find the courage and faith in God to overcome my fears and paranoia’s. These are simple and very small details compared to Saint Thekla’s life. She faced much more difficulties than mine, of course, but she is our model to look up to. Please think of Saint Thekla throughout your days and how she relates in your life!"
-Nicol Zabak-O glorious Thekla, companion of Paul the divine, you were enflamed with the love of your Creator, by the teaching of the divine preacher. You despised the passing earthly pleasures, and offered yourself to God as an acceptable and pleasing sacrifice, disregarding all suffering. Intercede with Christ your Groom to grant us His great mercy.