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February 8 Saints of the Day – Theodore Stratelates and Jacoba of Settesoli

Theodore StratelatesOn this day in 1978, the proceedings of the United States Senate were broadcast on radio for the first time, beginning a decades-long slump in ratings for talk radio.

Theodore Stratelates (d. 319) is commemorated in the east today. He used to be commemorated in the west, but it was decided there that he was the same guy as another Theodore, and they were rolled into one. But there’s still two of him out east, so we’re going to go with that.

Theodore was from Euchaita in Asia Minor, and came to the attention of Emperor Licinius for slaying a fierce serpent that lived on a pinnacle and liked to eat passers-by. (I want to ask, How many passers-by does your average pinnacle get? Okay I won’t ask.) He was made the military commander (stratelates) of Heraclea, and started preaching the Gospel to the pagans of that burg, winning the lion’s share (no pun intended) to the faith. About that time Licinius got a do-it-yourself persecution kit, and among other things demanded that all his military officials sacrifice to the pagan gods. On Theodore’s invitation, the emperor brought his own idols to Heraclea, and even lent them to Theodore overnight, that Theodore might demonstrate just how much he loved the gods. While Licinius slept, Theodore chopped up the idols and distributed the precious metals to the poor.

In the morning the emperor’s adjutant saw a poor man in town wearing the head of the emperor’s solid gold statue of Artemis. (“Dude, your new bling is just divine!”) Soon Theodore was being subjected to “refined torture” (they curled their pinkies?). It was so gruesome his disciple Varus says he could hardly keep his stomach whilst writing it all down. Finally they crucified him (Theodore).

The next morning he was seated at the foot of his own cross, alive, and totally healed. I wish I could say, “cleaning his nails” because the sources make him sound so nonchalant. “Here we go again,” he thought (I assume) as they grabbed him and hauled him off to the emperor. The Christians of the ville wanted to rescue him, but he waved them off, citing the example of Christ. Many were healed by touching his robe as he passed by. “Take my body back to Euchaita,” he told Varus just before his decapitation, making him the first saint in our series who actually requested that his relics be moved. (Which they were later that year.)

Jacoba of SettisoliJacoba (or Jacqueline) of Settesoli (1190 – 1273) is commemorated in the west today. A descendant of the Norman invaders of Sicily and married to a Roman noble, she already had two sons and numerous grandchildren when she heard Francis of Assisi preach in Rome. (“Honey, can you watch the grandkids tonight?”) He was teaching that charity is not a handout but a state of mind. Apparently her husband’s family was famous for its generosity, and she sought out Francis backstage (so to speak) after the sermon, and asked him how she could learn this internal charity. She apparently wanted to become a nun right then and there, because he instructed her to return to her family and continue to take care of them. Perhaps he knew just how good Grandpa was likely to be at the task. He taught her that since poverty is everywhere, charity can be anywhere (which you have to admit is hard to argue with), and that being a grandma is a “beautiful frame” for living a holy life.

She nevertheless became a tireless worker for the Franciscan lay (third) order, and was so “masculine and energetic” (don’t look at me, I am just relaying this information) that she earned the nickname “Brother Jacoba.” Francis stayed at her house whenever he visited Rome. Although she was not called Mary, we are told she was given a lamb that followed her everywhere she went — especially to church, where it stayed beside her while she prayed. (We are told nothing about a school, or children laughing and playing.) She was present with Francis when he died, by his request, and is buried with him in Assisi.


Bibliography
This Day in History for 8th February (History Orb)
Theodore the Stratelates (Orthodox Wiki) — Main source
Greatmartyr Theodore Stratelates “the General” (OCA)
Jacoba de Settesoli (St. Patrick’s D.C.) — Main source
Jacoba of Settesoli (Wikipedia)


Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.

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About Your Intrepid Blogger

I live in the Tacoma area. When not writing things some people think are funny, I teach technology to 7th and 8th graders at a local middle school.

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