May 29 – Theodosia of Tyre; Theodosia of Constantinople

Theodosia of Tyre (d. 307) went from there to Caesarea, where (on Easter Sunday) she bumped into a number of Christians in chains waiting to be interrogated. She stopped to ask them for their prayers, and was nabbed by the guards and taken to the governor. Upon being asked, she refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods, resulting in her being tortured in ways that don’t bear repeating before, during, or after dinner. All this she endured without complaining. The governor implored her to reconsider and save herself. She informed him that she was seeking martyrdom for herself when she went into the square, and he was playing right into her hands. In one source she even calls him a fool. I hope that one is right.

Wroth with wrath, the governor ordered her drowned, and in all but one source that’s where it ends. In the intresting one, she was rescued by angels and returned to shore. She was then thrown to wild beasts who were decidedly not interested (“What’s for supper? martyr? again?”). In the end, she was beheaded.

After she died, she appeared in a vision to her parents, who had earlier tried to talk her out of seeking martyrdom. She showed them the crown on her head, and her resplendent robes, and the gold cross in her hand, saying, “This is the glory you tried to deprive me of!” The source doesn’t record what their response was. (Serving suggestion: “Oh, now we see what you were talking about.”) After all he put Theodosia through, the governor’s fury was sated, and he allowed the aforementioned chained Christians to live, albeit as slaves in a copper mine. Theodosia’s relics visited Constantinople for a time, then settled down in Venice, where they are lovingly appreciated.

Theodosia of Constantinople (d. 729 or 745) was the product of a significant amount of prayer by her previously-barren parents. They may have been rather old by the time she came along, as she went to be raised at a monastery after they died. She used some of her inheritance to commission three gold and silver icons, gave the rest to the poor, and became a nun.

When Leo III the Isaurian became emperor, he prohibited the making, use, and existence of icons, and began a campaign of eradication of same. Now, at the Bronze Gate there was a 400-year-old icon of our savior (made of bronze, of course). When a workman came to remove it for destruction, the nuns saw what he was doing, and went out to harass him. They harassed him to death, and I do not mean that figuratively—Theodosia shook the ladder he was standing on so hard that he fell off and expired. Flush with victory, the nuns betook themselves to the Patriarch’s house, and pelted it (and perhaps him) with rocks. (These are not nuns you want to meet in a dark alley.)

They were, alas, arrested. As the ringleader, Theodosia was thrown in jail and given a hundred lashes a day. (The other nuns drop out of the narrative at this point.) After a week of this she was brought to the Forum of the Ox, so called because of the enormous hollow metal bull used for executing especially undesirable criminals. (A wonderful form of execution the Christians inherited from the pagans. So glad not all of the old culture was lost[1].) They weren’t about to give Theodosia any bull, however. She was killed by being stabbed in the neck with a ram’s horn.

When icons were restored, she was recognized as a saint and martyr, and her relics were placed in the church at the monastery of St. Euphemia, which church was renamed after her in the fourteenth century. Her prayers are invoked by the infirm, especially since she was implicated in the miraculous healing in 1306 of a deaf-mute.


[1] Sarcasm.