Written by Monica Mikhail~Theophilos, an aristocrat, and Theodora, a descendant of a distinguished family, were loyal servants of the Lord who were respected in society but, despite that, they were saddened by the fact that they were not blessed with a child. Theodora wept, entreating through the prayers of St. Anna, the mother of the Theotokos, that she may be granted a child. The Lord heard her plea and sent them a daughter whom they named Theodora, the “gift of God”.
When the young Theodora became old enough, her parents brought her to the Church of St. Anna and she became dedicated to the attached convent. As anyone consecrated, she was brought up by the abbess to fear the Lord and learned the Scriptures. Theodora grew up not wanting to fulfill her physical nature but grow in the spiritual. The evil one saw her purity and began his attack on her.
Theodora lived during the time of the heretic, Emperor Leo III, who was an iconoclast. He despised the faithful, making it a time of persecution for the followers of Christ. Unfortunately, Emperor Leo began to seek out Theodora so he may marry her to his grandson, Caesar Christopher.
By force and violence, the men of the Emperor dragged the young lady, Theodora, from the convent and brought her to the capital, Constantinople. Upon her arrival, wedding arrangements began and as the wedding day drew near, hope in that the marriage would be stopped seemed to diminish. Theodora prayed that this predicament she was in may be cast away from her for she only desired the heavenly Bridegroom.
In the coming days the Scythians attacked the Byzantine Empire and Caesar Christopher was struck down and killed. When the news arrived, Theodora knew that she was relieved from this unwanted marriage only by the intervention of the Lord, so she offered up thankful prayers to Christ for hearing her and coming to her aid.
Immediately Theodora began to gather up all her lavish possessions and snuck out of the palace. She then boarded a ship that would bring her back to the convent. Returning to the Virgins, she praised the Lord and offered up thanksgiving for doing this great deed for her. She then gave away all her riches to those who had no riches.
In due time, her escape became known and one of Christopher’s brothers came and sought after her. Upon finding her, he withdrew and did not trouble her again for she had received the holy Tonsure as exhibited by the habit she wore. She had traded all that is of the earth to be with the One who lives forever.
She spent her life battling the physical limitations set upon her to gain the most spiritually. Denying herself of anything that would satisfy her body, she would wear her only garment which was a coarse hair shirt, go on eating nothing for days and would only break her fast with a few ounces of bread, and sleep on a bed of stones covered by coarse material. Overtime she overcame these tests she set on herself, so she would come up with new pains to endure, wanting to be a martyr for Christ.
After years of perseverance, Saint Theodora went on to live with her heavenly Bridegroom. She is commemorated by the Church on the 30th of December.
May the Lord grant us the desire and ability to love Him with as much fervor as Saint Theodora who lived all the days of her life in the presence of her loving God while still on this earth.