Commemorated on December 27
The Monk Theodore
the Confessor, and his brother the Confessor Theophanes the Lettered-Upon,
were born in Jerusalem of Christian parents. The elder was Theodore. From early
childhood he shunned childish amusements and loved to visit church services.
Together with his younger brother Theophanes (Comm. 11 October), he was sent
for education to the presbyter at the Laura-monastery of Saint Sava. Both
brothers accepted monasticism. Saint Theodore was raised to the dignity of
When the iconoclast
emperor, Leo V the Armenian (813-820), expelled and replaced the pious ruler
Michael I Rangabes (811-813), he began to patronise the Iconoclast heresy. The
Patriarch of Jerusalem sent both brothers to Constantinople for the defense of
Orthodoxy. Arriving in the Byzantine capital, the holy confessors boldly
entered into the defense of Icon-Veneration. In a contest of words Leo was
humiliated. He gave orders to beat both brothers mercilessly, and then had them
sent off into exile, strictly forbidding anyone to help them in any way.
Under the subsequent
emperors, Michael II (820-829), and particularly under the harsh iconoclast
Theophilos (829-842), both brothers returned from exile, and again they were
urged to concur with the Iconoclast heresy, but they firmly and bravely endured
all the tortures, and again they were sent off into exile. But later they again
returned. This time they were subject to fierce torture, and finally, there was
done upon them an unprecedented torment. With red-hot needles they marked
branding upon their faces the writing as it were of their disgrace – 12 poetic
lines, in which it described the holy confessors as "vessels of
superstitious errors". Hence the title ascribed to the holy brothers:
"the Lettered-Upon" ("Nachertanni", "Graptoi").
Before torture the city official asked Saint Theodore to take communion with
iconoclasts, – for which they promised him freedom. But the holy martyr
replied: "It is all the same, as they say: 'We shall only cut off thy
head, and then go whither thou willest'". After torture the holy brothers
were imprisoned in the locality of Apameia, where Saint Theodore died in about
the year 840. Saint Theophanes survived the ending of the Iconoclast heresy,
and died in the dignity of Bishop of Nicea. The Monk Theophanes was author of
many compositions in defense of Orthodoxy. The relics of the MonkMartyr
Theodore were transferred to Chalcedon, where healings were done by them.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.