Commemorated on April 5
The Holy Martyrs
Agathopodos the Deacon and Theodoulos the Reader lived in Thessalonika
during the reign of the emperor Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (284‑305)
and were among the church clergy: the holy Deacon Agathopodos was very old, and
Saint Theodoulos very young.
themselves by righteous life and piety. One tine Saint Theodoulos saw in his
sleep a vision, in which an unknown person in radiant garb placed in his hand
some object. When he awoke, he then saw in his hand a beautiful ring with the
image of the Cross and he realised, that this was a sign of his future
martyrdom. By the power of the Cross imaged on the ring the saint healed many
of the sick and turned pagans to faith in Christ the Saviour.
When the emperor
Diocletian issued an edict (303) of a persecution against Christians, many
attempted to hide themselves from pursuit, but Saints Agathopodos and
Theodoulos undauntedly continued to proclaim the Gospel preaching.
governor Faustinus, having learned of this, gave orders to bring them to him
for trial. Seeing the youth and excellence of Saint Theodoulos, Faustinus
attempted by flattery to persuade him to renounce Christianity and return to
the decreed offering of sacrifice. To this the Martyr Theodoulos answered, that
he long since had renounced the error and that he pitied Faustinus, who by his
offer of paganism was condemned himself to eternal death. The governor offered
the martyr a choice: the fortune of life or immediate death. The saint
answered, that certainly he would choose life, but as life eternal, and that
temporal death he feared not.
When Faustinus lost
hope to persuade the Martyr Theodoulos, he began to talk with Saint
Agathopodos. The governor attempted to deceive him and said, that Saint
Theodoulos had already agreed to offer sacrifice to the gods. But the Martyr
Agathopodos did not believe this. He was convinced, that Saint Theodoulos was
prepared to offer his life for his True God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Not having any
success, Faustinus commanded to remove the martyrs to prison. The holy martyrs
prayed fervently and boldly preached the Word of God to the imprisoned, such
that many were converted to Christianity. The head of the prison Eutinios
reported about this to the governor.
summoned them to trial and again he urged them to renounce Christ. Before the
eyes of Saint Theodoulos they brought forth to offer sacrifice those, who
earlier were Christians, but betrayed the faith. "Ye have conquered the
weak, but strong warriors of Christ ye in no way wilt see to conquer, even if
ye do invent yet greater torments!" – exclaimed Saint Theodoulos. The
governor commanded the martyr to produce the Christian books. "Here, my
body is given for torture, – answered the martyr, – do with it what thou
wish; torture me in a very fierce manner, but nonetheless I shalt not hand over
the Holy Books for mockery by the impious!"
Faustinus gave orders
to bring Saint Theodoulos to the place of execution, where an executioner
readied a sword in order to cut off his head. The martyr bravely and with joy
cried out: "Glory to Thee, O God, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, Who
deigned to suffer for us. Here by His grace I go unto Thee, and with joy I do
die for Thee!" Then Faustinus halted the execution and again locked up the
martyrs in prison. There the holy martyrs prayed fervently and both saw the
same dream. They were sailing in a ship, which during the time of storm was
suffering shipwreck. The waves cast them up upon shore, arrayed in white
radiant raiment. The saints told each other about the vision, and they gave
thanks to God for their impending martyr's end.
In the morning, when
the martyrs were again brought to Faustinus, they declared to him: "We –
are Christians and for the Name of Christ we are prepared to undergo whatever
the suffering". Faustinus gave orders to cast them into the sea. The waves
carried Saint Agathodoros to the rocks, and he loudly exclaimed: "This
shalt be for us a second Baptism, which will wash away our sins, and we shalt
come unto Christ with purity". After him Saint Theodoulos was also cast
into the sea (+ 303).
The sea cast on shore
the bodies of the saints in radiant garb, without the ropes and weight-stones.
Christians took their holy bodies and gave them reverent burial.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.