Monday, February 8, 2010

"Agioi Theodoroi" ("Saints Theodore") the Great Martyrs

Recently I have tried to search for additional source material on two great military Saints and martyrs of the Church, Sts. Theodore. It has become clear that some in the West seem to have abandoned the abundant church history and tradition that attests to two great military men named Theodore who suffered for Christ in a similar area of the world. Perhaps this is too much of a coincidence for some, so they conclude that they must have been the same person. However, we are in error if we believe so. In addition, such an approach to the Church I would argue is symptomatic of deeper passions (which I admit are also present within myself too).

In any case, the Orthodox Church has long praised these two great Saints and Wonderworkers of Christ. It is likely that because they share the same name, similar circumstances from their lives, and feasts that are close to each other, they are often honored and depicted together in churches as "Agioi Theodoroi", or "Saints Theodore" the Great Martyrs. I hope to continue to include information below either concerning both of them, or providing links to information about them separately. May they intercede for us and help us!

Icon of Saints Theodore Stratelates and Tyron the Great Martyrs (Icon courtesy of used with permission)

St. Theodore Stratelates ("The Commander"), the Great Martyr - Commemorated on February 8th

St. Theodore O Tyron ("The Recruit"), the Great Martyr - Commemorated on February 17th, and the First Saturday of Great Lent
-"In Praise of Blessed Theodore, the Great Martyr" by St. Gregory of Nyssa:

Saints Theodore the Great Martyrs (Icon courtesy of used with permission)

Miracles of (undetermined) St. Theodore
The following miracles are attributed a St. Theodore the Great Martyr, but neither the site editor nor the authors elaborate on which of the Saints Theodore, so I thought to include them here as a result. (

"As for his spirit, it has been privileged with great access to God, the radiance of which I shall try to show by a few examples. There is in the holy city a silversmith, of Damascus by birth, named Romulus, archdeacon of holy Gethsemane. This Romulus told me the following story: "At the time of the death of blessed Sabbas, my shop was burgled and I lost nearly one hundred pounds of silver. Going at once (he continued) to the shrine of St. Theodore, I supplied illumination for the church for five days and stayed there day and night weeping on the sanctuary rails. Around midnight of the fifth day I was rapt in sleep when I saw the holy martyr of Christ Theodore, who said to me, "What is the matter? Why are you in such distress, and weeping?" I replied, "I have lost my own property and that of others, and I have spent days here without gaining anything." The saint said to me, "Believe me, I was not here, but I was ordered to hasten to meet the holy soul of Abba Sabbas and guide it to the place of repose. But now, go to this place and you will find there the thieves and the money." Getting up at this very hour and taking some others with me, I went to the place announced by the saint, and we found it just as had been announced in the vision."
-from Cyril of Scythopolis: The Lives of the Monks of Palestine (6th Century)

"And the servant of God entered the village called Diolko, and took up lodging in the Church of St. Theodore. And he prayed to God without interruption at all hours, since the Lord Jesus Christ had resurrected the man and brought him back to life, and he stood before him whole. And he spent four days in the Church of St. Theodore. There was a blind man named Anthony, who dwelt in the holy church, unable to see anything at all. And when the servant of God Nicholas saw him, he said to him: "How many years have you been without your sight?" And the blind man said to him: "It is now three years since I saw the sun. And I spent much money on doctors so that they would restore my sight. But it has been all of no avail, though I spent on them all that I had." The servant of God Nicholas said to him: "And why did you not put your faith in the saints? You would have been cured free of charge." And the blind man said to him: "Now that I have been found to be without faith, what should I do?" The servant of God Saint Nicholas said to him: "Will you believe from now on that the saints have the power to cure you?" The blind man said to him: "I put my faith in God and in your holy prayers, that you can persuade God to have mercy on me." Moved with compassion, the servant of God stood praying over him. And he took oil from the lamp of Saint Theodore, and made the sign of the cross upon his eyes, and said to him: "I have faith in God that tomorrow you will see the glory of God with your own eyes." And the following day the eyes of the blind man were opened , and he walked around seeing, and glorified God that he had recovered his sight through the prayer of the servant of God."
-from the Life of St. Nicholas of Sion (6th Century)

The Church of Agioi Theodoroi, Serres (

The Church of Agioi Theodoroi, Serres
Among the many temples, [the church of Agioi Theodoroi] adorns, honours, and makes the city of Serres known to all, no less so than the other temples. It is a holy and sacred place to wonder and marvel at, built in honour of those saints whose name means "Gift of God'".
-Theodoros Pediasimos, Man of Letters and Fourteenth Century Citizen of Serres.

The church of the gloriously martyred soldier saints, Agioi Theodoroi is located in the centre of the old city of Serres. Its large square basilica (internal dimensions 15.6 by 24 metres) is divided into two parts, the portico and the main body of the church, which is itself separated by two lines of columns into three naves. The large amount of early Christian masonry that was reused in the building of the church would indicate that it was built as early as the 6th Century. The exquisite church has been renovated on a number of occasions. No information is available on the history of the monument until the Fifteenth Century. However, the manner in which the church was built, and its final form in particular, are the result of a number of bold, easily distinguished, major alterations made at different periods down the ages. The materials and methods used by the craftsman for each of these alterations have helped most of the reputable scholars who have researched the church's history to draw roughly the same fundamental conclusions as to its architecture and decoration.

Part of the Sacred Skull of St. Theodore Stratelates, treasured in the Church of Agioi Theodoroi, Serres (

It was Basil II, the Emperor of Byzantium, who ordered the first alterations to be made to the church in thanks for an unexpected victory over the Bulgarians, won not far from Serres on July 29, 1014. The church's original design - that of a basilica with traverse aisle - was altered. The church was crowned with a dome and the side wings of the traverse aisle were extended to form a three-aisled basilica. Inscriptions bear witness to the fact that the church was dedicated to Saint Theodoros the Victorious - and him alone - during the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries. The church was destroyed, along with the whole of Serres, in 1205 by the Bulgarians under Ioannitsis. Aggelos Komnenos, the Despot of Epirus, captured the city in 1221, and repaired the church in thanks for his great victory over the Franks - led by Robert II, the Latin Emperor of Constantinople - which made his later conquest of Thessaloniki possible. He also beautified the church with magnificent mosaics - adding to the mosaics with which the church had gradually been decorated starting in the last quarter of the Eleventh Century - as an expression of gratitude towards its patron saints.

In 1255, Theodore II Lascaris, the Emperor of Nicaea, gilded the church's icons with gold and silver in repayment for the divine assistance he had received from [St. Theodore Stratelates] during his army's conquest of Meleniko. From then on, small-scale work was periodically done on the church to keep the ravages of time at bay. The church was ransacked by the Turks in 1571, and suffered a great of damage from a fire in 1849. On June 29, 1913, the church was completely destroyed, along with the rest of the city, by the Bulgarians.

Rebuilding started in 1938 under Theodoros Orlando, and was completed by E. Stikas in 1959. The monument's future was under threat from natural decay, but the church was repaired thanks to intervention on the part of the Bishop of Serres and Nigrita, and once more took its place in the spiritual life of the city as a place of worship.
(summary of text from:

Sts. Theodore the Recruit and the Commander, the Great Martyrs (

Apolytikion of St. Theodore Stratelates in the Fourth Tone
In truth enlisted with the King of the Heavens, thou didst become for Him a noble commander, O trophy-bearer and Great Martyr Theodore. With the weaponry of faith didst thou arm thyself wisely and didst utterly destroy all the hordes of the demons, as a triumphant athlete of the Lord; wherefore we ever do faithfully call thee blest.

Apolytikion of St. Thedore the Tyron in the Second Tone
Great are the achievements of faith! In the fountain of flame, as by the water of rest, the holy Martyr Theodore rejoiced; for having been made a whole-burnt offering in the fire, he was offered as sweet bread unto the Trinity. By his prayers, O Christ God, save our souls.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!


Zana said...

Dear Sir,

I am very much interested in the illustration/image of SS Theodori put at this block, where does it comes from and what is the date, where to find a bibliography about it? It is the last picture at the end of the text about the church, and before the sermons.

Agioi_Anargyroi said...

Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, I believe the original image is no longer on the Wikipedia page where I found it, and I can't find any info about it yet. It appears to be a fresco, and the inscription isn't Greek (it might be Russian?). I'm sorry that I don't have any more info for you.

If you are interested in historical icons of Sts. Theodore, here is one that seems similar, and appears even older: According to Web Gallery of Art, this is a 15th century Russian
Egg tempera icon on panel, gesso ground, 53,5 x 38 cm, from
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg.

If anyone has any information for Zana, please feel free to contribute. Thanks again.