Saint of the Day – 27 December – St Theodore of Apamea (c 775-c 831) Confessor, Martyr, Monk, Brother of Saint Theophanes of Nicaea, ex-soldier, Born in c 775 at Kerak, Moab (Trans-Jordan) and died in c 831 at Apamea, Bithynia from the many tortures and the privations of prison life. Also known as = • one of the Grapti, from the Greek graptoi = “written upon”• Theodorus the Branded• Theodorus the “Lettered-Upon”.• Theodore.
The Roman Martyrology states today: “At Constantinople, the holy Confessors, Theodore and Theophanes, brothers who were brought up from their childhood in the Monastery of St Sabbas. Afterwards, combating bravely, for the worship of holy images, against Leo the Armenian, they were scourged by his command an banished. After his death, they again firmly opposed the Emperor Theophilus, who was imbued with the same impiety and were scourged a second time and driven into exile, where Theodore expired in prison. Theophanes, after peace had at length been restored to the Church, was made the Bishop of Nicaea and rested in the Lord.”
THIS saint was of the country of the Moabites but his parents, who were rich and virtuous, went and settled at Jerusalem, in order to procure for him and his sibling, the advantages of a holy education. He was placed by them, when he was very young, in the Monastery of Sabas and by his progress in learning, the extraordinary purity of his manners and the habitual mortification of his senses, attained in a short time, to an eminent degree of virtue and acquired a high reputation in the world.
The Bishop of Jerusalem obliged him to receive Priestly Orders, and when Leo, the Armenian, waged a cruel war against holy images, sent the Saint to that Emperor to exhort him not to disturb the peace of the Church. The tyrant, instead of relenting, caused St. Theodore to be scourged and banished him, with his brother Theophanes, a Monk of the same Monastery and his companion, into an island in the mouth of the Euxine sea, where they suffered much, by hunger and cold.
But they had not staid long there before the emperor died, in 882, when they returned to Constantinople and St Theodore published some writings in defence of the truth. Michael the Stutterer, who succeeded in the imperial throne and is thought either to have had no religion, or to have leaned most of that of the Manichees or Paulicians, was for steering a middle cours, between the Catholics and the Iconoclasts.
But his successor Theophilus, a violent Iconoclast and barbarous persecutor, who ascended the throne in 829, caused the two brothers to be whipped, then banished them into the island of Aphusia. Two years after, they were brought back to Constantinopl and buffeted in the presence of the Emperor, till they fell down quite stunned at his feet, then stripped and publicly scourged.
When they had lain some days in prison and still persisted in their refusal to communicate with the Iconoclasts, the Emperor commanded twelve Iambic verses, composed for that purpose by an Iconoclast courtier, to be inscribed on their foreheads. The sense of the verses was as follows:
“These men have appeared at Jerusalem as vessels of iniquity, full of superstitious, error and were driven thence for their crimes and having fled to Constantinople, they forsook not their impiety. Wherefore, they have been again banished from thence and are stigmatised on their faces.”
Although the wounds which they had received were yet much inflamed and very painful, they were laid upon benches, whilst the letters which composed those verses were cut or pricked upon their faces. The operation was long and tedious and interrupted by the coming on of the night and the Confessors were sent back to prison, their faces being still bloody. They were soon after banished to Apamea, in Syria, whereTheodore died of his sufferings.
From the inscription cut in his forehead he is surnamed Grapti, which signifies in Greek, marked or engraved. Theophilus died about the same time and the Empress Theodora, a zealous Catholic, becoming Regent for her son Michael, St Methodius was made Bishop and restored holy images in 842.
Theophanes was then honoured for his glorious confession of the Faith and Consecrated Bishop of Nicaea that he might more effectually concur in overthrowing a heresy, over which he had already triumphed.
St Theodore is named in the Roman Martyrology with his brother Theophanes, on this day. The twelve iambic verses, which were written on their foreheads, with a red-hot steel pencil, are recited in the Greek liturgy on this day.