Coming from the village of Erenkioi in the Hellespont, located on the site of the ancient city of Ofrynion, Saint Theodore settled in the city of Çanakkale at the entrance to the Dardanelles straits, where he learned the occupation of sesame oil production.
A wealthy local Turk, wanting to force him to marry his daughter, used all kinds of arguments in his effort to persuade him to deny his faith. Faced with the young man’s refusal, he resorted to magic and one day when Theodore, twenty years old at the time, fell ill in bed, he managed to cure him by burning in front of him olive leaves on which he had carved mysterious letters.
He again made his proposal, but in vain, and so the Turk, accused Theodore that while he had promised to embrace the Muslim faith in case he got well, he had subsequently broken his promise. He was thrown into prison and, the servant of God was subjected to horrible tortures. He was then abandoned for days without food or water.
A pious priest managed to sneak into the prison to bring him Holy Communion, and Theodore then revealed to him that all those days he had been miraculously sustained by the appearance of a divine light.
The Turks then threw him into a pit of lime, from which he was taken out after three days to be tied to a horse and exposed to the mob to be mocked. All these trials, however, only managed to strengthen Theodore even more in his faith, and when the procession passed in front of a church, his bonds were loosened and he was able to get down from the saddle to honor the temple saying: “One it is the only faith the Orthodox!”
Finally, after being condemned on August 2, 1690, he was taken to the quarter of the foreign diplomats where, refusing to cover his face with the words: “With my will I surrender to death for Christ”, he was beheaded in the presence of the French ambassador. Believers, then, buried his body in the courtyard of the church and after various miracles that happened, the holy relic was moved inside the church.
In 1773, during the Russian-Turkish war, the church was burned by the Turks, but the holy relic of the saint remained intact. During the persecution of the Greeks by Turkey in 1922, the inhabitants of Çanakkale took with them, as their most precious treasure, the head of Saint Theodore and deposited it in the church of Saint Xeni in Nicaea, Piraeus, Greece, where it is venerated to this day in a special holy festival.
From the book: New Synaxarion of the Orthodox Church, of Hieromonk Makarios Simonopetritis. Volume twelve, August, p. 20. Indiktos, Athens 2009.
Source of original Greek text:
Translated by ERO partner