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September 29

Saint Theodota of Thrace

Martyr

(Third Century – 318)

“I adore you, O Christ, and thank you, because you have made me worthy to suffer this for your name.”

Saint Theodota of Thrace

Her Life

Theodota was born in the third century in an unknown location. Few details are known about her life. 

Her Story

Towards the end of the reign of Emperor Licinius in 318, a persecution was raised at Philippopolis, anciently Eumolpias, in Thrace. The prefect, Agrippa, had commanded that the whole city should offer a great sacrifice with him on a certain festival of Apollo.

Theodota, who had been formerly a harlot, was accused of refusing to conform to offer to a sacrifice to the Roman idols during this festival. Theodota answered Agrippa that she had indeed been a grievous sinner, but could not add sin to sin, nor defile herself with a sacrilegious sacrifice. Her constancy encouraged seven hundred and fifty men (who were, perhaps, some troop of soldiers) to step forth.  They professed themselves Christians and refused to join in the sacrifice.

Imprisoned and Tortured

Theodota was cast into prison where she lay twenty days deprived of both food and drink. During this time, she was in continual prayer.  As she entered the court, Theodota burst into tears. She prayed aloud that Christ would pardon the crimes of her past life and arm her with strength that she might be enabled to bear with constancy and patience the cruel torments she was going to suffer.

In her answers to the judge, Theodota confessed that she had been a harlot, but she declared that she had become a Christian, though unworthy to bear that sacred name. Agrippa commanded Theodota to be cruelly scourged. The pagans who stood near herand exhorted her to free herself from torments by obeying Agrippa but for one moment.

But Theodota remained constant, and under the lashes cried out: “I will never abandon the true God, nor sacrifice to lifeless statues.”

Agrippa ordered Theodota to be hoisted upon the rack and her body to be torn with an iron comb. Under these torments Theodota earnestly prayed to Christ, and said: “I adore you, O Christ, and thank you, because you have made me worthy to suffer this for your name.”

Enraged at her resolution and patience, the judge said to the executioner: “Tear her flesh again with the iron comb; then pour vinegar and salt into her wounds.” Theodota said: “So little do I fear your torments, that I entreat you to increase them to the utmost, that I may find mercy and attain to the greater crown.” Agrippa next commanded the executioners to pluck out her teeth, which they violently pulled out one by one with pincers.

Her Martyrdom

The judge condemned her to be stoned. She was led out of the city. During her martyrdom, Theodota prayed thus: “O Christ, as you showed favour to Rahab the harlot, and received the good thief; so turn not your mercy from me.” In this manner she died in 318 in Thrace.

Born :                  Third Century in an unknown location

Died:                   318 (Feast Day – Sep 30) in Philippopolis (Thrace) (now Plovdiv, Bulgaria)

Beatified:           Pre-Congregation

Canonized:        Pre-Congregation

Feast Day:          September 29

Patron Saint:    Converts; Martyrs; Torture Victims

Source:

Reflection 

Saint Theodota of Thrace had a sinful prior life as a prostitute. However, she converted to Christianity which she defended by her actions standing up to Romans and not sacrificing to idols. Her strong faith continued in prayer to Christ to give her the strength to endure the cruel tortures she suffered right through her martyrdom.

Have you offered up in prayer any cruel “tortures” you may be enduring today? While we most likely are not faced with actual Roman tortures that Saint Theodota of Thrace endured, we can always pray to God to povide us the strength and graces to endure our own physical and mental sufferings and to inspire others in our Catholic faith through our actions.

Prayers

Saint Theodota of Thrace, as a martyr for your Christian beliefs, I humbly come seeking your intercession and guidance. Your unwavering devotion to Christ and your willingness to give your life for your faith inspires me.

Father, we pray that, like Saint Theodota of Thrace, our lives always give glory to You by never worshipping idols and always loving you with all heart and soul – no matter what the cost. Give us the grace, Father, to boldly defend our faith through our actions, as you Saint Theodota did, so many others may be brought to eternal life with You.

Saint Theodota of Thrace, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Bartleby – Rev. Alban Butler Volume IX: September. The Lives of the Saints. September 29 St. Theodota, Martyr

Catholic Online – St. Theodota

Our Sunday Visitor Encyclopedia of Saints

Wikipedia – Theodota of Philippi

Video Link

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