The Great Martyr Theodore put his faith in Christ above his career, worldly fame and riches and endured great pain and torments to remain loyal to Him. He was a beloved commander in the army of the Roman Emperor Licinius.
Word had reached the emperor that his commander was a Christian. He travelled to meet him personally, hoping to manipulate him into worshipping the Pagan idols, this renouncing his faith in Christ. According to tradition, the emperor approached him in public and offered to make a sacrifice to the edifices of gold and silver together before his subordinates. The saint asked the emperor to first bring the idols to his house. Licinius agreed, thinking that all was going according to his plan. When they delivered the idols, Theodore broke them and gave away the silver and gold pieces of the idols to the poor.
He proudly admitted to Licinius that he was Christian and had destroyed the Pagan statues. Furious, Licinius ordered him to be crucified, the execution reserved for slaves and for the worst of crimes. On the cross, he was mutilated, and arrows were shot at him. A day later, he was found alive and fully healed. Seeing this, many other people converted to Christianity. Licinius had Theodore beheaded, about the year 320.
In 1923, the future martyr was only 26 years old. Seeing the unfolding persecution of the Church, he was ordained priest with the words, "We need to protect the faith". Priest Valerian Novitsky was arrested and executed in 1930.
"There is only one thing to say about this remarkable monastic: the sweetest of souls! One conversation with Father Silouan was enough to make anyone grow fond of him."
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The example of the martyr saints shows how the grace of the holy spirit can empower us to reach untold levels of bravery and spiritual strength, despite our physical weakness.
Saint Seraphim’s life was marked by various signs and wonders testifying to his election from very early in life. At the age of seven Prokhor Moshnin (the birth name of the saint) fell from a tall bell tower but God delivered him unharmed.