On this day also of the year 306 A.D., the church celebrates the commemoration of the martyrdom of the courageous prince, St. Theodore El-Mishreke (The Oriental).
He was born in the City of Tyre in 270 A.D. In his youth, he enlisted in the Roman army and was promoted to the rank of commander. His father's name was Sadrikhos, "Adrakos" who was a high ranking official during the reign of Emperor Numerianus (283-284 A.D.), and his mother was the sister of Basilides, the minister.
When Emperor Numerianus died in the war against the Persians, his son, Justus, was fighting in the west. The two officials Sadrikhos and Basilides continued to run the affairs of the Empire, until the infidel Diocletian took charge of the Empire, and started to persecute the Christians. At that time, St. Theodore was in charge of the army that was fighting against the Persians. He saw a vision at night: a ladder was extended between earth and heaven, and at the top of the ladder the Lord sat on a great throne, surrounded by hosts of angels chanting. He also saw under the ladder a great beast which was the devil. The Lord said to St. Theodore, "Your blood will be shed for My Name's sake." The saint asked the Lord, "How about my friend Lawondius?" The Lord replied, "Not only Lawondius, but Banikaros, the Persian, also."
During a truce, between the Roman and Persian armies, St. Theodore met with Banikaros, the commander of the Persian army. St. Theodore guided him to Christianity and he believed in Christ.
Emperor Diocletian ordered that Prince Theodore be brought to him. The prince came back with his army and with him were Lawondius and Banikaros. When St. Theodore knew that the Emperor was going to ask him to worship idols, he told his soldiers, "Whoever among you wants to fight for the Name of the Lord Christ, let him come and join me." They all shouted in one accord, "We die with you and your God is our God also."
When he arrived in the city, he left his soldiers outside and went alone to the Emperor who received him well. The Emperor inquired about the war and the army and he asked St. Theodore to worship Apollo.
The saint answered in great courage and faith, "I do not know any god that I can worship except my Master, Jesus Christ."
Diocletian commanded his soldiers to nail the Saint to a tree and to brutally torture him. But the Lord was strengthening and comforting him. Finally, he delivered up his pure soul into the hand of the Lord Whom he loved. He received the crown of eternal glory in the kingdom of heaven. The Emperor sent the priests of Apollo to the soldiers of the saint, to call upon them to worship the idols. They all shouted, "We have no king except our Master, Jesus Christ, Lord of Lords, and King of Kings." When the Emperor heard what they said, he had them all beheaded. They received the crowns of martyrdom and eternal bliss.
Their prayers be with us all. Amen.
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