A severe love
Life had become detestable for the man for, he loved Theodora the beautiful virgin very much. He loved her for her gentleness, tenderness, beauty and perfection. He wanted to have her as a wife for all his possessions. She had no reason to refuse him as a husband for, he was a wealthy honorable and handsome young nobleman of Alexandria. He tried with all means to attract her however, she insisted on refusing him. He was sad. He despised life until he fell sick.
Realizing his case, each of his friends suggested a trick but in vain. Her steadiness was not affected by his wealth, his passion, his sickness or the entreaties of many people for his sake. The man then tried to assure her that he would not ask her to deny her Christian faith and that he would protect her from the law. However, she refused to get married to an unchristian man whatever the consequences might be.
Finally, he decided to resort to violence. At that time, the Christians in Alexandria were suffering from great tribulations because of Diocletian’s edict to the effect that all churches ought to be destroyed; Bibles ought to be burnt; all Christian officials ought to be sacked, deprived of their civil rights and regarded as slaves. The man sent Theodora a message telling her to accept marrying him or else, several pains and tribulations would befall her.
Memories and thoughts
No sooner had the fair virgin received the threats than she entered her chamber, looked eastwards to the icon of the cross and bowed down in serenity and peace. She remembered much of the events which she herself had seen and heard of. She thought of the church which had been persecuted Throughout the generations. The Alexandrian school of philosophy dedicated all its efforts for attacking Christianity. It produced volumes containing many falsehoods against the Christians and their faith. Moreover, the rulers support it or at least were pleased with it.
However, with serenity, many Christians defended their faith and refuted what had been written against the church and the faith and showed the fallacies of the heathens and the philosophers. They discussed bravely the violated rights of the Christians. They addressed their writings to the philosophers, the people and the emperor himself. The Christian school of Alexandria was actually closed. However, its work was being done in the houses and education never stopped. It is worth mentioning that Origen, one of its scholars, during the persecution, was preparing, from the unchristians, believers ready for martyrdom. Some of the catechumens have been already martyred.
Churches were closed sometimes but no one could ever prevent the pastoral work. All homes and hearts were opened for the pastors who went from home to home to support their children and encourage them. Theodora remembered the Christians rejoicing while being led to death. She remembered how the persecuted Christians forgave those who persecuted them. They loved, served and prayed for them not out of hypocrisy or fear but out of mercy seeking their salvation. Theodora felt that she did not deserve to be a martyr for Christ who loved her. She realized that she should pray for the nobleman. She desired his salvation.
Tears ran down her cheeks. Are they tears of rejoicing for the sacrifice of love she was going to offer? Are they tears of humbleness asking for the salvation of this man? Or were they to express unspeakable thanks for He Who opened His arms for her, cared for her that no hair of her head would fall without His permission? She prayed but not as usual. She was leaping in joy as if Heavens descended to her or let's say that she ascended to Heavens and saw what no eye ever saw. She prayed for the salvation of the nobleman and all the unbelievers.
In the court
Theodora was brought to the court according to the orders of the nobleman.
“Are you free or a bondmaid?”
“Are you then free or a bondwoman?”
The judge called the guard of the city and asked him, “What do you know about this Theodora?”
“Theodora is from a noble family. She vowed herself for virginity.”
The judge heard about virginity in contempt. Then, he asked Theodora, “If you are from a noble family, why do you refuse marriage then?”
“For Lord Jesus Christ. His incarnation saved us from corruption and gave us everlasting life. I’ll never deny my faith. I insist on living as a virgin.”
The judge ignored her adherence to Christianity. He did not ask her to deny it for he knew how the Christians would not deny their faith even unto death. He knew the nobleman’s desire to marry her thus, he threatened her that he would make someone rape her if she did not get married.
“I think that you know that the Lord looks to the intention of people.” She replied with inner peace. “He knows my desire to live in virginity. If you order someone to do what you said, it’ll be his sin not mine as long as it’s out of my hand.”
“Don’t disgrace your family.”
“Christ can protect his innocent dove.”
“You’re deceived as you trust a crucified man. Don’t think that you’ll be saved from disgrace when you go to where I’ll send you.”
She was not shaken or disturbed by his threats. After many discussions, the judge said to her, “I was much patient with you and didn’t resort to violence. However, if you insisted on resisting I’ll treat you as a bondwoman according to the orders of our lords the emperors.” He was infuriated because of her serenity. He said to one of his men, “Slap this damsel with full strength and tell her to offer sacrifice to the gods and not to be a fool.”
The judge collected himself and decided to leave her three days to think, swearing that if she did not refrain he would send her to a bordello.
In the bordello
Theodora was taken to a brothel after being ill-treated by the soldiers. She was put in one of its rooms. The bordello was guarded so that the maid would not escape. She lifted her eyes up to her Heavenly Bridegroom giving up her life into His Hands for, with the temptation He makes the way of escape. She was sure that He was able to deliver her. In spite of her tenderness, her feelings had become unaffected with what happened around her for being totally attached to God who loved her. She felt that only God and she were there.
However, the entrance of a soldier into the room interrupted her inner serenity. He called, “Theodora, Theodora!”
She got a little perplexed for she knew that someone would certainly try to rape her.
“Theodora, don’t be afraid. I’m your brother Didymus. I’m disguised in a soldier’s clothes to rescue your virginity and chastity. I’m a Christian whom the Lord had sent to you.”
While putting off the soldier’s clothes, Didymus said to her, “hurry up. Put on these clothes and bow your head down so that no one would see you. Flee without talking to anyone.”
Few hours later, all Alexandria got confused, a Christian had rescued the fair Theodora from disgrace. Didymus was taken to the governor and was questioned, “Who made this plan for you?”
“God had sent me to do this.”
“Tell me where Theodora is or else, you’ll be tortured.”
“I don’t know where she is. I only know that as long as she is a believer, The Lord takes care of her.”
After long discussions, he was sentenced to death.
“No, you’ll never steal my crown”.
Many people had gathered around Didymus as the soldiers insulted him much while driving him to where the sentence was to be executed. During this fuss, there came a girl rushing into the crowd. She held Didymus’ hand and said, “I’ll never allow you to steal my crown. It’s your right to rescue my chastity but not to steal my crown of martyrdom.”
They were all astounded for they knew that she was Theodora who did not allow Didymus to steal her glory and crown of martyrdom in the name of Christ. The governor knew soon of that and sentenced her to death. She received the news as if receiving an invitation to a heavenly wedding ceremony thus, she rejoiced. She looked eastwards and lifted her hands up in the form of the cross. She lifted her heart up to heaven and her face began to light. All the attendants felt that she saw something they could not see. She began to talk to her heavenly bridegroom as if there were no one but them. Few moments later, she gave up her head to the executioner ordering him to execute the command of his master.
A Telegraph Morse-Code
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